Mixer ends Ninja and Shroud contracts as Facebook partnership beckons

Microsoft is showing the door to its key Mixer streamers, but will its ballsy plot pay off in the long term? 

As we predicted back in January, 2020 is fast becoming the year for streaming services to really show their mettle. Whether it’s having a captive audience to target in lockdown, the nigh-on quarter increase in engagement for the likes of Twitch, record spikes in monthly gaming revenue, or a helping of all three… something has really lit a fire under the arse of big players in the streaming sphere. And they’re all plotting to one-up each other at every turn.

Mixer’s rapid fall from grace 

One platform that’s remained largely dormant throughout the constant jostling of 2020 is Mixer. Having showed its hand in August 2019 by prising major coups Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins and Michael ‘Shroud’ Grzesiek from Twitch, for what (knowing host company Microsoft) we can safely presume to be eight figure contracts, naturally, all involved expected to sit back and watch the viewers and the cash pour in. Not only did Mixer boast two of streaming’s big-guns, it had simultaneously dealt a huge blow to a bitter rival. Two birds, one stone. 

However, mere months into transition, it became pretty obvious Microsoft had made a grave miscalculation and the writing on the wall no longer showed a long and prosperous future for Mixer. Ninja’s migration from Twitch did little to scupper his views or follower count in the honeymoon period, but Shroud’s numbers took a massive hit in both departments. In his final month at Twitch, the Polish-Canadian streamer averaged 24,000 views from his 7.1 million followers. This month at Mixer he’s registered less than 5,000 views per stream, and boasts little over 1.2 million followers. 

With such a drastic contrast in numbers, you’d be foolish to lay the blame on Mixer’s creatives and their content. The lack of success simply has to be a reflection of the platform itself, and to its credit, Microsoft agrees. That doesn’t mean it’s throwing in the towel with all streaming endeavours just yet though.

Can Facebook Gaming challenge Twitch? 

Mixer may be on the scrap heap, but its existing partners are joining up with Facebook Gaming in the coming weeks, and delving into the stats, it doesn’t take a genius to see why. Mixer has grown a meagre two-tenths of a percent in terms of ‘hours watched’ in a whole year, compared to Facebook Gaming’s upsurge of 238 percent – according to Arsenal.gg’s industry report. This bold new alliance represents a significant win for both parties, in that Mixer’s figureheads and creators will reap the rewards of the growing viewership at Facebook, while Facebook get a slice of Microsoft’s highly coveted xCloud gaming service later this year. 

All Mixer assets are now in the process of being ported over to Facebook before July 22nd, with the exception of its exclusive roster. The likes of Ninja, Shroud, and King Gothalion have been released from their previous contracts, and the head of Facebook Gaming Vivek Sharma has stated that ‘it’s up to them and their priorities’, when deciding on whether to stay or look to pastures new. 

Facebook will of course hope that the likes of Ninja decide to stay close by and bolster its exciting challenge for the title of Streaming Omega, and its lack of exclusive restrictions is sure to be an appealing prospect – Facebook Gaming’s biggest US gamer ‘DisgustedToast’ famously still streams on Twitch.

Personally, If I had to take a punt on where these ex-Mixer stars are headed next, I would back a return to Twitch as the most likely destination. 

Contenders continue to emerge, but Twitch hasn’t come anywhere close to being knocked off its perch just yet.

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