When CivicScience first checked in on the messaging and video chat app Discord in January 2021 – at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. – 18% of Americans ages 13 to 54 had used the platform, and another 4% were interested. 

Eighteen months later, overall usage of Discord has grown to 22% of the under-55 population, while interest in the gaming-centric platform has increased substantially to 11%. That lines up with Discord’s self-reported worldwide user numbers, which grew from 100 million in 2020 to 150 million today.

The major difference? Despite the bigger overall footprint, users are now less likely to say they “like” Discord than they were in early 2021. In fact, half of those who’ve tried the platform in 2022 say they didn’t like it.

Interestingly, teenagers are substantially more likely to like Discord than their twenty-something counterparts. In fact, satisfaction with Discord reaches a low point among the late-20s crowd. Even 30- to 54-year-olds seem to like the platform more than this age group – though they’re less likely to have tried it.

Discord started in 2015 and largely succeeded as a way for gamers to create specific communities / servers where they could chat about a particular game or interest among like-minded individuals.

But since 2020, Discord has tried to rebrand itself from a gaming chat app to an all-purpose community-making app – and it appears those efforts are slowly starting to pay off. Back in early 2021, only 1% of Americans (ages 13 to 54) who “never” played video games had used Discord. While still modest, that figure has increased to 5% today. Meanwhile, the percentage of daily or weekly gamers who use Discord has increased from 25% to 36% over those 18 months.

Discord already has a massive overlap of users with the livestreaming platform Twitch, and 33% of current Twitch watchers are interested in trying it out. Plus, about one-third of former Twitch watchers (32%) have given Discord a try.

Even compared with their peers ages 13-54, Discord users are highly likely to both invest in cryptocurrency and use “buy now, pay later” apps like Affirm and Afterpay.

While Twitch is clearly the app of choice for watching video game livestreaming, Discord has carved out its own niche as a hub for chatter within specific gaming communities. Discord’s most enthusiastic users are quite young and are very engaged in the digital economy, including investing in cryptocurrency and using programs like Afterpay. 

However, Discord’s long-term success among the U.S. population at large may depend on its ability to continue cultivating non-gamers as part of its growing user base. CivicScience will continue to monitor Discord’s growth moving forward.