For people who play video games on PC, Discord is a big deal – it lets them talk to their friends while they play and interact with other fans and their favorite players when they do not play. Non-gamers can be surprised that they are murderers: Currently, Discord has registered 150 million users and has 19 million people using it every day.
Now the "earnings" company is ready to start making money. It will sell new games to the millions of users, "says Discords CEO Jason Citron on the last episode of Recode Media .
The games will be sold in two ways: Users who pay $ 5 per month for premium Discord features will have access to an all-you-can-eat buffet of games or they will be able to buy games à la carte. Although the PC game market is currently managed by the Valve-owned digital store Steam, Citron believes that Discord's social features will drive players to discover new titles they would not play otherwise.
"The primary way I find out which games are based on what my friends do," said Kurt Wagner, Citron Recode's . "Now I can see it very clearly in Discord, and I can go straight from us."
For now, the Discord store will not have any PC games at all and you will not find major cultural -touchstone titles like Epic Games Fortnite. Instead, Lemon said it would cure a list of "cool indie titles" and recommend them to users based on their friends' taste; Discord will take an average of these sales, even if it does not give the income terms.
"The other stores have, like everything," he said. "You go in and there are tons of things everywhere… We really want to create the feeling of going into a neighborhood store where you feel there are people where you trust who are curators the range of available things and calling out why you should be interested. "
You can listen to Recode Media on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Cloudy or wherever you listen to podcasts. Below we have divided an easily edited full print of Wagner's conversation with Lemon.
Kurt Wagner: I'm here with Jason Citron, CEO of Discord. Jason, welcome to the show.
Jason Citron : Thank you for having me.
Thank you so much for being here. We are going to talk about a lot of things today; You have some news to talk about, we're going to talk about games, we'll talk about messages, text, voice, all those things. But I have to ask you the most important question in play right now, that's how many hours a day you play Fortnite?
Do not you know? Running this whole business takes a lot of time.
Yes. Are you a fortunate guy?
I'm not really really.
It feels like … And I had a 10 year old test and explain to me how Fortnite worked and it made me feel older than I've ever felt in my whole life.
But it seems like today's moment, right? I think I do not miss it.
Yes, that's right. That is right.
Do your employees do that or what?
Yes. Everybody plays something other than me, I think.
Well, you have to stop working so hard on your business, apparently.
Cool. Where I want to start today is quite what Discord is and who you are. I think outside maybe the technical world … There is probably a large group of players who know who you are, but I do not even know much. We met before a couple of times and chatted, but I would not consider myself a hardcore gamer with any stretch, and so I hoped you could let us down to what Discord is.
Yes, sure. So Discord is a voice, text and video chat app for people who love to play video games. So, it's pretty like Skype, but the design with all the things that anyone playing games on the computer can care about.
And is it especially for computers or would I use Discord if I played Xbox or PlayStation or any of them as well?
You can use it if you play console games, but it's primarily for PC and mobile games.
Ok, and so what did you say … You know, you said it's pretty like Skype. Obviously, Skype existed, I use FaceTime or things like talking to people all the time. What made you say, "Hello, we need a specific communication tool just for players"?
Yes. So there are a few things about how to play games, especially on your PC, it … Apps like Skype – and there are other apps before what you probably have not heard of, things like TeamSpeak and Mumble – that people also used when they played games like World of Warcraft. These apps have some special issues when playing a fullscreen game on a computer.
So if you think about it, you're on your computer, like a PC says, and you play a game like World of Warcraft … Or let's go with Fortnite, right? Since everyone is doing it now.
Okay, sure yes. The game of the moment.
The game of the moment. Everyone does the dance. You have Fortnite on your screen and if you want to jump into a voice chat with a friend … Let's say I'm playing and a friend turns on his computer and is like, "Oh, man, I want to play with Jason. Let me go and send him a message. "If I used Skype, he had to call me. And when you call me, a thing appears on my screen, which reduces the game.
It interferes with the gaming experience.
Exactly. There I have an all-fan, who then closes the game, and then I have to interact with Skype. Not good, right? If you play a game and you're in the middle of the storm from Fortnite, the last thing you want to do is stop and stand still. And you just die, right?
