Microsoft have announced that they are making a concerted effort to ensure that Mixer, their live streaming service, is as welcoming as possible for streamers and viewers alike. This move is a clear attempt to set apart Mixer from the world’s most popular streaming platform, Twitch. Microsoft acquired Beam in 2016 before rebranding the site as Mixer, but it has so far struggled to make significant inroads into the streaming market.
This is in no small part due to the relentless success of Twitch. In business, being first can count for a great deal. By the time Mixer arrived on the scene, Twitch was the definitive streaming service. Amazon purchased Twitch for $970 million in 2014, while the site now frequently attracts around a million concurrent users. This is the result of streamers building an affinity to the site over a prolonged period.
While Microsoft is not exactly short of resources to throw behind Mixer, money can’t buy the prestige that Twitch has developed over several years. When Twitch launched in 2011, few could have anticipated just how big live streaming could become. With subsequent tech developments and a human desire for connectivity, live streaming now looks set to keep getting bigger. The success of Twitch has prompted other industries to consider the potential for live streaming.
While Twitch allows viewers to access streams of other people playing games, live streaming has actually become part of the games in the iGaming industry. The development of live casino games has sought to bring back the human touch, with gamers able to play with real dealers hosting casino games via a live stream. AI-controlled table games work just like live dealer casino games, but the live stream function brings a more personal touch to classics like roulette and blackjack.
Facebook’s planned move into blockchain with their own Libra cryptocurrency demonstrates how the social media behemoth is always ready to capitalize on popular trends. This was equally true with live streaming. In April 2016, Facebook released their Facebook Live service. This gave users the capacity to stream live events from their phone, straight on to their friends’ news feeds. Facebook Live is now often used by bands to stream their gigs to fans across the world, or for the official broadcast of sporting events.
Many universities have explored the potential for live-streamed lectures, the perfect solution for students who cannot attend a particular session. This also works well for universities that offer people the chance to study from afar. Dr Graham Reynolds of Cape Breton University streamed some of his university lectures last year, praising how the tech brought the opportunity for learning to a broader audience.
In terms of gaming streams, it appears that Mixer still has work to do to catch up with Twitch. There are some positive signs; since the rebranded launch of Mixer in 2017, the total number of hours that viewers have spent streaming content has grown 17x. This equates to an average growth rate of 12% each month, which indicates that Mixer does have the potential to keep expanding its fanbase.
By reinforcing their desire to ensure respectful conduct between streamers and viewers alike, Microsoft are hoping that those disillusioned by elements of Twitch may consider moving to Mixer. With the Mixer Academy arriving later this year, an educational platform that teaches key skills to streamers, Microsoft are making all the right moves. Whether anything will be enough to overhaul Twitch remains to be seen.