Discord Activities: A Guide to User-Installable Apps

Discord recently announced a big update for developers: its platform with 200 million users is now open for distribution of applications. Referred to as “Activities” or “user-installable apps”, this new functionality enables developers to build and distribute experiences like gaming, AI interactions, and shopping within the Discord platform.

What are User-Installable Apps/Activities?

Activities are essentially web applications that seamlessly function within Discord across desktop, mobile, and even web interfaces. Going beyond the usual text and voice channels, these interactive, multiplayer experiences promise fresh, intriguing ways to enjoy Discord.

User-Installable Apps vs Discord Bots

Discord's developer-friendly approach is nothing new, but user-installable apps broaden this ecosystem, unlocking opportunities not previously possible with Bots alone. Unlike bots that mimic user-like members, performing automated tasks like moderation or welcoming newcomers, apps offer much richer and interactive experiences accessible directly within Discord servers.

Examples of Discord Activities

Activities are versatile and broad in their scope. A few of the currently live ones, all of which were internally developed by Discord, include:

Putt Party

Putt Party is a multi-player golf game that you can play with your friends in Discord. 

Jamspace Whiteboard

Jamspace Whiteboard is a collaborative whiteboard that can be accessed right from within Discord. An alternative to tools like Miro, you can use it to collaborate with your colleagues or classmates, or simply use it for fun with friends. 

Watch Together

Watch Together allows you to watch YouTube videos, in sync with friends. You can chat in the voice or text channel, while you’re all watching the same video, at the same time. 

These are just the tip of the iceberg. Now, Discord extends the opportunity to external developers, enabling them to create and launch their own unique Activities.

More examples of Activities and experiences that could be built within Discord include:

  • Games
  • Quizzes
  • Gen AI
  • Shopping
  • Streaming
  • Productivity Tooling 
  • And more..

How can I try an Activity?

Starting an Activity is as simple as joining a server’s voice channel or initiating a Direct Message (DM) call. Keep an eye out for the Rocket button. 

After clicking the icon, you’ll see an overview of Activities that you can start. Discord also enables you to extend invites to other Discord members for joining your Activity.

How can I create a user-installable app?

Creating a user-installable app, or an "Activity," on Discord starts with establishing a new app via Discord's Developer Portal

This piece of documentation provides detailed information on how to connect your app into Discord. You’ll need to have previous coding experience in order to create a Discord App.

Monetizing Activities

Although monetization of Activities is not yet available, Discord has announced this feature will be coming soon. Developers can look forward to integrated payment options that will facilitate subscriptions and one-time purchase services in a native and user-friendly manner.

Increasing Community Engagement

With community managers’ number one struggle often being engaging their community members, Discord Activities may prove to be yet another draw for communities to choose Discord over other community platforms like Slack or more traditional forum platforms like Discourse or Khoros. 

As developers continue to build fun and engaging experiences that can foster connections between community members, Activities will likely help Discord attract more communities and increase time spent in product.

Building a Super App

Estimates suggest that Discord users spend an average of 10-20 minutes per day on the platform, whereas "super apps" like WeChat boast an impressive 90 minutes of daily user engagement. WeChat, originally a chat app, has evolved into a multifunctional platform offering services ranging from payment processing to food delivery, shopping, and gaming, all seamlessly integrated within the app. Companies like JD, one of China's leading online retailers, experience nearly identical user engagement through its WeChat mini app as it does through its native app.

Discord seems to be headed in a similar direction with its new Activities feature, offering deeper integration compared to conventional app stores like Google's Play Store or Apple's App Store. The potential for monetization is evident, with Discord likely to adopt a transaction-based revenue model, taking a percentage cut from each transaction. This could open up a significant revenue stream for Discord, akin to Apple's estimated $90 billion revenue from its app store, where approximately 30% is retained by Apple. Similarly, WeChat's mini programs generate an estimated $400 billion, with WeChat earning its standard payment processing fees of 0.6%

Start your Discord Activities Journey

Discord's introduction of user-installable apps adds a new layer of functionality to its platform, providing developers with an avenue to create and distribute diverse experiences within this expansive digital environment. To launch its new product, Discord has rolled out a competition, promising up to $30,000 in prize money for standout app ideas, with submissions open until May 1, 2024. 

The integration of these Activities is set to change the way users interact within Discord, increase community engagement and time spent within Discord. This step forward further propels Discord from being merely a communication tool to being a full-stack platform for shared digital and community experiences.


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