Discord, I love you, but oh boy do I hate you at the same time. I’ve been using the platform for eight years now, and in that time I’ve seen a lot of changes. A number of them have been pretty good, too: Video calls and screen sharing in 2017, threads in 2022, profile biographies in 2021—seriously, how did that one take so long?
On the flip side some updates have been… not so good. Most of them seem to have taken place over the course of the last 12 months, and I have to admit, I’m kind of tired of it at this point. For how much Discord has become so heavily intertwined with my daily life, I sincerely wish they would stop messing around with what makes it such a good platform to be on in the first place.
As I was trying to wrack my brain and think about what’s frustrated me so much about Discord this year, it’s bloated features, what feels like an increasingly unstable client, heavy monetisation and a knack for somehow making everything so much worse to use.
I do actually quite like certain stuff Discord has introduced this year. Uploadable file sizes have been increased across the board which, as someone who loves sending random clips and capture I’ve taken, is a much-appreciated change. Discord even has an in-house clipping function now too, something I haven’t taken much advantage of but feels like a great evolution of screen share.
I’ve also had way too much fun dicking around with soundboards and entry sounds—where you can take a soundboard sound bite you have and Discord will use it to announce that you’ve joined a voice call. It’s not a necessary feature, sure, but I’ve found entry sounds surprisingly useful for knowing who’s joining a call without having to tab out of whatever I’m doing to decipher the latest arrival. My main gripe is that it’s a feature locked behind Discord Nitro, locking out my pals who don’t pay for the subscription.
But honestly that’s… kind of where it ends. As I was trying to wrack my brain and think about what’s frustrated me so much about Discord this year, it’s bloated features, what feels like an increasingly unstable client, heavy monetisation and a knack for somehow making everything so much worse to use.
(Image credit: Discord)
That’s just on the PC client—don’t worry, I’m gonna get to whatever the hell Discord is doing with its mobile app in a bit—where things are starting to feel a little raggedy. We’re big screen sharers in my friend group, which made the recent colour issues for those of us with NVIDIA graphics cards even more annoying.
Streams would disintegrate to a washed-out monochrome palette, causing me to desperately try and piece together whatever the hell my friend was playing or watching among the trash-tier bitrate and colour palette that looked straight out of an old 256-colour GIF. Considering one of Discord Nitro’s benefits is a higher stream quality and framerate, it wasn’t the most ideal situation.
Do not disturb
Then you’ve got some rather questionable additions this year. Super reactions by far feel like one of the most pointless features added to Discord in a hot sec. It’s something I rarely make use of, because why would I? Regular-ass reactions are literally right there. It’s cute to see a little emoji explosion on the screen every now and then, but I struggle to think of a good use for them.
Let’s not forget the two or three days where Discord decided to add the “AKA” function to everyone’s profile cards, which meant anytime I wanted to see what a friend was listening to or playing I had to first scroll down every single alias they had in all of our shared Discord servers. It’s already neatly tucked away in a single bar at the top of my DMs, having it shoved into a tiny box was not the reminder I needed that my one friend goes by about 50 different names, for whatever reason.
(Image credit: Discord)
There was also the much-maligned username change that came into effect earlier this year. Discord switched out its discriminators for full @-style usernames akin to Twitter and Instagram, a move that wasn’t particularly loved. Many, including myself, welcomed the fact that discriminators felt a little more private and difficult to find for any overly enthusiastic people in our lives, and the ability for multiple people to have the same name was appreciated. Discord seemed to disagree, and the changes went through regardless. It’s still one of the most heavily-criticised changes the app has made to date, and one that I’m really not overly fond of.
We’ve seen the swift death of a feature that I genuinely really liked. Emoji packs could have been a fantastic way to declutter my list of all the damn servers I’m in just for cute, tiny JPEG reactions of cats and bunny rabbits. They were small bundles of emojis that servers could put together and be utilised by other non-members across the app, something which I thought was real useful. Yet it’s a feature that never made it out of the experimental phase, being killed off in December.
Pay to whinge
All of this has been occurring in the midst of encroaching monetisation. Paid profile decorations and avatar frames have slowly been trickling in, and while they’re not too in your face with pushing sales, it’s definitely a noticeable thing every time I try and edit anything in my bio. It does feel like a long overdue addition from a purely financial perspective—Nitro has been Discord’s main source of revenue for a hot sec, and there’s always a desire for increased customisation. App themes are locked behind Nitro too, but none of them are particularly interesting enough to justify the $10 a month if it’s all you care about.
My frustration with Discord on PC this year has been bubbling in the background, but nowhere more does that feeling come to fruition than with its mobile app. Crashes, constant attempts to connect when booting up the app or joining voice calls and, finally, the dreaded new UI change. It’s something that was actually pushed to me a few months ago, but now seems to have hit the wider user base.
It sucks. It sucks so bad. It feels so damn bad to navigate. Admittedly it was somehow even worse when it was first pushed out to me in October—server lists got moved to a tiny collapsible bar at the bottom of the screen rather than in an easy-to-parse scrollable sidebar. Things are looking a little closer to the original mobile layout now but oh boy, is it slow as hell.
DMs have been plucked away from the server list and tucked away in a separate tab which makes it even more annoying to check on my regular servers and back out just to check who’s sent me a message. The bottom navigation bar takes up a ridiculous amount of screen space and the increased reliance on swiping around feels awful. It’s an update so bad that Discord’s forum is flooded with people begging for the whole thing to be reverted.
It’s frustrating because I really do enjoy using Discord. It’s where I talk to all of my friends, both in groups and individually. It’s where I do quiz nights, streams, game parties, movie nights and video calls. It’s been my platform of choice for years, and the last thing I want is to resent something I’ve put so much mental investment into.
I also understand that Discord has to try all of these irritating little changes or think of new things to throw in to innovate and grow. That’s business, baby, but just because I get it doesn’t mean I have to love it. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they’ll eventually stop messing with all the good stuff and give us more of what we could actually do with. Increasing the DM group size is my biggest pet peeve right now. For real, why is it only 10 members in the year of our lord 2024? I’ll take that over a super reaction any day.