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You'll Soon Start Seeing Ads On Discord--From Your Friends

After saying it wouldn't run ads, Discord is going to run ads, because nobody knows how to make money on the internet.


Discord will soon start incorporating ads into its free in-game chat and streaming software, despite the fact the company has long said it didn't want to rely on ads for revenue like other social media companies.

According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Discord is looking to integrate ads from video game developers and publishers "in the coming week." Discord previously detailed its ad approach in a blog post. The idea is that you'll earn gifts for playing games and completing "Sponsored Quests," specific in-game tasks, while you stream for friends to watch. Friends watching will then get their own chances to complete a sponsored quest and earn their own rewards.

The idea sounds similar to the digital rewards, or drops, streaming service Twitch offers to viewers when they watch certain streams as part of paid partnerships.

Discord has a long history of claiming it didn't want to run ads like other companies that offer software and social networking services. Instead, the company offers "Nitro" subscriptions to users that give them enhanced functionality when they use Discord and range from $2.99 to $9.99 per month. As Ars Technica pointed out, Discord noted its anti-ad stance as recently as January.

It seems Discord's stance on ads and its subscription model are changing, though. The company laid off 17% of its workforce in January, or around 170 employees. At the time, CEO Jason Citron said the decision was made after it became "increasingly clear" the company needed to "sharpen our focus" and "bring more agility to our organization."

The question is whether adding ads to Discord will really work in the company's favor, since there's no way the service will be improved for users by any kind of ad experience. People like Discord because it offers easy communication in a largely unobtrusive way, and ads will weaken that experience regardless of whether they offer digital goodies along the way. It's also possible that Discord's advertising plan--to encourage its users to do the advertising to their own friends--will have the opposite effect and annoy users who feel like their friendships are being monetized by the platform. We'll apparently see in the coming days whether players wanted to be drafted into Discord's streaming advertising army in order to receive goodies in games like Fortnite.

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