Mixer Shutting Down, Microsoft Partnering With Facebook Gaming

Mixer, the streaming service that Microsoft hoped to use to compete with Amazon-owned Twitch, is being shut down next month.

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Microsoft has announced that it is shutting down Mixer, its streaming competitor to the likes of Twitch. The Xbox owners will be transitioning over to Facebook Gaming instead, partnered streamers having the option to be included with the move or return to Twitch. As of July 22, Mixer sites and apps will redirect users to Facebook Gaming. The decision comes just months after Microsoft shelled out millions of dollars to acquire some of the biggest streamers from Twitch. However, viewership remained low in comparison to other platforms.

Mixer, which was known as Beam.io before Microsoft purchased it, struggled to gain the viewership of its competitors since launch. Big streamer acquisitions such as deals with Ninja and Shroud might have initially drawn viewers in, but it's lacked the mass appeal Microsoft, and Xbox specifically, need leading up to the launch of the Xbox Series X and xCloud, Xbox's on-demand streaming service.

"Ultimately, the success of Partners and streamers on Mixer is dependent on our ability to scale the service for them as quickly and broadly as possible," Xbox boss Phil Spencer explained in a post on Xbox Wire. "It became clear that the time needed to grow our own livestreaming community to scale was out of measure with the vision and experiences we want to deliver to 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."

Spencer explained in a statement to The Verge that the decision wasn't so much about how to recoup a return on investment, but rather what will work for Xbox's future strategies. "When we think about xCloud and the opportunity to unlock gameplay for 2 billion players, we know it's going be critically important that our services find large audiences and Facebook clearly gives us that opportunity," explained Spencer.

To achieve that, Xbox is looking to Facebook Gaming--another alternative to Twitch that has gained far more popularity with Facebook's wide user base, and has far more reach than Mixer. Spencer says that xCloud will integrate with Facebook Gaming to allow you to launch games from streams you're watching--a feature Google Stadia advertised before launch, but one that hasn't yet materialized.

Microsoft says it won't abandon the Mixer technology entirely, as it will be put to use for Microsoft Teams.

Where Are Ninja, Shroud, And Others Going?

While Mixer partnered streamers are free to transition over to Facebook Gaming, two of Mixer's biggest acquisitions have reportedly opted not to move there, opening the door for a return to Twitch. Ninja, who left Twitch for a rich exclusive deal at Mixer, wrote in a statement on Twitter, "I love my community and what we built together on Mixer. I have some decisions to make and will be thinking about you all as I make them." Another Mixer partner, Gothalion, has chosen to stay with Microsoft and make the move to Facebook gaming.

Xbox xCloud doesn't have a release date yet, but is expected to launch later this year alongside the Xbox Series X as Microsoft continues to push into more service-based products. The hardware powering xCloud will also be upgraded in 2021 to support Xbox Series X titles and possibly PC games streaming.

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