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Microsoft is closing Mixer — what went wrong?

Mixer Logo Distorted
Mixer Logo Distorted (Image credit: Matt Brown / Windows Central)

Microsoft's answer to the live streaming boom has been a journey of highs and lows, but it's soon the end of the road for Mixer. The virtual abode to many of gaming's top online personalities, streaming continues to witness explosive growth. While the Mixer platform has become an established broadcasting brand, it failed to dent the three dominant players. That brings us to Microsoft embarking to migrate users over to Facebook Gaming, shuttering Mixer after four years.

The bleak future for Mixer isn't surprising, following stories of missteps and unrealized potential. But that wasn't always the case, with promising propositions in Mixer's early iterations. But with a brief look back, the writing was on the wall.

The end of the road for Mixer

Mixer Homepage

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Microsoft boarded the live-streaming train in mid-2016, known under its former alias, Beam. The move saw Redmond adopt the independent venture from Matt Salsamendi and James Boehm, 18- and 20-years-old as of acquisition, looking to scale its response to streaming. The focus on interactivity and community established a unique hook for the platform, which continued to grow in tandem with new features, under the Mixer rebrand.

Mixer's initial promise came from underlying technologies, including the low-latency "faster than light (FTL)" stream protocol, reducing the delay between creators and their viewers. The sub-second broadcasts closed the gap for audiences, fostering more profound engagement, and opening doors for real-time connections. Viewers could impact the game, multiple streamers could chain synchronized video feeds through "co-streams," and hosts could even virtually "pass" the controller to Mixer users. That community-focused sentiment would help shape Mixer's lasting identity, even if oft-overlooked by Microsoft.

While Amazon-owned Twitch and YouTube's live features garnered their respective followings, no one had their foot in gaming like Microsoft. The service naturally linked to Microsoft's broader Xbox ambitions, filtering down to its Xbox One console family and Windows 10 PCs. Partners could also earn a commission for selling Xbox One games or Xbox Game Pass subscriptions via their Mixer channel.

Ninja Joins Mixer

Source: Ninja on YouTube (Image credit: Source: Ninja on YouTube)

Backing from Microsoft finally put the platform on the radar — at one point considered a tangible threat to Twitch. That came with several high-profile successes, most famously with a string of talent acquisition. Microsoft locked down Tyler "Ninja" Blevins following a sudden rise to fame, later tailed by established names like Shroud and Gothalion. The reported multi-million dollar deals disrupted the landscape in an unprecedented manner, later mirrored by other platforms keeping their prominent faces in-house.

Building platforms within a crowded space is never easy, making it reasonable to ask why Microsoft bothered with Mixer in the first place. But the streaming world has become increasingly lucrative over the last decade, with viewership continually on the up, and gaming industry actors looking to secure their share of that growth. Games and content creation are closer than ever, and the value only increases as endeavors like Project xCloud hit the scene.

Unrealized potential, internal struggles, and fierce competition

Mixer

Source: Mixer (Image credit: Source: Mixer)

While Microsoft appeared to be pouring funds into Mixer, Redmond's track record proved that it didn't guarantee the platform's future.

Mixer's problems weren't just outward-facing, with reports of discrimination and low morale under late leadership.

Problems at Mixer weren't just outward-facing, with reports of low morale among the team earlier this year. That followed with the departure of founders Salsamendi and Boehm, resulting in a "skeleton" team, increasingly detached from Xbox operations. A leaked Mixer Town Hall video provides a glimpse into late leadership, with Mixer head Shilpa Yadla downplaying internal frustrations among staff.

One former Mixer employee recently voiced their personal encounters with racism among leadership, prompting executive vice-president of Gaming at Microsoft, Phil Spencer, to publicly respond. That's been followed by a wave of harassment and discrimination allegations among top streamers with no known repercussions from Mixer — just days prior to the announcement of its closure. While still a developing situation, it's not the first report of internal issues among Mixer's remaining team.

