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Has Microsoft’s Mixer Closed the Gap with Twitch?

by Michael Goodman | Nov 05, 2018

In August 2016, Microsoft acquired the livestreaming platform Beam, since then Microsoft has rebranded the service ‘Mixer’ and shifted its focus to gaming. Though Mixer is platform agnostic, it is deeply woven into the Xbox consumer experience and has prime positioning on the Xbox dashboard.

After launching co-streaming and controller sharing earlier this year, Microsoft has announced ‘Season 2,’ the next evolution of the Mixer platform.

  • Skills. Skills are focused on giving users ways to participate in chats with stickers, GIFs, and other screen effects. Every time a view uses a skill on a streamers channel there is a small “financial benefit” to the streamer.
  • Sparks. Sparks is a way to financial support a streamer without having to subscribe. Viewers earn sparks by watching streams and then can spend them on skills and help streamers reach milestones that give them cash payouts.
  • Mixer Embers. Coming soon to Mixer is a new virtual currency called Mixer Embers that can be used to buy high-value skills. Embers will be a paid currency that goes a step further than Sparks and provides streamers with direct financial rewards.

In addition to these features, Microsoft will be rolling out additional ones in 2019.

  • Progression. A gamified system designed to show a viewer’s status in a community based upon their entire engagement with the Mixer community. Viewers can level up by using skills, participating in chats, earning applause, or just regularly watching streams. When a viewer levels up they unlock new skills.
  • Automatic bitrate switching. This will smooth out viewing experiences when download speeds fluctuate.
  • Stream ingestion. Mixer is adding support for ingesting streams via the RTMP standard.
  • Technical support. Mixer is getting a new feature that will allow viewers to easily report any video-specific issues.

Key Takeaway
Mixer still has a long way to go to compete with market leaders Twitch and YouTube, both of which are also taking steps to improve their product, however, Season 2 is certainly a step in the right direction in improving the user experience, benefiting both viewers and streamers alike. The downside for Microsoft is that if these features prove successful it will be easy for Twitch and YouTube to add them negating any advantage Mixer might have gained.

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