Twitch and Discord are two popular social media platforms for livestreaming and joining online communities. Whether you’re a gamer or crypto guru, you might be wondering which of these platforms to use to build a fan base.
Alternatively, you may be a user wondering what the difference between these two platforms is and whether you should join Twitch or Discord to see the best content in your favorite niches.
Today, I will be comparing the two platforms to help you make a decision whether to use Discord or Twitch.
Twitch is a live streaming platform popular among gamers, esporters, YouTubers, influencers, and others. Even brands can and do use it to reach customers and build a customer base.
Officially launched over a decade ago in 2011, Twitch has seen amazing growth. It currently boasts over 40 million users in the United States alone, and that number is expected to grow annually in the upcoming years.
Discord is a platform for creating online communities, or servers, revolving around specific interests or niches to allow people to communicate with each other over video, voice, and text about shared interests. Such niches tend to include gaming, crypto, yoga, and more.
Initially released in 2015, a bit later than Twitch, Discord is no less popular. It has over 300 million users worldwide and communities spanning all kinds of topics.
The main difference between Twitch and Discord is the use case and intended purpose of the platform. The primary goal of Twitch is to be a livestreaming platform, allowing gamers and other livestreamers to broadcast live while playing games or doing other things.
However, Twitch can also be used to build or join communities. Users who are watching a chat can communicate with the streamer and each other using the chat box.
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Discord also supports livestreaming, but that’s not really its main purpose. The goal of Discord is to be a voice, text, and video chatting platform, allowing people to communicate with each other on the internet and discuss shared interests.
Think of Discord as a fusion of Reddit, Telegram, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, and Zoom. There’s a lot you can do on Discord, but it revolves around “servers,” which are communities with administrators/owners and members who can chat with each other.
Each server is further divided into channels. For example, there can be an announcement channel, which only the group admin can post to, and a general chat channel, which everyone can post to.
Furthermore, channels can be separated by the communication methods they support. For example, you can have a text channel, in which users can communicate with each other only by sending text-based messages.
Additionally, you can have a voice channel, which can allow users to communicate via live voice or video chat.
Twitch, by default, uses a white background, which is easy on the eyes. As soon as you land on the Twitch homepage, you will be able to start watching videos.
A cool thing about Twitch is that you don’t have to log in to start watching live streams.
When watching a live stream, the chat will be located on the right side, with the live stream taking up the majority of the screen in the center. On the left side, there will be other recommended channels.
While it might seem like there is a lot going on at any time, Twitch isn’t overwhelming to users.
Discord, on the other hand, has a black background by default. While this might make Discord a bit hard on the eyes to some users at first, they can always change the background by switching to the light theme.
You do need to register an account to use Discord. Once you do that, you can use an invitation link to join a community, or you can use the search bar to look for public communities that are available for you to join.
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Twitch is designed primarily for livestreaming. As such, it has released Twitch Studio, a free broadcasting software for Twitch streamers.
Twitch Studio allows you to start streaming right away, with an easy setup process, even if you only have basic equipment. It allows you to customize your stream with templates and overlays, and you’ll be able to keep track of your stream activity and chats.
However, while Twitch Studio is designed for beginners and integrates directly with Twitch, it’s not the only software you can use. There are a variety of software that work well with Twitch.
Twitch itself recommends using OBS or Streamlabs if you decide not to go with Twitch Studio. As every platform has its own features and unique interface, try out different software until you find one you prefer.
In any case, Twitch is the platform of choice for streamers, especially gamers. If you are a gamer, you can bet that a large segment of your target audience is already on Twitch, so starting out with Twitch is a no-brainer.
As mentioned, Discord is primarily an online water cooler, a place for people to hang out with others they already know or have shared interests in common. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t livestream on Discord.
To livestream on Discord, you’ll need to start or join a voice channel. In a text channel, you can upload videos and images, but you can’t stream live.
There are few ways to stream live on Discord. You can only share your voice, or you can share your webcam and even your screen.
Why would you want to stream on Discord instead of Twitch? What are the pros and cons of Discord vs Twitch for livestreaming?
Twitch will allow you to reach a larger target audience. First of all, anyone can watch a livestream on Twitch, even if they are not signed in; Discord is only for registered users.
Twitch also has better discoverability features.
Discord is better for you if building a large audience isn’t necessarily your goal. You can create a server that only your friends can join, or you can create a public server.
Still, if you decide to stream on Discord, you can make use of Discord Streamkit, which allows you to set up bots for moderating purposes. It also allows you to integrate with Twitch, YouTube, and Patreon to assign your fans, subscribers, or members on those platforms different roles in your Discord channels.
Furthermore, you can turn on Streamer mode, so that when new people join your stream, they won’t see any of your personal information.
One major difference between the two platforms is that Twitch has no built-in way to make a truly private stream. When you stream, you’re streaming to the world.
There are ways to make your stream less likely to be discovered. For example, you can avoid adding tags or any details to your stream that would help people find it, and you can stream it from a throwaway account that your regular followers do not know about.
However, it’s still not a truly private channel.
On the other hand, Discord does allow you to set up private channels. Setting up a private channel will allow you to control access.
It will be truly private, meaning it won’t be discoverable in the search results on Discord. Nobody in the server will even see it in the list of channels unless they are part of the group that you gave access to.
