Microsoft is shutting down Mixer and partnering with Facebook Gaming

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Microsoft is closing its Mixer service on July 22nd and plans to move existing partners over to Facebook Gaming. The surprise announcement means Mixer partners and streamers will be transitioned to Facebook Gaming starting today, and Microsoft will no longer operate Mixer as a service in a month’s time.

Microsoft has struggled to reach the scale needed for Mixer to compete with Twitch, YouTube, and even Facebook Gaming which has led to today’s decision. “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 Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s head of gaming, in an interview with The Verge. “I think the Mixer community is really going to benefit from the broad audience that Facebook has through their properties, and the abilities to reach gamers in a very seamless way through the social platform Facebook has.”

Microsoft is partnering with Facebook to transition existing Mixer viewers and streamers over to Facebook Gaming in the coming weeks. On July 22nd, all Mixer sites and apps will automatically redirect to Facebook Gaming. Existing Mixer Partners will be granted partner status with Facebook Gaming, and any streamers using the Mixer monetization program will be granted eligibility for Facebook’s Level Up program. Mixer viewers with outstanding Ember balances, channel subscriptions, or Mixer Pro subscriptions will receive Xbox gift card credit.

Microsoft’s xCloud service.
Photo by Nick Statt / The Verge

Microsoft’s choice to partner with Facebook is clearly a strategic one that’s also related to broadening the appeal of its upcoming xCloud game streaming service and its overall gaming efforts. Microsoft will work closely with Facebook to bring xCloud to Facebook Gaming, allowing viewers to click and immediately play games that people are streaming. It’s a vision that’s very similar to Google’s ambitions with Stadia, but Mixer has lacked the scale and viewership to truly deliver this more broadly. Microsoft recruited exclusive streamers like Ninja and Shroud with big deals, but they haven’t been enough to get more people using the service over rivals. Ninja, Shroud, and other top streamers are now free to rejoin Twitch or stream on Facebook Gaming.

Microsoft faced a decision between ditching Mixer, selling it off, or even investing more money in without a guarantee it would hit the scale it needs to compete. “It wasn’t as much about return on sell, it was about finding a partnership that was the best things for the community and streamers,” explains Spencer. “We think this is it, and it gives us a great place to launch more xCloud content and give gamers the ability to play from there.”

Microsoft has talked about reaching 2 billion gamers with its vision for xCloud, but Mixer wasn’t in a strong enough position to help achieve that goal. “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,” says Spencer.

Ninja and other Mixer streamers will be free to return to Twitch.
JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images

It’s not clear exactly when we’ll see xCloud show up in Facebook Gaming, but it’s a key part of this new partnership. Microsoft is getting ready to launch xCloud streaming generally later this year, as part of the company’s Xbox Game Pass offering. “I don’t think we’re going to have to wait too long to see the outcome of the collaboration between the two companies to enable this tech for Facebook Gaming viewers,” reveals Spencer.

We’ve seen Microsoft give up on services in the past like Groove Music and partner with Spotify, but that partnership wasn’t exactly super close or meaningful to end users. Spencer sees this as the beginning of opportunities around gaming for Microsoft and Facebook. “The teams are physically actually close to each other, we’ve been to each other’s offices,” says Spencer. “You’ll see us continuing to grow this relationship... this will be the beginning of us seeing future opportunity together. I think we have a lot of alignment between the organizations on areas where the industry is going and how we can help each other.”

Microsoft will now keep hold of the technology that has powered Mixer and supported collaborative and low-latency streaming features. Microsoft Teams will start to use part of this Mixer technology in the future to improve real-time interactivity and low-latency streaming, and the Mixer developers involved in this will remain at Microsoft to help with the work on Teams. “Applying these fan-centric capabilities to new productivity experiences will create immersive ways for Teams to empower people, teams, and organizations to better engage in virtual gatherings at work and school,” says Spencer.

Comments

Is Microsoft trying to make Google jealous with how easily it can shut down a product just months after spending millions on the same product?

That’s the dirty secret isn’t it. Microsoft shuts down just as much as Google, its just that no-one cares so its not a big deal. LOLOL

Considering the tech from Mixer runs XCloud/Gamepass and Xbox game streaming, it’s hard to infer that Microsoft shutting down Mixer is as wasteful as Google scrapping something like Hangouts or Reader or G+.

Shutting down Mixer, the extremely expensive livestreaming service is less wasteful than Google shutting down a barebones chat app, an RSS Feed and a Pinterest clone?

INB4 Zune, Xbox Movies, Xbox Music, Upload & Groove Music.

The best part is that the Xbox One never regained background music playback after 7 years because they intended to replace the Xbox background media player with an app/service that they cancelled and didn’t replace.

Spotify?

Ugh… open spotify app pick song>go play game… background music

Xbox Movies is still around, it’s just the Movies and TV tab in the Microsoft Store now.

Yes it’s less wasteful, because the point of the purchase was the low latency game streaming tech behind mixer and it made them the front runners in game streaming. Losing a social viewership service is nothing compared to keeping that tech.

You can stream any game pass game to your phone or Xbox without installing anything and it will play well, because of mixer. Stadia and nVidia can’t say the same yet and Sony hasn’t even launched a competing platform.

A link for you to visit for what Google has killed off:

https://killedbygoogle.com/

"Microsoft shuts down just as much as Google, its just that no-one cares so its not a big deal"

This is why I can’t understand the folks out there eagerly awaiting Surface Duo. I wouldn’t touch that with a ten foot pole until about the 4th version, and that’s only IF (and that’s a big IF) Microsoft shows they’re committed to refining and improving it, and are capable of convincing devs to support dual screen. Purchasing a Surface Duo is tantamount to flushing money down the toilet IMO.

