As I write this, the top channel on Mixer right now is broadcasting a stream of Pokémon Yellow played by whoever’s in chat — á la Twitch Plays Pokémon. It’s titled “YouPlay presents: Mixer Doomsday party. Let’s go one last time! (Day 19/19),” and there are 1,337 people watching. Just about every other stream on the site is titled similarly. It’s mostly reruns of earlier streams exhorting viewers to follow broadcasters to Twitch and streamers who are AFK but broadcasting a game anyway. Even if its pulse hasn’t stopped for good, Mixer is dead, with the site shutting down today per Microsoft’s announcement in June.
It wasn’t always this way. Though Mixer trailed just about every other live-streaming site in just about any metric you could name, it had managed to cultivate a dedicated community of partners who loved streaming on the site because it was smaller and more tight-knit. It wasn’t Twitch. Mixer also started the exclusivity war for streamers, which bumped up salaries for huge talent and started some uncomfortable conversations across the industry, which will probably be its lasting legacy. And the technology that powered the site was incredibly low latency, which meant streamers could interact with their viewers almost in real time. But the site never captured the large, mainstream audience it needed for Microsoft to justify how much it spent keeping the lights on.
I’ve spent much of the last month talking to Mixer partners about the impending shutdown of the site. They were all shocked at how quickly everything fell apart; to one person, they felt like they had lost their home. I got a real sense of community from them, like the other streamers on the site were almost family. Most of those people decided to go to Twitch, a place where, for one reason or another, they hadn’t always felt welcome. To me, the wildest thing about speaking to those streamers was hearing about their moves to other services, because their task now is to rebuild their audiences on a new platform. You can’t take all of your viewers with you because there’s no way to replicate exactly the circumstances that led them to your channel — you can’t recreate serendipity, not really.
That said, you can recreate a community of streamers. Right after Mixer’s “strategic partnership” with Facebook Gaming was announced, a spreadsheet began to circulate among the Mixer (and before that, Beam) streamers who’d been on the platform the longest. It was an archive of new Twitch usernames, meant to help streamers find each other. There, alphabetized and linked, were the people who made Mixer what it was, ready to show up for each other again.