mixer

Microsoft’s Mixer now lets streamers reward fans for participation, not just subscriptions

Posted by | game streaming, games, Gaming, Microsoft, mixer, Social, streaming, Twitch | No Comments

On game-streaming platforms today, there’s really only one way to earn status within a creator’s community: you have to become a subscriber. Microsoft’s game-streaming service Mixer is today aiming to offer a third path to status through loyalty and participation. In doing so, it hopes to better differentiate itself from larger rivals like Twitch and YouTube.

Channel Progression, as this new feature is called, is a system that rewards community members and a streamer’s fans for more than just their financial contributions. It also takes into account other activity within the channel and on Mixer as a whole.

Members can level up by participating in the stream’s chat, by their repeat visits, by using Skills (aka other forms of expression like stickers, effects and GIFs that are used in chats) and more. That means that viewers will be able to earn rewards and raise their rank by just participating — watching, chatting, following, subscribing and, later, through other actions, as well.

As streamers participate, they’ll rank up, gaining them bragging rights and other perks that will vary by their rank level. They also can check on their rank at any time by clicking on the “Your Rank” button at the bottom-left corner of the chat box.

The feature is rolling out on Wednesday May 1, 2019 to all streamers on Mixer — not just Mixer Partner, as it’s designed to not only be a way for streamers to grow their own communities, but for Mixer itself to grow.

In the future, however, Mixer Partners will be able to also reward monetization actions, like subscribing and gift subscriptions, and for spending Embers (virtual currency).

The changes come at a time when there’s been a rise in complaints over how hard it is to get noticed on the leading game-streaming site, Twitch. Some smaller streamers told The Verge last summer they spent years broadcasting to no one, and found it difficult to grow their community, despite the effort Twitch has made in this area. More recently, that’s included the launch of a four-person Squad Stream, to help creators get discovered.

Despite this, Twitch’s long tail continues to grow — according to a recent report from StreamElements, the top 1,000 Twitch channels were responsible for 57% of Twitch’s viewership hours in Q1 2019, and the long tail (those beyond the top 10,000 channels) was responsible for 20%. In total, Twitch hit 2.7 billion hours of content watched in Q1, the report claimed.

Mixer, by comparison, is much smaller. Its numbers may have quadrupled since Q1 2019, but that’s only going from 22 million hours watched to 89 million. It still has much, much further to go to catch up with YouTube Live, not to mention Twitch.

Mixer’s Channel Progression feature was originally announced in November as part of Mixer’s “Season 2” release. It launches tomorrow to all on Mixer.com on the desktop and will roll out to all other platforms in the weeks ahead.

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Microsoft launches Game Stack, brings Xbox Live to Android and iOS

Posted by | Azure, Cloud, Developer, Gaming, Microsoft, mixer, Simplygon, xbox, xbox live | No Comments

Microsoft today announced a new initiative that combines under a single umbrella all of the company’s gaming-related products for developers like Xbox Live, Azure PlayFab, Direct X, Mixer, Virtual Studio, Simplygon and Azure. That umbrella, Microsoft Game Stack, is meant to give game developers, no matter whether they are at a AAA studio or working solo, all the tools they need to develop and then operate their games across devices and platforms.

“Game Stack brings together our game development platforms, tools and services like Direct X and Visual Studio, Azure and Playfab into a robust ecosystem that any game developer can use,” said Kareem Choudhry, the corporate vice president for the Microsoft Gaming Cloud. “We view this as a journey that we are just beginning.”

It’s worth noting that developers can pick and choose which of the services they want to use. While Azure is part of Game Stack, for example, the overall stack is cloud and device agnostic. Undoubtedly, though, Microsoft hopes that developers will adopt Azure as their preferred cloud. These days, after all, most games feature some online component, even if they aren’t multiplayer games, and developers need a place to store player credentials, telemetry data and other info.

