Sony announces partnership with Discord; Integration into PlayStation by 2022
The two companies have announced a partnership, wherein Discord's gaming-centric chat app will be integrated into PlayStation's existing suite of social tools by 2022.
The move comes in conjunction with Sony acquiring a minority stake of undisclosed proportion in Discord.
Discord continues its IPO aspirations, while Sony acquires minority stake
The fact that Sony paid for only a minority stake in Discord through the Series H round essentially confirms the latter's decision to take the IPO route and maintain its autonomy.
Sony's concise announcement post doesn't detail the exact nature of the partnership, but the company stated that it will bring Discord and PlayStation experiences together on console and mobile sometime early next year.
Partnership comes after Sony's renewed focus on mobile gaming
The mobile aspect is particularly interesting given Sony's recent paradigm shift in its traditional video game model. The company shuttered its famous Japan Studio responsible for AAA titles such as Bloodborne and Gravity Rush to focus on mobile gaming.
With Sony possibly exploring the avenue of porting its games to mobile, it could leverage Discord's tools to enhance the mobile gaming experience.
Discord's prior partnership with Microsoft was superficial at best
Although Discord had partnered with Microsoft to link Xbox Live profiles, the integration was superficial at best, with no actual integration between Xbox Live party chat and Discord's own audio chat.
Discord's partnership with Sony could likely entail a deeper integration into the PlayStation Network (PSN) and, by extension, the current PlayStation 5 UI, which is a bit of a mess at the moment.
Discord could be a shot in the arm for PSN
While Microsoft had already made significant investments and strides in Xbox Live's communication and community features, Sony has been lagging behind on that count with PSN.
In fact, Microsoft's console platform had a paid online service model long before Sony followed suit by restricting the online aspects of the PSN behind a paywall. The Discord partnership will work toward making that worthwhile for users.
Discord's PlayStation defection is a serious blow to Microsoft
It is unclear how deeply Discord will be integrated into PSN's sparse community/discussion aspects, but it's fair to expect a Discord-branded means to start voice chats with friends during PS5 gaming sessions.
This development is a significant blow to Microsoft aspirations to make its Xbox service seamless across mobile, PC, and console platforms. Discord could have served as a viable conduit between those platforms.
How Discord brings together gaming and social media
Discord was founded in 2015 by Jason Citron and Stan Vishnevskiy to address the lack of in-game communication options. In addition to providing VoIP solutions to competitive gamers dissatisfied by in-game communication, it also doubles up as a messaging, streaming and digital fame distribution platform.
However, its true value addition involves allowing technically proficient users to create highly customizable discussion servers spanning various interests.