Mixer, the game streaming platform acquired by Microsoft in 2016, is ready. Xbox team leader Phil Spencer confirmed the news on Monday, announcing a 30-day end-of-life period before Microsoft formally pulls the plug on July 22.
In addition, Microsoft took the opportunity to offer all of its users, especially its money-making “affiliate” members, a transition path to another streaming service: Facebook Gaming.
“Starting today, Facebook Gaming is making it easy for anyone in the Mixer community to join, if they choose to do so,” Spencer wrote to Xbox Wire. He guides affected users to check out an FAQ on Mixer about the transition, but unsurprisingly, the guidelines on moving from Mixer to Facebook Gaming are full of caveats about “suitability” and having financial agreements in place. by Facebook “match as closely as possible”.
Funds spent on Xbox One OS, exclusive streamers
Mixer’s death is a shocking development for three main reasons. First, in recent years, Microsoft has emphasized the service as a built-in one-button streaming option on all Xbox One consoles. Perhaps this was the whole point of Xbox taking over the service (formerly known as Beam) in 2016: to keep Xbox users in a Microsoft ecosystem with a convenient OS-level way to broadcast users’ gameplay.
Users can still go into menus and set up services from other rivals, most notably Twitch. But as of press time, only Mixer works as a top-level streaming option that stays in your game on Xbox One consoles. In comparison, the Windows-level whining about using Microsoft Edge as the default browser is a cinch compared to this aggressive enforcement of whatever streaming app you might be using on Xbox.
And all that work building a system-level streaming interface may have been for naught. Mixer’s help site on the transition instructs users to download and install the Twitch app if they want to continue streaming natively from their Xbox One consoles, rather than stating that the built-in streaming service will redirect to someone else’s API .
This is pretty wild as the rest of the FAQ talks about the platform’s formal transition to Facebook Gaming, which doesn’t have a direct-from-console streaming solution as of press time. Rather than acknowledging the existing streaming options of the Xbox One operating system, Spencer points to such services that will work at the cloud level in the future: “We’re always testing and learning new features, and we’re excited to explore further while We’re looking at debut click-to-play scenarios within the Facebook Gaming and Instagram communities.”
The second special thing about Mixer’s shutdown is that in August 2019, Microsoft had embarked on a bullish investment strategy to secure exclusive streaming partners. This started with a huge, multi-year deal with popular Fortnite streamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins that was signed just 10 months ago, and that deal was reportedly worth more than $20 million. Microsoft followed its Blevins deal with others.
Microsoft has since confirmed that anyone who has signed up to those Mixer exclusivity agreements is now contractually free to stream wherever they choose, although further terms — including any suspension of payment due to Mixer’s impending shutdown — have not been confirmed.
At the time of writing, Blevins has not yet announced where he will be taking his livestreamed gameplay sessions, whether on Facebook, Twitch or elsewhere.
“She CANNOT be a racist…because she hired a black”
The third special thing about today’s announcement is that it comes from Spencer, who admitted a blatant and embarrassing allegation about racist management practices at Mixer less than 24 hours earlier.
Milan Lee, a former business development manager for Mixer, posted his accusations about his time at the company on Sunday as part of a rising tide of stories of racism and sexism in the tech industry. He described a disturbing incident where a female manager (unidentified) called herself a “slave master” and all of Mixer’s partners streamed her “slaves.” Lee then went on to describe his attempt to formally complain about this incident — including an email he sent himself to Spencer — which was met with resistance from the reported manager, departments not communicating with each other and time dragged on.
The internal investigation finally ended, Lee says, with the following finding from Microsoft’s legal team:
The reason my manager was not punished and the reason she still has her job today is because she CANNOT be a racist. The reason she CANNOT be a racist is because she hired a black one.
Hours before confirming that Mixer was at the end of its life, Spencer used Twitter to request a meeting with Lee†
This event followed months of reports of budget cuts, declining morale and departing founders within Microsoft’s Mixer division. In February of this year, employees began leaking their frustrations to the press alongside a taped video of a Mixer meeting at City Hall in which newly hired general manager Shilpa Yadla openly shared the negative feedback she had received from employees she had received. and loudly declined. spoken during one-on-one conversations. OnMSFT published this video, in which Yadla described this feedback as “bla bla bla” and told staffers she was not responsible for “sympathizing”.[ing] with anyone.”
If you’re wondering whether Mixer management has changed the boat on human resource management and communications, a message from an Xbox program manager on Monday suggests it didn’t. “We didn’t know this [Mixer’s termination] would come,” Tara Wake wrote on Twitter shortly after Spencer’s announcement went live. “We just found out for you.”