Yesterday, Microsoft dropped a bombshell by announcing that Ninja, the most popular Twitch streamer would drop the Amazon-owned service to join Mixer. Two years after Microsoft acquired Beam and renamed it. Mixer is finally having its big moment as the news was all over Techmeme yesterday, and it also got some coverage from the mainstream media.
Mixer was also one of top trending topics on Twitter yesterday, and it quickly became the top free app on the iOS App Store in the US.
— Chad (@ccgibson) August 2, 2019
Ninja will stream for the first time on his Mixer channel later today at 12PM CST, but he already managed to get more than 258K followers as of this writing. That’s still far less than the 14M followers he had on Twitch, but getting Ninja to stream exclusively on Mixer is already attracting many new users to the platform. Mixer co-founder Matt Salsamendi confirmed yesterday that he has been seeing “so many new faces” on the service since the news went out.
So many new faces on Mixer today. For those that are new, I would love to spend some time hearing about how your experience has been and getting feedback for the team. My DMs and email are open!
— Matt (@MattSalsamendi) August 1, 2019
It remains to be seen if Ninja can really help Mixer to be taken seriously as a Twitch competitor. Microsoft tried throwing money at Windows Phone developers in the past, and you may remember that the company also had Hollywood actress Jessica Alba on stage for the launch of Windows Phone 8. Unfortunately, even spending billions of dollars to purchase Nokia's phone division wasn't enough to move the needle.
The terms of the deal between Microsoft and Ninja are still unknown at this time, but if it’s a timed-exclusivity deal, Ninja could well go back to his Twitch channel once his contract with Microsoft expires, if things don't work out. In the meantime, it seems that Microsoft could use the former Halo competitive player to promote the upcoming Halo Infinite launching next year. “My roots as a gamer started with Halo, so working with Microsoft and coming over to Mixer felt like a natural next step,” Ninja said in a press release yesterday.
It's not clear yet if Ninja could slowly abandon Fortnite (the game that made him famous) to go back into Halo, but it seems like Mixer also plans to use the popular streamer as an ambassador for the platform. “Ninja will also attend broader gaming events and activations throughout the year in support of Mixer,” the press release also mentioned.
Hiring Ninja is definitely a big bet from Microsoft, and the news really caught the video games industry by surprise yesterday. After Microsoft laid some of its Mixer original programming staff a couple of weeks ago, it really makes sense for the company to get more popular streamers on board. It will be interesting to see if other big names will follow in the coming months.