It appears that 3rd party digital games storefronts will be all the rage in 2019, and the industry will be in a collective race to sign up as many developers as possible. In the past week Epic Games announced that they would offer videogames other than home-grown titles on their store, and today Discord have announced plans to bring indie developers to their own digital distribution platform. They join the likes of GOG and Steam, as well as competing with 1st party distributors such as EA, Ubisoft and Activision-Blizzard.
The draw for publishers is obvious. Discord has become the de facto voice comms platform for gamers, and has been instrumental in building communities where text and voice chat are seamlessly integrated components. More recently, Discord groups have been used by smaller developers as the primary means of reaching out to their players, in many cases favouring the method over the more traditional means of curated and self-hosted forums.
Until very recently the industry standard revenue split for games published digitally on 3rd party platforms was 70%/30% in favour of the developer. Discord however claim that developers and larger publishers are chaffing under these terms; the cost to offer the service doesn't necessitate 30% of revenue, and they (the developers) perceive a presence on any one storefront to be less valuable than it used to be. That discontent may be accentuated by Steam's lack of curation, which has meant that discovery of individual games is choked off out side of the store's front page.
Discord are therefore opening up their storefront and game patching service to all developers, AAA or indie, on a 90%/10% revenue split that will bolster their fledgling distribution service. Combined with Discord's 200m user install-base across PC and Mobile, the industry at large is sure to take notice.
The process of bringing 3rd party titles to Discord will begin in 2019, and will likely also include additional options to bring together developers and users through Discord Groups and the general Activity Feed. Furthermore, it could prove to be a substantial revenue stream for the platform developer even with this relatively slim split. Competition however will surely be fierce, which should make for interesting times.
More information can be found at the blog post, and of course app can be downloaded here.