Since Microsoft acquired livestreaming service Beam in August 2016, it has worked to turn the platform into a destination for gamers. Now known as Mixer, the company revealed today that it plans to continue investing in this business. To that end, Mixer is kicking off a series of updates as part of a campaign it is calling “Season 2.”
Mixer is competing against giants like YouTube and Twitch. Those gaming-video Goliaths are tough to compete against, and they are both working to minimize Mixer’s tech advantages. When Microsoft bought Mixer, it was the only platform with latency of less than 1 second. That means when you would perform an action on your stream, your audience would see it and respond nearly in real-time. While Twitch had a 20 second-to-30 second latency, it is now much closer to Mixer.
That competition is forcing Mixer to find other ways to stay ahead and to catch up. Those involve new ways for chat to interact with a broadcaster. It also includes new ways for livestreamers to earn revenue and for viewers to show their dedication to their favorite creators.
What’s new in Season 2
Mixer is planning to launch a lot of new features over the next several months. Small updates will go out weekly, and then major new features will hit the service every few weeks. And the theme of most of these improvements is creating revenue for Mixer broadcasters.
Mixer is improving its chat and expanding it beyond text with “Skills.” This feature is live now, and it enables viewers to send animated stickers/GIFs. Fans of a channel can also activate special effects like fireworks and laser shows or even interactive minigames like bouncing a beach ball.
“Want to tell a streamer they’re awesome with a GIF? Now you can,” Mixer boss Chad Gibson wrote in a blog post. “And better yet, every time you use a Skill on a partner’s channel, it supports that partner financially. Skills also update frequently, so there’s always something new to use, unlock and collect, helping you stand out and express your unique point of view.”
This “gamifies” Mixer interactions. The idea is to make people feel like supporting a creator is fun and participatory. And that is another consistent theme for Season 2.
Mixer will also begin reflecting that gamification with a progression system that applies to individual channels.
“On other platforms there are really only two forms of status in a streamer’s channel: you’re either a subscriber or you’re not,” reads Gibson’s blog. “But we all know that this isn’t really a complete picture of someone’s loyalty and value to a streamer’s community. Your status in a community should represent more than just your financial contributions. The Mixer progression system will reward your entire engagement with a streamer’s community and on Mixer as a whole.”
This system will introduce a leveling system. You can level-up on a channel by chatting frequently, using the aforementioned Skills, or by getting other viewers to give you an “Applause.” You can also earn experience points by returning to watch on a regular basis.
Progression is coming to Mixer in 2019.
Sparks patronage and Mixer Embers
Mixer recognizes that not everyone has money in their budget to give to livestreamers or to purchase access to the various Skills. So it has introduced an earning system where you can get a few sparks for watching a channel. I tested this out and was earning 2 Sparks per minute that I could then use to send stickers into chat. If I spend Sparks on a channel, that creator will earn some revenue.
Mixer Embers, meanwhile, are a new currency that you can purchase with real money. You can spend these on specific skills that are roped off from Sparks. This gives a more direct financial contribution to the livestreamer, and the related animations and celebrations are more attention grabbing.
Sparks Patronage is available now. Mixer Embers are “coming soon.”
Mixer isn’t putting all of its efforts into improving its monetization. It is also working on its tech. For example, Mixer is going to introduce a variable bitrate option.
“Viewers have varying bandwidth at home or mobile,” Gibson wrote in his blog. “And this feature will allow us to provide a more graceful viewing experience as viewer’s bandwidth fluctuates.”
Mixer is also going to add support for its ultra-low latency mode to more streaming apps. Currently, you can only get this fast streaming option if you go through Mixer’s platform. But it is going to begin enabling creators to get this feature if they set up an RTMP option in something like Open Broadcasting Software Studio or XSplit.