Mixer Shuts Down, Showing Again Why You Don't Need To Freak Out By Copycat Competitors

from the getting-twitchy dept

In all sorts of intellectual property conversations, one common refrain is something like “If you let people copy others, those copycats will be just as successful without having to work to develop a product.” This ire is most commonly aimed at big companies that see something successful and simply come up with their own version of it. And, to be generous, there certainly does seem to be something less than fair about that. But then you take a step back and watch just how often these copycat startups fall flat on their faces and you have to wonder why anyone worries about this stuff at all. Does nobody remember Google Plus?

Other companies have shown that it often builds more trust to not care about copycats any further than poking fun at them. Again, this is because the innovator almost always has a massive leg up on the copycat competitor, rather than the other way around. The most recent example of this is Microsoft’s Mixer platform, which was supposed to be a streaming service geared towards video gaming, with Twitch being the competition it was trying to “copy” off of. Well, even with the corporate power and war chest of Microsoft behind it, the platform failed and has since been offloaded to Facebook Gaming.

The shutdown starts today, with a transition plan laid out by Microsoft for Mixer streamers. Mixer Partners will be granted partner status with Facebook Gaming, and the platform will honor and “match all existing Partner agreements as closely as possible,” according to the blog detailing the change.

Several big-name streamers, such as Ninja and Shroud, moved from Twitch exclusively to Mixer this year. On Twitter, popular streamer King Gothalion announced he would be moving to Facebook; earlier this year, he signed a deal to stream exclusively on Mixer.

Even with some pretty big streaming names on the service, Mixer failed. Why? Well, because Twitch had already built up an audience and trust within the public for its product. Microsoft didn’t do enough to make Mixer stand apart from Twitch. Instead, the strategy appeared to roughly be just throwing money at some high profile streamers and expect audiences to flock to the platform because of it. That didn’t work, however.

Those streamers will now be free to move on to either Facebook Gaming or back to Twitch, where most of them began. Where the majority decide to go will be quite telling, but I imagine Facebook will throw money at this the same way Microsoft did. And if Facebook doesn’t do enough to make Gaming stand out and special compared with Twitch, it’ll likely fail in exactly the same way. What we’ve seen from Facebook Gaming thus far, however, does have some more intriguing social and DIY elements.

But the real lesson here is that building a copycat startup isn’t some get rich quick scheme. Or, it is, but it rarely works. So if you create a great platform, build a great community, and deliver great content… you probably are wasting time if you’re worrying about copycats.

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Companies: microsoft, mixer, twitch

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Comments on “Mixer Shuts Down, Showing Again Why You Don't Need To Freak Out By Copycat Competitors”

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samiratou (profile) says:

Mixer’s predecessor, Beam, was definitely doing things to differentiate itself (reduce latency, viewer integration with streams & games, etc.), but once Microsoft bought them and integrated with Xbox they didn’t do much of anything to improve the platform (in fact, it got worse, from a viewer standpoint). Twitch did reduce latency after Beam started to become more notable, and now have some viewer integrations. Was that due to the competition or would they have done it on their own? Hard to say.

I watch a number of small streamers who have built their communities on Mixer and are making the move to Twitch, but it’s not been an easy transition for them. A very small number of streamers are big enough to not feel a sting from this sudden shutdown and Microsoft’s scrapping of the platform for parts.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This highlights, of course, two problems. One is how services (including a mandatory service portion of some purchased product) can up and disappear when they get bored. There is hardly any recourse for purchased product-with-a-service shutdowns, and none (correctly, really) for free service closings. Not that it is cool, but entirely within the providers’ rights.

The second problem, also experienced by people booted off services/platforms which didn’t close, is the complete dependence some people have on such services, with no backup plans, and an apperent sense of entitlement on the part of some of those people that the service owes them a platform in perpetuity.

It can suck mud, but it’s weird how many think that their chosen platform or flea market must give them a place to do business or whatever.

A third (or 3.5 -4th), and much bigger problem, is mergers and acquisitions, and the one and only commandment of fiduciary duty.

Max (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

While legally no private platform owes nothing to no one (quite the contrary – they reserve the right to boot you absolutely for no reason whatsoever at any time), there SHOULD be a legal obligation for any platform that is recognized as a monopoly (or even just near-monopoly) to keep offering you service, with other means available to mitigate real problems you might be creating. No, as far as I’m concerned, this is not up for debate.

