After trying unsuccessfully to acquire popular chat platform Discord for $10 billion, Microsoft opted for the best course of action: integrating Discord’s voice chat capabilities directly into Xbox consoles.
The news fell on Wednesday on Xbox Blog, and he clarified that for now, Discord access will be exclusive to the optional “Xbox Insider” tier of console OS early, beta, and preview updates. This update is already going live in waves on Xbox Insiders today, and it adds a new tooltip to the system’s “chat” sidebar: “Try Discord Voice on Xbox today!”
Simplifying Your Discord Life Adds Some Complications
Since its debut in 2015, Discord has exploded in popularity as a user-friendly chat platform for gaming on computers and smartphones. A major differentiator from a service like Slack, which looks and functions similarly, is Discord’s smart links to existing gaming networks. The idea being that wherever you play a game, Discord can broadcast that status to your friends via links to other platforms’ APIs (“play Wander on PlayStation”, “LFP in World of Warcraft,” “broadcast a session of peggle 2 on Twitch”). Users can switch between direct messages, game-specific text chat rooms, real-time voice channels, and even video-sharing services to coordinate their upcoming online gaming sessions.
But what if you want to talk with your Discord voice chat friends while using dedicated headphones on an Xbox, PlayStation or Switch? Until this week, you couldn’t do it directly on any console. Your best bet was to find a headset that supported simultaneous Bluetooth inputs, then connect it to both your console and your Discord-charged smartphone. (Alternatively, you can do what I do: put a smartphone earphone in an ear for Discord, then place a console earphone over it. I don’t recommend this.)
Unfortunately, Discord’s rollout on Xbox this week is a bit limited. The biggest problem is that there is no formal Discord app or interface on Xbox. You will need to keep a smartphone handy to initiate a “transfer” of your Discord session. Get ready for a boring first-time setup process.
If you have an updated Xbox on the Insider OS track, its new “Try Discord Voice” prompt will initiate an account synchronization process, which requires using a Discord mobile app to take a photo of a QR code. displayed by your Xbox. (You’ll need to do this again if you’ve done it before, as it adds a new level of voice chat credentials.) With this in place, when you’re about to join a voice channel on Discord, A new “try voice chat on console” prompt will appear.
Tap through it then go, ugh, create another one transfer to Microsoft’s dedicated Xbox app on iOS or Android. Yes, if you want this to work, you need to install the Xbox app on your mobile device (and Discord will suggest you do this, if you haven’t already). This facilitates the key technical aspect of transmitting all Discord audio to your Xbox hardware.