Mixer’s been my exclusive streaming home since 2017 and I have no plans to change that. I love the near-zero chat lag and I especially love the community. I’ve stuck with the platform through multiple exoduses, confident in them because it takes time to find your footing when your competition has such a head start and because Microsoft never does anything for the short-term.
However, the current exodus that’s still underway at time of writing is I believe, rooted in some very real concerns that at least on the surface, appear to have gone ignored for far too long. I believe it’s time the platform and its management (whomever that is since the founders “left”) get some real talk. I love Mixer, want it to succeed and want it to be the best place it can be for streamers and viewers alike. It’s with that determination and love that I write this.
At present, I can’t blame any long-time user of Mixer for thinking that development of the platform has all but ceased. They’ve spent rumoured millions to bring over some massive streamers but resources for improvement seems to be a dry well. We have features that are still in beta, others that were announced forever ago that have never materialized and others that have been broken for going on two years now with no fixes in sight. Many are also complaining of stability issues, though I thankfully haven’t had any myself.
Rather than exhaustively detail all of the concerns I and many others have, let’s just rapidly bullet-point a bunch of the common ones, in no particular order:
- Why do the mobile apps still lack out-of-app picture-in-picture?
- Why are you still using the awful Player.me service for your game database when better maintained options like Giant Bomb exist?
- Why are there no apps on PS4, Switch, Android TV, Fire Stick and Roku? And please, stop deflecting blame to Sony without actually saying it. They don’t run a streaming service, it’s not a hard case to make. Xbox Live is on Switch, you can get Mixer on PS4.
- How did you launch a new, revamped Xbox app without support for FTL, one of the core features of Mixer?
- Why is there no easy way for mods of larger channels to communicate amongst themselves without third-party tools?
- Why is there still no ability to drop playback quality on VoDs for low speed connections? For that matter, why are VoDs still incredibly laggy, regardless of speed?
- Why is there no platform-level closed captioning and streamers are required to use third-party tools for this that require them to be shown to every viewer?
- Why is there no Mixer value add tied into other Microsoft services, like a free sub for Game Pass Ultimate subscribers? Amazon has Twitch Prime, why can’t we get something like that? For that matter, why does $10 a month for Pro still give nothing but a purple name, more sparks and no ads, which no one outside the US see anyway?
- Why have non-partners all but entirely lost the ability to have their channels featured, even when they’re long-standing streamers with good reputations? What if viewers could spend sparks to get them featured? For that matter, why does it seem that only a handful of even partners receive front page promotion any more?
- Ember pricing really needs a rethink. They’re still way too expensive for many (especially younger people) to be able to afford and many still balk at the price in general.
Why are 24/7 farming streams not only still often featured highly in directories but just plain not a Terms of Service violation?UPDATE (17/1/2020): Mixer announced on the LevelUpCast today that 24/7 and farming streams will be “gone” (hopefully banned) by next week. Very good news!
- Why is MixPlay still so unintuitive to use for streamers and why has it received no notable improvements in well over a year? It’s a core feature of the platform and Twitch extensions are quickly leaving it in the dust. Developers of games like Darwin Project who started with Mixer integration have abandoned it in frustration.
- Why is Clips still in beta for partners only after all this time? It is no longer a nice to have feature, it is a key and critical part of any streamer’s content plans and strategy. Two different third-party tools have come into being specifically because you still don’t have this feature out.
- Why has there been virtually no advertising of the platform in gaming and mainstream media? Why does it appear that promotion is reliant on the big streamers you secured having their communities do it for you?
- While support is lightning fast in their responses, why are the frontline reps nearly powerless to do anything to the majority of tickets and why do so many tickets end up being “forwarded to the developers”, where they seem to disappear into the void?
- Why is the API still so unreliable? Sites like KeyMailer that I rely on for developer relationships still often aren’t notified of my streams. For that matter, third-party tools like CouchBot and SmartHost often have functions break because the API doesn’t respond properly.
- Despite repeated assurances, why is Mixer still not making more effort to promote true variety streams or just anything beyond the latest releases and the same few Battle Royale titles?
- Why are analytics still broken and unreliable after almost two years? They have improved a little bit lately but I still can’t count on them to be reliable when sections are still demonstrably broken. This makes approaching game developers and potential sponsors very difficult.
That’s only a rough list of the most common issues. If you ask around, you’ll hear plenty more. In fact, leave yours in the comments if I missed them! You’ll also notice a lot of those items are links. Like all Microsoft products and services, Mixer has a UserVoice site, a place where the community can request features, comment and vote up the ones most important to them. In theory, this is supposed to help drive Mixer’s development priorities but Mixer hasn’t responded to anything posted there in at least a year if not more. Most of the top voted ideas haven’t even been acknowledged, must less actioned. This gives the appearance of at best apathy and at worst, disdain towards the needs of the community.
This ties into a greater communication problem from Mixer. Their social media presence has become bare bones. No one is told anything of future plans or kept up-to-date with goings on at the platform. Maybe partners are but that’s kept behind NDAs. If we do get something announced, it’s often a pie in the sky idea like FTL over RTMP that fizzles into the ether. From the outside, we’re seeing a platform that appears to be stuck in development mud, a wildly imbalanced ratio of streamers to viewers and increasing dismissal from the wider streaming community. Are things set to improve? We don’t know because you won’t tell us.
I regularly approach game developers and PR agencies who either still don’t know what Mixer is, only vaguely know of it since you got Ninja or think it’s “an Xbox only platform.” I am certain that I’ve been denied opportunities I might have otherwise gotten because I’m on Mixer and not Twitch. Nothing has been done to counter these perceptions within the games industry or among the streaming community at large. We want to advocate for your platform but right now, other than FTL and the community, I can’t think of a compelling reason why someone should focus on streaming here instead of somewhere else. That hurts me to say.
When problems are witnessed and no meaningful explanation is provided, people will substitute their own. It’s happened before, that’s what’s happening now and it’s why we’re on at least our third exodus event. To be fair, none of the major content platforms are good at communication but that’s not a cliff Mixer should be happy jumping off of with everyone else.
Please understand, I don’t say this out of anger. Frustration yes, but not anger. I love the core values of Mixer and even with everything I’ve stated above, I would sooner quit streaming than try to start over somewhere else, especially Twitch. It stings to see the platform stuck where it is and to see streamers I respect have to announce with sadness in their voices that they have to move on if they want to continue growing. With the resources and brand awareness of Microsoft and Xbox behind Mixer, there’s no reason you can’t make a massive push and become a formidable force in the streaming world. I want you to do that and so do so many others.
I implore you, please say something–anything–to us. Let us know what’s coming, let us know that you’re listening to us and let those of us who continue to be stubbornly loyal know that our patience is going to pay off. I’ve worked damn hard to build up what I have on your platform and I don’t want to lose it. Please let us work with you to make this place the kind of awesome we all know it can be.
What you do guys think? Are you a fellow streamer on Mixer or just a concerned viewer? Let me know what you’d like to see Mixer improve in the comments and please share this with your communities so Mixer staff have a better chance of seeing it.