Discord is making a major change it has avoided making for years

Discord is starting to tiptoe into a new territory it previously admonished, and users may not be too happy about it. The social platform, which is primarily used by gamers, is reportedly close to officially adding advertisements to its gaming leg, despite its CEO previously saying that implementing ads into the platform would be too intrusive.

“On Discord alone, we host 1.5 billion hours of gameplay across more than 60,000 titles every month,” said Discord Senior Vice President Peter Sellis in a blog post announcing the change. “This is all awesome, except it’s becoming really difficult for game developers to break through and bring their ideas to life as a successful business.”

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According to a recent report from the Wall Street Journal, Discord is looking to roll out ads on its platform “in the coming weeks” and is reportedly looking to hire more than a dozen people to work in ad sales.

The ads, which will be from video game developers and publishers, will be in the form of “Sponsored Quests” where users can earn rewards by getting their friends to watch streams of them playing sponsored games and completing in-game tasks. 

The report also reveals that the ads will be tailored to users' demographics such as their age, the games they like to play and their location data. The ads will also live on the bottom left of users' screens.

Users will also have the ability to hide paid promotions for games they have no interest in.

The move from Discord comes after its CEO Jason Citron told the Journal in 2021 that users shouldn’t expect to see ads on the platform in the future since he believed that users have general a distaste for ads and want to keep their data private.

“We really believe we can build products that make Discord more fun and that people will pay for them,” said Citron while speaking to the Journal. “It keeps our incentives aligned.”

Jason Citron, CEO of Discord, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on January 31, 2024 in Washington, DC.

Alex Wong&solGetty Images

Later that year in August, Citron told NPR in a Q&A that its ad-free business model is part of its goal to make users on its platform “feel comfortable and safe.”

“We believe that people's data is their data and that people should feel comfortable and safe to have conversations and that their data is not going to be used against them in any way that is improper, he said while speaking to NPR. “We take privacy very seriously.”

Without ads, Discord relied heavily on making a profit by offering premium subscriptions that offer users extra features on the platform, game sales, server boosting, etc.

In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Citron revealed that Discord has surged in popularity since 2020, and it now has above 200 million active users a month. According to a source who spoke to Bloomberg, Discord’s revenue since 2020 has skyrocketed to $600 million annually, which is four times more than what it was before. Citron also revealed in the interview that Discord will probably go public “at some point” in the future.

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