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.
Discord is looking to supply games directly to its users. The company announced today that its rolling out a store beta to 50,000 Canadian users, who will be selected from the platforms Nitro subscribers at random. Its launch lineup includes Saints Row: The Third, Metro: Last Light Redux, Super Meat Boy, Hollow Knight, and Starbound. Discords game offerings will be curated by employees with the goal of creating a local bookstore vibe of hand-picked choices. The company also plans to introduce First on Discord titles, indie games exclusive to the platform for 90 days, as well as a universal library. This feature will allow Discord users to pull games from their computers and launch them directly from Discord, regardless of whether or not it requires another launcher. Discord may not be ready to rival behemoths like Steam just yet, but CMO Eros Resmini tells The Verge that its store will be driven more by friendships and playing together than what is currently available in the ecosystem. Discord users will be able to play along with friends who own the same games, regardless of where they purchased it. Our goal with Discord is to bring players together — never to fragment or add friction to gaming with friends, he says. Discord has become a home for many gamers who use it to connect with friends multiple times a day — some people seem to live on Discord, he says. With 150 million registered users thats a lot of building friendships while talking about and playing games together. Users with a Nitro subscription, which is available for $4.99 a month or $49.99 a year, will have access to a different library of games curated by Discord. All users, however, will be able to purchase games from the store.