Microsoft has revealed it is renaming its popular Beam game streaming service as Mixer. The company signaled that it’s making the change to enable a wider international expansion of the platform, but some fans are disappointed by the decision.
Microsoft acquired Beam back in August of 2016. Since the purchase, the company has remained largely independent, although Microsoft has directly integrated its technology into Windows 10 and the Xbox One.
Today that changed in dramatic fashion. Beam announced that it is now known as Mixer, a name chosen because “it represents what we love most about the service.” Company co-founder Matt Salsamendi said that while the decision was “tough,” the rebrand better reflects how Beam has come to “bring people together” from across the Internet.
More precise reasons for the change haven’t been discussed. In his blog post, Salsamendi mentioned that Mixer intends to grow in “every major market” worldwide though. He noted that this “wasn’t something we could do with the Beam name,” implying that something more than just community spirit may have inspired the change. It’s possible that Beam ran into trademark or licensing issues while trying to establish its business in some corners of the globe.
In any case, the rebrand enables Microsoft to treat Beam as a true member of its portfolio. By giving it a new identity, the company can effectively restart its history and label it a true Microsoft product. It has already detailed several new system-level Mixer integrations for its gaming platforms. In a future update, the Xbox One will gain a dedicated “Mixer” tab on its homepage to let players jump straight to live-streaming content.
Beam’s success has stemmed from its unique interactivity element. Whereas prominent rivals like Twitch are focused primarily on the streamer and the game, Beam casts the light onto the audience. With compatible games, viewers can directly influence the streamer’s gameplay by pressing buttons to trigger actions in the game world.
The idea has proved to be popular as broadcasters can engage with their fans by asking them to decide on what to do next. The number of compatible games is steadily growing as more developers see the value of the concept. In its announcement today, Mixer confirmed that Minecraft creator Mojang – another Microsoft property – is exploring an official integration with the service. This would let the millions of Minecraft fans change the way streamers build in their worlds.
As well as the rebranding, Microsoft today announced an extensive set of new features to christen Mixer and attract new fans. There’s a beta version of a broadcast-enabled mobile app for iOS and Android, a new always-on “what’s happening” feed called Channel One and a special day-long live stream from the Mixer, team with gaming sessions covering several eSports genres.
Most notably for content creators, Mixer is rolling out co-streaming too, a capability that lets multiple users combine their streams into a single broadcast. Up to four people can join and share their displays in a split-screen view. You can join with friends to broadcast a multiplayer game in a single place. Previously, viewers would have to keep switching between channels to stay informed of all the action.
The Mixer team said the new features are meant to open new options for fans of live streaming. Over the past couple of years, the popularity of streaming has soared, owing to its status as a new way to experience gaming across different platforms. Today’s update opens the door to further large-scale changes in the future.
“Today marks a big evolution of our interactive live-streaming platform and a new name for the service: Mixer. But, more than just the name, we’re launching several of the features that you all have been asking for,” said Salsamendi. “Features that will unlock a whole new world of possibilities for social streaming, and help viewers find the content they’re looking for across the service.”
Mixer is available from today at its new web address, www.mixer.com. The co-streaming functionality is rolling out now to all existing users. The Mixer Create app for iOS and Android is currently in beta and can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play Store respectively.
[Featured Image by Microsoft]