Chart showing flat Mixer growth

Source: Stream Elements (Image credit: Source: Stream Elements)

The streaming landscape is stronger than ever, with its latest uptick reflecting the ongoing pandemic, enforcing stay-at-home orders across the globe. But for Mixer, this was likely the final shot. A recent report from StreamElements surveyed top video game streaming platforms­, spotlighting triple-figure year-over-year growth from Twitch and Facebook Gaming. In contrast, Microsoft's Mixer was flat with underwhelming 0.2 percent growth, seemingly struggling to retain its users.

StreamLabs' corresponding findings state that last quarter, more users were streaming on Mixer than Facebook Gaming and YouTube Gaming combined. It also had more hours streamed than rivals, only topped by Twitch, suggesting that content output wasn't behind its downfall. Mixer was the home for streamers — but without an audience to watch.

Even with Ninja's debut Mixer stream clocking over 90,000 concurrent viewers, propelling its iOS app to the top of Apple's App Store, it was a short-lived blip, rather than a long-term gain.

Mixer was the home for streamers — but without an audience to watch.

As Mixer looked to expand, new issues arose for Microsoft's live-streaming destination. The low-latency FTL protocol, previously a defining feature of Mixer's backend, was muted by reduced broadcast delays from Twitch and YouTube. Rivals replicated a majority of the best traits, while it wrangled fragmented features between platforms and weak localization beyond U.S. audiences.

That's without touching on missed opportunities, especially regarding its ties to Xbox services and subscriptions. Amazon's Twitch Prime serves exclusive game rewards, which Microsoft replicated via Xbox Game Pass, over the Mixer Pro subscription. Xbox Game Pass and Mixer Pro also failed to nail down a relationship, with a complimentary subscription under the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate tier a no-brainer during the height of Mixer's success.

With Microsoft backing down from the streaming scene, it leaves Twitch as the undisputed champion, and YouTube and Facebook witnessing similar growth. Microsoft will aid Facebook in bolstering its video game streaming solutions, helping migrate Mixer Partners to the platform, and teasing future Project xCloud integration.

But for now, Mixer is yet another casualty among Microsoft's service experiments. Missteps, both consumer-facing and internal, ultimately led to the platform's demise — while also failing to resonate in the competitive streaming field.

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Matt Brown
Matt Brown

Matt Brown is Windows Central's Senior Games Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.

