Discord plans to start showing advertisements on its free platform in the coming week after long dismissing them, becoming the latest tech company to turn to ads to try to boost revenue.

Launched in 2015, Discord was designed to make it easy for videogame enthusiasts to chat while playing games online together. It expanded its appeal amid the 2020 pandemic lockdowns to a broader range of users including retail stock investors, students seeking help with homework and friends who want to watch movies together. In March, Discord said it had more than 200 million monthly active users.

The introduction of ads on Discord represents a pivot for the closely held company, whose chief executive, Jason Citron, has repeatedly said it would not depend on ads the way Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and others do. 

Despite these previous statements, Discord is now looking to hire more than a dozen people for ad-sales positions, according to people familiar with its plans. 

A platform’s decision to introduce ads is a balancing act with worries that ads could alienate users, intrude on the user experience and raise privacy concerns. However, platforms like Uber Technologies, Lyft, Instacart, DoorDash, Netflix, Reddit have all embraced ads in recent years as have streaming services by Disney and Amazon.com.

Discord in March announced plans to launch the new ads, which it calls Sponsored Quests, and they will become part of the platform beginning in the coming week. The ads will be targeted to users based on their gameplay, age and geographic location data, and they will appear in the bottom left corner of users’ screens, said Peter Sellis, Discord’s senior vice president of product, in an interview.

To earn rewards, users must stream themselves, completing an in-game task from the advertiser while at least one friend is watching. Users who watch their friends can then set off on quests of their own. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, some users who were given descriptions of the ads said they seem minimally intrusive and the need for them is understandable given the platform is mostly free. Others worried the ads would make people pressure their friends to watch them.