What if you could just be booted off the internet for no reason whatsoever, and told to go use "a different one" because this one owes you no service? What if you could be told you are no longer allowed to use public roads in any way whatsoever, for no reason, just go find "some different means" to get around? If your email provider kicks you out, you have a genuine choice of some other ones instead. If Youtube or Facebook or Twitter or Steam or Twitch kicks you out THERE IS NO "OTHER" FACEBOOK to go to.

Type of service being replicated (say, Vimeo instead of Youtube) IS NOT an actual alternative – each of these platforms are overwhelmingly used by most people to the exclusion of the others – it’s like being offered an "alternative service" on some "alternative phone network" only used by maybe a hundred people in your city. Every time a platform is near-exclusively preferred by the public, that platform IS effectively a monopoly even if there is an exact copy of it offering identical service on every street corner, and SHOULD be legally bound to offer you basic service no matter what, even if it has other means to prevent you from abusing it…

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"If Youtube or Facebook or Twitter or Steam or Twitch kicks you out THERE IS NO "OTHER" FACEBOOK to go to."

There is you just don’t bother to use them. They wouldn’t be "monopolies" If everyone bitching about them got off their tees and used competitors.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

If Youtube or Facebook or Twitter or Steam or Twitch kicks you out THERE IS NO "OTHER" FACEBOOK to go to.

All of those services have competitors. A service having an exceptionally large userbase don’t mean said service owns a monopoly on anything but attention. Hell, as social media services, Facebook and Twitter directly compete with each other.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Nope. No one owes you an audience. Might suck, and one might be wrongfully booted (and there are some truly astounding opinions about what is wrongful to some), but in no way is it akin to being banhammered off the net.

I’m not even overly fond of most or all of these outfits, but guess what? All you people who say that facehugger or twitbox or flinch or skewtube is the only worthwhile platform of its type are the ones who made sure it is that way. So maybe you (plural) should be legally bound to ensure several platforms of a type are more or less equally popular. Good ‘ol US competiton and all.

Fun side note: A gigantic proportion of the plaform-owes-me-mah-freeze-peach crowd are ones who are not unlikely to call other folks sheep. Funny, that.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Beam/Mixer was a decent product under the hood, but Microsoft essentially killed it by the disastrous XBox One launch. The integration with that ecosystem was great, but because they handed so much business to Sony this gen it didn’t really stand a chance no matter what they did. A shame they chose not to keep it around for the next gen, but I understand the decision.

"Was that due to the competition or would they have done it on their own? Hard to say."

Competition will always be a factor. The exact effect can’t always be quantified, but there’s a reason why defacto monopolies are a bad thing generally.

"I watch a number of small streamers who have built their communities on Mixer and are making the move to Twitch, but it’s not been an easy transition for them."

…but the move will likely be worth it as the potential audience there is much larger. More competition, for sure, but more chance of growing too.

"A very small number of streamers are big enough to not feel a sting from this sudden shutdown and Microsoft’s scrapping of the platform for parts."

I’ll be slightly harsh here – if your fans don’t want to make a move to a different platform to watch you when they have no option to stay where they are, they probably not really your fans. Actual fans will make the effort to move, especially since there’s basically only 2 other major places they can really go to in order to watch that type of content at all.

I feel for the guys who lose out, but if a simple message saying "Mixer is being killed, here’s our Twitch and/or Facebook links" does bring across viewers, they likely weren’t real fans to begin with.

Anonymous Coward says:

Microsoft spent millions to hire a few big streamers and thought they could compete with twitch, twitch
has millions of users watching 1000 s of streamers,
It has a strong community, its has gaming streamers, Podcasts, people cooking, talking, I think there’s a rule it’s almost impossible to take on website or service with millions of users ,
In video there’s YouTube in streaming there’s twitch.
In social networks there’s fácebook, Instagram.
I think mixer was used via an app or any browser
I don’t think it’s failure was anything to do with the Xbox
Why did amazon buy twitch and Instagram.
It did so because of the millions of users each service had.
As we have seen before just copying a service
And its design usually does not work,
Because you need to attract millions of users to make a profit .
Zoom is a big success because its free and easier
To use than Skype and other apps
There’s probably no room for a new streaming service in the market unless it can offer something that twitch does not have
I don’t think even. Microsoft could afford to pay 1000s of streamers to move from twitch so they just
closed it down when they realised they were not
getting the new viewers they need