One of the core components of Game Stack is PlayFab, a backend service for building cloud-connected games, which now falls under the Azure family. Microsoft acquired the service early last year and it’s worth noting that it supports all major gaming platforms, ranging from the Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Switch to iOS, Android, PC and web.

With today’s announcement, Microsoft is launching a number of new PlayFab services, too. These include PlayFab Matchmaking, a matchmaking service the company adapted from Xbox Live matchmaking, but that’s now available to all developers and on all devices. This service is now in public preview. In private preview are PlayFab Party, a voice and chat service (also modeled after Xbox Party Chat), PlayFab Game insights for real-time game telemetry, PlayFab Pub Sub for pushing content updates, notifications and more to the game client, and PlayFab User Generated Content for allowing players to safely share content with each other.

So while Game Stack may feel more like a branding exercise, it’s clear that PlayFab is where Microsoft is really putting its money as it’s competing with Amazon and Google, both of which have recently put a lot of emphasis on game developers, too.

In addition to these announcements, Microsoft also today said that it is bringing an SDK for Xbox Live to iOS and Android devices so developers can integrate that service’s identity and community services into their games on those platforms, too.

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Microsoft’s game streaming service Mixer adds more ways for streamers to make money

Posted by | game streaming, games, Gaming, Microsoft, mixer, streaming | No Comments

Microsoft today is rolling out a new version of its game streaming service, Mixer, which it’s calling “Season 2” to reflect the fact that the changes are ongoing, not a one-day release. The company says it’s specifically investing in new areas around expression, monetization and creator communities.

The first of these, called Skills, are focused on giving users more ways to participate in chats with stickers and GIFs, and other screen effects that remind you a bit of those you’d find on iMessage. For example, there are celebratory fireworks and confetti to be tossed around, as well as a beach ball that the community members can keep bouncing.

Streamers will like these, too, as it helps them make money.

“Every time you use a Skill on a partner’s channel, it supports that partner financially,” Microsoft says.

It also says the selection of Skills will be updated regularly, going forward.

Another addition is a way to support favorite streamers via “Sparks,” which are earned by watching streams. These can then be spent on Skills and help partnered streamers reach milestones that translate to cash payouts.

Some high-value Skills will be purchased using a new virtual currency, Mixer Embers. These are the next step up from Sparks, and gives fans’ favorite streamers direct financial rewards.

In 2019, Microsoft says it will also introduce the Mixer progression system, to better reflect a community member’s status, beyond just how much they’ve contributed financially. The system will reward a viewer’s engagement with a streamer’s community and Mixer as a whole, and allows members to “level up” by participating in chat, using Skills and earning Applause from others.

Mixer is also rolling out improved video capabilities with the enabling of automatic bitrate switching, more options for use of FTL streaming and the addition of a feature for reporting any video-specific issues.

Skills and Sparks Patronage on Mixer are live now, with Mixer Embers and Progression arriving in the weeks and months ahead.

The changes fall on the heels of Twitch’s annual conference, TwitchCon, where it announced its own set of new features, including new ways for streamers to grow, connect with their community and monetize. Standouts included the launch of group streaming and a karaoke game, as well as changes to badges, new moderation tools and the expansion of sponsored opportunities.

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Microsoft’s Twitch rival Mixer gets a revamp, including new developer tools for interactive gameplay

Posted by | game streaming, Gaming, Microsoft, mixer | No Comments

Microsoft is celebrating the one-year anniversary of its game streaming service and Twitch competitor, Mixer, with a host of new features, including a refresh of the user experience and the launch of an expanded developer toolkit called MixPlay. The new streamer tools will roll out along with the revamped version of Mixer .com across desktop and mobile web, and will initially be available to Mixer Pro subscribers.

The company claims the service saw more than 10 million monthly active users in December 2017 – a figure, we should point out, may be higher because of holiday sales and the accompanying bump in game downloads and playtime seen across platforms.

