Discord: The journey from anonymous to someone who changed the way people ‘play’ on the Internet

Voice chat, for gaming communities all over the world, is a very important need. Longtime gamers are probably no stranger to once-hit names like TeamSpeak, Skype, or more, Ventrilo.

But at the present time, when it comes to voice chat in the game, perhaps 99% of gamers will immediately think of Discord – one of the most popular voice-chat software in the world today.

Discord first appeared in 2015, with its aggressive introduction: “It’s time we give up Skype and TeamSpeak.” Of course, many people have initial doubts about using Discord, but “It’s okay, because it’s free”. And when using it, they found that Discord’s conversation quality really surpasses Skype, and is not inferior to TeamSpeak. The difference is that when you use TeamSpeak you will have to pay for monthly server rental, while Discord is completely free.

Discord’s early ad: It’s time to give up Skype and TeamSpeak

Some Discord users see them as tools for voice chat between real-life gaming associations. Others set up public servers to build a community of gamers playing a certain game. One Discord user with ID ‘Mikeyy’ shared: “I don’t have many friends in real life who share my interests in gaming. So when I played Overwatch, I created my first community on Discord. Shooting a few games with the right guy was me. would ask him: ‘Can you shoot, what’s your Discord name?’ “

Today, there is no denying Discord’s success and influence in the gaming community. The application can be used in parallel on both computers and phones, has more than 100 million active users each month, with millions of community groups on many different topics. Today, the Discord communities are not only about games, but also expand into many other fields such as movies, comics, animation, or even a place to exchange with different interest groups. again. It is no exaggeration to say that, almost anything on the Internet today, has its own Discord server.

Discord The journey from anonymous to someone who changed the way people play on the Internet | Explore

Discord is now home to many different community groups

Perhaps, 5 years ago, the founders of Discord did not dream that their product would become something capable of changing the entire Internet user community today.

It can be said that part of the reason for Discord’s success like it is now comes from the “transition” – from a voice chat tool between gamers to a place to build all kinds of communities. . And “conversion” is also one of the very important keywords in the process of forming a powerful Discord like now.

Back to the past

Before he co-founded Discord, Jason Citron was just as passionate about games as many of us were. “Back then was the period when Battle.NET was still flourishing. I played Warcraft and World of Warcraft a lot, and I also played Everquest,” Jason shared. Even because he loves playing games, he almost failed to graduate from college.

It’s his passion for gaming that directs Jason to the coder career, with the desire to create his own games. After graduating, Jason founded a small game studio, and released a game on the iPhone in 2008. Then the game, after a while, was transformed into a small social network for gamers on the iPhone. with the name OpenFeint, which Jason described is “Just like Xbox Live, but for iPhone users.” Soon after, OpenFeint was acquired by Japanese Mobage giant Gree.

Discord The journey from anonymous to someone who changed the way people play on the Internet | Explore

Discord co-founders: Stan Vishnevskiy (left) and Jason Citron (right)

In 2012, Jason founded a new company called Hammer & Chisel, which focuses on “the target audience of tablet games, with online titles.” One of the company’s products is Fates Forever – a game somewhat similar to League of Legends, with built-in text chat and voice chat in the game.

Then, the most successful point of Fates Forever is not in graphics or gameplay, but in the chat system in the game. At that time, the gaming community around the world was still using TeamSpeak and Skype for voice chat. Skype’s conversation quality was poor, and there was high latency. TeamSpeak is better, but the price to rent a decent server is not cheap at all. Realizing that they could do better than that, the team of Hammer & Chisel decided to “give it a try”.

Of course, this transition is not easy. Hammer & Chisel then shut down the game department, laid off a third of the staff, moved a bunch of staff to other departments, and it took another six months for things to get on the way. Discord’s start hasn’t been particularly bright either. “When we first started, we only got about 10 users. Including 1 team playing League of Legends, some guys playing World of Warcraft, over. When we introduced Discord to our friends, they were. They all reacted ‘Oh! That’s good!’. Then they just ignored, don’t use, ” Jason shared.

Discord The journey from anonymous to someone who changed the way people play on the Internet | Explore

Few people know that Discord’s starting point was a clone game of League of Legends

After talking to a few real-world users and analyzing the data, the Hammer & Chisel team realized their problem. Discord was better then the real Skype, but still not good enough for others to want to use. The quality of the conversation fluctuates, the voice chats disconnect from time to time. A Discord still has many problems like that, of course no one will want to use it.

As a result, the development team had to “over and over” its voice chat technology three times in the first few months to get a better product. Also during this time, Discord also developed another feature for users, that is to allow the server owner to adjust the permissions of other members of his Discord server. Naturally, many people realized that Discord was much better, and they started asking their friends to use it.

May 13, 2015 was chosen by Discord as the time when the platform officially came into operation, because that’s when people actually use Discord. Someone introduced their server to the Final Fantasy XIV subreddit, and invited everyone to discuss the new expansion. Immediately, Jason Citron and Stan Vishnevskiy, the two co-founders of Discord also joined the server, and sat talking to everyone on the server. So the other newcomers went back to Reddit, telling stories: “Hey, I just talked to the Discord developers on that FFXIV server, they are so cool talking.” So they dragged more other people also join the server.

