- Mixer was an American video game live streaming platform launched on January 5, 2016. The platform was shut down just four years later, with owner Microsoft citing a lack of users and competition from rival Twitch.
- Mixer’s demise began with the Microsoft acquisition, with the company less responsive to streamer requests and neglectful of addressing technical issues. The company also spent millions on attracting high-profile clients instead of focusing its efforts on growing smaller communities organically.
- Some Mixer employees were also subject to racist remarks and toxic company culture while working at Microsoft. The company decided to shut down Mixer around the same time these issues came to light, leading many to conclude the demise of Mixer was more complex than competitive pressure or a decline in usage.
Mixer was an American video game live streaming platform launched on January 5, 2016. The platform, originally known as Beam, was founded by Matthew Salsamendi and James Boehm.
The service delivered video streams using a protocol called faster than light (FTL), which allowed streamers to instantly respond to the chat messages left by audience members.
Despite a promising start and high-profile acquisition, Mixer was shut down four years after it was launched. The reasons for its demise are more complex and multi-faceted than they appear at first glance.
Microsoft acquired Beam in August 2016 for an undisclosed sum and then rebranded the streaming service as Mixer.
Microsoft bought the service hoping to attract millions of paid users who would be interested in following live streaming sessions from their favorite e-sports personalities. To capitalize on the growing e-sports market, Microsoft employed several tactics.
The company incorporated Mixer into the Game Bar on Windows 10 and created a Mixer app for the Xbox One console. It also developed a way for audiences to buy the games they were watching streamers play and added support for many languages.
Microsoft also made concerted efforts to steal users from competing services, spending tens of millions of dollars to convince high-profile streamers to ditch Twitch and join Mixer. Despite the acquisitions, Mixer reported a measly 0.2% growth between April 2019 and April 2020.
When Mixer was known as Beam, Salsamendi and Boehm were accessible to users and regularly communicated with them to resolve issues or make improvements.
After Microsoft took over, users felt disconnected from management who were less responsive to their needs. With a direct line to the original founders lost, user requests became mired in bureaucracy and took much longer to resolve.
Many also criticized Microsoft’s decision to spend money recruiting high-profile streamers. While these streamers did bring their audiences with them, most did not interact with the Mixer platform whilst their favorite stars were offline. Salsamendi later claimed that Microsoft should have invested more in the smaller communities that were forming on the platform organically to encourage growth.
Streamers regularly complained about broken streams and outages on Mixer, which Microsoft appeared to ignore in favor of enhancing the platform’s interactive features.
Former Mixer employee Wes Wilson later noted that “we had a lot of very creative and scrappy engineers eager to keep our tech ahead of the competition. Sadly, instead of capitalizing on those people, they sidelined them. Then they focused on creating bells and whistles rather than increasing stability and reliability.”
Several former employees also claimed that Microsoft’s company culture was toxic. One was Milan Lee, an employee of color who accused his manager of calling Mixer partners “slaves” during a meeting.
Wes Wilson also made complaints about the same superior and the company’s toxic working conditions that went largely unaddressed.
Later, it was suggested that the shutdown of Mixer was a way for Microsoft to sweep its cultural problems under the carpet.
In June 2020, Microsoft announced it would be shutting down Mixer around the same time allegations of racism and toxic culture were beginning to surface.
Users were told rather abruptly that an agreement had been made with Facebook and that monetized channels could join Facebook’s game streaming platform.
In explaining the shutdown, Microsoft claimed Mixer failed to keep up with the growth of competitors such as Twitch. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020, users spent 1.5 billion hours on Twitch compared to just 37 million hours on Mixer.
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