However, Microsoft also says that the Mixer viewing audience has grown over four times since its launch, and the number of watched streams has grown more than five times. These are still not hard numbers, but third-party reports have put Mixer well behind Twitch’s sizable and still-growing lead in terms of both concurrent streamers and viewers. (Those reports aren’t 100% accurate either, though, because they can’t track Xbox viewership.)

Microsoft says the updated Mixer.com rolls out beginning today, with a focus on making it easier for viewers to find the games and streamers they want to watch, as well as those broadcasting in creative communities.

While Pro subscribers will gain access first, they’ll have to opt-in by visiting their Account Settings and turning the new look on manually. (To do so, select the “Site Version” dialog, then the “Feature/UI Refresh” option, Microsoft says.)

The full refresh will arrive to all Mixer users later this summer.

As part of the new experience, the company is also rolling out more tools for developers with the launch of MixPlay.

As Microsoft explains, instead of just adding buttons below a stream, MixPlay lets developers build experiences on top of streams, in panels on the sides of the video, as widgets around the video, or as free-floating overlays – all of which can be designed to mimic the look-and-feel of the streamed content. Basically, this means the entire window is now a canvas, not just a portion of the stream itself.

One example of what MixPlay can enable can be seen in April’s launch of Mixer’s “Share Controller” feature, which created a virtual Xbox controller that could be shared by anyone broadcasting from their Xbox One.

This allowed gamers and viewers to play along in real-time from the web.

 

In addition, MixPlay will enable other games that are only playable on Mixer where controls blend into the stream –  like Mini Golf, which launched this month and now has 300,000 views, or Truck Stars, for example.

Three new MixPlay-enabled games are launching today, as well, including Earthfall, which lets viewers interact with streamers or even change the game; Next Up Hero, where viewers can help a streamer by taking control or freeze the streamer at the worst possible moment, depending on their mood; and Late Shift, a choose-your-own-adventure crime thriller you control.

These sorts of MixPlay experiences shift the idea of Mixer being just another game streaming service to one where viewers can actively participate by playing themselves, or at least guiding the action. That could also serve as a differentiator for Mixer as it tries to carve out a niche for itself in the battle with Twitch and YouTube Gaming.

 

But MixPlay isn’t just for interactive experiences, Microsoft notes. It can also help developers build experiences that simply enhance streams with additional content, too, like a stats dashboard.

Another update involves the Mixer Create app, which offers mobile support to streamers. Now, streamers can kick of a co-stream by clicking the co-stream button on their Mixer Create profile, then send out invites, among other things.

This is live on Android in beta today, and will launch soon on iOS beta, with a full rollout in early June.

In terms of perks, Microsoft is running an “anniversary” promotion offering $5 of Microsoft Store credit along with any Direct Purchase of $9.99 or more. A second promotion is giving away a free, 1-month channel subscription and up to 90 days of Mixer Pro to anyone who reaches Level 10 on their account between May 24th, 2018 at 12:00AM UST and May 28th, 2018 at 11:59PM PDT.

The company additionally announced a new partnership with ESL on esports, which will bring over 15,000 hours of programming from top competitive games to Mixer, including Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, and Dota 2. These tournaments will take advantage of Mixer’s FTL technology for “sub-second latency,” the company says.

Other announcements around games and esports are mentioned in the Mixer blog post, too.

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Microsoft partners with Lightstream Studio to bring customization tools to Mixer streamers

Posted by | game streaming, Gaming, Microsoft, mixer, streaming | No Comments

Microsoft’s Twitch competitor, Mixer, is giving streamers a new way to customize their channels. The company has entered into a partnership with Lightstream Studio to allow Mixer streamers to add images, overlays, transitions, and text to their streams, or to switch between scenes. The goal is to make it easier for creators to give their streams a more professional look-and-feel, without requiring they have a lot of technical expertise.

Instead, the partnership will allow streamers to route their feed into the web-based Lightstream Studio, which can be accessed via a supported browser on a PC, Mac or tablet. On smartphones, the URL mixer.golightstream.com will allow streamers to use their phone as a remote control for changing their scenes.