64 Comments
  • I'm not surprised, but I feel that the migration to Facebook gaming is an even worse move for Microsoft. Facebook as a company has one of the worst track records for privacy and security. I would think that the partnership with Google in terms of the Duo, would lend them to partnering with YouTube. I think that a partnership between Microsoft and Google in the gaming universe would help both parties push sales for gaming devices and games. YouTube could link directly to buying games on Stadia if available, and Xbox/xCloud if available.
  • For me personally, the name “Facebook” is an irredeemably tainted brand that will never be good for anything, let alone gaming or live-streaming.
  • Exactly Facebook is just the "uncool" brand now
  • Couldn't agree more. Just the worst, rep-wise, company in tech.
  • I agree. I sure how this doesn't mean Facebook is going to be integrated with my Xbox account or even just the OS. I want nothing to do with that company.
  • And yet... Facebook Gaming already surpassed Mixer in terms of viewership (what actually matters the most) before this shutdown. Mixer is going out as number 4.
  • I don't give a damn what numbers Facebook has. No number could make Facebook more trustworthy, reliable, honest, or worthy of my attention.
  • lol that’s fine. You are just one person; Facebook has millions of users who don’t have an issue with the company.
  • Microsoft should have worked out a way to integrate Twitch and YouTube. Facebook is garbage and to be avoided whenever possible (generally speaking). Maybe Xbox demographic is Facebook users? Otherwise it makes no sense unless Twitch and YouTube said no. Whatever as far as mixer. It was slow and poor and no one used it
  • Google has its own cloud gaming platform. Amazon is reported to be building one. Why would either of those companies want to partner for xCloud?
  • Welp, im eating my words from a few weeks ago about Mixer stagnant growth.
  • What went wrong? Nobody used it.
  • Ya, this doesn't surprise me. I'm by no means an expert, but it seems like Twitch/YouTube pretty much dominate the scene. Too bad it didn't take off more, but hopefully A) people don't have to lose their jobs in mass B) Microsoft themselves can devote more of these resources elsewhere (like Xcloud/GamePass).
  • No surprises here. It was really obvious Microsoft did not care about Mixer as a platform. They did not even attempt to build out features people were asking for and they did not build good Mixer apps. The integration into Windows 10 was removed and I felt like that was the writing on the wall, tbh.
  • When it doesn't work, throw your hands in the air and say "F*** it!" That's the Microsoft way.
  • Plenty of Google product as well
  • Google is king on that section. Fail it bin it motto.
  • Are they though? Google has 202 dead products, Microsoft 346. Edit: on the Version Museum website they list an additional 44 products killed by Microsoft that they haven't cataloged yet. The number of dead MS products is 400. https://www.versionmuseum.com/history-of/discontinued-microsoft-products https://killedbygoogle.com
  • I would have assumed google was king of killing products too. But I guess i'm wrong.
  • Bill once said in an interview: there is only space for two platforms, the winner and the one that fills the rest of the void.Or something like that, he was talking about operating systems but I suppose it's true about any platform.
  • That doesn't really align. On PC, you have Windows, Mac, and Linux. Smartphones had the potential, with Blackberry and Microsoft showing up, but both were lazy and late to the party. Cars manufacturers are all over the place in all kinds of markets. The TV market has shown that Samsung, LG, Sony, Vizio, and some lower-tier brands can all exist. PC components have all kinds of OEMs to provide options for things like motherboards, cases, and memory. These duopolies only exist where it's kind of allowed. Microsoft didn't do much to promote Mixer, similar to how it half-supported things like Windows phones, Band, and Kinect, and the results showed. They're doing something similar with WMR. Microsoft's uninspiring inaction in the market is the cause of the failure, not this "you can only have two" myth.
  • I totally agree with this. MS has it in their head that there can only be 1 real player in any given market. Except apparently when it comes to the cloud, as Amazon does out perform them in pretty much every cloud segment, and google cloud is out growing azure. MS has pretty much sacrificed everything for the cloud but will end up playing second fiddle. By the end of all this, they'll have to put themselves on the chopping block.
  • Microsoft is about business and user experience. Why stick with something that isn't working or failed in attempts to make it a success. It's obvious they looked ahead of time to have a transition in place which is Facebook Gaming. Not only that, they got themselves a platform for xCloud now, something nobody seems to get or see. xCloud is likely to transform into what Stadia is but better, an easier position to rival the Cloud Gaming Space. And if Facebook is really serious about gaming which so far they are with VR, they should support Oculus for Xbox consoles.
  • they barely even tried tho. Mixer changed very little since MS purchased it. We go half-assed OS integration that absolutely nobody even knew about and in a last ditch effort they bought out popular streamers, something they should have done from the get-go.
