26th June 2020

POV: Microsoft Shuts Down Mixer

Background:

Microsoft announced this week that it would be shutting down its Mixer video game streaming platform on the 22nd July and is planning to partner with Facebook Gaming for its future streaming ambitions. Video game streaming platforms allow users to watch live streams of gamers playing their favourite games and have been growing in popularity.

Details and Implications:

Microsoft acquired gaming start-up Beam in 2016 and relaunched it as Mixer in 2017, entering the video game streaming market that is largely dominated by Amazon’s Twitch and YouTube. Microsoft invested heavily in its game streaming service, securing streaming rights to big esports personalities like Ninja and Shroud (who both previously used Twitch) but hasn’t ultimately been able to make it work.

Mixer will be discontinued and Microsoft is partnering with Facebook to redirect all Mixer sites and apps to Facebook Gaming once it closes at the end of July. Users will be pointed towards using Facebook Gaming and streamers using the Mixer monetisation programme will be granted eligibility for Facebook’s level up programme, which is designed to give creators access to tools and features to help them create high quality content and monetise it. However, popular streamers who had deals on Mixer are now free to re-join Twitch or Facebook Gaming should they wish. Any existing Mixer streaming partners will also be granted partner status with Facebook Gaming as well. 

The deal with Facebook could benefit Microsoft’s xCloud games service when it launches. xCloud will allow users to play over 50 Xbox games on their phones or tablets, streaming directly from the Cloud and Microsoft hopes that the deal with Facebook Gaming will provide a bigger platform to promote xCloud, as Mixer lacked the scale and viewership to deliver this. Microsoft plans to work closely with Facebook to ensure that its xCloud games reach Facebook Gaming’s user base of over 700 million people. To do this, Facebook Gaming will allow viewers to click and immediately play games that people are streaming

Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s Head of Gaming said that the end of Mixer and the partnership with Facebook was: “about finding a partnership that was the best things for the community and streamers. 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.” Project xCloud is currently in a preview stage, where members can sign up to participate but is not widely available. 

Summary:

The leading streamers make millions of dollars from their content and associated deals with many brands becoming more interested in using gaming for advertising to connect with a highly engaged audience. Microsoft’s decision to drop Mixer is a big step - an established player in the gaming industry but the partnership with Facebook may help with the coming xCloud service and in turn help Facebook Gaming better compete with Twitch and YouTube.

Further Reading

Tech Crunch | Venture Beat | Tech Radar | Tech Spot | Xbox | The Verge

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