RIP Mixer 2016-2020. You were too young for this world, and surely some people might miss you, but most of them will just ask "what was Mixer?"
Microsoft's ($MSFT) attempt to get into the live streaming world started when they bought Beam, changed the name to Mixer, then fully integrated the service into Windows and Xbox products. It was the company's valiant effort to dethrone, or at least put up a good fight, against YouTube Gaming, Facebook ($FB) Gaming, and the king of all live streaming, Amazon's ($AMZN) Twitch. But for years most people saw where the narrative was going, much like the pathetic comparisons between the Zune and the iPod.
Twitch's 4.9 million Instagram followers and Mixer's 130,000 followers says it all. This wasn't a fair fight, and the head of gaming at Microsoft Phil Spencer agrees. "We started pretty far behind, in terms of where Mixer’s monthly active viewers were compared to some of the big players out there,” says Spencer in an interview with The Verge. But you don't have to take it from Microsoft directly, we've had enough data to bury Mixer for months, and it was only a matter of time before they had to stop wasting tens of millions of dollars on a failing platform.
The fallout from Mixer announcing July 22 as its end date has been mostly very sad full-time streamers losing their home and potentially their audience, as well as some lingering questions. The biggest being, what happens to the exclusive superstars of Mixer, who were let out of their contracts? Ninja and Shroud are arguably the biggest names in streaming today, and Microsoft got them to sign away from rival Twitch. Now, they're free agents, and it's only a matter of time before they pick up where they left off, at Amazon's now monopolistic live-streaming juggernaut.
If you can't build on a fanbase with literally two of the biggest celebrities in gaming, then you can't expect to survive long term. It's as simple as that.
The plan going forward for Microsoft is to partner with Facebook Gaming, and the two of them might be able to make a dent in Twitch's empire. There will be a transition period, and ultimately users will be migrated to Facebook, which doesn't help Microsoft gain mindshare. But just like Q-tips, there's a ubiquity to the brand and the product, since Twitch is so synonymous with playing video games online for many. It's an almost impenetrable business, that only YouTube could take on.
“When we think about xCloud and the opportunity to unlock gameplay for 2 billion players, we know it’s going be critically important that our services find large audiences and Facebook clearly gives us that opportunity,” said Spencer. If Mixer wasn't helping Xbox and Microsoft get to what they ultimately want, then it was far past time to kill the brand and team up with the enemy aka Facebook.
If you happened to buy our full data access and found this above chart, showing that hiring just stopped for Mixer months ago, then you might have seen this coming two months ago. But for the rest of us, it was a minor surprise that makes way more sense than it should have for a big-time service shutting down. Rest in power Mixer, we'll forget you existed very soon. Unless more stories like this come out, because no one should have any tolerance for a toxic work environment.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.