  • I dont know why you think this helps xCloud. Cloud resources arnt scarce for MS, so it's not like mixer not using resources somehow helps xCloud. Furthermore, cloud steaming is even less interesting to consumers then game streaming is. On top of that, xCloud is having technical feasibility trouble, having platform trouble launching, doesnt have an audiance, and costs a heck ton of money to run. It's already on MS choping board.
  • xCloud is actually very popular and I use it almost every day. For a Beta it goes beyond player and time spend expectations Microsoft had for xCloud. Satya mentioned this twice in his speeches. When xCloud launches fully it will be starting strong. Not just cause of Facebook but because xCloud is that good. Not to forget cause of its success, they will be upgrading the blades to Series X specs next year and add it to Game Pass this year. Edit: and xCloud will receive Click-to-play on Instagram.. A mass popularity platform that will significantly boost xCloud. The service is far from being a problem.
  • Microsoft in 2022: "xCloud on Facebook is not that popular. Let's pull it."
  • Ha ha ha, another Microsoft failure and now making deals with Facebook! How low can you go Microsoft? I'll be staying with Twitch...
  • Not to defend them or anything but is a business decision... Are you aware Microsoft value today is 1.5 trillion USD O.o
  • Not surprised, but honestly sad.
  • I'm waiting for Rubino comment : Microsoft is a software company first.. Oh wait!
  • Why aren't they choosing to simply partner with Twitch? This makes little sense to me.
  • Because Twitch is owned by Amazon, and right now Amazon is pretty upset with Microsoft over a government contract that they won. I would say Amazon wants very little to do with Microsoft right now.
  • You think Twitch cares about xCloud? No. Definitely not.
  • On the upside, it frees up cloud space and resources, like cash. That can be used for worthwhile stuff, like games, cheaper consoles. Facebook has the backend to make Xbox streaming reach more people. Likely also link in to xcloud. Actually lot of great potential, business speaking. Hopefully I can delete the preinstalled Facebook streaming app from my Series X.
  • Everyone saw this coming. Mishandled much like cortana.
  • Classic Microsoft. (Also classic Google)
  • We’ll probably never know, but I wonder if Microsoft lost more than the $8 billion on the Nokia disaster.
  • Again, why does ANYONE expect consumer products/services from Microsoft? Isn't it bloody obvious by now that Microsoft is NOT a consumer company? And they never will be.
  • Microsoft hates consumers.
  • Actually, consumers hate Microsoft.
  • Not enough cleavage and body painting streamers to get viewers.
  • Can someone please explain to me where project x cloud comes into play with this???
  • Say you are watching a steamer on Mixer or Facebook now. With one click you could be playing the same game on xCloud. No installation or high-end hardware needed. Same thing Google is doing with Stadia and YouTube.
  • Typical Microsoft, I keep on telling people from experience, stop building your life with Microsoft!!! They'll **** you up!!
  • Dang it. OK, so when does Mixer bite the dust?
  • July 22, so there's a short grace period.
  • Lol Microsoft can't keep anything alive. Zune, cortana, Xbox music, windows phone ECT.
  • Yeah man. Windows, Azure, SQL Server, Office. All dead. No one cares about the consumer products, because MS has never been a consumer company.
  • So is that ninja guy allowed to go back to twitch lol? They probably won't pay him anything as hell have to sign up for free
  • Reportedly made 30 million out of Microsoft. Ninja ain't gonna starve!
  • Problem
    #1 Ms never really seemed interested in actually investing significant revenue in it until it was way too late by acquiring Ninja and other top personalities. But they did nothing after that. #2 The name Mixer... Terrible name. I had no clue what it was and thought for the longest time it had to do with Music. If anything Ms should have just kept the name beam if Mixer was the best they could do. What ever Microsoft exec came up with mixer as a name should be fired. Just another terrible and lack luster investment MS never actually seemed to care to support like the terribly managed Groove Music and their also terribly managed Cortana digital Personal assistant. So much promise... But Ms is often too bloated and full of slow moving red Tape to get things done it kills promising ideas from becoming great and often leads to them shutting down. I am surprised surface and Xbox is still making it. Xbox almost got killed off after the terribly managed Xbox One launch... But Phil Spencer saved the brand.
  • I hated the name too, just so badly named. But, Beam was apparently licensed in some places, by another entity. Beam was actually a perfect name. The surprise for me was that they paid that streamer, then ditch it so quickly.
  • I agree with everything, up to Xbox. Despite being mismanaged, Xbox One was still the only real contender to Playstation and it still sold fairly well, despite the sales number comparisons between them and Sony. It was still a money maker and so was/is Xbox Live. So, still worth investing. I agree that Phil Spencer helped move the Xbox brand into a better space, though. Sadly, the only thing that has probably kept Movies & TV alive is the content sells and the deal with Movies Anywhere. I can at least view about half my content through Movies Anywhere, but that's not completely on MS. Studios have to make their content available with the service. Although, MS could just make a Movies & TV app for other device, but I don't see that happening. Even with the Duo coming out, you will likely have to download Movies Anywhere to view you M&TV content. It is a shame what they