Mixer started life as an independent video game streaming service that touted aggressively low-latency between streamer and viewer, allowing for interaction that simply wasn't possible previously. Next, Mixer popularized co-streaming, allowing users to synchronize their feeds together for co-operative broadcasting. Mixer has also built many unique features (many of which eventually made their way to Twitch and other competitors), including interactive buttons that allow you to directly affect a streamer's video game, as well as HypeZones which dynamically surface streams during intense moments, such as towards the end of a Fortnite or PUBG battle royale.
Today, Mixer revealed the next phase of its evolution, dubbed Season 2. Complete with an array of new features to keep it ahead of the competition.
Skills are a new way viewers can interact with a stream, beyond MixPlay game interaction. Skills allow viewers to send animated fireworks, gifs, and other effects into the chat of a stream, by spending Sparks accrued by watching shows. Sparks have existed on Mixer for quite a long time, as such, many of us have a huge stockpile of them to spend, so I expect the first few weeks of the availability of these new Skills will be quite explosive.
While Mixer doesn't yet have ads, Microsoft and the Mixer community support streamers financially in other ways, chiefly via donations. A new way includes Sparks patronage, which costs viewers nothing. When a user spends Sparks either by clicking your MixPlay interactive buttons or on the new Mixer Skills, the streamer will receive real money payouts when hitting certain milestones.
Beyond Sparks, earned via watching streams, Microsoft is also introducing a new virtual currency called Mixer Embers, which will give users access to rarer, flashier Skills, that come attached with bigger patronage payouts for Mixer streamers. Embers are listed as "coming soon," presumeably before the end of 2018.
On Twitch, Mixer, and other streaming platforms, users can "subscribe" to a channel to help donate to the streamers they like, while also receiving a few perks along the way. Subscribed users gain access to exclusive channel emotes on Mixer, in addition to a channel-branded icon. If you subscribe to Windows Central for example, you get an icon of our logo next to your name while in our chat (as well as access to Zac Bowden and Dan Rubino emotes, how cool.)
Mixer wants to recognize viewers who spend a lot of time supporting their favorite streamers, but who might not be in a position to contribute financially via donations or subscriptions. To do this, Mixer will reward you with progression for each channel you actively participate in, granting levels and emblems that reflect your standing within that community. Progression will arrive some time in 2019.
Competition heating up
Mixer has been growing quite rapidly since it joined Microsoft, enjoying featured spots on the Xbox dashboard. With Microsoft's Azure cloud, Mixer is well-positioned for future growth, as it seeks to capitalize on an industry that has nowhere near peaked.
What do you think of these new Mixer features? Let us know.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!