So with Discord, for example the way the calling system works, it's a bit the opposite; It's more like a conference call that's always on. So you make a place, we call it a server; It's quite like a group chat that I can invite people to. So let's say I set up a server for us to hang out. I can put it up whenever I want and now, if I'm on my computer, playing Fortnite and you turn on Discord, you can see that I'm playing Fortnite. And there is a voice channel there, a bit like a text channel can be in something like IRC or Slack. You can just tap it and jump into the voice call with me without having to click a button or get things that appear on my screen.
And that's because you had previously invited me or gave me permission and said hello, we know each other, so it's cool if Kurt jumps in.
So I guess you're a gamer.
I know you said you drove a company, maybe not as much as you want. But what did you do … Or I guess what time did you come to realize that this was a problem in play?
Yes. You know, that's a great question. A small story section here, we assume, for our company: Before we built Discord, we were actually a game studio, and then we built multiplayer games on the iPad, of all things. This was a few years ago. And we built a team-based multiplayer game that had voice chat built into it. And then while building that game, we tried to figure out how to solve some of these voice chat problems for people who actually play games and then also noticed our own behavior plays games again then like the League of Legends and World of Warcraft; Still using apps like Skype and how it was a bit frustrating.
When we launched our game, we thought about what to do next time. The game industry is difficult, so the game did not even get hit, even though we were very proud of it. And in that time I had a conversation with founder Stan and talked about how the voice chat experience our players had in our game was not very good and he made an observation that was like "Yes, and the voice chat experience we have when we play games PC is no good anymore. "And then one thing went to another and we came up with this idea to reinvent the way the voice chat apps work for players on the PC.
And it sounds … It may be obvious if you are a gamer, but for people who are not a gamer, really, how important is it to really talk to other people while playing? I mean I played video games alone for a long time.
Is it an important part of the video game experience that people need to communicate constantly?
If you play competitive, yes. You can imagine playing a sport, you know, you play a game like basketball with your friends or something out, imagine you could not talk to each other, right? It is very difficult to communicate and coordinate. So most of the big games these days are team-based multiplayer games where you want to communicate and coordinate to work with people. And so the whole trend of eSports and these competitive multiplayer games mean you really need to talk to your teammates when playing.
So voice chat is important in these environments, but in addition there are many people – and this is more how I behave; I'm not really a competitive player – play games as a way to spend time with the people you care about, with your friends, right? And so for me, games were always about spending time with my brother or with my wife or friends and when we're not in the same place, do it over the computer, we play multiplayer games and you want to use voice chat candy that you can talk about anything while playing, even if you do not coordinate in the current moment.
And then you consider yourself a game industry? Do you see yourself as a communications company? I realize that there are a lot of both, but you know you've made a lot of money … I had written it down somewhere, $ 130 million, I think, a valuation of $ 1.65 billion. It's a business here. When you go on the track, how do you describe yourself? What bucket do you put in?
Right. Yes, that's a great question. I think of ourselves as it crossed; We are a communications company, but focused on gaming, right? Because the needs of players are quite special. You know, I mentioned such a thing about getting disturbed. If you do not play games you would not necessarily know it, right? There are a lot of things that players need from their communication tools that nobody really took seriously. And then I think we're kind of crossing.
Yes. So give me some of your background. You mentioned that you had developed some games before Discord appeared. I think you've earned money, you sold a company earlier … Weak something.
OpenFeint, I'm so sorry. OpenFeint you sold too much money, like $ 100 million or something like that.
Yes, it was a pretty wild experience.
Yes. I mean, walk through it; I imagine selling a company for $ 100 million is a wild experience. What is that?
Yes. Well, it turns out that it may be bitter, something that was a bit unexpected to me. But you know, that experience was … Basically, when the iPhone came out. We started again with a game, funny enough … this is my life story. We launched a game the day the App Store opened, I think it was like 10 years ago now, so we were one of the first 50 games in the App Store. It was called Aurora Feint. It was kind of like a Tetris game with a Lord of the Rings, a kind of RPG aesthetic around it, and …
What a combination.
I would not put the rule of the Ring and Tetris in the same sentence, but now we have.
Well, you go. You can go and watch it on YouTube.