For instance, gamers can use the Studio to create status screens like “Starting Soon,” or “Be Right Back,” then quickly rotate through them, as needed.

Streamers can direct their streams to Lightstream Studio from their mobile devices, PC, or their Xbox native broadcast.

Y’all wanted overlays on your native Xbox streams? Boom! Here it is!

Excited to roll this out today and to note you can point your stream from mobile, PC (PS4/Switch with cap card), or your Xbox native broadcast to Lightstream services for seamless overlays and scenes! https://t.co/Bq0a3yWczg

— Josh Stein (@steinekin) April 11, 2018

The support for native Xbox streams is what’s got streamers most excited, however.

Microsoft says the integration will not impact the other third-party services Mixer streamers today use for alerts, like StreamLabs, StreamJar or Tipeeestream, as they can link those accounts within their Lightstream settings.

Microsoft has been rolling out a number of new features for Mixer in recent months, in an effort to bring its service more on par with Amazon-owned Twitch, the leader in game streaming in terms of both concurrent streamers and viewers, as well as rival YouTube Gaming.

This year, for example, Mixer introduced game sales as another means of helping streamers generate revenue from their channels, and it announced support for direct tipping. Many of these features are about Mixer playing catch-up, though, rather than coming out with something new.

Adding overlaid content to a stream to make it look more polished and professional is something that Twitch today supports through its extensions platform. It currently has over 150 different extensions, including things like stream schedules, countdowns, reminders, polls, and more. And some portion of those extensions became available on mobile just last month.

Lightstream Studio is not quite the same, as it a partnership with a third-party rather than a built-in offering, but it will give streamers some similar options thanks to its support of third-party tools for adding stream alerts. 

Lightstream Studio is first being offered in beta to Partners and Pro users to test, before rolling out more broadly.

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Microsoft’s Mixer follows Twitch with addition of direct tipping and game sales

Posted by | games, Gaming, Microsoft, mixer, streaming, Twitch | No Comments

 Mixer, Microsoft’s answer to Twitch, will soon allow its streamers to start selling games and other downloadable content via its service, and will introduce tipping, the company announced this week in its year-end wrap-up. The game sales will be made possible through the new Mixer Direct Purchase program, which is now in testing ahead of a broad, public launch, Microsoft says. Initially,… Read More

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A new version of Mixer, Microsoft’s Twitch rival, hits iOS and Android

Posted by | Apps, gameplay, Gaming, Microsoft, mixer, Mobile, streaming, streaming service, Video Game Streaming | No Comments

 Microsoft today is officially launching a new version of its Mixer mobile gameplay streaming app, its Twitch rival. The app, which is initially available on Android with iOS arriving soon, was first introduced into beta testing this fall, with a focus on improvements to its overall user experience, content discovery, performance and personalization features. For example, the beta build… Read More

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Microsoft launches a revamped version of Mixer into beta

Posted by | android apps, Apps, beta, Gaming, iOS apps, Microsoft, mixer, Mobile | No Comments

 Microsoft today announced the launch of a new beta version of its mobile gameplay streaming app, Mixer, for both iOS and Android. The company says the new app features an entirely different codebase that will allow it to roll out updates more quickly, and includes a number of changes focused on improving the core user experience, content discoverability, app performance and personalization.… Read More

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Microsoft’s new Mixer Create app lets you live stream games from your phone

Posted by | Apps, Gamers, games, Gaming, live streaming, Microsoft, mixer, mixer create, Mobile, mobile broadcasting, mobile gaming, Social, streaming, TC | No Comments

 Microsoft’s mobile game streaming app Mixer Create is launching out of beta testing today on iOS and Android, allowing gamers to broadcast the games they’re playing right from their phone. This feature works on Android with all games, but is more limited on iOS. On iPhone, select games that have enabled Apple’s ReplayKit functionality will work, the company notes. That… Read More

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