Discord – messenger, chatroom, and community network all rolled into one

Discord is a successful network that has attracted more than 150 million monthly users since its launch in 2015. We explore the community platform’s success model, along with its potential risks.

The Discord app is home to countless communities, who use it to interact and network.
Image: © Odvut / Adobe Stock

Launch of Discord as a chat forum for gamers


Discord was launched in 2015 and quickly became a popular chat platform for gamers, who still use the app today to talk with each other while playing and to strategize during co-op games. As a result, the app was able to quickly build a large user base. In the years that followed, the company went on to integrate links to Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, allowing Discord users to import their gaming contacts.


Today, Discord has broken out of its gaming niche and now provides spaces for a wide range of communities to interact among themselves.

The app’s popularity is largely down to its server structure, which Discord users have free access to.

Discord servers as community spaces

“Discord servers” is the term used by users to describe more or less closed channels that can be individually configured by groups. These channels function as a forum for group members to interact with a certain level of privacy. Hierarchical structures are implemented for Discord servers, with administrators being able to set who is allowed to access them.

Discord for school classes

During the coronavirus pandemic, schools were faced with the challenge of finding digital solutions to collaborate with their students. Some teachers created Discord servers for classes to interact digitally, and students also formed their own learning groups on the platform. Discord was thus able to significantly expand its reach.

Discord servers for crypto, NFTs, and niche communities

According to its own data, Discord now has more than 150 million users a month and 19 million active servers a week. The number of members in these servers varies enormously, since the Discord app also gives numerous small niche communities the opportunity to globally interact around the clock. Users can join existing servers, request access, or create their own server, which only takes a couple of minutes and costs nothing.

Discord particularly appeals to communities who embrace digital developments and platforms, which explains why there are lots of servers dedicated to NFTs, cryptocurrency, and Web3.

Not only are these servers used in a typical fashion as a place for interaction and as a source of information for those who are curious about the trending topics, but they also act as marketplaces for trading NFTs. This has given rise to whole art communities in the digital realm, where NFT artists come into contact with investors and collectors.


However, the Bored Ape Yacht Club’s Discord server made negative headlines in early June 2022 when it fell victim to a phishing attack, which saw a fake giveaway being used to steal NFTs and cryptocurrency worth several hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars. The hackers exploited the trust of users by posing as community managers. This incident highlights the damage that can be done when scammers infiltrate the private sphere of Discord communities.

Despite such risks, Discord’s multiple features keep winning over new communities.

Discord’s key features

Discord offers its communities a vast array of features for interacting and building themselves a digital social space, whether via text chats, voice chats, or video calls between individual users and within groups. Voice channels are a particularly great feature, since community members can join and leave them at any point – no calling or ringing required. With these types of features, Discord creates a social sphere where various communities can interact and spend their leisure time.

The Discord Nitro paid-membership model

All of Discord’s basic features are free to use. Anyone wanting to create a Discord server can also do so for free. However, the platform does offer additional features in its Discord Nitro paid-membership version. These include bigger uploads and custom emojis that underline the exclusivity of premium community members.