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Microsoft kills Mixer: What it means for Xbox Series X

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft is shutting down Mixer, the video game streaming platform and rival to Twitch. Existing partners will move to Facebook Gaming before Mixer is shuttered for good within the next month.

Mixer struggled to catch up to Twitch but made headlines when it poached Ninja, a massively popular streamer best known for his Fortnite play. But even with the biggest names signing big-money exclusive contracts, last-ditch efforts to attract viewers didn't garner the results needed to keep Mixer afloat. 

Instead of throwing more money at the problem, Microsoft is cutting its losses and abandoning Mixer. Those who used it as their preferred streaming platform will be transitioned to Facebook Gaming in the coming weeks. 

If you've purchased Embers or Sparks, you can give them to your favorite streamers through the month of June. After June 30, you won't be able to buy them. Any remaining balance will become an Xbox Gift Card of "similar value" applied to your Microsoft account but it must be spent by Sept 30.

Microsoft launched Mixer in 2017 after acquiring the startup Beam a year prior. By that time, Twitch (now owned by Amazon) was the leading streaming service ahead of YouTube Gaming.

"We started pretty far behind, in terms of where Mixer’s monthly active viewers were compared to some of the big players out there,” Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s head of gaming, told The Verge. “I think the Mixer community is really going to benefit from the broad audience that Facebook has through their properties, and the abilities to reach gamers in a very seamless way through the social platform Facebook has."

What this means for Xbox Series X

Microsoft's move to ax Mixer comes just months before the Series X is set to launch. The company must now find a new streaming platform to integrate into the console so it's easy for users to share and upload gameplay. Without one, Xbox would give Sony and the PS5 a huge advantage.

Mixer is the default streaming app on the Xbox One and, up until we learned of its demise, was expected to return on the Series X. With Mixer funneling its streamers and viewers into Facebook Gaming, it's possible the social media giant plants its platform on the next-gen console.

Microsoft hasn't named a streaming service for its console, but this partnership with Facebook can be taken as a hint. It's still possible for Microsoft to partner with Twitch for the Series X, but there is some bad blood between the software giant and Twitch owner Amazon. Xbox could also turn to YouTube Gaming; Microsoft and Google are already working together on Chromium in efforts that led to the new Edge browser and improvements to Chrome

However, partnering with Facebook gives Microsoft the ability to expand its xCloud game streaming service. xCloud, Microsoft's version of Google Stadia, will come to Facebook Gaming so viewers can start playing a game by simply clicking on a stream. For example, you could get the urge to play Fortnite as you're watching Ninja rack up eliminations (Ninja hasn't decided on a new streaming platform yet), and all you'd need to do to join your own game is click on a button. 

Facebook has more than 2.5 billion daily active users, so the opportunity to expand the number of xCloud or Xbox games is enormous. But nothing is guaranteed. After all, even Ninja, who has 23 million YouTube followers, couldn't attract enough viewers from Twitch for Mixer to have the revenue and viewership Microsoft desired.