Discord joins the fight … for your money. The popular communication platform for gamers is revealing today that it is opening a game store and adding an instant library of games to its Nitro subscription program. This is part of Discords continued pattern of growth from a social tool to a fully independent platform where you can buy (or subscribe to) games, maintain a library, and connect with friends for online multiplayer sessions. For many people like us, you grew up during a time when there were a relatively small amount of games being released, reads a Discord blog post. Today, the problem has flipped on its head. Theres an abundance of fantastic games. Fantastic games that we missed. Games that we even purchased but never got around to playing. We want to give you an easy opportunity to play the golden games youve missed and we want to offer an awesome selection. So, weve curated some of these golden games and will be adding them to Discord Nitro. The store is opening up in soft launch today for 50,000 players in Canada, and Discord plans to expand to more players and regions over time. Those early testers will also see the beefed up Discord Nitro, which includes a curated list of games that automatically appears for download in the new Discord library tab. The service plans to curate the games that appear both in the subscription and the store, so dont expect Steam like numbers of new games for now. And developers who sell their games in the store will get the same 70-30 split (30 percent going to Discord) that is standard on all other distribution platforms. And, of course, you can add all of your games from any service to Discords library so you dont have to open multiple frontends and stores. The game library in Discord. Heres whats in the Nitro subscription at launch: And heres what you can buy in the store: Discord is also introducing the First On Discord program where it will help launch indie games that are only available on its store or through Nitro for a limited time. Supporting indie games pushes the boundary of creative game design and is important to innovation and the long term health of the industry, reads the blog post. To be very clear, First on Discord games are temporarily exclusive. Theyre literally first on Discord — usually 90 days and then the developers can sell anywhere else they want. This beta wont have any First on Discord titles, but well be showing off some soon. So Discord is getting into the battle for your gaming dollars. Steam has dominated PC for so long, but it seems like something has broken loose recently. Major publishers are leaving Steam for their own platforms, and maybe Discord has enabled them to feel confident to do that because so many players no longer rely on Valves service for their social interactions. But now Discord is opening up shop as well, and it could potentially turn all of those users into customers in a way that disrupts gaming forever.
Just a few weeks back, Valve moved into Discords turf a bit with a dramatic overhaul of Steams chat system. Today, Discord is returning the favor by playing with the idea of selling games through its namesake chat platform. The company says itll launch a beta of the game store later today, though itll initially be limited to a small slice of its user base (which now sits at 150 million users). More specifically, the beta will roll out to just 50,000 users from Canada at first. Itll be dabbling in game sales on two fronts: theyll directly sell some games, while other games will be added perks for its Discord Nitro subscription service. Whereas Valve has massively increased the number of games on Steam over the last few years by opening up to third parties through things like Steam Greenlight or (more recently) Steam Direct, Discord is pitching this as a more curated offering with a slimmer number of options. At least at first, they say theyre aiming for something that feels more like one of those cozy neighborhood book shops — which, on day one of the beta, translates to 11 games. The games itll sell first: While 11 games may not seem like much, you can bet theyll offer more than that in time. See that screenshot up top? You dont dedicate an entire tab in some of your apps most prime screen real estate unless youre hoping to make it a key part of your business. Taking things one more step forward, Discord is also getting into (temporary) exclusives — or, as it calls them, First on Discord games. While it doesnt mention names and none will roll out with todays beta, Discord says itll soon highlight select indie games thatll be available only on Discord for the first 90 days-or-so after their respective launches. Meanwhile, the company is also testing the idea of building up its premium subscription add-on, Discord Nitro, into a game subscription service. Whereas the $5-per-month service previously primarily got you a few mostly aesthetic perks like animated avatars, a special profile badge and bigger upload limits, the same 50,000 players mentioned above (or, at least, those on Windows) will get access to a rotating set of games. The first games hitting the subscription beta: While many of those games arent exactly new (some of them are 5+ years old), a lot of them are really great games (Ive lost days to Super Meat Boy) that not everyone has gotten around to playing. Its a solid way to pique peoples interest in giving Discord a bit of money each month if the GIFs and badges werent quite enough. Oh, and for good measure, Discord is making itself a launcher — that is, youll be able to sort and launch most of the games on your computer right from Discord, including games purchased elsewhere and even those, notes the company, that require another launcher to run. If thats not a shot across the bow in Steams direction, Im not sure what is.