Microsoft has shut down its streaming entertainment service Mixer told all streamers utilizing the platform as content makers they would now be folded under Facebook Gaming. This news comes on the heels of widely spread allegations of racism a day ago from former employee Milan Lee, alongside pretty lackluster viewing numbers over the past couple of years. It makes for another notch in the belt of a relentless 2020.
If we’re looking at this through a competition angle, it makes a fair amount of sense for Microsoft to sunset this particular product. In reports from companies like Arsenal.gg and Streamelements, Mixer’s yearly growth from April last year came in at around 0.2% while Facebook gaming and Twitch had large spikes in viewership. When Mixer seduced Ninja and Shroud from Twitch using massive amounts of coin last year, IGN was told directly from a Microsoft source that the move was “a do or die effort.” [poilib element=”quoteBox” parameters=”excerpt=When%20Mixer%20seduced%20Ninja%20and%20Shroud%20from%20Twitch…IGN%20was%20told%20directly%20from%20a%20Microsoft%20source%20that%20the%20move%20was%20%20%E2%80%9Ca%20do%20or%20die%20effort.%E2%80%9D”]
One of the first signs of trouble was seeing both Mixer (Origin ally Beam) founders Matt Salsamendi and James J. Boehm leave in late 2019. It’s not unusual for young CEOs to cash out a couple of years after being acquired, but at the time Mixer was doing a pretty good job of growing talent and integrating solid Xbox programming into the platform. Seeing two smart guys leave, knowing that there was some substantial potential on the table with a new console looming raised both eyebrows that Mixer might not be doing as well as we might have thought.
A bunch of potentially very distressing wrinkles come out of this announcement, however. First, it sounds like some Mixer employees weren’t notified of the coming shutdown. Secondly, moving all 60K+ Mixer streamers under Facebook brings up and forces a bunch of moral dilemmas for those content creators who are worried about the way Facebook deals with issues of privacy.
The complicated logistics of moving all those streamers into an entirely new ecosystem that they would have to learn on the fly while messaging all those changes to their already built audiences also might prove messy. All those changes take time, effort, and energy that could have been alleviated with proper notice and onboarding. We’ve already seen a fair amount of Mixer streamers moving to Twitch, but for those that stayed loyal to the platform, this has come as a blow. Some have shared disappointment and anger about how Microsoft has handled all of this. [poilib element=”quoteBox” parameters=”excerpt=All%20those%20changes%20take%20time%2C%20effort%2C%20and%20energy%20that%20could%20have%20been%20alleviated%20with%20proper%20notice%20and%20onboarding.”]
“I was always fighting for Mixer because I felt they had the potential to show other platforms how things should be handled between creators and their platform,” said partnered streamer MoonLiteWolf. “They were easy to speak with and let us speak weekly directly to staff about feedback and suggestions. Offered loads of opportunities like hosting our own tourneys, that we had the pleasure to schedule, recruit and host ourselves. And even got us opportunities like being a part of ad campaigns or even chances to walk around and do interviews/represent the company at conventions.
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“We knew this was coming. We knew the company was in trouble, but we held out hope. But the way they dumped all of their streamers and staff so easily, without even a proper heads up, just shows I had hope in a company that didn’t even have hope in themselves”
Munchkindoom, another partnered streamer, said most streamers weren’t informed ahead of time that Mixer was shutting down. “We knew NOTHING! I woke up and found out from another streamer, and then went to Twitter. They pulled the rug from under us all; we were set for a town hall meeting today as normal. The town hall is where the dissolving of Mixer and the integration into Facebook Gaming was revealed.”
In a small silver lining, it seems like some of the partnered Mixer streamers will get fast-tracked for partnerships with FB Gaming and that some of their ability to monetize their streams will also be included in the move – if that’s where they wanted to go, of course.
“They gave us information on how to get onboarded and what Facebook is willing to do for you. Honestly, this is the most insulting thing,” continued Munchkindoom. “How did you assume I wanted to go to Facebook Gaming. Am I not free to choose where I want to go?”
IGN reached out to Facebook Gaming for comment on the privacy issues that have taken up much of the conversation around the platform in recent years.
“We know we have to earn back people’s trust. Keeping people’s information safe has to come before anything else, and our bottom line is getting this right,” a Facebook Gaming representative responded. [poilib element=”quoteBox” parameters=”excerpt=%E2%80%9CWe%20know%20we%20have%20to%20earn%20back%20people%E2%80%99s%20trust.%20Keeping%20people%E2%80%99s%20information%20safe%20has%20to%20come%20before%20anything%20else%2C%20and%20our%20bottom%20line%20is%20getting%20this%20right%22%20-%20Facebook%20Gaming”]
“We also get that words only go so far, and we need to prove it. The best way for us to do that is to keep building a great streaming experience where people want to hang out and creators can Thrive. We’ve made a ton of progress, and shipped some really amazing experiences, but the truth is we’re laser-focused on continuing to prove it. We’re just getting started.”
“I’m not gonna lie – [the privacy issues] crossed my mind more than once,” said popular Facebook Gaming streamer Siefe. “But in working with the team since joining Facebook Gaming it’s pretty clear that they know they need to win back the trust of the gaming/content community and are really committed focused to do just that.”
Ultimately, this is a boon for Facebook Gaming which not only gets to soak up a good chunk of the news cycle but also potentially gets to close the viewership gap by absorbing a bunch of abandoned streamers. History will say that Mixer was a fun experiment that forced its rival Twitch to be better. If only it had gone out with a little more respect for those who made it what it was.