Amazon's Twitch is the undisputed king of gaming-centric broadcasting, with 15 million daily viewers and more than 2 million streamers that showcase everything from high-level Apex Legends play to live podcasts. But it has some serious competition from Microsoft.
Microsoft's Mixer platform is quickly becoming a compelling alternative, thanks to a variety of forward-thinking features that one-up Twitch in some key ways. The platform even won over Twitch's biggest star, Tyler "Ninja" Blevins, who has been streaming exclusively on Mixer since August. Mixer acquired another top Twitch star in October 2019, as Michael "Shroud" Grzesiek announced his new exclusive deal with Microsoft's streaming platform.
But you don't have to be a professional streamer to appreciate what Mixer has to offer. Whether you're an aspiring broadcaster or just want to kick back and enjoy some great gameplay, here are five key features that set Mixer apart from the competition.
A better Xbox One experience
If you're looking to stream directly from your Xbox One, Mixer provides a much better experience than Twitch does. Microsoft's streaming app is baked right into the Xbox interface, meaning you're always a few button taps away from going live. And while the Xbox One Twitch app requires you to have Kinect to get a camera feed going, Mixer supports just about any USB webcam. While this is likely because Mixer is a first-party product and Twitch is a third-party one, there's no denying the extra perks of using Mixer if you're going live right from your Xbox.
Co-streaming that makes broadcasting more social
Mixer's co-streaming feature allows up to four broadcasters to simultaneously stream their gameplay to a single location. This feature is perfect for letting audiences see each player's point of view during a heated multiplayer match. You can even co-stream with your friends directly from your Xbox One, allowing you to put together an awesome four-person production without any complicated technical setup.
Twitch recently rolled out a similar feature called Squad Streaming, but it's currently limited to Twitch Partners.
A more interactive way to watch
One of Mixer's unique features is its focus on interactivity. Microsoft's streaming platform gives broadcasters the option to offer special controls to their viewers, meaning audiences can, say, vote on important story choices in a Telltale game or trigger special audio effects with a soundboard. Twitch is starting to embrace a similar level of interactivity with its Extensions feature, but Mixer has been doing it since day one.
HypeZone, which gets right to the good stuff
Mixer's HypeZone channel is essentially the gaming equivalent of the NFL's all-touchdown RedZone network. The channel automatically bounces between the final moments of matches in games like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Fortnite: Battle Royale and Apex Legends, getting you right to those tense game-winning kills without making you sit through any boring lulls.
A rewarding XP system
Twitch has a healthy ecosystem of unlockable digital goodies, such as special emotes and chat badges, but most of those are tied to how much money you've spent supporting other channels. Mixer, on the other hand, rewards viewers for simply spending time on the platform.
As you watch streams, you'll earn experience points, level up and receive Sparks, a special currency that grants you perks, such as interacting with streams and unlocking emotes. It's a small touch but one that makes every minute of watching Mixer feel rewarding.
In 2019, Mixer also rolled out Embers, a premium currency that viewers can purchase with real money to support their favorite streamers. Viewers can use spend their Embers on customized animated greetings during a stream, adding another layer of interactivity between streamers and their audience.
Mixer might not ever be the streaming behemoth that Twitch is, but it's a fun, experimental platform that's well worth checking out, whether you're a broadcaster or a viewer. Features such as co-streaming and interactive panels offer something fresh, no matter which side of the screen you're on, while HypeZone does a good job of curating great gameplay moments. Mixer is making a name for itself by thinking outside the box, and Twitch would be wise to take notice.
Fortunately, you don't have to choose between the two streaming services. Nothing's stopping you from checking out some streams on both platforms, and there are even ways to broadcast to Twitch and Mixer at the same time. So get out there and start binging — you just might find your new favorite channel in the process.