allowed to happen with Groove and Cortana. Those two services had much potential. Groove, if nothing else should have been kept as a direct ability to stream music stored on OneDrive or Android and Apple devices. Unfortunately, Microsoft didn't just drop the ball, the stock a pin in it. Amazon's Alexa has proven that MS didn't need a phone to push and build mindshare of their digital assistant. They just refused to focus on it and poor development and planning. Having just recently jumped on the 99 cent Echo Dot deal, with the purchase of at least one month of Amazon Music, I can see why people love it. Amazon did so much right with it. Things MS should have done, but either didn't have the vision and/or will to do. Even the MS Band was great and had potential, during its time. The build quality wa something to be desired, but it had great potential. Microsoft's biggest crime in all of this, not knowing which direction to go and focus on it. If you are going jump into the consumer products, jump in with both feet and go hard. That was the problem with Windows Phone/Mobile. Just wen they seemed to start to gain popularity in certain areas, they killed it. Not to mention, many just didn't have full access to Cortana in their regions. People seemed to want to use Cortana, but they didn't have access or their language.
  • “If you are going jump into the consumer products, jump in with both feet and go hard.“ They did. At one point, Microsoft had phones, MP3 players and a music streaming service, books and movies. That IS both feet. “That was the problem with Windows Phone/Mobile. Just wen they seemed to start to gain popularity in certain areas, they killed it.” Not true. The WP peak of popularity was mid 2014. By late 2015 it was all over, mainly due to the horribly rushed release of the 950 and 950XL with Win10M. Those should have been released with 8.1 Denim. Win10M was severely broken and buggy when it was released. Face it. MS tried the consumer market. They failed. They lost around 10 billion dollars in the process. Since killing the money-losing consumer products, Microsoft has been on a huge roll. Lesson learned. No one at MS is in any rush to get back into the consumer market. For very good reasons. “Microsoft's biggest crime in all of this, not knowing which direction to go and focus on it” Actually, they now know EXACTLY what to focus on: Business users. That’s why Microsoft is now in the best fiscal shape they have EVER been in.
  • This is pretty obvious. When I read the Facebook Gaming and Xcloud collaboration this all made total sense. Absolute genius move. And will help Xcloud completely take down Stadia. Now it leaves Sony in a place with who do they go to when they get around to their cloud service? Noone else is as big as Facebook or YouTube.
  • O wow, microsoft is killing yet another product. At this point I think microsofts main activity is figering out what product to kill next. Services are falling like dominos.
    At this rate, I highly expect skype to be next, and then followed by teams, as its never going to have as many active users as slack. Then probably xCloud, its already dead before even being launched. Basically anything that isnt number 1 and cloud focused is dead. The duo and neo arnt going to last long. I'm also expecting bing to be gone in the next couple years.
  • Teams is actually destroying slack in active users.
  • I guess this is all about game streaming but what about LiveStream? I've watched a couple of MLB games on YouTube, it was terrible, laggy and poor quality but I wasn't using Chrome so Google probably deprioritized my stream. Anyway I thought LiveStream was a pretty big deal but it's not even on this radar...
  • Buyer beware for anyone planning on purchasing the Surface Duo. Nothing is safe with this new Microsoft. Remember that. Nothing.
  • This isn't new Microsoft...This is simply how Microsoft does business. If something doesn't catch on right away they stop supporting/funding it and slowly kill it off. Only thing that saved Xbox was Phil Spencer and the crazy lucrative Minecraft purchase. Ms only then started to open up the wallet for gaming.
  • You have to ask, what in THE blue mars are the bean counters and the marketing team doing *facepalm*. "The streaming landscape is stronger than ever, with its latest uptick reflecting the ongoing pandemic, enforcing stay-at-home orders across the globe. But for Mixer, this was likely the final shot. A recent report from StreamElements surveyed top video game streaming platforms­, spotlighting triple-figure year-over-year growth from Twitch and Facebook Gaming. In contrast, Microsoft's Mixer was flat with underwhelming 0.2 percent growth, seemingly struggling to retain its users." With so many people at home, the marketing team should have been able to splurge on adverts. Damn bean counters, this nickle and diming has to stop. It's seriously hampering growth.
  • This has nothing to do with "bean counters". The fact is, no one looks to Microsoft for consumer solutions. Microsoft is what you use at work. Period. Nothing wrong with that. No one looks to Apple for Oracle DB servers either. No one looks to IBM for MP3 players either. That's just the way it is. "It's seriously hampering growth." Are you high? Since getting out of the consumer market, MS could not be growing faster. There is already speculation of when MS will hit the 2 trillion dollar valuation point.
  • I'm sitting here using Windows at home. My kids used it for school, and still use it for hobbies like photography and writing, and for continuing education. Sure the enterprise is Microsoft's cash cow, but it does NOT mean Microsoft cares less about consumers.