Microsoft's Mixer streaming platform has a huge hill to climb to take on the likes of Twitch and YouTube, but Microsoft isn't showing signs of giving up in the short term. Today, the team at Mixer announced some major updates heading to the platform, as part of a promised focus on addressing streamer and viewer feedback.
The most note-worthy change is a big update to the website itself, which ditches the carousel interface in favor of a single large feature block, and four feature blocks beneath it. Rather than expecting users to scroll through the carousel (and let's be honest, the vast majority likely won't), Mixer is offering the opportunity to instantly and easily see five featured partners upfront and center.
The familiar featured creators and top games rows will remain, but beneath that, Mixer's algorithm will highlight dynamic categories powered by AI and data gathered by Microsoft, in addition to human-programmed content. These could include anything to games or categories you like and community events.
Additionally, Microsoft has rebuilt the Mixer experience on Xbox from the ground-up, designed for TVs and controller navigation. This will roll out initially to Xbox Insiders, before rolling out more broadly in the coming weeks.
Some of the other changes include auto-hosting for all streamers, letting streamers host their friend's streams automatically, with new customization options that let you tailor host priorities or add randomness, as well as the ability to set time durations.
Emoticons are getting a boost to 28 pixels, making them more defined and less fuzzy-looking. Partners will be able to tailor the way ads work on their streams too, setting up ad breaks and intros to help streamers monetize their content. Partners will also be displayed more prominently on the Xbox experience and the homepage than they are currently. The clip creation system is also getting some improvements, allowing you or your approved viewers create clips from the iOS and Android apps.
Mixer isn't giving up yet
As fun as Mixer is, there remains a question over how long Microsoft is willing to compete with the likes of YouTube and Twitch from such an underdog position. Microsoft typically doesn't stick with business battles that seem insurmountable. However, Mixer has some broad implications for Project xCloud streaming and video game discovery down the road, allowing users to potentially jump straight into games from watching a stream, right in their browsers. Despite the losing position, Mixer has some strategic benefits for Microsoft's gaming efforts in this area that may see it continue to receive investment for the foreseeable future.
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