The rise and fall of Mixer

How the streaming platform's untimely end has changed the industry - for better and for worse

With every passing day, Mixer’s untimely end creeps closer. Just last month, without any warning whatsoever, Microsoft announced it was going to close down its streaming platform, leaving its content creators to find new homes for their burgeoning audiences. The news was unexpected, and will seldom be remembered in the year of 2020, but for the here and now, its ripples are still being felt by the industry as a whole.

The platform was launched by Matthew Salsamendi and James Boehm in 2016 under the name Beam, but it wasn’t long before the service transformed into what we know today. Seven months later, in August 2016, Microsoft bought the platform and renamed it Mixer a year later. There it was brought into the Xbox fold, where aspirations of securing some of the biggest streamers in the world were quickly dreamt up.

The team were successful too. Just last year, Mixer managed to lure Tyler ‘Ninja‘ Blevins and Michael ‘shroud‘ Grzesiek to name but a few, and while the platform did see some growth as a result, it wasn’t enough. Mixer closed due to the slow scaling of its operations, but the news came just days after allegations of racism towards a member of senior management from former employee Milan Lee. The platform’s story should end there, but it doesn’t. It lives on with the streamers who found out from a single Twitter post that their entire world had been shattered.

“I was not prepared for it at all,” newly partnered streamer s0apy tells The Loadout. “I was just about to switch games and one of my friends started spamming in chat: ‘Mixer is shutting down, Mixer is shutting down.’ And I thought it was a joke and then he sent me the Twitter link. I literally checked to see if it was the first of April. I thought it couldn’t be real – they couldn’t just let everyone go. But it was.”

And it wasn’t just the streamers who had the rug pulled from under them, it was some of the staff too. A quick look at Twitter shortly after the announcement showed that some of Mixer’s top staff were just as dumbstruck by the news. The team were even planning Christmas content just weeks before.

“It came as a shock to everyone,” PoN3D, another partnered streamer, says. “Mixer was growing, and yeah people argue that it was a small percentage of growth, but it was still growing. And bringing in bigger names from other sites brought in so many people – I even noticed my views began skyrocketing.

“No way did I see any sort of financial struggle or have the slightest idea that something was wrong. And usually we’re pretty good at this – we need to know when shit’s about to go sideways.”

In an attempt to sweeten the deal with its streamers, Microsoft worked with Facebook Gaming to come up with an alternative agreement. Mixer partners could, if they wanted to, opt to move over to Mark Zuckerberg’s platform and be fast tracked for partnership. They’d also be offered a cash bonus to transition too. But many streamers chose not to take up the deal, citing privacy and the platform’s non-disclosure agreement as some of the reasons why.

Ninja and Shroud were also courted by Facebook Gaming, with reports suggesting they were both offered double the sum of their Mixer contracts, but they turned them down. Like many former Mixer streamers, the pair are still deciding on which platform to make their home.

“It feels like we’re really forced between a rock and a hard place – Twitch and YouTube,” PoN3D says. The streamer, like s0apy, has since opted to set up shop on Twitch, but he still has concerns over his success.

Ninja to Mixer

“You have to start your platform from scratch – you can ask your Mixer followers to move over and follow you on Twitch, but probably not even a third will move over,” he adds. “Realistically to even be considered a ‘small’ channel on Twitch, you need to get 75+ viewers at any time. That’s a small channel on Twitch. On Mixer, that’s massive.

“People have had to adjust their expectations – the odds of succeeding are so close to nil even if they’ve succeeded before because the discoverability on Twitch is almost impossible.”

Since the announcement, both PoN3D and s0apy have become Twitch affiliates, but they’re still fighting to build their audience up from the ashes of Mixer’s foundations. PoN3D has 2.2% of his original following on Twitch, while s0apy has 14.5%.

While it’s good both of them have a chance to start again on a new platform, they’re still worried about what their future holds.

Shortly before the Mixer announcement, s0apy had quit her job to concentrate on streaming full-time. The Swede was finishing up her studies and her recent success on Mixer gave her confidence that she could go it alone. Now there’s a big old question mark hanging over that decision.

P0N3D, on the other hand, has been streaming full-time for about a year. “In the last month, we finally crested the hill to where I was making enough money to call it a real job,” he says. “A minimum wage job, but a job nevertheless.” Now both creators are putting their heart and soul into their streams in the hopes that they can continue this dream career of theirs, but it won’t be easy.

“I’m going to work as hard as I can to improve the quality of my stream and give myself the best chance to grow,” s0apy says. “I expect I’m going to go back in time and lose about seven or eight months of progress with this, so it’s going to be hard work, but hopefully my community will stick with me.

“I’ll give it six months and if nothing has happened in that time, then maybe it won’t be possible to stream for a living. I wish I could give it longer, but everyone has to pay their bills.”

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If you ask any Mixer streamer what they’ll miss the most about the platform, you’ll get the same answer: the community. Mixer’s tight-knit group of streamers were a family, and nothing, not even Mixer’s lack of communication in recent weeks, can change that.

While the decision to close Mixer has left a sour taste in the mouths of many streamers, its legacy as an all-welcoming platform will live on.This may be Mixer’s final chapter, but the closing of the book will only create new stories for the streamers that called it home.