So we built this game and then led one thing to another and we decided to take the technology we built inside the game, which were like top lists, such as high score ranking, chat room, things like that, and extract it into a software-as-a-service package that offers other game developers. And this was back before Apple had its Game Center, and Google had its stuff and it was just pretty good. And then we swung the company from the game to that platform, which was what …
So you build features mainly for other games to build on?
Or add, I suppose.
Yes, yes. So if you make a game and you want multiplayer features in your iPhone game early, you can use a service like OpenFeint to add these features to your game without having to do all backend management of servers and things like that .
Yes, got it.
And we also provided a social networking layer that you could actually show to your players. So as a user, you would have an OpenFeint profile that went over game.
And such kind of experience, which went from which we launched to finish in two years, we were like five employees to 100. I think we launched 10 games and when I sold the company we had thousands of games, 30 percent by the top … You know, App Store used OpenFeint. It was a good learning experience for me because I sort of went from being a game developer, it's my background, learning to be CEO and all kinds of things you need to do when driving a company.
And after we sold, the bittersweet part was that I really thought I should move on and continue building the product in conjunction with a larger company, and finally it did not end.
I think it rarely does when founders sell; It's quite rare that someone sticks to the acquiring company for a long time, right?
Yes, yes. Perhaps they call it an end of a reason.
Yes, I suppose. So how has it changed the way you think of Discord? Because Discord is older than I thought; It may be, what, six or seven years at this point?
Yes. Well, Discord is three years old.
Oh, I'm sorry.
No, that's okay. The company is six years old, that's right.
Got it. Then the turn happened three years ago. How has it changed how you think of Discord?
Yes, I mean … Well, if we can build an independent business, I'd love to. You know, we are still pre-income for the most part. So you know, we'll see if we can do it. Some of the news that we share at some point are some cool things we develop on that front.
You have some news that you advertise. I want you to talk about it, but I will do my best to sum it up in two seconds here: You are launching a game store. So you have a subscription product; If I'm a Discord subscriber, I can now also buy the games I play through Discord. Is that the core of the news?
Yes, very close.
Okay, good. Correct me What did I miss?
So we have a subscription product to add, like an all-you-can-eat buffet of games you can play, as well as having a store where you can buy games. So there are two separate things.
Okay, so if I'm a gamer, I buy PC games only? Can I buy games for the Oculus Rift headset? What can I actually buy from you?
Yes, then we start with PC games. And so the idea is that most people who use Discord play games with their friends and the way they often use is that they open the app and we recently added a new game tab that is like a website that shows what all your friends are do across all the different places you have in Discord. So I can easily see if you play Fortnite and my other friends play League, or who does what. And from there, now we make it very convenient for you to be able to buy certain games that we have available for sale.
So the idea is to make it extremely convenient for people who see that their friends play a game to buy it.
So explain why it's a big deal. As a non-gamer, I think of this like the App Store or the Google Play Store. Is that the right analogy?
Yes, except …
So there is a great opportunity, it sounds like.
Well, I want some numbers.
You want numbers? So the numbers I remember are that I believe that the gaming industry was over $ 100 billion last year in total sales, and PC was about a third of it at around $ 33 billion.
So people buy $ 33 billion worth of PC video games a year.
Yes. You may wonder what people spend money in Fortnite, but there you are.
Apparently so. And now you want some of it?
Yes, I think it's an opportunity for us to add value to people's lives by helping them discover games they love to play, right? The primary way that I figure out which games to play are based on what my friends do. Right? Now I can see it very clearly in Discord and I can go straight from us.
I think as a business that I think it's a great opportunity for us to generate revenue and be sustainable. But I really think it's a lot of value to add to the customer's life in removing friction from finding out, "What should I play and how do I buy it?"
So you've developed games before. I'm curious, as a developer, what do you look for when trying to distribute your game? Why does anyone come to work with Discord compared to another kind of game store?
That's a great question. As a developer there are people who are looking for, really the easiest way to get their game in front of the people who want to play it.
One of the very cool things that happened organically on Discord is that developers have started setting up servers, which are the groups we call them servers. Setting up servers like essentially anyone who is a fan of their companies or games can come and join. And they show them on their websites, and sometimes directly in their game titles. So developers have started building Discord communities where they are connected with their "super fans" and have conversations about what they're working on and what features come next and what players want to see.
