It's a big day for the most popular chat app in PC gaming: Discord announced (opens in new tab) that it's officially bringing voice chat to Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One in 2022, with testing for those in the Xbox Insiders program starting today.
Among my friend group of daily Discord users, the option for console players to join our voice channels is easily at the top of our feature wishlist. Based on Discord's enthusiasm in the announcement, I reckon it knows console support will make a lot of users happy.
There is a catch, though: Joining a Discord voice channel on your Xbox won't be as easy as joining an Xbox party chat. You'll actually need your phone handy to make it work. The process goes like this:
- Connect your Xbox account to Discord (a one-time authorization)
- Join a voice channel on Discord mobile
- Select the "Join on Xbox" option from Discord on your phone, which will automatically open the Xbox app
- In the Xbox app, select "Transfer Audio". Back in Discord, select "Transfer voice to this device"
Then, finally, you can put down the phone and talk through your actual Xbox. It'll look something like this:
That's one hell of a procedure for something that takes exactly one click on my PC. I hope you won't have to do the app swapping every time you switch voice channels, but I suspect you will.
That said, after years of trying to play a console game while also using Discord, a maneuver that usually requires two pairs of headphones or a muted TV, I'll take anything I can get. The Xbox Discord UI also appears fairly barebones compared to the PC and mobile apps, but I'm at least glad individual volume sliders made the cut on console. If you want to give it a shot yourself, you can: the Insiders program is just a thing you can sign up for (opens in new tab).
Unfortunately, if you happen to have forgone an Xbox for a PS5 or PS4 like myself, you're out of luck. Discord's arrival on Xbox came with no mention of voice chat for PlayStation, which I thought was sort of weird, considering Sony bought a chunk of Discord last year (opens in new tab). So far, the only fruit of that partnership has been the ability to link your PSN account to Discord (opens in new tab) to show friends what you're playing (while still unable to message them in any way).
I think it's safe to assume that Discord does intend to be on PlayStation someday, but at the slow pace that meaningful new features have arrived for the chat app in recent years, maybe it's still too early to talk about. If that's true, we can probably consider Xbox support a test drive for the future.
Hopefully by the time Discord is on every gaming box, it'll have a regular dedicated app and not this weird app-to-app passthrough.