When creating a text channel, you can bar users who don’t have the right role from reading messages; if it’s a voice channel, you can bar them from connecting to the channel and joining streams. If it’s a voice channel, it will show up in their list of channels, but they won’t be able to view content.
For more information on how to make a channel private on Discord, read this help article.
It’s also possible to make your entire server private so that only approved members can view channels – see how to do that here. Even if you have a private server, you can make some channels private so that regular members can’t see them.
When you stream on Twitch, users will be able to send messages to the public chat. The public chat feed is updated in real time.
However, users can also private message each other. For example, you can find someone from the chat by hovering your mouse over their username and adding them to your friend list or sending them a whisper, as demonstrated in the screenshot above.
I already mentioned that you can join public or private chat or voice channels on Discord. However, it’s also possible to send messages directly to people and have one-on-one chats.
One way to do that on Discord is to add people to your friend list. Another way to private message people is to click on their username from within a chat and send them a message within the channel by @mentioning them.
It’s possible to make new friends on Twitch, although it is not optimized for that; it is made for streamers to build audiences.
There are a few ways to make friends on Twitch. One is to find people from within a chat and add them as friends or direct message them, as shown in the previous section.
However, if you know someone’s Twitch username, you can also search for them in the search bar at the bottom-left of the screen. In fact, you can conduct a random search and add the people who show up as friends.
Discord is better than Twitch for making new friends online. There are entire communities designed to help people find random friends.
You can find such servers by doing a public server search. Typically, those servers have several channels, often including a specific channel where people can introduce themselves.
In addition, if you want to find people who share your interests, you can join a community that revolves around a topic you are passionate about and make friends from there. By clicking on the profile picture of a user in the chat, you can add them as a friend, after which you can directly message them.
In the past, users who had the Twitch desktop app were able to join group text and voice chats. In fact, many users used Twitch only for the VoIP voice chat features, as it had excellent call audio quality.
However, Twitch later announced that it was removing that feature, causing many people to delete the app and move to Discord.
As of now, Twitch users can still send whispers and private DMs to friends.
Fortunately, Discord still allows users to make group and one-on-one voice calls. To make a group call, add friends from your friend list to a DM group and click the call button.
Users can then join the group voice chat by clicking on the call button.
In addition, you can start a voice chat with an individual friend at any time from your one-on-one chat thread with them.
Twitch allows streamers to moderate their chats to block spam and rude messages. First, you can create a list of chat rules that all chatters have to agree to before they start chatting.
You can also turn on AutoMod, which will automatically flag messages for review if spam or rude language is detected; your mods will have to approve the message manually. Alternatively, you can delay all messages by a couple of seconds so that your mods have a chance to delete bad messages.
Chats can be set so that only followers, subscribers, or people with verified accounts can send messages. There is a ban feature, so you can ban specific chatters from participating in the group chat.
In the screenshot above, you can see an example of chat rules that users must agree to. The list of rules can be short or long – you’re the boss.
Discord also has great moderation features. You can head to the Moderation Academy to learn more about moderating on Discord.
You can set server members as mods. One of the basic functions of a server is that you can assign different roles and access levels to different users.
Additionally, you can make users meet certain requirements, such as having a verified account or being a member of the community for at least 10 minutes, before they can chat. Doing that will help prevent spam.
Furthermore, you can turn on the adult filter for bad language. You can also ban users from a server or kick them out of a group chat at any time.
There are even bots you can get from various internet sources that will enable you to do things like automatically kick known offenders and spammers out of your server.
- Great for streaming
- Excellent discoverability features
- You can private message users
- You can monetize channels
- No group chats or messaging
- No private stream option
- Mostly focused on specific niches, particularly gaming
- Easier to make friends
- You can set up private channels
- Group voice and text chats supported
- You can only join 100 servers
- Requires registration
- Privacy and security concerns
- When you leave a server, your messages aren’t automatically deleted
- Discord’s monetization option (Premium Memberships) is currently in closed beta mode, so most servers can’t yet monetize their content
Twitch is free, but users can subscribe to channels to support their favorite creators. Different tiers are available, depending on your country and region, and they start from $4.99/month in the US.
You can also support a creator by buying “bits” and animated emotes to use in chats.
To learn more about pricing, click here.
Discord is also free for users. However, users can join Discord Nitro or Discord Nitro Classic, with plans starting from $4.99/month, to get perks like custom animated profiles, HD video quality, larger upload limits, and server boosts.
See updated Discord Nitro pricing here.
|Primary Purpose||Livestreaming||Video, Voice, & Text Chat|
|Voice & Video Chats||✗||✓|
|Make New Friends||✓||✓|
|Use Without Registering||✓||✗|
|Server/Channel Subscription Limit||2,000||100|
|Monetize Your Content||✓||✗ (Closed Beta Only)|
Twitch is best if you are a gamer or streamer and want to build a large audience while you broadcast live.
Discord, on the other hand, is best if you want to create or join communities revolving around specific issues, make friends, and video/voice call with a friend or groups of friends.
Scott L. Macarthur is a marketing consultant and an online author. He is mostly engaged in providing his expertise to startups and SMBs. He is also an author on TheNextWeb.