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Discord Is Adding Ads, but With a Gamer Twist: What We Know So Far

 Discord Is Adding Ads, but With a Gamer Twist: What We Know So Far

Discord, the voice and video chat service for gamers that’s more recently expanded its scope, is joining the long list of free services that use ads to support their platform. The change is an about-face for a company that’s long held an anti-advertising view.

Ads should start showing up on Discord within the week, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. The ad slots will be offered to game developers as a way for them to get Discord users and their friends to play their games, earning the developers money from sales, in-app purchases and in-game ads.

Instead of standard ads, however, the Discord advertisements will appear in the form of “sponsored quests,” Discord Senior Vice President Peter Sellis said in a blog post last month. When someone streams over Discord and they’re playing a game with a sponsored quest, they’ll have the opportunity to perform the quest while others watch. Viewers can then hop into the game and also complete the quest for rewards. 

Discord reportedly said it’ll target ads based on a user’s gameplay, age and geographic location, but you can turn off your personalization in the app’s settings. 

Here’s what we know so far about sponsored quests.

Sponsored quests aren’t new

Sponsored quests are something Discord has tried before. The chat service collaborated with Epic Games and Lucasfilm Games for a sponsored quest in May 2023. Players could share Fortnite gameplay with their friends in a Discord stream, complete the quests, and earn Star Wars-inspired skins that were exclusive to the event. It’s likely the new sponsored quests will work in a similar way.

Currently, you can disable quests in the app’s privacy settings. However, that setting may be altered or removed when sponsored quests officially launch.

In addition to adding advertising, Discord will also ramp up its efforts to sell things such as sponsored profile flair in its shop. This initiative began last week with the release of the Valorant collection, which includes avatar decorations and profile effects inspired by the game. Such sponsored collections will join the profile flair already available in the shop. 

The move to advertising comes amid a push to generate more revenue for the chat service. Discord laid off 17% of its workforce back in January. The company has attracted plenty of investors, but it’s never posted a profit, despite large revenue gains over the last few years and hundreds of millions of registered users.

During an interview with Bloomberg, Discord CEO James Citron said Discord hopes “every game will offer quests on Discord.” He also told Bloomberg that Discord will likely file for an initial public offering at some point and become a publicly traded company. 

For now, Discord likely hopes that sponsored quests and collections in its shop fare better than the company’s game store, which lasted two years before it was axed in 2021.

How will sponsored quests work?

Developers who pay for a sponsored quest from Discord are hoping to encourage a game-playing user’s friends who are watching the stream to also play their game. A sponsored quest will pop up, a game-playing user will be able to engage in the quest through Discord’s interface, and once they complete the quest, other users in the stream will have the opportunity to tackle the challenge. After they finish a quest, users will be able to claim rewards to redeem in-game. 

Discord promotional image for quests Discord promotional image for quests

When sponsored quests are available, players will see a pop-up while streaming and can engage with it.


What will sponsored quests look like?

Once you start streaming a game that has a sponsored quest, while friends are watching, you’ll receive a prompt to engage in the quest. Once you’re done, another pop-up will appear to let you know the quest is complete and that the rewards are available to redeem. People watching the stream may also get pop-ups inviting them to perform the quest once the streamer finishes. The exact graphics will be available after sponsored quests launch.

Discord screen discussing Sponsored Quests Discord screen discussing Sponsored Quests

Discord lets users turn off sponsored quests in their current iteration, but that may change once the quests officially launch.

Screenshot by Joe Hindy/CNET

Can I turn off sponsored quests?

Yes, for now. Open Discord and navigate to the Privacy & Safety section of the Settings. There, you should see a selection for In-game rewards (aka Quests). Turn off that setting. 

But know that this setting is likely to change when sponsored quests go live. 

“Users can opt out of personalized promotions for quests based on activity or data shared with Discord,” a representative for Discord said in an email. “Users may still see quests, however, if they navigate to their gift inventory and/or through contextual entry points, like a user’s friends’ activity. They’ll also have the option to hide an in-app promotion for a specific quest or game they’re not interested in.”

When will Discord launch sponsored quests?

Discord didn’t give an exact release date, but it did tell The Wall Street Journal that it would be sometime during the first week of April. 

Will I see advertising if I don’t stream?

We won’t know until the update fully launches. However, it appears that the majority of the advertising will be shown only to people who use Discord’s streaming feature. But if you don’t stream, you may still see pop-ups, as Discord does advertise events through its notifications.

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