Mixer was a failure, but it kicked off a talent war for streamers
Mixer, the soon-to-be-shuttered streaming platform from Microsoft, always had a tough road ahead of it. In a space already dominated by Twitch, and with YouTube using its unparalleled audience scale to carve out its own slice of the market, Microsoft’s offering was a hard sell.
But while Mixer was ultimately a failure, as evidenced by yesterday’s news that it was shutting down, that doesn’t mean it didn’t have an important place in the fledgling world of streaming. In fact, the sheer existence of Mixer, and Microsoft’s big-money push to make it relevant, showed some of the world’s biggest entertainers their true worth. And the platform kicked off a talent war that will likely continue even after Mixer no longer exists.
Mixer launched in 2016, but its big impact didn’t happen until three years later. Last August, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins — arguably the most famous video game streamer and a public face for both Twitch and Fortnite — announced that he was leaving Twitch for Microsoft’s platform. “I feel like I’m going to get back to the streaming roots,” Blevins said at the time. While initial numbers were strong, Blevins was never able to overcome Mixer’s significantly smaller user base, and he struggled to pull in viewership comparable to Twitch.
But ultimately that didn’t matter. The fact that someone as big as Blevins could up and leave Twitch showed that there was a demand for the talent that drives these platforms. Other streamers followed suit. Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek and Soleil “Ewok” Wheeler also went to Mixer. YouTube signed 100 Thieves stars Jack “CouRage” Dunlop and Rachel “Valkyrae” Hofstetter, while also signing an exclusive streaming deal with the controversial figure Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg. Jeremy “DisguisedToast” Wang jumped to Facebook. Not to be outdone, Twitch held on to some of its most important names including Imane “Pokimane” Anys and Guy “Dr DisRespect” Beahm with new, likely lucrative, contracts. It was a moment that disproportionately favored the biggest names in the business.