Microsoft announced it would shutter its video game play streaming service Mixer on July 22, reports Bloomberg. Xbox head Phil Spencer explained his company is closing the platform because it did not reach “the scale goals that we had.” As such, high-profile professional gamers like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins have been released from their exclusive contracts. The Windows maker will redirect players to Facebook Gaming once Mixer goes dark.
The two tech giants also revealed they would collaborate on the summer wide release of Microsoft’s xCom mobile gaming service.
Microsoft’s Attempt at Capturing the Games Streaming Market
According to Newzoo, in 2019 viewers consumed over 12.6 trillion hours of video game streaming content on Twitch and YouTube. Microsoft wanted to jump on the hot new digital trend and sought to stake a claim four years ago. The corporation’s Xbox brand is one of the biggest in the console space, so pursuing a parallel revenue stream made sense.
In 2016, the corporation purchased interactive live-streaming service Beam and relaunched it as Mixer a year later.
However, despite Microsoft’s considerable resources and footprint, it struggled to attract a large audience for its platform. Whereas Twitch had a monthly active user base of 100 million in early 2018, Mixer only had 10 million regular subscribers. The company moved to close that gap by signing streaming stars like Blevins, Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek, and Cory “King Gothalion” Michael to exclusive contracts last year.
Back then, the software giant had a lot of faith in its content streaming offering, paying Blevins a reported $20 million to $30 million to leave Twitch.
Unfortunately, Microsoft’s strategy failed to bear fruit, or at least at the scale it wanted. VentureBeat reports Mixer only had an audience of 30 million as of last August despite its robust backing. Also, while the coronavirus pandemic boosted video game streaming viewership overall, it barely impacted the platform’s popularity.
Twitch saw a 100 percent year-over-year jump in hours consumed in April, and Facebook Gaming expanded by 238 percent. But Mixer only experienced two-tenths of a percent in growth during the same timeframe.
What Happens Next
After winding down Mixer, Microsoft will bring some of its technology to Teams to make it more multifaceted. Once the integration is complete, the videoconferencing service should be more stable and will give users the ability to hold large online events. Spencer also said some Mixer staffers would move to the xCom project, but headcount reductions are possible.
As Microsoft and Facebook had been discussing redirecting subscribers to the latter’s gaming platform since March, the transition should go well.
— Gothalion (@Gothalion) June 22, 2020
With their contracts now concluded, Blevins, Grzesiek, and Michael are free to move to other live-streaming services. As of this writing, Ninja and Shroud have not announced their plans, but Gothalion tweeted he’s moving to Facebook Gaming.
Though it never became popular, Mixer represented a reasonable attempt to make the gameplay streaming industry more competitive. Consequently, it likely helped the field’s biggest personalities secure huge paydays. With it closing down, it will probably be harder for emerging professional players to land such lucrative deals.