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Microsoft may buy Discord — here's what it means for gamers

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(Image credit: Discord)

Bloomberg recently reported that Microsoft may be interested in buying gaming-focused chat service Discord for a $10 billion. However, Microsoft is not the only company interested, as both Amazon and Epic Games have allegedly discussed a Discord acquisition before. Discord's sale to Microsoft isn't guaranteed, however, as the popular chat service could also launch as a public company on the stock market. 

In many ways, Microsoft buying Discord would make sense. Many people play games on both Windows PCs and Xbox consoles, so adding Discord to the Microsoft family would be logical. The companies have also worked together previously, offering Nitro subscribers a free three-month Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription as an incentive.

Microsoft could even use Discord on Xbox consoles to allow gamers to communicate with each other. At the moment, you can link your console to Discord so that people can see what you’re playing, but you can’t join chat or voice channels. 

Discord boasts around 100 million active monthly users. The app has become enormously popular, thanks to its simple integration with games and its robust chat features. There are also countless plugins for the platform that boost its usefulness, from podcast recording services, to bots that manage communities. 

However, this isn’t Microsoft’s first foray into buying chat apps. The company bought Skype for $8.5 billion in 2011, and you’d struggle to dress that up as a success. Skype was huge back then, and had few rivals. But Skype's popularity hasn’t kept up with the likes of Zoom, or even Microsoft’s own Teams program, when it comes to video/voice calling. 

Still, a hybrid Discord/Xbox Game Pass Ultimate service could make a lot of sense for gamers. Such a subscription could save users money while providing them with a large library of games. Offering Discord functionality might also help Microsoft boost Game Pass subscriptions, would help the service succeed. 

Investors valued Discord at $7 billion at the end of 2020. Discord could opt to list itself on the stock market with an initial public offering, which could see the company's value jump. If Discord were to sell itself to Microsoft, that would certainly
be an easier option. But Microsoft's track record with chat apps might worry gamers, who have come to love Discord for what it is right now. 

A tech journalist with many years of experience, Ian got his start writing about the battle between HD DVD and Blu-ray. Technology might have moved on, but there's still plenty of skirmishes to report on.