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World

Microsoft’s $10B purchase won’t be Discord’s death — or will it?

Since Discord is in conversations with Microsoft, we take a look at the company's past with big-name purchases to see how the VoIP software might hold up.

Rumours that Microsoft is intent on acquiring the instant-messaging and VoIP software, Discord, in a b purchase, has left many uneasy, with the gaming Twitterati claiming this may well spell the end, or at least the beginning of the end, for the much-loved service.

And while Bloomberg's report claims that Discord is much more likely to go public than be sold to Microsoft, the notion that everyone's favourite VoIP app could fall into the hands of the tech-giant has hit a nerve with many, worried that it could go the way of other Microsoft acquisitions like Skype and Mixer.

But should users be worried? Microsoft has hundreds, if not thousands of products, under their control, spanning the full gamut of hardware and software and despite how some feel they must be competent to be in the position to spend $10b on Discord.

To help settle some fears, or confirm some suspicions, we are going to take a look at some of Microsoft's big wins and huge losses in this space and ask ourselves - are we going to need to host a TeamSpeak server?

PRO: XBOX Game Pass deals

Since its inception in 2017, the XBOX Game Pass has been a huge reason for casuals and hardcore gamers alike to stay on Microsoft's side in the console wars.

With its transition to PC titles in 2019, deals to bring in Disney+, xCloud and Electronic Arts titles alongside the addition of a Gold Membership with the Ultimate version of the membership, the XBOX Game Pass is a staple to the company’s success.

xbox game pass discord microsoft(Image: Microsoft)

If the sale were to go through, it would be natural for us to see the addition of Discord Nitro to one of Microsoft’s most prolific projects.

Discord Nitro gives users the “enhanced Discord experience” providing screen-sharing at a higher-resolution, bigger file size upload, support and customization options and so much more -- a must-have for content creators with large communities.

Currently, the Discord Nitro server is estimated to drive in two million concurrent subscribers each month and at a $9.99 a month/$99.99 a year pricing, we might see an increase in users if added to the XBOX Game Pass -- money moves.

CON: Zooming past Skype

This pandemic has definitely altered the way we do everyday tasks. While that is a cliché as it gets, when video conferencing started resurfacing more as a necessity rather than a novelty, the Skype name was uttered once or twice, but never again.

For anyone late to the party, Skype is the video conferencing software and pioneer app which was purchased by Microsoft in May 2011 for $8.5 billion dollars. 

microsoft discord skype zoom(Image: Microsoft)

If you hadn’t heard the app's name until now or you still use Zoom for any of your video-conferencing needs, you understand why this was a bad acquisition.

Skype’s decline, after being a 100-million-user application at the time of purchase, can be traced back to many changes but users like to attribute it to the app’s unreliability, complicated or quickly-shifting concepts through the years and, ultimately, the user-friendly and problem-solving nature of Zoom’s pandemic arrival.

The app fell off the map for good throughout 2020 and Skyping, as a verb, became a thing of the past. We do not want Discord screengrab to be a "throwback" or "vintage", now do we?

CON: Mixer’d signals featuring Ninja

Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is probably streaming’s biggest personality ever and Microsoft had a little taste of his success back in the summer of 2019.

fortnite ninja mixer twitch(Image: Mixer)

On July 31st, Ninja announced that he had signed an exclusive new deal with Microsoft’s streaming platform, Mixer, previously known as Beam which was acquired back in 2016 for an undisclosed amount -- effectively poaching the then-28-year-old Twitch star.

While it originally yielded fruitful results increasing the number of unique hours watched by 188% quarter-to-quarter, everything started falling apart for Microsoft and the project ultimately fell through after merging with Facebook Gaming.

Since the exclusivity deal announcement in July 2019, Mixer founders Matthew Salsamendi and James Boehm both left Microsoft in October 2019, Ninja left the streaming service having reportedly earned as much as $30 million from his Mixer deal and Microsoft released its contracts with exclusively-signed streamers.

Mo' money, mo' problems -- they say and Mixer is the latest Microsoft fiasco that proves it. With Discord being discussed to be acquired for over $10 billion dollars, it'll hurt like a Mixer-and-a-half, if it fails.

PRO: Microsoft’s Minecraft run

The surprising purchase of Mojang’s Minecraft from the hands of Markus “Notch” Persson was one for the ages as the best-selling game ever to date had its fan base in shambles in September 2014 (gosh, time flies).

Nobody likes change and when the biggest sandbox of all time fell in the hands of a corporate entity known to be a monster at times, people feared change more than ever.

And while, yes, the XBOX version of the game is plagued and riddled with microtransactions for what are free technical and aesthetic changes in its PC counterpart, critically-acclaimed updates have rolled out year after year and the game has obtained its reach climax conquering every gaming platform imaginable since the acquisition.

minecraft caves and cliffs update(Image: Minecraft)

So much so, that we all got to witness one of the biggest gaming title revivals ever in Minecraft’s 2019 resurrection thanks to Felix “Pewdipie” Arvid Ulf Kjellberg and the mysterious Clay AKA Dream.

Looking at Microsoft's fluctuating past, it is hard to make a call on if this potential move will be handled with grace or mismanaged completely.

Whether the Discord-talks on the interwebs end up driving up the sale price or Discord directors pull the plug on it all, it will be a busy couple of hours for Finance Chief Tomasz Marcinkowski and CEO Jason Citron, to say the least.