Discord doubles down on apps to make servers more dynamic


Discord app directory
Image Credits: Discord

Discord is refreshing its popular chat app with a handful of new features, including one that developers who build tools for the platform have wanted for a long time.

The changes seek to make the community-building app a more versatile place to hang out, with new ways to customize the servers where hundreds of thousands of people regularly gather around games, hobbies or even well-loved creators.

Discord says that more than a third of its chat room-like servers use apps, often referred to as bots, already. The apps, miniature bits of automated software that run within Discord’s servers, offer utilities like moderation, digital DJing and basic games. Now, the company is introducing a full directory of apps, elevating the many bots and quirky bits of software that make Discord tick with a proper directory.

The app directory, which launches on Tuesday, will give server admins a one-stop shop for ways to build out their server to their liking. There’s already an app for almost everything. A sneakerhead server tracking new releases might plug in the StockX DropBot app, while a role-playing community could play a text-based RPG together directly within chat with IdleRPG. On a server dedicated to the generative art bot Midjourney, three million people are creating text-to-image AI art (300,000 people were doing this simultaneously at the time of writing).

On Discord, apps have largely been the realm of scrappy, small developers looking to build useful utilities. But it’s clear that the company’s vision for its in-server experiences is moving in a more official direction that could involve more official partnerships with big, established software makers.

Discord will also begin allowing a small cohort of hand-picked developers to sell premium app subscriptions from within the platform. Anyone can opt to pay for premium app features when the app directory is live and developers can sign up for a waitlist to get their own premium perks listed, but the test is fairly limited for now. 

The company is also announcing an expansion on the games front, introducing “activities” that bring more elaborate mini games like virtual golf, chess and poker into servers. While they’re not limited to games — one activity lets users queue and watch YouTube videos together — the new feature is designed to offer server members more ways to casually hang out and spend time together, whether they’re online at the same time or not.

“During the pandemic, synchronous behavior was very dominant,” Discord Platform Ecosystem VP Anjney Midha told TechCrunch. “But then what’s happened is for all the people who discovered that hanging out online and being connected is quite important to them… [Now] instead of having these long chunks of synchronous time, it’s often now many synchronous sessions interspersed with asynchronous back and forth.”

To build up useful apps and interesting projects, Discord is launching its own fund, starting with a pool of $5 million for “prospective developers, early-stage start-ups, and strategic partners to bring their creativity to Discord.”

Discord is testing forums, new mod tools and homepages that surface hot topics in some servers

Discord’s new activities launch this week. All users will have access to Putt Party (virtual putt putt) and the Watch Together activity from the jump, while anyone subscribed to Discord’s premium Nitro membership can play additional games including poker, a Pictionary-like game, chess and a Scrabble clone called Letter League. Users who pay for Nitro can invite non-premium members to play the expanded roster of games, but non-premium users won’t be able to initialize the full suite of new games and activities.

Discord adds Reddit-like Forum channels for chatting about specific topics

On the trust and safety front, Discord signaled that next month it will be introducing a new verification system that lets users link their profiles to services they use elsewhere, noting PayPal as the first example. The feature clearly takes aim at the rampant scams that plague some of Discord’s communities by showing when a user has a verified profile on a different trusted site and displaying that information within a server.

In addition to the product-focused changes, Discord is also adding a new entry-level subscription tier for Nitro. Nitro Basic will cost $2.99 a month, offering some core features for casual users, including custom emojis, larger file uploads and a profile badge. The new tier was available already for some users in the U.K., but it will launch globally on October 20.

“The new Nitro plan is perfect for people who use Discord to hang out with friends that aren’t necessarily gamers,” Discord Product SVP Peter Sellis said in a call. “They’ll be able to experience some of the best features of Nitro, but don’t need some of the more robust perks such as high definition streaming, very large file uploads or access to more activities.”

Discord adds Reddit-like Forum channels for chatting about specific topics

More TechCrunch

Welcome back to TechCrunch’s Week in Review. This week had two major events from OpenAI and Google. OpenAI’s spring update event saw the reveal of its new model, GPT-4o, which…

OpenAI and Google lay out their competing AI visions

Expedia says Rathi Murthy and Sreenivas Rachamadugu, respectively its CTO and senior vice president of core services product & engineering, are no longer employed at the travel booking company. In…

Expedia says two execs dismissed after ‘violation of company policy’

When Jeffrey Wang posted to X asking if anyone wanted to go in on an order of fancy-but-affordable office nap pods, he didn’t expect the post to go viral.

With AI startups booming, nap pods and Silicon Valley hustle culture are back

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

A new crop of early-stage startups — along with some recent VC investments — illustrates a niche emerging in the autonomous vehicle technology sector. Unlike the companies bringing robotaxis to…

VCs and the military are fueling self-driving startups that don’t need roads

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

2 days ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

2 days ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo