Recently, Sony confirmed that it had made a minority investment in Discord, and that it would be establishing a new partnership with the hugely popular platform. But what does that actually mean for PlayStation players? What is Discord, and how could it be integrated into the existing console experience? For the uninitiated, we're hoping to give you some idea of what PlayStation's partnership with Discord could bring to the table on PS5 and PS4.
Okay, So What Is Discord?
Many of you reading this will already know what Discord is — you probably already use it to stay in touch with friends, or perhaps you're a proud member of a specific gaming group. But if, like 75 per cent of the Push Square team, you're completely clueless, let's try and explain what Discord is all about.
Basically, Discord is a communication platform for PC and mobile. It lets you chat with people through text, voice, or video. Its branding is very gamer-focused, and it markets itself as a platform that's primarily used for gaming — a way for users to chat with one another while playing multiplayer games.
At first glace, Discord can look quite complex, but that's because it's highly customisable. You can create different groups for different situations, and within those groups, you can create different text or voice channels for specific members, or specific activities. You can have as much or as little organisation as you like.
For example, say you have a Discord group for your Monster Hunter crew — a crew of, say, 10 people. Those 10 people are all part of the main text channel, where you can freely chat with each other. But when it comes to actually playing, you could invite your allies to a separate voice channel. If you wanted, you could even create different channels for different activities. One voice chat for high rank monster hunting missions, for instance, and another chat for low rank quests. Again, it's all about customisation — that's Discord's strength.
What Does Discord Mean for PS5 and PS4?
It's fair to assume that Discord will be used to bolster communication features on PS5 and PS4. You can already create groups, message friends, and voice chat through the PlayStation Network — and that's probably not going to change. However, Sony's partnership with Discord likely means that you'll be able to access your Discord groups on PS5 and PS4. In turn, this would mean that you could organise channels on your PC or phone, before jumping over to those same channels on your console.
Sony's official statement on the partnership reads: "Together, our teams are already hard at work connecting Discord with your social and gaming experience on PlayStation Network." Right now it's a rather vague explanation, but it's not hard to imagine a level of integration that would unite the two platforms.
The statement continues: "Our goal is to bring the Discord and PlayStation experiences closer together on console and mobile starting early next year, allowing friends, groups, and communities to hang out, have fun, and communicate more easily while playing games together."
We think the key words here are "more easily". Being a massively popular communication platform, Discord is built on the idea of bringing people together — making it relatively easy to organise anything from professional meetings to casual chats. It's probable that Sony will be making use of Discord's experience in order to streamline the process of social interaction through PSN.
With that in mind, it all comes down to how deep the Discord integration goes. While we can't see a future where PSN's messaging service is replaced with Discord, it's possible that Discord will be slotted into the existing experience. You'll still be able to chat with all of your usual PSN pals — but by linking your Discord account (or signing up), your Discord contacts will be visible alongside your PSN friends list.
In a way, Discord could be a replacement for PSN Communities. The now defunct PS4 feature let you gather a bunch of likeminded players in one big chatroom, where you could post messages and share screenshots. It would make sense to give players dedicated access to their Discord groups on PS5 and PS4, which would essentially amount to having a much more useful version of Communities, complete with all of Discord's features.
Additional Benefits of Having Discord on PS5, PS4
As alluded, Discord can be more than just a series of chatrooms for you and your friends. Loads of companies and brands utilise Discord in an official capacity, allowing for moderated, 'official' Discord servers where users can get direct access to all of the latest announcements. In that sense, there's an element of social media to Discord — and it's something that could be put to good use through PlayStation.
For example, games can have their own official Discord channels. By joining one of these channels, you can keep up to date with various developments, and even hear from the developers themselves. You might also stumble across a few likeminded people, and being able to do all of this directly from your console could give PSN a surprisingly social edge.
And then there's cross-play. Again, depending on the depth of Discord's integration, it's possible that you'll be able to communicate via Discord with teaming up with players on other platforms. After all, this is what Discord does; it's designed to be a universal communication tool.
What are your thoughts on PlayStation's partnership with Discord? What kind of benefits do you want from Discord on PS5 and PS4? Enter the channel in the comments section below.