Best Discord alternatives (2021)

New ways to talk to your friends.

discord illustration

Image via Discord

The communication app Discord has exploded in popularity over the course of the last half-decade thanks to its robust voice and video chat and modernized text chat, but users called their support of the app into question after the company behind it hinted that cryptocurrency-focused features could be coming to the app in the future. It’s unclear whether Discord will follow through on integrating anything related to crypto and NFTs after a significant amount of user backlash, but some are already looking into different ways to keep their communities together.

Guilded

Discord users will likely be right at home on Guilded. The apps are close enough in functionality that users can port an entire server’s setup from Discord to Guilded in seconds, and advanced features like screen sharing and custom emoji support await those that switch. There are even some extra bells and whistles, like built-in server calendars, applications to screen prospective users before letting them into a private server, and crossposting from Guilded to Discord for communities that have both. For users that are comfortable with letting the service handle hosting for them and want the closest match in features and look and feel, Guilded is one of the best options for switching from Discord.

Matrix / Element

Matrix is an open-source chat network with end-to-end encryption and support for voice-over and text chat. The flagship client for the service is called Element, and its interface and feature set are a close match for Discord. Developers have even built bridge applets for Matrix servers to communicate with users on other chat services, so those that make the switch can keep in touch with friends that stay on Discord, or apps like WhatsApp and Telegram.

Users can also choose from a variety of other Matrix-ready chat clients to talk with their friends if Element doesn’t work for them. Group chat support is built into Matrix, but users looking to build entire private servers may have to look into hosting it themselves.

Steam Friends & Chat

It can be easy to forget that Steam has a built-in chat service, but Valve’s app has expanded its social features in recent years in an attempt to compete with Discord. Users on PC in particular likely already have accounts and can easily find friends on Steam, and users can create groups on the service to build group chats with text and voice channels. Features like screen sharing and 1-to-1 voice calls are still missing, but Steam’s ubiquity and not having to worry about setting up hosting for private servers may be the most compelling reasons to make the jump.

TeamSpeak and Mumble

Discord was originally designed as a competitor to Mumble and TeamSpeak. Both services provide voice-over IP solutions for gaming and offer hybrid text chat and voice chat interfaces that should be familiar for Discord users. However, they both also require a decent understanding of technical know-how in order to set up private servers. Experienced users willing to get their hands dirty and spend some money on hosting should be able to get them both up and running, but those with less of a desire to control the backend may want to look elsewhere.