Now, let's actually let them just give those players an easy way to buy directly from them at the place they already are.
So people already have … They are already pitching their game to the users?
Now you only want to facilitate sales?
I think Steam is the biggest game store right now for PC games. It sounds like they are quite anchored. They have quite a big business at the moment. I think it was over $ 4 billion in sales they did last year. Why would a developer work with you specifically against them? Do you want exclusivity of any kind? What's your tone, I suppose why anyone should work with Discord?
Yes. Our pitch is simply that the Discord store is going to be a very cure experience. So, the other stores you mentioned have everything. You enter and there are only tons of things everywhere. As a consumer, it is difficult to analyze it and find out what I'm looking for. If I do not know exactly what I want, it's a little hard to figure it out.
In our case, A) Because your friends are there, you get a lot of input about what you might want from your friends. So, if you make a great game and people play it, people will discover it on Discord.
Two, the actual storefront itself will be heavily cured by us. So, we actually go in and make decisions if we think … As we edit it, either we think these games are worth playing or not.
So many of these things we actually begin with are very cool indie titles that many may never have heard of, but really should play. Because they are good games that are hard to find in the wall of things in the other stores.
As a developer, it's exciting with it, we basically give you the opportunity to put your game in front of millions of people who might want to play it.
So I think I saw that you describe it as when you go into a small little bookstore?
And it says, "Kurt recommends this book," right?
Is it just that way?
That's the idea. We really want to create the feeling of going into the neighborhood bookstore. Where you feel there are people you trust that are curating the range of available things and calling out why you should be interested in different things. Unlike going to a larger bookstore, such as Borders, for example, which does not exist anymore.
I'd just say, Borders, throwback.
Barnes and Noble, I suppose?
Okay, they're still around. You go into these stores. It's a completely different mood than when you go into a neighborhood bookstore.
Yes. So you want to be the neighborhood game store?
I am writing a lot about social media, and there is always conversation around these platforms, and how are those who make the content paid in proportion to how much the platform does. Can you give me a sense of what the business of this will actually look like?
Yes, we still expect to figure it out. I will not share exactly what our terms will be on the record. But our goal is to have an environment where developers feel that they get a lot of value from exploiting the platform, that our customers and players find much value from what they see and that we "be able to participate in it in a way that help us maintain our business.
So, there will be some sort of revenue sharing though?
Yes, there will be a revenue share, but it will be small.
Are you talking to … I imagine
What has been the general feedback you have received? Has it been tough from people?
No, you have been talking to developers for some time?
The reality is that for most people who have made PC games, the landscape has not changed significantly for the way they can build their businesses and bring their games to the market for a long time. I think we have a good deal pride in changing how it works. I think the reason developers have been hyped about it because I think they see it too.
We have a society of many people playing games and they come to Discord every day to start doing it. I think it puts us in a unique situation in order to actually recommend content to people and possibly affect developers companies in a very positive way.
Have you seen any other companies for inspiration at this point?
Yes, all the time. Like everyone else, I always keep my finger on what's happening over the game industry, trying to find out who's doing what's cool and what we should take inspiration from, what we should overlook.
But everything always comes back to integrating it in our perspective on how we think we will deliver the value and quality line we have to carry out product. Then do it with our take.
Who is doing well? You know what I mean? Who admire it is out? Maybe not necessarily direct selling games, but either doing communication or some kind of tech? I imagine that people are following you closely.
Right. That's interesting. In the past, the truth for games, at least on PC, there are many studios that make content that I love. But, for whatever reason, there are not really many people who build technology and tools around games and games that I think is doing a great job right now. Which is honest, the reason is that Diskord exists.
I know you said you should start with PC games.
What is the plan to go beyond that? Do you want to sell games to VR? Are you going to sell something else?
Unclear at this point. Obviously the gaming industry is big. There is a lot of fragmentation, unfortunately, across platforms that have different agendas of what they want to do. So it makes it challenging to necessarily say: "We'll just go everywhere at once." But I think the possibility of PC is really, very big. So, like a startup, you need to focus. I like to say that we say "No" to good ideas to say "Yes" to the big ones. So, we just keep very focused on things we know how to cope right now.
