Microsoft is reportedly in talks to acquire the social media platform Discord in a move that could further boost the software giant’s dominance on the gaming industry.
Discord is a community-based service that allows users to participate in forums, voice chat, and video chat in groups. Initially, it was primarily marketed to gamers, but the platform has since grown to become a holistic community of its own. Membership boosted exponentially during the earlier phases of the pandemic, and this growth hasn’t shown signs of slowing down.
People familiar with the matter have reported on the sales talks, although Discord has not confirmed its interested in being acquired by the software giant. However, experts point out that the purchase would be a natural fit for both entities.
“Microsoft possibly acquiring Discord makes a lot of sense as it continues to reshape its gaming business more toward software and services,” Bloomberg Intelligence Analyst Matthew Kanterman explained. “There’s a big opportunity to bundle Discord’s premium offering, Nitro, into the Game Pass service to drive more subscriptions from the last reported 18 million.”
It should be noted that Microsoft is very far from being a stranger to the gaming industry. Microsoft created and introduced Xbox in 2001, which remains one of the most popular platforms for video games. More recently, the company acquired ZeniMax Media, which publishes some of the oldest and most popular titles in gaming today — including shooter classic Doom and the Elder Scrolls fantasy role-playing series.
So, Microsoft already has firm footing in the gaming space — what does it want with Discord? According to the Verge, the answer is “community.”
“Microsoft has watched Google acquire YouTube and turn it into the world’s biggest video platform, Amazon buy Twitch and dominate streaming, Facebook acquire both Instagram and WhatsApp to control the way millions communicate and socialize online, and Apple rule mobile with its App Store,” Tom Warren writes for The Verge. “Discord gives Microsoft access to a growing list of more than 140 million monthly active users that includes thousands of top YouTubers, creators, and gamers. Microsoft wants its own community.”
There’s no denying the benefits of the acquisition — for Microsoft at least. Naturally, there is always skepticism when a large-scale purchase like this leaks to the public. A growing number of YouTube users have become dissatisfied with the way the service currently runs, noting that content creators are often pushed down in their algorithm in favor of more established media companies on the platform. On top of that, the increasingly strict approach to content censorship is pushing some members of that community to “alt-tech” sites.
Will the same thing happen to Discord? At this point, it’s impossible to tell. The platform has already had to grapple with its own user base by chasing allegations of hate speech. That said, the community doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon — whether Microsoft buys the site or not.