Mixer, the video game streaming service once nailed to a perch by Microsoft, will cease operations on July 22, the company announced today. In its place, Microsoft will kick off a new partnership with Facebook Gaming by moving existing Mixer users to that platform, should they be so inclined. After July 22, those who visit Mixer through a browser will be redirected to Facebook Gaming’s web portal, and Mixer’s Xbox One integration will be temporarily suspended. Microsoft’s announcement makes no mention of how this change will affect those who make regular use of Windows 10’s built-in Mixer streaming functionality, should such people exist.
“Ultimately, the success of Partners and streamers on Mixer is dependent on our ability to scale the platform for them as quickly and broadly as possible,” Microsoft said. “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, so we’ve decided to close the operations side of Mixer and help the community transition to a new platform.”
According to Microsoft, “700 million people play a game, watch a gaming video or interact in a gaming Group on Facebook” every month, which, okay! Seems weird to highlight this extremely broad statistic instead of, oh I dunno, the number of people that already watch streams on Facebook Gaming? Unless, of course, that number is tremendously sad, to such a degree that it must be hidden behind this 700 million figure, in which case I can see why you might go with something different. That’s just speculation on my part, of course.
Anyway, those who are Partnered streamers on Mixer will automatically be granted Partner status on Facebook Gaming, if and when they migrate their account to that platform through the appropriate channels. Those who monetized their streams but aren’t Mixer Partners will be given access to Facebook Gaming’s “Level Up Program,” which sounds like basically the same sorta deal. Mixer Partners will receive double the payout from Embers and Sparks received during the month of June, which sure seems like something they could have let people know about before the month was almost over, but a bonus is still a bonus.
The move to Facebook Gaming won’t be the last we see of this new initiative, though further details remain vague. “Transitioning the Mixer community is a key part of a broader effort that Xbox and Facebook Gaming are embarking on, bringing new experiences and opportunities to Facebook,” said head of Xbox Phil Spencer in a press release featuring entire paragraphs copy/pasted wholesale from the other announcement. For instance, Microsoft’s burgeoning play-over-streaming service Project xCloud may find a home on Facebook.
“We see [Project xCloud] delivering games to all kinds of screens and windows in your life, including those on Facebook,” Spencer said. “Gaming is already part of our social fabric, and Project xCloud can take you from discussing a new game – whether it’s a funny in-game moment posted by a friend, an ad, or an ongoing stream – directly to playing it.” Spencer also teases the possibility that such “click-to-play” functionality could come to Instagram, Facebook’s photo sharing app that boasts a somewhat lower concentration of white supremacists.
Mixer began as an independent alternative to Twitch dot Television in 2016, back when it was known as Beam. By using a proprietary fork of the open-source Open Broadcaster Software, Beam users could virtually eliminate latency from their streams, allowing viewers to witness events in what was essentially real-time. This was pretty revolutionary stuff back in 2016, when the delay between a Twitch streamer doing something and a viewer seeing it was often 40 seconds or longer. Microsoft purchased Beam for an undisclosed amount in October of 2016 and relaunched it as Mixer in May of the following year, integrating its functionality into the Xbox One and Windows 10 shortly thereafter.
By then, Twitch had implemented its own low-latency technology and Mixer failed to gain meaningful traction. Meanwhile, Facebook and YouTube would launch their own Twitch alternatives, which similarly struggled to make inroads on Amazon’s tightly held monopoly. Mixer would eventually (read: in 2019) sign exclusivity contracts with celebrity Twitch streamers such as Ninja and Shroud, in the hopes that their massive fan bases would make the jump with them. Less than a year later, this endeavor appears to have failed. Ninja, Shroud and other streamers that signed agreements with Mixer are now free and clear of any obligations, according to The Verge, having reportedly made tens of millions of dollars for a little over six months of work.