Microsoft’s livestreaming service Mixer will shut down on July 22 and is “teaming up” with Facebook Gaming to give partnered Mixer streams a new home, both companies announced on Monday.
“It became clear that the time needed to grow our own livestreaming community to scale was out of measure with the vision and experiences that Microsoft and Xbox want to deliver for gamers now,” Mixer said in a post today. “So we’ve decided to close the operations side of Mixer and help the community transition to a new platform.” The news was first reported by The Verge.
Partnered Mixer streamers tell WIRED they found out about the news when Microsoft announced it.
Despite solid livestreaming technology and top talent acquisitions, including Tyler “Ninja” Blevins and Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek, Mixer has struggled to keep up with competitors Twitch and YouTube. In April, viewers watched 37 million hours of gaming content on Mixer to Twitch’s 1.5 billion and YouTube’s 461 million, according to data from streaming analytics company Arsenal.gg. The year-over-year stats are grim, too: Hours watched on Twitch grew 101 percent between April 2019 and 2020, while Mixer’s increased just .2 percent.
Mixer launched in January 2016 as Beam. Just months later, Microsoft acquired it. The service’s pitch is super-low latency and direct streaming from Microsoft’s Xbox in addition to PC. In mid-2019, Blevins and Grzesiek—two of Twitch’s biggest stars—signed exclusive deals to stream on Mixer for undisclosed, likely enormous sums of money.
Other streamers fled Twitch for exclusive deals with Facebook Gaming, a competing livestreaming service that launched its app on Android in April. (According to The New York Times, Facebook Gaming’s iOS app has been rejected from the Apple Store at least five times.) Facebook Gaming has seen healthy 72 percent month-over-month growth in hours watched between March and April. In April, gamers watched 291 million hours on Facebook Gaming—nearly eight times Mixer’s. At the same time, Facebook as a platform, and as a brand, has the charisma of a Hoobastank concert to much of Gen Z, who tend to prefer social media apps like TikTok or Snapchat and Instagram.
Streamers with partner status on Mixer will have partner status on Facebook Gaming if they choose to move over. On July 22, Mixer.com will redirect to Fb.gg—Facebook Gaming’s website. Microsoft’s cloud streaming service, Project xCloud, will also find a new home on Facebook Gaming, although we don’t know what that will look like yet.
“It wasn’t as much about return on sell, it was about finding a partnership that was the best things for the community and streamers,” Xbox head Phil Spencer told The Verge. “We think this is it, and it gives us a great place to launch more xCloud content and give gamers the ability to play from there.”
As the original home for livestreamed gaming content, Twitch remains the major cultural hub for gamers. Its emotes, in-game loot offers, and other mainstays have a near gravitational pull on millions. And over the last several years, Twitch has expanded to include a flourishing and lively section for non-gaming content including talk shows, cooking, and trolling tech support scammers. When gaming entertainment content leaves Twitch—from streamers’ livestreams to entire esports leagues—viewership tends to plummet. While Grzesiek often attracted tens of thousands of concurrent viewers on Twitch, on Mixer, he averaged just about 5,000, according to data from TwitchTracker.
Mixer will be remembered as a promising failure. Although it did many things right—including giving all partnered streamers $100 during the Covid-19 pandemic—the atmosphere wasn’t right for it to develop its own, self-sustaining culture.
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