Unless you’ve only just awoken from a very long coma, you’ll likely be aware of Discord – the voice and chat application used by video game fans the world over. Gaming’s social media killer app launched back in 2014 as a much more competent and modern alternative to teamspeak applications and has continued to be updated by various quality of life improvements ever since. Since its inception, it has become one of the defacto places for various gaming communities to set up camp within various dedicated “servers”. The fact that they now host a game marketplace should give you more of an idea of how popular this app is within the video game community.
Over the years it’s become less of a teamspeak app and more of a social media platform for gaming communities. But the real question that we’re often posed is: As a developer, is Discord where I need to be?
And yes, at the risk of spoiling my grand conclusion at the end of this post, Discord obviously has a lot of benefits developers can take advantage of. There are, of course, other variables to take into consideration to assess if Discord is the right fit for your game. These range from time, budget and scope to more logistical considerations like community management and server structure. If you’ve got the time though, Discord might be just the win you’ve been looking for.
A dedicated community, here just for you
Thanks to Discord’s ability to set up multiple nested text and voice chat “channels” within servers, the means to build a robust community for your players is right at your fingertips. A dedicated community of engaged players, just for you.
And the benefits of a more engaged community? Well, firstly, having a group of players with whom to communicate and solicit feedback is a gift, the benefits of which can’t be overlooked, especially for smaller teams who can then develop in parallel with feedback from a core group of fans who want to help shape the direction of the game they’re passionate about.
Secondly, in an ecosystem bursting with talented developers and fantastic concepts, where even truly great indie games can live or die based on word of mouth, keeping players talking about your game is critical. Staying in touch via a direct route such as Discord is the perfect way to keep driving the conversation forward and ensuring that the name of your game remains on players lips.
And don’t forget the multitudes of other extra community-focused goodies now offered up, like the ability to offer alpha and beta builds or demos of your game as a direct download within Discord itself – an incentive that will prove useful for growing your new community from a standing start – and being able to make announcements that you can be sure that people will actually notice, thanks to push notifications, and Discord begins to look like a very attractive option compared to other, typically less-effective means of engaging with your community.
So, it IS worth it then?
All of the above points to Discord being an extremely useful way to cater for your community in a way that you simply can’t with other platforms like Twitter and Facebook. In fact, indie publishing label No More Robots’ Mike Rose called his Discord server a “dream community” in a blog post about Discord – adding: “I now have plans to incorporate Discord into every game I publish.”
However, if you’ve been reading between the lines, you might have discerned that owning and operating your own Discord community doesn’t come without some work, and it’s not something you can just set up and leave to tick over on its own. Setting up a robust server with the requisite channels and user roles will take a little time, especially if you want the kind of depth that Mike was keen to add.
Even with the time involved, it’s tempting to put together your own Discord community over a weekend and start firing out invites. After all – to slightly misquote Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams (sorry Kev) – “if you build it, they will come”, right? Well, yes, they might. But that’s only half the battle.
A community, regardless of where it’s located, be it on Twitter, Facebook, or Discord, must be nurtured and kept engaged. If Kevin was right, and they do come, but you don’t find ways to keep them there, the risk is that they don’t come back.
However, if you believe that you can spare the time involved to build a community and then the subsequent time to continue to engage that community, Discord can be a highly rewarding element of your marketing strategy. Don’t underestimate the value of having the ability to communicate and collaborate with your players, available right at your fingertips.