Sony and Discord have announced a partnership that will integrate the latter’s popular game-centric chat app with PlayStation’s built-in social tools. It’s a big and rather surprising move considering how recent acquisition talks have been in the air. Sony appears to have made a better offer than Microsoft and took an undisclosed minority stake in the company prior to an alleged IPO.
The exact nature of the partnership is not stated in the brief announcement. The closest we can hear what will actually happen is that the two companies are planning to “bring the Discord and PlayStation experiences closer together on consoles and mobile phones by early next year,” which is at least easy to imagine.
Discord has worked with console platforms before, although the deal with Microsoft wasn’t a particularly deep integration. This is almost certainly more than a “friends can see what you’re playing on PS5” and more like “this is an alternate chat infrastructure for anyone on a Sony system”. Chances are it might be a comprehensive, system-wide but clearly labeled Discord option, such as: For example, when you invite or join a friend in your game, “Start Voice Chat With Discord”.
The early 2022 timeline also suggests this is a major product change that will likely coincide with a major platform update on Sony’s long-term PS5 roadmap.
While the new PlayStation is better than the old one in terms of voice chat, the old one wasn’t great at first, and Discord is not only easier to use but is already being used by millions of gamers on a daily basis. And nowadays, when a game isn’t exclusive, the next best option is to be robust cross-platform. PS5 players who can seamlessly connect and chat with PC players reduce a pain point there.
Of course, Microsoft has its own perks as it runs both the Xbox and Windows ecosystems, but it has repeatedly seized this opportunity and the Discord acquisition may have been the missing piece that held it all together. That bird has flown, of course, and while Microsoft’s acquisition talks have reportedly valued Discord at around $ 10 billion, the growing chat app appears to have decided to go free with an IPO and try to become the dominant voice platform everywhere to become a pet instead of becoming a prize.
Sony did its part financially by participating in Discord’s most recent $ 100 million H-Round. The amount they contributed is unknown, but it can’t be more than a small minority stake considering how much the company has taken and what the overall rating is.