Valve’s digital storefront/social networking service Steam is currently the king of PC gaming, but Discord is the biggest threat it’s faced in years, according to media intelligence company SuperData.
The voice chat app recently celebrated its third anniversary and a new milestone of 130 million registered users. It had only 45 million users in May 2017, which means its base has tripled in the last year. An estimated 19 million people use the service on a daily basis.
While Discord isn’t as popular as other major PC gaming-related companies, it’s a favorite among younger gamers, SuperData said, and Steam risks becoming less essential the more gamers spend their time there.
“Previously, Steam was invaluable not only because of its storefront but because it facilitated social connections between players,” said SuperData research manager Carter Rogers. “In 2011, Electronic Arts got flak after breaking away from Steam to form its own storefront, Origin. At the time, players feared a slippery slope of multiple companies leaving Steam, resulting in the need to maintain friends lists across a wide range of platforms. Now, Discord is where gamers’ main friends lists live, not Steam.”
Discord isn’t the only service potentially posing a threat to Steam. Reddit is also testing its own chat features. It’s implemented community chat rooms in a small number of subreddits on the website, and it plans to bring the feature to mobile at a later date. The social platform has a number of robust gaming communities and, if this new feature is successful, it could also chip away at Steam’s PC gaming dominance.
Valve is apparently responding to the increased competition by implementing its own social features like Steam Chat, which is currently in beta. It promises a new-and-improved friends list, secure voice chat, group channels, and more. But, SuperData said its days as the main destination for AAA PC games may be numbered.
“AAA publishers will be less worried about player backlash from leaving Steam if they believe Discord will pick up the crossplay communication slack,” Rogers said.