I sort of thought I understood what Mixer was. In my mind it did the same stuff Twitch did but for Xbox since it was owned by Microsoft. I knew it was baked into the console and I just assumed that it was focused on MS games. With that in mind, I was content to dismiss it entirely as a service I didn’t need to worry about. Boy was I wrong.
After Twitch said they were cool with weird perverts using their service to film children going to the bathroom in public restrooms I decided to look into their competitors. What I’ve learned after a couple weeks of messing around on Mixer is that it’s a far superior platform with a comically small audience. Mixer is miles beyond Twitch in terms of its interactivity. MixPlay is a fundamental part of the service that allows streamers to build custom overlays that allow the audience to interact with the stream live. I’ve been streaming Overwatch with my family on Mixer and last night I managed to get the MixPlay functionality hooked up. I had designed little cartoon avatars for Kara and I to use while we stream. Last night on Mixer I had it set up so that people in the chat could click on buttons bellow the stream to put different skins on our avatars while we played. You can check out the VOD here:
I’ve only got a handful of skins right now and I have ideas for animated skins and effects in the future. I told Tycho that I set all this up and he said “You!?” which should be insulting but I’m not mad. He’s right! The fact that I was able to build this stuff is a GD testament to Mixer's tools.
Beyond the ridiculously cool MixPlay stuff which I am barely scratching the surface of, Mixer itself is also designed like a game. Just by watching Mixer streams you earn a currency called Sparks that you can turn around and spend on your favorite streamers. The cool thing is that streamers can turn those Sparks into actual cash payouts! Chatting in streams and interacting with the community earns you XP that levels your account up. You can actually “play” Mixer almost like a freemium game. Last night in the stream someone spent a boatload of Sparks to drop something called a Mixer Rally into the chat. This created a set of hands at the bottom of the chat window and a beachball at the top. The ball would drop and the chat had to mouse over the hands to get them to bounce the ball back up. They bounced this virtual ball 200 times and I saw an achievement pop up for the folks in chat!
I was also wrong about it being only for Xbox games. It’s completely platform agnostic and even has a bunch of creative and real life streams. There are people using the built-in interactivity to do some really cool stuff and a lot of it doesn’t have anything to do with the Xbox. I don’t think MS owning them effects Mixer anymore than Amazon owning Twitch and if we’re comparing cyberpunk style corporate overlords, I’ll take the one that has a robust online safety policy they’ve been perfecting for the last two decades on Xbox Live.
There’s just so much cool thinking happening on the platform that it’s honestly hard to cover it all. The problem is that no one knows about it and so there’s hardly anyone using the service. As of this writing the top stream on Mixer has a few thousand viewers. If you want to be the next Ninja, you’re not going to do it here. The flip side of that in my opinion is that you have a much better chance of getting noticed on Mixer than Twitch. You’ll also find that the community they do have is ridiculously welcoming and helpful. If you’re a streamer and you haven’t checked out Mixer I highly recommend you give it a shot. Twitch is the default choice these days it seems like but it doesn’t have to be. Do yourself a favor a check out the other options. Like me, you might end up finding a new home!