“That day, we recorded a few hundred new registrations, and this was the starting point for our Discord train.” Jason Citron shares.

Discord The journey from anonymous to someone who changed the way people play on the Internet | Explore

Discord Development Team, 2015.

“Vind” can be considered as one of the Discord users from its very beginning. He and his gang of shooting friends Battlefield 4 have “migrated” from TeamSpeak to Discord, at a time when the stories they speak every day are no longer limited to gaming.

“After a long time playing together, we are not just a gaming association anymore, but also expand into many other areas of life,” Vind shares.

One of the advantages of Discord is that this application allows users to set up private chat channels, from which it is possible to systematic conversation topics for large groups. However, for Vind, Discord’s most impressive feature is that you absolutely can “Jump into a blank voice chat channel, and everyone looks at it: I’m sitting here, anyone want to talk to us?”

This results in the Discord voice chat unlike you making a single phone call to other people on the channel. All you need to do is connect to the voice chat channel, and that’s it. In comparison, the Discord server is like a building, the private chat channels are like rooms, and the voice chat channel is like a sofa. All you need to do is simply sit back and chat.

Application of techniques for development

Technically, creating such a handy Discord is not easy. According to Vishnevskiy, one of Discord’s founders, “This required us to come up with a completely different way of building the system.” Developers have spent a lot of time to help users switch smoothly between using Discord on mobile and computer. In addition, one of the issues that Citron and Vishnevskiy’s teams always have to deal with is finding ways to minimize voice chat latency to the maximum.

Recently, Discord has also integrated video chat and streaming features into its application. Of course, this is not an easy task, especially if they want to upgrade the image quality to 4K 60fps. In addition, how to integrate is also a difficult question: Create a separate video channel and require users to do more when you want to switch from voice chat to video call? Or directly integrate this new feature into voice chat channel? Finally, as we have seen, the integration option was chosen by the Discord team.

Discord The journey from anonymous to someone who changed the way people play on the Internet | Explore

Discord now has integrated Livestream screen sharing feature into voice chat channel

Now, Discord is a sum of many things. On one hand, this application is very similar to Slack, with different chat channels serving different purposes, as well as giving users the right tools to find the right person, the right place. On the other hand, Discord is like Reddit, full of conversations with heavenly topics under the sea. (In fact, many of the major Reddit communities already have their own Discord servers where members can chat in real time.) As a result, Discord created something that could be done. called “third environment” on the Internet, separate from “home” and “workplace”.

Unlike many applications such as Zoom or Teams – which focus on upgrading work features during the Work From Home period in mid-season – Discord’s essence is still a chat application for gamers. Therefore, optimizing the experience is the development team’s biggest priority.

“We invest a lot in research into technologies that make gamers’ gaming chat experience as best as possible. The latency issue has long been resolved, but we want to drive results. similarly when a voice chat room has more than 1000 people. Of course, this goal is only important when we are a chat application for gamers, not a remote meeting application. ” Vishnevskiy shares.

Discord The journey from anonymous to someone who changed the way people play on the Internet | Explore

Recently, Discord has allowed users to voice chat and stream game screens right on the app

Parallel to the strong growth of Discord, is the growth of communities on this chat platform. Nowadays, Discord servers can be found on almost anything. Returning to the story of the player nicknamed Discord “Vind”, now he has become the admin of a community of Formula 1 enthusiasts, with more than 5700 members.

“I wasn’t originally the founder of this community either. Someone created this server, but then he left it.” Vind shares.

Vind joined the Discord server mentioned above in 2016, when the whole community was only about 50 people. After a while seeing the community admin leave the server “self-destructing”, Vind contacted admin directly through Reddit, asking for administrator rights to be able to add some new features by himself. server.

“Then he handed over the server to me, saying that now he will move to building community on Kik, believing that is the right choice. And I, ever since, have been trying to building a community of people who share similar interests with the subject. “

With the number of members reaching 5700 people, managing the server of course will have many difficulties. However, the bot system that users can integrate into the server has made the administration more convenient. The server’s admin bot named CarlBot has done a great job: automatically deleting voice chats containing sensitive keywords, as well as reporting problematic members to members of the board. . “When a user violates the rules of the server, we will ban them. When new users join the server, they must always read and agree to abide by the given rules, before they can. join the chat. ” Vind said.

“A community development environment they want to see”

Of course, with an application that has grown at scale like Discord, things don’t always go smoothly. In the history of this application over the past 4 years, there are many Discord servers that have become a “lair” of bad problems on the Internet. Pornography, racism, online bullying, dangerous schemes, etc. have all appeared on the platform. Of course, this is not a problem for Discord alone, but also for Facebook, Reddit, 4chan, as well as the Internet in general. But, experts have also voiced concerns about Discord because of the ‘semi-private’ nature of the platform. Moreover, the fact that Discord users are mostly young people also raises certain concerns.