What are some of the biggest PC games in the market right now?
Yes, that's all you're in play you've probably heard of. Like Fortnite, Legends Legend, Overwatch.
Do you want to sell … Are the types of titles you should have? Or because you do this neighborhood bookstore stuff, do you want things that people have not heard of?
Yes, we must have things people have not heard of.
Is there concern? I suppose everyone wants to sell Fortnite right now. Do you eventually want to expand to do something like that?
Certainly, if Epic came to us and was like, "Hey, sell Fortnite," I would not say no.
But I think, for the bigger developers, is there a question from their perspective on how do we add value to their business? They already have channels that they can get their games to market. Most people who make games do not.
So for those guys, I think they see Discord more like a communication tool in which they have communities that spend time. So they have servers that they have set up. In fact, we have a verified server program where game developers can basically make their servers an official place for their fans to get out. I mentioned this a bit.
So Fortnite has one and Overwatch, they do not have a verified server, but they have one of the dev teams that hang in one of their community servers. So, they interact with us at that capacity right now. If there are ways we can help them with their business that gives value to our customers, we would love to do that too.
The thing "super fan" is very interesting.
I wrote about it a few years ago. It is this perception that there are people who love certain brands so much that they initially become pseudo-employees, but without being paid. Is that what you're talking about?
Well, the first half of it, right? Yes, they love a brand, but we do not … When I say "super fan", I do not mean, "And make them do huge amounts of work for free." That's not what I mean. What I mean is a great fan of, for example, I choose Hearthstone. It's a game like in the first few years after it came out, I played too much of it. It is a card game made by Blizzard. Such as Magic: The Gathering, but on the computer.
The idea of super fans, essentially, is someone who is so passionate about a product or brand that it becomes part of their identity. They are so interested in the fact that they spend time following it, interacting with it, talking about it and just loving it, right?
So, Discord is a great tool for growing communities of super fans because it's an interactive place in real time. Wherever you have – and we see many game developers doing this, we'll see many companies also on this, especially startup, open Discord servers and post links on their website and social media for their company's fans. or products that love what they do the most, and jump in. Then you are in a chat room with the people who do it and you can talk to them.
It's like an extension of someone else's website maybe?
Yes, please. It's just a very cool phenomenon to see. I think there's a line, maybe, that's what you wrote about, as some companies will then take advantage of people and make them do a lot of work and do not pay them any money, which is not cool.
We have some community members who started contributing to us and we made sure they were compensated properly for that. But in general, the term "super fans", I think it's more of just people who are happy about what you do. So, we have this whole "super fan" philosophy inside Discord that can be very organic out of observing people who behave in this way.
I remember early when we launched Discord, we used to write these change logs – well, we're still writing change logs – we started writing these change logs when we updated the app. So, you load Discord and say, "Hi, it's a new feature." And we add jokes to the change log.
We noticed that people would start screening the jokes and posting them on Twitter and Reddit and we were like "Whoa. People really like these things and they share it and it causes growth in mouth-to- mouth. "Then we began to lend ourselves into this idea of how we can delight people to get them excited about us so they would share with their friends.
It's all about what we do. So, our customer support team, for example, I look at them as a "super fan" creation engine. Hver gang noen skriver inn og er frustrert om noe, det er en mulighet til at få den personen til å føle seg spesiell, som om du er bekymret for dem og at de mister. Ef þú getur gert það, þá verða þeir evangelistar og munu hrópa frá fjöllunum um hversu mikill þinn fyrirtæki er og hversu flott þú ert. Det er sådan en sundt strategi for kundesupport og vækst. Fordi du bare gør folk har en god tid og løser deres problemer, og så blir de glade for deg.
That kind of mentality, I think, is so important. Og vi gör det i hvert enkelt område af virksomheden.
I want to transition a little bit to some just general gaming questions. I started this conversation mentioning Fortnite. Det føles som det spill som har transcended fra den dieharde gamer community til mainstream. Am I crazy there? Like how big of a deal is Fortnite? As someone who knows the gaming industry really well, how big of a deal if Fortnite?
