Apple has long relied on human curators for its media products.

The company worries “about the humanity being drained out of music, about it becoming a bits-and-bytes kind of world instead of the art and craft,” CEO Tim Cook told Fast Company in August. For the Apple News app, editors select stories from reliable sources. Google News, by contrast, aggregates all its content through computer algorithms.

Art-house video streaming service MUBI sets itself apart from the streaming giants by offering a handpicked selection of 30 films — often foreign and independent titles — at any given time.

“In order to survive in this business, you need a very clear differentiation to Netflixes and Amazons of this world,” MUBI founder and CEO Efe Cakarel told Bloomberg last month.

Discord feels it now has a large enough user base for its gaming communication software to leverage its social features for selling third-party content.

“We have an amazing relationship with our community. It feels like a friendship oftentimes,” said CMO Resmini. “When I think about these large app stores or game-store experiences, they don’t feel very friendly. They don’t feel very personal. We wanted to bring that feel we have with our community to our store as well.”

Discord will use algorithms to help gamers discover the titles on the platform that already have been selected by its staff (who will write accompanying reviews). Data on what users’ friends play will also guide the selection.

“We ultimately believe that friends are the best source for understanding what we should play,” Resmini said. “Discord is built for you to hang out with their friends. To make that a frictionless experience, from talking about it to purchasing it, we just think we have a major opportunity there.”

While consumers may desire recommendations, the convenience of vast selection remains a strong draw regardless of the platform. And if Discord is successful, it may not stay small.

“Just like with Microsoft, if [Discord’s] approach works, I would not expect them to keep it smaller scale,” Sinclair said. “That doesn’t mean they would abandon [curation] the way Valve seems to want to do. But there’s plenty of room to grow between those two extremes.”

Erica Yee, special to CNBC.com



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