Microsoft’s surprise closure of Mixer sees the company working with Facebook Gaming to transition streaming partners over to Facebook. It sounds like an easy win for Facebook Gaming, letting it obtain streamers who will help boost its streaming service, but it’s difficult to find many Mixer streamers who are willing to move to Facebook instead of Amazon-owned Twitch.
I spent three hours last night hopping into a variety of Mixer partners’ streams, from ones broadcasting to thousands to those who have just started out streaming to a handful of loyal fans. After speaking with at least 30 Mixer partners, I only found a single person who has committed to switching to Facebook Gaming.
The vast majority of Mixer streamers I spoke to are planning to switch to Twitch, and they were unhappy with the way Microsoft handled the announcement. “I found out about this happening literally when I was live,” says PumpkinKitty, who was streaming live to hundreds of people while trying to understand the news. A viewer alerted him to the Mixer closure. He said he was “leaning towards Twitch” before making it official hours later. Mixer’s biggest streamer, Ninja, even stopped by PumpkinKitty’s chat to donate $250 and briefly hosted his stream to boost viewers.
Ninja hosting PumpkinKitty’s stream.
Microsoft’s Mixer announcement caught the majority of partners by surprise, with many finding out through Twitter or in their own live streams about the fate of their channels. That surprise has morphed into both anger and despair from Mixer streamers.
Lindsy Wood, a Mixer partner from Minneapolis, Minnesota, was visibly distraught during a stream last night. “All of the amazing things that Mixer has allowed me to do and participate in, I’m not going to have that anymore,” said Wood, while crying at the news of the Mixer shutdown. In a message to The Verge, Wood says she isn’t considering Twitch and isn’t sure what she’s going to do. “My life feels like it’s shattered.”
That sadness is mirrored across the Mixer community. “I’m trying to pick up the pieces and move on with some positivity,” says ConcealedBones, a Mixer and Discord partner. “It sucks. I’m upset, it’s pretty devastating, but it’ll take a couple of days to figure out where I’m going to go.”
Facebook Gaming isn’t the obvious choice for most Mixer streamers. Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
Facebook’s legacy of privacy issues is one of the big turnoffs that seems to be keeping many Mixer streamers away.
“Facebook is archaic,” says Mixer partner DM21Constellation. “Their desire for all the data from their users is absolutely absurd. A lot of people don’t want to have to create a brand new page just so they can chat on a stream. The interface is absolutely terrible. It’s kind of like the same thing when it comes to YouTube, they don’t care about their streaming platform and I really don’t get the feeling Facebook cares about their streaming platform at all.”
Most Mixer partners I spoke to had decided to move to Twitch or were leaning that way, despite Facebook reportedly offering a one-time $2,500 sign-up bonus to Mixer partners who choose to move. Most simply feel like Twitch is the bigger platform and that Facebook is too personal, with a lack of anonymity for viewers or streamers.
Johnny and Heidi, a husband and wife singer and songwriter duo, say they’re still weighing up a decision on a move. “We’re still looking into everything,” says Johnny. “Twitch is obviously one of the places we’re leaning heavily towards. We’ve been in similar situations in the past, and we’re trying not to do knee jerk decisions.” After the news hit, Joel Zimmerman, better known as DJ Deadmau5, dropped into their chat to discuss Mixer closing.
Husband and wife singer and songwriter duo Johnny and Heidi are weighing up their streaming future.
Some in the Mixer community are branding the closure as the “Twitchover” as hundreds of streamers have started promoting their Twitch links and are actively moving to Amazon’s streaming service. For others, there’s a real unease about moving to Twitch after years of inconsistent action against sexism, racism, and sexual harassment.
Variety streamer ChicaDeAwesome is one of the few Mixer partners I spoke to who is leaning toward Facebook Gaming. “As a victim and survivor of sexual assault and rape, it chills me to my core that I will be among predators [at Twitch],” says ChicaDeAwesome. “I don’t feel safe, so that’s my number one concern. I feel like that Twitch ain’t home to me, I don’t wanna go to Twitch.”
Twitch CEO Emmett Shear has said Twitch is looking into a number of sexual harassment and assault allegations against Twitch-affiliated individuals that emerged recently. Twitch may ban or remove partnership status for those involved, but the company is refusing to “share details of everything we’re doing out of respect for the privacy of the individuals involved.” Shear says Twitch is taking the allegations “very seriously,” but some have claimed Twitch has laughed these matters off previously.
Mixer: The Black Experience
— Milly #BlackLivesMatter (@MilanKLee) June 21, 2020
Mixer was also facing calls to investigate claims that a Mixer manager referred to partners as “slaves,” branding themselves as a “slave master.” Milan Lee, a former community acquisition manager at Mixer, went public with concerns over the Mixer manager just days before Microsoft’s big announcement. Microsoft’s gaming chief, Phil Spencer, scheduled a call with Lee yesterday, but the company’s partnership with Facebook has left many wondering if the underlying issues will even be resolved as some Mixer employees will remain at Microsoft.
While many smaller Mixer partners contemplate their future, Microsoft’s big Mixer streamers haven’t fully committed just yet. Microsoft signed stars like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, Cory “King Gothalion” Michael, and Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek over the past year. Blevins even left Twitch for a contract reportedly worth between $20 and $30 million. Facebook Gaming isn’t offering up exclusive contracts to these stars, meaning the top Mixer streamers are free to return to Twitch. Gothalion has committed to Facebook Gaming, but the rest of the Mixer stars haven’t announced their plans.
Microsoft’s big Mixer experiment might be over, but Facebook Gaming now faces a battle to convince existing Mixer partners that it has a solid platform and commitment to game streaming for the future. Otherwise, Microsoft’s Mixer closure sure looks like a big win for Twitch.