I’ve been using a TeamSpeak server for nearly a decade and have found it an invaluable tool during that time. It has primarily provided a “home” for myself and my gaming colleagues. We meet up every Wednesday night and chew the proverbial fat while playing various MMOs. However, it has also provided a backup podcasting recording facility and on several occasions hosted impromptu business meetings. Costing $10.80 every quarter, for a ten-user server, TeamSpeak has been great value for money. The hosting company, TypeFrag, have provided good customer service and until recently there’s been no reason to change this business arrangement. Unfortunately, the server has been problematic over the last fortnight, with random disconnects and lengthy outages. Despite following the troubleshooting FAQ, the matter remains unresolved.
Rather than waste further time trying to fix the issue, I decided to set up a Discord server. For those who may not know, Discord is a proprietary freeware VoIP application designed for gaming communities. Discord runs on Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, and in a web browser. As of May 2017, Discord has over 45 million users. Let it suffice to, if you are after a third-party chat server that supports not only voice but text as well, then Discord is the go to app. Configuring the server is very easy and inviting users and setting permissions is straight forward. Discord supports the embedding of hyperlinks, video, live streaming and has a wealth of other functionality. It therefore has appeal to more than just gamers. You can host a full online business conference if you see fit.
Although you can use Discord via your web browser, downloading and installing the desktop client offers full functionality. Even with a modest internet connection the audio quality in chat is very good. However, for me the biggest point of interest about Discord is its support for plugins. The client can be extensively customised both visually and in functionality. I made a cursory Google search regarding creating and managing an audio playlist and instantly found two plugins that supported this. It would appear that there is a busy community of programmer associated with Discord and that the quality control is quite high. Overall, there is much to praise and little to criticise with regard to Discord. Furthermore, it has the best price, in so far that its free.
And it is this final point that is the only thing that slightly alarms me. I’m not quite sure exactly how their business model works. There is no end user fee, at present, so I would guess that the company makes their money via licencing. Discord provides seamless integration with services such as Twitch TV, Steam, and Facebook. I would assume this is where revenue is raised. However, the fact that Discord is free does concern me a little and regular readers will be aware of my thoughts on becoming reliant on services with such a business model. Yet for many people, this is not an issue and the immediate practical solution that the service offers cannot be ignored. Therefore in the meantime, I shall start distributing invites to the all new Contains Moderate Peril Discord server, while bidding a fond farewell to TeamSpeak.