Microsoft struggles remarkably at building out their own competing platforms. From Mixer to Surface to Skype to Xbox to Mobile. They’ve all paled in comparison to the success of its competition. They’re always late to innovate or fail to bring enough compelling content/features to challenge their competition effectively. Mixer was late & couldn’t rival Twitch or YouTube. Surface is great but hasn’t come remotely close to the success of Lenovo or Apple in moving units. Skype allowed itself to become irrelevant & fell to a startup during a crisis where it could’ve seen a resurgence. Xbox has consistently failed to bring as diverse of a selection of exclusive gameplay experiences as their rivals & is being outsold generation after generation. They completely flopped at Mobile.

Microsoft’s biggest strength is not their forward facing products it’s all their behind the curtain software & backend tech. Of course Windows is still ubiquitous. Xcloud has a lot to prove. Honestly, Microsoft has a lot to prove over this next decade as a consumer facing company.

I’m sorry to be rude, but that BS. Microsoft isn’t "always late to innovate" by any stretch of imagination. If you look at most of their failures (from Mobile to XBox One’s focus on streaming to Office Live), they’ve usually been far ahead of any of the competition. It’s just that (very much like Google), Microsoft is an engineering company, and most of their products felt half-baked or poorly executed in the hands of normal consumers. Just today, Apple released iOS 14 which feels like it ripped out a bunch of features from WP’s Live Tiles.

And like Google, the problem with Microsoft is that, being an engineering company, they throw in the towel and shut down services rather than try and polish their products by focusing on consumers. This sentiment/culture is not something I’m simply making up to defend Microsoft, but was Steve Jobs’ criticism about the company. And while Microsoft has changed a lot since Bill Gates left, this aspect seems to have stayed the same.

MS also owns 1 or 2% of Facebook stock (a few $billion worth), so is transitioning to its partner. With that said, I’ll never ever touch a Facebook product, so MS streaming services are dead to me now.

agreed. I do use some Facebook products (IG, Oculus) but Mixer feels tainted now.

Microsoft is an engineering company, and most of their products felt half-baked or poorly executed in the hands of normal consumers.

Ugh… that’s my point. You are disagreeing with me by reinforcing my entire point? I don’t get how folk are liking your response when it’s just a reframing of my exact criticism.

probably because you said "They’re always late to innovate", which is false

Also, while PlayStations massively have outsold XBox and Nintendo’s Switch in the last-gen console wars, gaming is largely a duopoly between Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s XBox/PC. So, your claim that Microsoft’s XBox struggled is just not true. In many ways, it’s the only alternative to the PlayStation. That’s like claiming that just because iOS feels more polished than Android, iOS is the only player in the game, and Android doesn’t even exist.

Completely false. For one, don’t combine PC & Xbox. Xbox as a stand-alone pales in comparison to the success of Nintendo. Nintendo Switch, for example, has moved as many units as the Xbox One over the span of 3 years. The Wii nearly doubles 360 sales. Nintendo also has a vastly more successful library of first party games & brand recognition that trounces Xbox through and through.

Yes, when you reframe Xbox to be just another PC, as has been Microsoft’s push because of Xbox’s lackluster performance as a stand-alone product, you have the whole wealth of the PC industry behind you to fluff numbers & reach. That’s clearly is not the point of reference I was referring to. Because that’s a cop-out.

Your iOS & Android analogy doesn’t even apply to what I was saying.

How’s it false? Whether you buy a game for XBox or PC, Microsoft is the one profiting from it. The fact that most "hardcore" gamers think that PC reigns supreme is proof enough that Microsoft isn’t really struggling against Sony. But even if you do remove PC from the equation, what are your Sony alternative if you wish to play demanding games? Exclusives like Poke’mon have always been Nintendo exclusive, but if you wish to play AAA games on a non-PC, you are limited to XBox or PS.

I agree that the iOS vs. Android comparison might not be perfect in every way, but it does show the duopoly.

Now, on top of this, if you add streaming, none of the traditional competitors or new players can even come close to Microsoft’s XCloud, despite it still being only in Beta… I really don’t see how Microsoft is "failing to innovate" or struggling to compete.

I agree that the iOS vs. Android comparison

Actually, it’s the perfect comparison. Worldwide, iOS is losing in market share far worse than Xbox is to Playstation, but no one would remotely argue it’s a failure.

Xbox has consistently failed to bring as diverse of a selection of exclusive gameplay experiences as their rivals & is being outsold generation after generation.

I was clearly talking about Xbox as a platform not their rebranding of Games For Windows/Windows LIVE as a cohesive service called Xbox Live. You folk are bringing up a piece of software when I clearly stated:

Microsoft’s biggest strength is not their forward facing products it’s all their behind the curtain software & backend tech.

And as I said Xcloud still has a lot to prove.

I’m sure it will see success on PC, it will be ubiquitous. They would have to try to make it fail. In terms of its ability to make Xbox (the platform) more successful, it’s got a lot to prove.

Can y’all stop trying to reframe my Xbox argument as your only go-to point when it just reinforces my own? They reframed Xbox because of its middling success. The Xbox (NAME) is successful ONLY because of its inclusion as the title of their service. Without this service/software being named Xbox LIVE, because it could literally be names anything, the Xbox (platform, i.e. hardware) remains a middling success.

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