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Discord expands its plans to sell custom avatars and other virtual items Leave a comment


After introducing an in-app shop that invited premium subscribers to buy digital decorations for their profiles, Discord now wants everybody to get in on the goods.

Discord is expanding access to its virtual shop, first launched in October, allowing users who don’t pay for a monthly Nitro subscription to purchase cosmetic updates to make their profiles and avatars unique. Nitro members will now get a discount on the virtual items, but anyone can purchase them starting today.

The shop, available to all Discord users through the profile settings page, offers two kinds of digital decorations: avatar decorations that drape fantasy, anime or other themed customizations over your profile picture or profile effects, which add flashy animations like fluttering cherry blossoms or dramatic shattering glass to a profile page. Once purchased, you can collect decorations and cycle in whichever ones suit your mood (right now, that might be Discord’s new seasonal “winter wonderland” collection).

As companies like Fortnite-maker Epic Games have demonstrated — Epic sold $50 million worth of a single set of its in-game skins alone — custom avatars can be extremely lucrative in virtual social spaces.

Users might roll their eyes at yet another social platform looking to cash in on purely decorative digital goods, but the items are another sign that Discord has little interest in unleashing a torrent of advertising onto its chat app. While more traditional social media apps like Instagram, YouTube and X (formerly Twitter) rely on aggressive in-feed advertising, Discord has eschewed the ads path over the years.

Instead the company has opted to make its premium subscription tier known as Nitro as attractive as possible to users by offering a blend of fun customizations and functional perks that appeal to casual and power users alike. Through Nitro, which comes in two tiers ($2.99 or $9.99 a month), Discord users can pay to enable fluffy features like custom emojis or pay more to turn on larger upload sizes and HD video streaming — vital tools for anyone who relies on Discord for community-building or any kind of business.

The avatar decorations and animations are all crafted by Discord itself for now, but the company has signaled its interest in helping its community monetize on the platform, like letting server owners put their own digital goods up for sale. For now, Discord’s shop will open up a new revenue stream for Discord itself, but to its credit, the company generally likes to bring its community along for the ride too — something to keep an eye on in the future.


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