Discord has started testing a feature called Premium Memberships with a small group of users. The tool allows community owners to gate access to part or all of their server behind a monthly subscription fee. It’s something the company’s growing number of users, particularly admins and mods, have been asking it to implement for a while. Before today, those individuals had to turn to third-party services like Patreon to monetize access to their servers.
By contrast, the Premium Memberships tool creates a streamlined interface for that same purpose. A new tab under the “Community” heading in the app’s setting’s menu allows server owners to do things like set price tiers and view related analytics. The feature similarly streamlines the process of signing up for paid channels for users. If you want to support a community, you don’t need to leave Discord to do so. When you tap on a premium channel, indicated by the new “sparkle” icon in the sidebar, the client will tell how much you need to pay for access, as well as what perks you’ll gain for doing so.
As for pricing, Discord says it will encourage server owners to experiment. As a baseline, the company will recommend a monthly fee of $2.99 as a minimum and $99.99 as a maximum. When it comes to most of the channels you visit, you probably won’t pay more than $5 or $10 a month for access. The top end of the price range is a reflection of how much Discord has changed since the start of the pandemic to accommodate a more diverse group of communities. Discord isn’t exclusively a place for gaming anymore.
“Access to a channel can seem simplistic, but it’s a foundational piece that someone can build a lot of flexibility on top of,” said Jesse Wofford, group product marketing manager at Discord, in an interview with Engadget. One of the server owners the company is working with on this week’s soft launch is someone who runs gaming bootcamps. According to Wofford, they’ve built an entire business around private lessons. The company wants to give those people the opportunity to create a sustainable business on its platform.
Whatever someone decides to charge for access to their channels, the company plans to take a 10 percent cut of the subscription. “It's an important stake in the ground for us that this product, like a lot of other ones, is built around creator success,” Wofford said. Additionally, for people who want to continue to use services like Patreon to monetize their channels, Discord won’t stop them from doing so. “One of the important things here is that we’re still investing in those relationships,” said Wofford. “We want to create an ecosystem that gives creators as many options to succeed as possible.”
Premium Memberships is something Discord has been working on for a while. “There’s probably a world where we could have released this a while ago,” Wofford told me. “We wanted to make sure we took in the right feedback from a diverse set of creators and built it in a way that we felt confident would deliver value.” To that end, the company plans to take its time testing the feature before it rolls it out more widely.