Big deal. Fortnite’s a big deal. It’s the first time that I’ve seen people who are totally not in the game space and are not gamers connect to gaming culture in a way that is actually authentic, right? I was on a plane the other day flying back from somewhere. You know, domestic flight. It was the Virgin America flight and they play that music video at the beginning. The flight attendant was doing Fortnite dances as she was buckling the seatbelt. I’m like, “What is going on?” and then she’s like, “I don’t know what it is, but my daughter does it.”
It’s transcended culture, basically. Pop culture.
I imagine that’s good for the broader gaming industry, or does a one-hit wonder like this matter?
Oh, I think it’s very important. Every time there’s a new mega hit, it pushes the boundaries of who’s familiar with games, how acceptable games are to folks that aren’t familiar with them. It helps to normalize gaming behavior, right? I think it’s great. There’s nothing wrong with it.
The last time I remember a game getting this popular was Pokémon Go a few years ago. I know they’re very different styles of games, but are there some similarities there? At least in what we’ve seen with the popularity?
I mean in terms of popularity, like I suppose so. Everyone’s talking about it and doing it. I mean, it’s nice with Fortnite. People are like walking off of cliffs and stuff.
That’s true. Getting robbed at the park or whatever, right?
Yeah. Pokémon Go was great because it got people to go outside and spend time together. I think that perhaps that’s the thing that underscores the biggest gaming hits of the last few years is that they’ve really been social experiences. Our whole stake at Discord is about bringing people together around games. That’s our mission. The more that games and gaming is normalized and seen as an acceptable way to spend time with folks, I actually think it’s a phenomenal positive trend that pushes against kind of the shallow social media trends that we’re also experiencing in sort of this modern internet age right now.
It’s funny you mentioned that because the terrible traditional gamer stereotype is the person who sits in their basement by themselves and doesn’t have a social life. To your point, both Fortnite and Pokémon Go are examples of relatively social games. How has the stereotype, how has that gamer stereotype changed over the last couple years?
Being a gamer, it’s actually a little bit tricky to comment specifically on how the stereotype has changed because I’ve always felt like it was a stereotype that was not accurate. I’ve been playing games ever since I was a little kid and that was never me and I never knew anyone like that. It was always this sort of thing, this concept that I think people that don’t understand games sort of imagined is what people who play games look like. I think now that people like me who grew up playing games are now like supposedly proper grown-ups, which is debatable, but I think that perspective is just kind of going away because I never saw people like that.
I feel like maybe eSports has helped a little bit too, right? Talk a little bit about eSports from where you sit because you guys don’t … You’re not involved in any eSports right now. Are any of those leagues using your technology?
I’m not sure if any of the leagues are using our technology, but I do know that the teams use Discord. They all have community servers set up where they hang out with their fans. ESports in general, I think, is definitely part of this whole trend around gaming behavior becoming normalized and really celebrated. The fact that games sell out arenas in LA and Seattle and Seoul, for folks to come and scream and wave foamy things and smack them around in the air to watch people play video games, it’s like so cool that it’s becoming normal.
How did that happen? That’s a relatively recent phenomenon, right?
Yeah. How did it happen? It’s a great question. If I had to guess, it might be that the people who love video games are now old enough to put these events on. You know? Like I said, we’re grown-ups now.
What kind of a role do you think someone like Twitch played in this? Because Twitch is where … Again, for those who don’t know, Twitch is video streaming, but people will spend hours watching their favorite game or play video games. Again, even that over the last couple of years has gone from like, “Oh, I can’t believe people are watching other people play video games,” to a pretty acceptable use of time.
The thing I think that Twitch did is it really made it easy and accessible to watch people play games online. I think that coupled with the explosion of League of Legends actually and how they formalized the events around eSports kind of outside Korea, I think really contributed to sort of kick-starting the flywheel of eSports becoming a normalized thing. The truth is, though, I always watched my friends play video games. It was just usually on a couch, you know?
This is again one of those things where it’s a behavior that I think people who have played games have always done, but thanks to modern technology has now been made accessible in kind of a new and interesting way.
I’ve always kind of thought of you guys as similar to Twitch, but different in the sense that you’re a technology lair that works with games, right? You enhance the gaming experience, but up until … Obviously you’re now starting to sell games. You had never really been doing that part. I guess I’m curious, would you ever want to stream games in the way Twitch does? Would you ever want to partner with Twitch? Now’s the time to announce that you really want to sell to Twitch or something like that, or to Amazon.
