Beam, the Seattle startup Microsoft acquired in August, is changing its name to Mixer and moving to more prominent real estate on Microsoft’s Xbox.
Microsoft’s video game streaming service is getting a face-lift, new features, and a new name — Mixer — as the Redmond company integrates a Seattle startup it acquired nine months ago.
The rebrand of the former Beam streaming service also brings the software a more prominent place on the home page of Xbox game consoles, the company said Thursday. That’s a reflection of the growing importance of game broadcasting and Microsoft’s ambitions to broaden its gaming franchise beyond selling consoles and titles like “Halo.”
Streaming services, led by Amazon.com-owned Twitch, have become big business as a new generation of gamers opts to broadcast their own gameplay, or tune into web-streamed games played by others.
Microsoft got into the action in a bigger way in August when it bought Beam.
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The Seattle company, founded by young repeat entrepreneurs Matt Salsamendi, 19, and James Boehm, 20, built streaming tools that gave people watching the action greater ability to interact with each other and those doing the streaming.
That functionality is about to expand, adding the ability for up to four streams to be displayed on the same page, allowing players to keep tabs on and chat with friends, even if they’re playing other games. Others can watch the action on one pane.
A separate feature, in testing, will let players on iOS and Android smartphones broadcast their gaming to the re-christened Mixer service.
“This is a pretty significant update across the board,” Salsamendi said.
The company’s business model is built on optional subscriptions, $5.99 a month, for viewers who choose to support a particular streamer they enjoy.
There’s no advertising around stream broadcasts yet, though Salsamendi says they’re looking at it and other ideas.
Microsoft has given the former startup more resources to work with as it looks at new features. Beam numbered about 20 employees when it was acquired by Microsoft. Salsamendi declined to disclose the workforce on his team now that it is integrated into Microsoft’s Xbox unit.
“It is more than 20,” he said.