Mixer, Microsoft's answer to video game streaming, competes against larger competitors Twitch and YouTube Gaming.
Chris Covent thinks of his job as being part-therapist, part-mentor, part-friend. And full-time professional streamer on Mixer, Microsoft’s answer to the trend sweeping the video-game industry where tens of millions of people watch others play games online.
Covent, who lives in Detroit, switched to Mixer from much larger competitor Twitch about a year and a half ago, sensing an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a new enterprise.
Mixer marked its first anniversary this month, and celebrated the occasion by renting a huge booth on the floor of E3, the massive annual trade show for the gaming industry which is taking place in Los Angeles this week.
The livestreaming service announced it has 20 million monthly viewers – double the number it boasted six months ago.
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It’s outpaced by more entrenched rivals, notably Twitch (owned by Amazon) and YouTube Gaming (owned by Google). Twitch has more than 100 million monthly viewers, and is the best known streaming site.
Still, Mixer thinks it has a few things to add to the market, including super-fast connection speeds that allow streamers to talk to viewers in less than a second.
“The faster than light speed sold me on Mixer,” Covent said. He’s a good gamer, and plays everything from historical fiction game “Vampyr” to popular survival game “Fortnite,” but Covent prides himself on being an entertainer. He talks or sings during his streams – always aiming to make his viewers laugh.
That personality has made him a lot of friends online over the years.
Mixer began as Beam, a startup based in Seattle that Microsoft bought in 2016, that focused on the fast connection speeds. It changed the name, worked on some technology and launched publicly under its new branding last spring.
Mixer focuses on interactivity among gamers, and employs moderators to make sure community chats remain appropriate.
The service recently launched HypeZone, a service similar to NFL’s RedZone, that switches between players on the verge of winning in some of the most popular games. It’s powered by artificial-intelligence technology, which detects which players are close to winning and broadcasts their streams.
Mixer may be smaller than its competitors, but it has some benefits, IDC analyst Lewis Ward pointed out. The service is native to Xbox and Windows 10, making it easy to use on those systems. (Mixer uses blue and white branding unlike any Microsoft or Xbox brand, which executives say is a nod to the fact that any gamer using any console can stream on Mixer).
“It’s so deeply built into the Windows 10 operating system, it gives them an advantage relative to third-party apps running on Windows 10,” Ward said.
Still, it has a long way to go to catch up to its competitors.
Xbox marketing chief Mike Nichols said the service is not trying to dethrone Twitch or YouTube.
“Mixer’s approach is really not necessarily to try to replace what everyone else does,” he said. “We don’t necessarily think there needs to be only one of these.”