Discord fundamentally we view as more of a place to hang out with your friends, right? Folks have these large communities on Discord and we love that they do it, but most of the people who are on Discord are actually spending times in small groups with people they care about playing games. Think of it almost like your living room on the internet or like a tree house that you might have, but on the internet. When we design products and features, it’s more for that group of like five to 20 people that know each other and want to play games together.
We actually do have kind of like a screen-sharing streaming feature where if you want to play a game, I can watch you play, for example. People do this on Discord. Unlike Twitch, Twitch is more of a public broadcast. It’s like a TV channel, right, or a stage where you put up your stream and you’re kind of doing a performance and anyone can show up. That’s a very different experience as the person streaming than if you’re just having your friend watch. We kind of have a different perspective on the way that we’re building our tools and sort of how people use them.
You want it to be more intimate, not mass distribution?
Where does Facebook fit into all this? Because they’ve started to do kind of what Twitch is doing with game streaming. Makes some sense. People have profiles. There’s already this kind of community element to Facebook. Do you think that they’re a legitimate kind of player in this space right now?
I think they’re trying hard. I think Facebook has challenges with its brand, especially related to privacy stuff. Gamers are very particular about and sensitive to privacy and these kinds of issues. I think that as good as their product might be, they’re kind of fighting a battle against trends that they’ve in some ways created, which I think makes it difficult for them to ultimately be very successful in the gaming space.
What do you mean by that? Sorry. What trend have they created?
Yeah. Well, I mean the notion that sort of the way Facebook operates with how people feel like your privacy is intruded by using Facebook. Their whole business model, frankly, I think makes it difficult for them to kind of get out of that. Whereas like for Discord, we’re the complete opposite, right? The business model that we’re launching aligns with our customers. We’re selling you something and it’s all about delivering value to you that you pay us for.
Our whole approach on privacy is the complete opposite. It’s invite only. We don’t scan your messages. You have tons of privacy controls and all this different stuff because one of the things that gamers really care about, gamers tend to be more tech-savvy people and privacy is a thing that’s top of mind for them.
Is there a reason that privacy matters so much in gaming?
I think these are just tech-savvy people that are paying attention to what’s going on in the world.
They just don’t want their information out online.
I want to ask one more thing about eSports, have you been to any of those big tournaments before?
I actually have not.
I have not.
Okay. I was kind of hoping you had because I have not been, but I’m curious if you … Is it something you’d like to do? Tell us about your gaming. You said you’re running a company so you’re not gaming, but what is your gaming life like these days?
Well, I do play a lot of games. I’m just not so great at competitive games. I tend to play games more as a way to like unwind these days. Most recently I’m playing a game called Octopath Traveler on the Switch. It’s like an old-style Japanese RPG game. It’s beautiful.
How much do you game in a week or day?
At least 30 minutes to an hour a day if I can fit it in. Some weeks more than others. I think the last game that I just totally overdid on was God of War on the PS4. I think I spent like, I don’t know, like 60 or 70 hours. I got like 98 percent completion rate. It was phenomenal. I hop in and play Overwatch and I try and still get some Hearthstone in. League of Legends is fun. I play as social experiences to spend time with friends, but I’m not like super competitive in them.
Got it. When you see a stadium filled with tens of thousands of screaming video game fans waving towels and things like that, does that surprise you at this point, or are we going to start seeing a lot more of that?
It’s not surprising and I think we’ll see more of it.
In the U.S. in addition … I mean, I know it’s happening here, but originally it was big in you said Korea I think and other parts of Asia. This is a kind of thing that’s going to be happening all over the U.S.?
I think so.
Yeah. It’s great. I mean people are celebrating games. I think that the shared experiences and relationships that people create around playing games can be so meaningful and it’s just like a fantastic way to spend time and create friendships. I love that eSports is happening and helping people have another avenue to do that, and I love that at Discord we get to play a small part in that.
Well, the next time we do this, we will do it at a massive video game competition.
There you go.
Jason, thank you so much for joining us. It was a pleasure to have you.
Thanks. Great to be here.