Microsoft will shut down Mixer, transition users to Facebook Gaming

On Monday, Microsoft and Facebook announced that they would partner to transition users off the Mixer livestreaming platform and over to Facebook Gaming. Mixer itself will be winding down operations, with elements of its underlying technology moving to the Microsoft Teams communications platform. By July 22, all Mixer sites and apps will redirect users to Facebook. In exchange, Microsoft’s Project xCloud game streaming platform will begin to appear on the social media giant in the near future.

Mixer began life as a streaming platform called Beam in 2016. In August 2017, it was acquired by Microsoft, and quickly integrated into the Xbox One by the following spring. It was renamed Mixer in 2017. It recently signed a number of high-profile streamers — including Fortnite player Tyler “Ninja” Blevins — to lucrative contracts, wooing them away from Amazon’s Twitch. Xbox and Facebook said that Blevins and other contracted creators were not involved in this transition, which both organizations stressed was a partnership and not an acquisition.

Speaking with Polygon Monday, head of Xbox Phil Spencer said Microsoft made the choice to partner with Facebook in order to expand the potential audience for Mixer creators.

“We made a decision earlier this year that we were going to change approach,” Spencer said. “We weren’t going to be continuing with Mixer as it was, and we wanted to find a partner for us who had a similar worldview on how gaming can evolve and the impact it could have, and a partner that had unique assets to really take that Mixer community, make it their own, and grow it to the level of impact and size that I really think it deserves and needs.”

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“Streamers look at their streaming capability as a livelihood,” Spencer continued. “That’s how they make a living. Reaching more and more customers is important to that ecosystem, and finding a partner like Facebook that can really reach the scale that that community needs as, I think, critical to the long term success.”

Mixer users will not be required to transition to Facebook Gaming, but the two companies plan to make the change as easy as possible for them.

“Partner creators on the Mixer side have the option of joining Facebook and maintaining their status,” Vivek Sharma, Facebook head of product for gaming, told Polygon on Monday. “We’ll do our best to match their current obligations as much as possible under new contracts on our side.”

Non-partner creators will be able to join Facebook’s Level-Up Program, which will immediately give them access to monetization “similar to the partner creators as well” Sharma added.

Neither Spencer nor Sharma were able to comment on the status of more high-profile creators like Blevins. Fans should instead look for them to make statements on their own as to their plans going forward. Polygon has reached out to Blevins for comment.

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Of course, one of Mixer’s most frequently lauded features was its moderation tools and its penchant for cultivating non-toxic fan communities. It’s a tone that Sharma said his organization wants to maintain.

“We hope to maintain kind of like that healthy community from Mixer,” Sharma said, “and match it against what the values are on Facebook Gaming to maintain the spirit of what Mixer was all about. That’s actually one of the biggest priorities for our programs.”

An important part of this partnership, Spencer stressed, is the integration of Project xCloud technology onto Facebook. He has previously said that Microsoft’s biggest competitors when it comes to streaming games from the cloud are Amazon and Google. This partnership with Facebook makes sense, strengthening the xCloud platform with access to a massive global audience. Sharma said fans should expect to see click-and-play experiences on the social media platform in the future.

“We think that one of the very exciting things ahead is how cloud gaming is going to completely change the way that people access content and gaming,” Sharma said. “And so we are looking forward to a world where, working together with the Xbox team and Phil’s team, we can open up experiences where somebody is browsing through Facebook and is able to encounter deep immersive gameplay and then continue that on the Xbox console or PC.”

The transition of Mixer’s communities to Facebook, Spencer said, will also allow the Xbox team to continue their focus on games and gaming in the lead up to the launch of Xbox Series X this holiday.

“We’ve got a big console launch coming up this year, we’ve got a launch of Project X cloud into [general access] this year, [and] we’ve got a lot of great games coming,” Spencer said. “So for us, when I think about the areas we’re investing, when I think about our continued growth of console and off-console, when I think about our investments in our first party studios and the incredible growth that we’ve seen there and us continuing to stay focused on xCloud, and the future we see in the ability to play, stream games from Azure data centers, it is a decision that I need to make in order to focus the organization.”

Sharma added that Mixer users won’t be forced to move over to Facebook. Their decision on where to take their content and their viewership will be up to them.

“Their beliefs are their beliefs, and they are more than welcome to choose to join Facebook Gaming,” Sharma said. “We know what it takes to make sure that we can cultivate and curate safe communities for people. Facebook is certainly one of the most scrutinized platforms in the world, and it’s precisely because of that that we have so much tooling and so much available to make sure that people can take care of their communities.”

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