Microsoft revealed its plans with its games streaming platform Mixer which will partner with Facebook Gaming. As a result, Mixer’s operations are shut down, grinding to a halt. During its transition, all of Mixer’s partnered streamers will shift to Facebook. Neither the execs from Microsoft nor Mixer gave any reasons for this development. As of now, streamers have a choice between Youtube, Twitch and Facebook Gaming as a new home. The operations are scheduled to have a complete shut down on July 22nd.
So where did it go wrong? Why did it go wrong? There’s Twitch. There’s Youtube. But Mixer didn’t get a clue. So what we could learn out of this?
Was the shut down inevitable?
Mixer was perceived as a serious streaming platform competition against Twitch but lost steam as months went by. It made a lot of hype and created mixed reactions at the time of launch. While it did encourage people to come and stream, it did not help to grow an audience. It was also in the news when it signed up with well-known names for streaming in its platform exclusively. But relying solely on that was foolish. I am hoping that wasn’t the case. The reason for this merger is unknown. But mismanagement, lower viewer base and lack of direction can be a few of many reasons. Non-feasibility could be another? We’ll just have to see what good this partnership with Facebook will yield, apart from offloading its partners or giving them the option to free themselves.
Why did it work for Twitch- what kinda worked for Youtube, but not for Mixer?
Video and livestreaming platforms are the unofficial blank sheet of paper for new content creators with no following. But Twitch streamers were compelled to be hands-on in a very different way compared to Youtube and Facebook Gaming. Even Instagram and Tik-Tok has own ways of doing it. It would work in a streamer’s favour if they played their cards right to build a community and a steady viewer base. The recent growth and hype around its chess community is one good example. Political discussions and podcasts are not a niche on Twitch. Streamers helped to build that community base on Twitch. This is no different on Youtube which shows impressive growth from India around PUBG Mobile and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Both didn’t have any serious competition for what it offered. Youtube’s livestream service acts as an extension for Youtube channels. Mixer should have also worked differently by working with streamers to get the audience in- and not just with partnered streamers. Both it is content creators and the system could have worked together. It could have given direction and resources to new talents, have them become a potential ambassador for the community.
The management may have been too laid back?
Mixer tried to be a focussed streaming platform only in words- and a set of rules that triggers a knee jerk response with some variations of Twitch streamers. Being a part of a major corporation never guarantees success. But Mixer had the tools at its disposal if it could vindicate itself with growing numbers. Unlike Amazon, Mixer is a part of Microsoft which has a large presence with PC gamers, Microsoft Studios and Xbox consoles. It also has Microsoft Games and many IPs, such as Halo. The theory was sound, but nothing came out of it. While it looked like it was disappearing in perpetual darkness, a shutdown this quickly is surprising. Nothing much is known apart from Mixer’s own words.
Acquiring talents is not enough
Acquiring and relying on a few well-known talents is not enough, and that’s not limited to Mixer. DLive signed up with Pewdiepie who shifted back to Youtube after the contract was expired. From a third person’s point-of-view, Mixer seems to have ticked the right boxes to score an ‘Achievement Unlocked’ moment. TwitchTV. formerly JustinTV (created in 2007) was acquired by Amazon. It took a while but it gained traction with a combination of known and new content creators. An excerpt from Mixer’s official comment subtly says they were not hands-on:
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. It became clear that the time needed to grow our 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. To better serve our community’s needs, we’re teaming up with Facebook to enable the Mixer community to transition to Facebook Gaming. This is a key part of a broader effort that Xbox and Facebook Gaming are embarking on, bringing new experiences and opportunities to the entire world of gaming.
Maybe a good exit for exclusively signed streamers?
Lack of initiative and action- A cruel joke on smaller streamers
As a brand new streaming platform, Mixer had an excellent opportunity to connect with its streamers. It attracted people who never streamed before. Some moved from Twitch, feeling that its streaming community is oversaturated and hence their discoverability was low, which made perfect sense back then. It could have worked with a lot of these streamers irrespective of its genre, not limited to partnered streamers. At least it should have ensured the shut down (or ‘merger’) was not an option until they can figure out a gameplan. I know its easier said than done, but Mixer needs to realize people spend a lot of time, effort and money to stream on their platform. The Facebook Gaming merger does nothing to resolve that because these streamers will start from scratch.
The rude awakening about this story is that none of its partnered streamers knew about this until the tweet was made. There were also some experiences shared by its former employees, stating the racism they faced.
Mixer: The Black Experience
— Milly 🌩 #BlackLivesMatter (@MilanKLee) June 21, 2020
It also highlights a concerning issue where her former manager referred its partnered streamers as slaves while calling himself ‘slave master’. Naturally, it sparked a community backlash on Twitter. Mixer and Phil Spencer responded via Twitter, so we’ll just have to see how it unfolds. But it shows how casually such language was accepted as the manager who received this reporter did not inform the HR. The legal team was notified by the former employee, but they eventually said that he was ‘not guilty’.
Mixer streamer reactions
There is a lot of confusion and anger among Mixer streamers. None of its streamers, including its partners, were made aware of this move. Understandably, this will put people in a situation where don’t have a lot of time to assess their situation and decisions. Many were angry, while many had an emotional response with their community.
My two cents
I started by posting in reviews for many years, eventually getting review samples. With some forums having problems at the time which created some unsettling interactions, I started Hardware BBQ. That was 10 years ago. When you grow a certain audience base, diversify them and get an audience from multiple locations. It is like an investment. Discord- Youtube, etc. Heck, maybe even get into blogging, depending on the type of content you’re making. Environment edutainer i mod for who maintains Twitch streams, Discord community, blog, Twitter and now also streaming on another platform called Cimpatico.
But since you’re making a live stream, the recorded stream is your raw material. Like many things in life, streaming is not for everyone to take as a full-time profession. But if it works, start planning. That said, the grinding behind it is an effort and time-consuming.