Nine months after Microsoft’s Xbox group acquired Beam, the game streaming service is getting a new name and a host of new features.
The service will now be called Mixer, and it will be marketed at a global scale. In an interview with GeekWire, the company’s co-founder Matt Salsamendi said the common goal of all the new features is connection: connection between streamers — the people playing the games and broadcasting them — and connections between streamers and their audience.
Mixer also announced the new Mixer NYC Studio, a digital production studio within Microsoft’s New York store designed for live audience, competitive and community gaming events.
Here is a quick look at a few of the new Mixer features:
- Co-streaming: An option for up to four players to broadcast their points of view within the same feed. Mixer calls it a first-of-its-kind feature that is ideal for team games, where an audience can watch multiple players. For the gamers themselves, it is a new way to connect and experience playing together.
- Mixer Create: Mixer is launching a beta version of an Android and iOS app that will let people broadcast mobile games, as well as “life-stream,” Salsamendi said. That could entail everything from going to a gaming convention to broadcasting a cooking show.
- Channel One: A TV Guide of sorts that lets people see what is going across the platform, including including “play nights” for big title releases, livestream events, tips and tricks, esports updates, and more.
- Mixer Tab on the Xbox One Dashboard: A page curated by the Mixer team that showcases popular streams.
All these features will help connect streamers to their audience, but there is no substitute for speed. Salsamendi said Mixer has the lowest latency of all streaming platforms, at less than a second of delay. That is important for Mixer, which lets viewers affect gameplay by presenting new challenges and quests using visual controls.
There are a few things we still don’t know. First of all, Microsoft hasn’t disclosed the original acquisition price for the Beam service. We also don’t know how many people use Mixer, and Salsamendi wouldn’t say. At the time of the acquisition by Microsoft last year, that number was 100,000. Not bad for such a young company.
In March, Beam launched on Windows 10 as part of the Creators Update and debuted on Xbox at around the same time, so the number of users is surely much higher. But it is unclear how it compares with Twitch, the streaming platform that Amazon acquired in 2014 for $970 million.
Twitch now has more than 2 million active streamers, with 9.7 million daily active users who watch an average of 106 minutes per day of streamed content. Amazon has been beefing up the platform recently, as well, adding an e-commerce element, a basket of Prime benefits specifically for Twitch users and unveiling its own new games that feature deep integration with Twitch.
Salsamendi thinks there is plenty of room for more than one big player in the game streaming space. A defining trait of Mixer that makes it stand out is how closely it works with the streamers, a.k.a. broadcasters, who bring in the audience.
“Our north star is always going to be our broadcasters and working super closely with them,” Salsamendi said. He went on to explain a program that allows players and audiences members to interact and give feedback to Mixer employees. “That’s one of the biggest selling points. As a broadcaster you want someone who is there for you.”