Anonymous Coward says:

Facebook or YouTube are not monopolys
in that there are other apps and websites that offer similar content. They need to be able to block or ban
Certain users and can do so under the terms of section 230 and has been said before its impossible to Moderate the content of millions of users perfectly some trolls will always try to game the system and that includes corporations who send
Dmca notices over content they do not own

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yes, and a big part of the reason for that market share is that some people would rather bitch about them rather than use a competitor. The market will only change if people actually use the competition.

It’s like the browser marketplace. There are many competitors to Google Chrome, but some people will just sit there and whine about its flaws than actually install another browser, even if they’re on an OS that came with another browser by default. That doesn’t make Chrome a monopoly, it makes the people whining idiots.

ECA (profile) says:

Over and over,

The same thing.

HOw far do you want to go back?
How many system created, Succeeded, Failed, WERE STOMPED ON.
How many Big business concerns TRIED to match what was already created, and Failed(until recently).
HULU has so much fun with contracts, its F’ing stupid.
Sci-fi, and others tried to create their OWN sites to show Videos.. Sci fi got hit by 1 million people, all at 1 time, and CRASHED. The Cartoon channels tried and tried and tried, changed over and over, and finally have a mess, that kinda works(aint been there in years)
All the TV networks tried and failed in the beginning. Insted of using and learning from what was already available and working, they Still try.

It has shown us a few things, and taught them a few also. Movies and series tend to be sold or traded back and forth. ALLOT. Just cause you saw that Old TV series on the 1 site, its now Someplace else, down the line.
Setting up a server farm, even 1/10 of the equal of YT, isnt cheap nor easy. Keeping up with YT, isnt going to happen, recently.
There are still a TON of sites similar to YT, smaller and STOMPED on abit, but still there.

What would really be a test, would be to Ask all the TV sites and the vid sites the Data on DMCA they get. Lets compare how bad it really is.

Anonymous Coward says:

This article gets a key thing wrong: Beam/Mixer came up with various tech and concepts that were innovative that Twitch copied. Twitch won out because it was the entrenched incumbent with the most users and worked to foster a culture within its userbase similar to what you see in game console fanbases, a userbase that gives any competitor the side-eye like they don’t want it to even exist.

I also don’t understand the criticism of Mixer grabbing popular streamers, especially as Mixer’s various strategies with trying to come up with innovative features didn’t pan out. Twitch also cut lucrative deals with its biggest streamers as well as various companies & organizations long before Mixer did. With game streaming services like Twitch & Mixer & Facebook Gaming, content is king. It’s more like networks making contracts with talk show hosts than anything else. Mixer getting streamers like Shroud, Ninja, and Gothalion on board with said deals was their last-ditch effort after they tried a ton of other things.

ECA (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You are right, but lets make it simple.
They went After the customer and Adjusted what they had to make it More popular. Rather then Sitting there TRYING to make MONEY, they took chances, spent abit of time and money, and got POPULAR.

They also know, that IF’ they dont adjust and fix things quickly, People will leave to other places. The more they Give the consumer what he wants, the more they will make.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is kind of a terrible take on the situation with Mixer. Mixer’s fault wasn’t that they were too similar to Twitch, it was that they were too different in all the most terrible ways. I don’t know about currently but at the time Mixer got it’s name out there and made a real effort to compete they didn’t have any support on other services/platforms (Android, iOS, Roku, FireTV, AndroidTV, etc…) where Twitch did (mostly), so you could only watch Mixer via a browser.

Mixer didn’t have any sort of in-game support from other developers nor did it ever appear to be working towards a thing.

Mixer’s UI and chat was garbage for anyone who wasn’t a troll or heavily invested in just spamming random shit, which was worse than even what Twitch was/is doing and further alienating to the silent majority of viewers.

As far as I’m aware Mixer never tried to encourage and support community events to cross connect streamers nor give them the tools to do so on their own.

The list goes on and on. To say Mixer didn’t do enough to stand apart from Twitch is, at best, intentionally ignoring learning anything about either platform.

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