Speaking of which, the Discord development team admitted that they were slow to deal with negative content on the platform. Such content was only really noticed by Discord after the riots in Charlottesville in 2017, and investigations revealed that the instigators planned their own Discord server long ago. there.

Now that Discord has grown and made certain achievements, the development team naturally has to adapt and change. Sean Li, head of safety issues on Discord said: “Discord is now like a country with more than 100 million people, living in different cities and towns. We create rules that tell the people what can and can’t be done to help. communities can thrive in a healthy way, as well as providing administrators with powerful tools to create the community growth environment they want to see. “

Discord The journey from anonymous to someone who changed the way people play on the Internet | Explore

Discord is a free environment, but that freedom needs to be within the framework, with so many rules.

Besides, another issue that Discord team needs to take into account is: How to make money. Currently, this is not a matter of urgency, given that Discord has grossed more than $ 100 million just last summer. According to estimates by Forbes, Discord will profit about $ 120 million in 2020, with a total value of the company is $ 3.5 billion. But this is just a story of the present, and Discord still has to consider how to make a sustainable money for the future as well. But according to Citron and Vishnevskiy, they do not want to hang ads or sell personal information of users.

Contrary to the development team, many Discord users see the platform as a business tool. Take Mikeyy for example, he is no longer just a normal Overwatch player anymore. Now, he manages a large Discord server in the FIFA community. There is a VIP room on this server, and for $ 13.99 per month, members can join this VIP room to receive premium tutorials to help improve their levels. However, the transactions in the server are done through Paypal, and of course Discord does not enjoy any benefit from these transactions.

Discord The journey from anonymous to someone who changed the way people play on the Internet | Explore

Discord’s current main sales come from Discord Nitro and Server Boost service

To date, Discord’s main sales are still from Nitro sales and server boosting. Nitro is a $ 10 monthly subscription service that allows users to change usernames, use more emoji, and improve the quality of video chat and chat. Meanwhile, server boost service is a form for community activists to contribute to their “common home”, helping to upgrade the server to unlock more advanced features.

Discord’s ambitions don’t end there. In 2018, they decided to expand their direction by adding a game store service to their system. As can be seen, after defeating Skype and TeamSpeak, Discord’s next attack target was Steam. However, it seems that this time the development team has chosen a slightly outrageous opponent, and the game store system was shut down after a few short months.

Discord The journey from anonymous to someone who changed the way people play on the Internet | Explore

Discord once tried to sell games to compete with Steam, but failed

This failure of Discord spurred them to the next “transformation”: now Discord is not just a software that only caters to gamers, but they must become a service for all. everybody.

Everyone’s place to relax

In fact, from the very beginning, about 30% of the servers created on Discord’s system were not intended for the gaming community. However, this group of customers was not paid much attention by the development team, due to Discord’s philosophy at that time was still “Maximum service for gamers experience”. But in the past year or so, things have been different. Discord’s team has also started to actively carry out surveys to change and better serve all types of customers using its services, not just serving gamers.

Recently, the Discord survey has a question that: “What is most misleading about our service?” The answer is given by the majority of users: “Is software just for gamers.”

Discord The journey from anonymous to someone who changed the way people play on the Internet | Explore

Discord’s original “gamer” identifier

And indeed it is. Groups and communities that are not related to games such as gardening, knitting, Origami paper folding, etc. are really difficult to entice new members to join Discord because this application looks good. The slightly “pit” part with the logo is a stylized gaming controller, along with a series of feature introductions that look at it for gamers.

To change this, in early 2020, the Discord development team planned to change the design, as well as reposition its brand to make the app accessible to the masses. use more commonly.

Then, COVID translation took place, with complicated developments around the world.

In the midst of many countries issuing restrictions on going out and avoiding crowds, the Internet has become the place where most daily activities take place. As a result, the number of Discord users increased sharply, up to 47% in the period from February to July only. Study groups use Discord for discussion, teachers also use Discord for distance learning, and friends use Discord to chat. And, these new users also quickly realized what made this app score in front of the gaming community before: Discord offers an extremely pleasant user experience.

At the end of June, Discord completed its rebranding. Now, this app’s new slogan is “Where you are free to chat”, with the home page redesigned to be no more “just pure game” as before. Discord founders Citron and Vishnevskiy said in the newsletter about the change: “Obviously, as people spend more and more time online, they want to go to places that give them a sense of belonging, where they feel they belong.”

Discord The journey from anonymous to someone who changed the way people play on the Internet | Explore

Discord’s new home page interface

Of course, Discord still has a lot of work to do to improve itself, and always has to think about developing new features to meet the needs of users – but at the same time does not make use of the application. Application becomes more complex.

Five years is not a long time, but Discord has made great strides in it. They have built a place that is completely different from other places on the Internet. Discord is not like a group chat group, much less a forum, nor is it a software for calling meetings remotely. But at the same time, Discord is also able to meet all 3 needs, to become a place where people can freely interact with each other on the Internet. This is probably not the goal that this app development team set from the start, but it is the “answer” they come up with after many conversions to reach success.

According to Protocol

[ Æsir Tales ]
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