As the pandemic began to spread across the globe, it has changed the way millions of us consume content and work. Cloud-based working platforms like Microsoft Teams and Slack have seen a massive surge in users, and gaming platforms like Xbox Live and PlayStation Network have also seen record growth.
One other area that has seen record numbers is video game streaming platforms. A recent report from StreamElements detailed how various platforms such as Facebook Gaming, YouTube Gaming, Twitch, and others, have reported triple-figure year-over-year growth, owing in part to pandemic. One very notable elephant in the room is Microsoft's Mixer platform, which remains utterly, tragically flat.
While the industry as a whole effectively doubled year-over-year, Mixer's own growth remained flat, at a measly 0.2 percent year-over-year. Without the pandemic, it's not hard to envision that Mixer would have shrunk during this period instead, suggesting to me that the platform has a serious issue retaining users.
Microsoft may need a miracle here.
Mixer was always the underdog going into this battle. Facebook and YouTube have utterly massive established audiences they can leverage to soak up users, and Twitch remains the dominant force in the space, with the lion's share of the industry's "celebrities." Mixer also has a fair amount of systemic problems, with platform instability anecdotally often cited to me as a reason people don't stick around.
Pulling in big names like Ninja and Shroud doesn't seem to have helped the platform grow as a whole, particularly when you consider the fact other platforms are also splashing the cash around. YouTube brought up exclusive rights to the entire Activision-Blizzard streaming esports operation, alongside etching a deal with YouTube heavyweight Pewdiepie for streaming shows.
The future of Mixer truly remains uncertain. As anyone following Microsoft for any length of time will know, the company generally doesn't stick it out with a failing product for very long. Microsoft may be able to turn the tide, particularly if future games like Halo Infinite manage to rack up a healthy exclusive esports presence. That said, typically Xbox has been putting its shows across all platforms, rather than on Mixer exclusively.
Will Mixer survive? Right now, it's not looking great, but who knows? As a fan of the service, I hope it does, but Microsoft may need a miracle here.