Microsoft’s Xbox Series X (opens in new tab) is set to get rather cozy with Facebook Gaming. That's because Microsoft has shut down its own Mixer live streaming platform, which failed to follow in the footsteps of Twitch.
This rather surprising announcement will see Microsoft push its Mixer users and partners over to Facebook’s live streaming service and close Mixer in a month’s time. From July 22 all Mixer apps and sites will be redirected automatically to Facebook Gaming.
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Given Microsoft has been building out its gaming services, especially around the Xbox division, it’s surprising that it decided to call time on Mixer. The Redmond company only acquired the Beam live streaming platform in 2016, renaming it Mixer in 2017. However, Mixer didn’t seem to meet Microsoft’s expectation on growth and it lagged behind the likes of Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook Gaming.
“We started pretty far behind, in terms of where Mixer’s monthly active viewers were compared to some of the big players out there,” Microsoft’s head of gaming Phil Spencer told The Verge (opens in new tab). “I think the Mixer community is really going to benefit from the broad audience that Facebook has through their properties, and the abilities to reach gamers in a very seamless way through the social platform Facebook has.”
The partnership with Facebook Gaming comes some five months ahead of the release of the Xbox Series X, which is currently slated to launch this holiday. As such, when Microsoft’s next-generation console launches, it will likely come with native Facebook Gaming support for people who want to stream their games.
Working with Facebook means Microsoft can dedicate its resources on not only making the Xbox Series X a success but also focus on its own streaming services. Its key gaming service for that will be Project xCloud (opens in new tab), a game streaming service currently in beta that uses the power of Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure to stream Xbox games to Android devices.
Project xCloud is set to get a full launch towards the end of the year (opens in new tab) and will be bundled into Xbox Game Pass subscriptions. The Verge reported that xCloud is set to be worked into Facebook Gaming, effectively giving live stream viewers the option to immediately play the games they are watching; Google’s Stadia game streaming platform has promised similar integration with YouTube.
“When we think about xCloud and the opportunity to unlock gameplay for 2 billion players, we know it’s going be critically important that our services find large audiences and Facebook clearly gives us that opportunity,” said Spencer, indicating Microsoft has big ambitions for xCloud.
Tapping into a large audience could then see Microsoft build out Project xCloud as it grows in scale. This could potentially lead to xCloud becoming a truly comprehensive game streaming service where others have failed, which could go some way to rendering games consoles obsolete in the coming years.