Despite Twitch and YouTube remaining the most popular live streaming video platforms, Microsoft has been doubling down with its own Mixer platform this year. After launching new features like co-streaming and controller sharing earlier this year, Mixer has just announced “Season 2,” the next evolution of the platform with several new features to create more user engagement.
“Season 2 reflects the living, breathing nature of Mixer with new experiences and new things to try all the time,” explained Chad Gibson, General Manager, Mixer. Two new features are available today, Skills and Sparks Patronage. Skills will give the audience of a stream new ways of expression like GIFs stickers, and using them will require you to spend Sparks (the points that you earn while watching Mixer streams). To make it all more useful, using Skills and spending Sparks on partner channels will support them financially.
Sparks Patronage are another way to support partner channels by spending your Sparks instead of making real money donations. Once partnered streamers reach a certain amount of Sparks raised, the Sparks will be converted to real money payouts. In addition to Sparks, Mixer plans to introduce a new virtual currency called Mixer Embers in the coming weeks. Embers will have to be purchased with real money, and Mixer users will be able to spend them on “high-value Skills,” which will also give financial rewards to streamers.
Mixer is also planning to revamp its experience system, rewarding users who participate in chat, using Skills or logging in regularly. There are apparently many new gamification features in the pipeline including ranks granting special permissions and more.
Last but not least, Mixer’s video capabilities are going to get better soon: there will be a new automatic bitrate switching for users with low bandwidth, and Mixer’s “Faster than Light” streaming protocol will be supported on a broader set of streaming software and devices. Additionally, Mixer will make it easy for viewers to report any video issues while watching a stream.
Microsoft has been iterating on Mixer since it acquired the service back in 2016, but the live streaming service still has a far smaller audience compared to its competitors. Unfortunately for Microsoft, it's much easier for Twitch and YouTube to copy Mixer's unique features than it is for Mixer to grow its audience. It's great that Mixer live-streaming is built-in on Xbox One and Windows 10, but Mixer probably won't be able to get signicantly bigger without native apps for the Playstation 4 and the Nintendo Switch.