The debate between Discord and Skype for gaming use has been a long and difficult one. Both platforms are free to use (to start), come with a host of benefits and features, and are used by gamers everywhere. However, we’d like to settle the debate once and for all: is Skype or Discord better for gaming?
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In terms of features offered by each platform, Discord is, quite simply, better than Skype in every way. While Skype provides direct messaging services and voice calls, they don’t have the type of “voice chatroom” functionality that Discord, Ventrilo, TeamSpeak, and other old-school gaming platforms are known for. This makes it lose big points for us because if you want to talk to someone, you need to call them directly. You can’t just drop into an active chatroom as you can with Discord.
That being said, Skype’s video-chatting functionality was superior to Discord’s for a long time. Since Skype started primarily as a video-chatting program, this has always been its central niche. However, we should note that Discord has begun to show off better, more reliable video-calling functionality on its platform, and it has come a long way since its inception. While it’s still a bit buggy at times, it can now hold its own against Skype.
Skype does have a few calling features over Discord. For one, Skype can host video calls with up to 25 people. Discord can only support ten in a video call at one time. While this shouldn’t impact most gamers, it might be a sticking point for the occasional user with a large group of friends. Additionally, Skype can call other phone numbers, including landlines, while Discord can only call other Discord users.
Discord also offers a slightly-upgraded screen sharing feature that Skype does not. While both applications have the capability of sharing screens, Discord will let you share just a part of it if you want instead of the whole thing. This means that you can block out chat messages when sharing a screen while gaming, for example. It’s a popular feature among gamers, and while neither platform offers native screen recording, third-party apps exist for both for that purpose.
Skype was created to be a calling platform, not a gaming platform. While it was used as such for a long time due to a distinct lack of other free options, it was never geared towards gamers like Discord is. As such, Discord was designed with the player in mind, and Skype wasn’t. If you take a look at Skype and Discord side-by-side, you’ll see this philosophy reflected in both platforms’ aesthetic choices, layout, settings, options, and even marketing techniques.
We should note that one main difference between Discord’s and Skype’s functionality lies in their file size transfer limits. While Skype will send files up to 300MB natively, Discord limits you to 8 MB with the free version, and 50 MB with Discord Nitro. In our use of Discord, this can be an occasional pain when you want to post a picture or video, but it’s more of a nuisance than anything else.
One of Discord’s most significant advantages over Skype is its server-based functionality. Chat and call data is limited to the server you’re using at the time in all cases, so in terms of safety, Discord beats Skype out here. (However, while we’re on the topic of security, we should mention that Discord’s privacy policies aren’t quite as agreeable as Skype’s. If you’re concerned about privacy, you may be better off sticking with the latter platform.)
Skype doesn’t have the same community feel that Discord has because of this server-centric design. Inviting friends to servers is easy, and you can even create sub-channels and text channels within that server to support multiple chatrooms and conversations. From a usage standpoint, Discord feels more like walking into a room of your friends and sitting down to chat with them, where Skype feels more like dialing someone up on the phone. It feels very formal and stiff when compared to Discord.
In our opinion, this lack of servers is Skype’s downfall when compared with Discord. It’s just one of the many upgrades that Discord gains from being designed for gamers.
As far as specs go, Discord takes the cake easily. The most critical point of contention for gamers will be how much resources Discord and Skype use. Discord by far and away wins here, as it was designed specifically to free up more resources for your computer to use as you game. It uses less bandwidth, too, since Discord only transmits voice while people talk, whereas Skype transmits a constant stream of audio.
Both platforms feature paid options, too, but most users won’t find that they need Skype’s paid features, since these mostly have to do with making calls to actual phone numbers. Discord’s subscription option, however, gives users access to a broader selection of emotes, animated avatars, and increased fidelity during screen sharing. For a long time, Discord Nitro did offer free Nitro games with their subscription, but this is no longer the case.
You’ll find an expanded table of Discord and Skype’s features below.
Unfortunately for Skype, it seems that the older video-chatting platform is being mostly phased out in favor of Discord. Besides its higher group call limit and file size limit, Skype has virtually no advantages over Discord. Honestly, the feel of Skype is a bit outdated, too. Discord’s tagline is “by gamers, for gamers” and this philosophy shows in its design.
While Skype did have the advantage in performance over Discord for a long time, as Discord has grown, it’s gotten much more reliable. The call quality overall is much better, and the video quality has grown by leaps and bounds since it was first added. For both the casual gamer and the pro gamer, Discord will be your go-to for virtually all situations. Since both programs are free, though, there’s no reason not to keep Skype installed for those rare situations when you need more than ten people in a video call.