John Poelking
John Poelking is a Gaming Analyst at Mintel. His passion for live entertainment, movies, television, video games, technology and travel informs his sector knowledge.

Watching other people play video games may seem like a fairly niche corner of online entertainment to some, but more than two in five adults watch gaming content online, according to Mintel research on gaming influencers. The most dedicated gaming fans watch live streams of their favorite players playing games on one of five mainstream online platforms. On June 22, Microsoft announced that Mixer – one of the most significant video game platforms – will be shutting down by the end of July. Streamers and viewers will be migrated to Facebook Gaming over the course of the next month, along with any rewards and partnership deals they may have accumulated on Mixer.

While the shuttering of a service may have its mourning period, the implications will likely benefit all parties involved and create a more dynamic market for brands and content creators alike. Here are some predictions for what will happen and what it means for the gaming industry.

Facebook Gaming will be able to compete with YouTube and Twitch

Research from Arsenal.gg shows that Facebook Gaming is one of the fastest-growing gaming platforms on the market. From December 2018 to December 2019, Facebook’s monthly streaming hours more than tripled, accounting for 8.5% of the total global hours of gaming videos that were streamed. Despite this huge increase, Facebook’s share still pales in comparison to the 61% of hours streamed on Twitch and 28% on YouTube.

With Mixer’s streamers (and audience) migrating to Facebook, Facebook will be able to grow its audience substantially. Mintel research shows that half of adults who watch gaming content only go to one site. Through the migration, Facebook will likely become the same kind of one-stop-shop for gaming that YouTube has become, making its social features and advertising possibilities more intuitive than some of its closest competition. Facebook may be able to compete more closely with its biggest rivals within the year.

Microsoft will be able to seamlessly integrate watching and playing video games

One of the most significant factors that Microsoft cited for the shuttering of Mixer was the lack of scalability it was able to provide to its content creators and platform. Mintel research shows that adults were eight times more likely to watch gaming content on YouTube than on Mixer. Mixer appears to have taken a lower priority to some of Microsoft’s more notable contributions to the gaming world.

In addition to the Xbox Series X – a console that is set to launch this coming holiday season – Microsoft is set to release its cloud gaming service currently dubbed Project xCloud, later this year. At its full potential, xCloud should be able to take viewers watching a live stream of gameplay directly into playing that game with the click of a button. With Facebook’s cross-platform appeal and larger size, Microsoft will be able to reach far more gamers with xCloud than it had been able to with Mixer.

Streamers will have more clout

Ninja and Shroud were two of the most popular streamers on Twitch and YouTube, respectively, before being recruited by Mixer in the past year. Since then, many other gaming content creators have signed exclusive deals with streaming platforms to ensure loyal followers won’t go far. The wave of exclusivity in the streaming world appears to have paid off for these platforms, as Mintel research shows that more than half of adults who watch gaming content agree that they follow a gaming personality on any platform they decide to play on. The gaming personalities are going to be a more valuable commodity than the platform itself. With Mixer’s demise, many streamers who built an audience on Mixer will likely be looking for new platforms to produce content on, creating more opportunities for partnerships and perks in a market competing for the top talent.

What this means for brands

The uncertainty that comes with Mixer’s shutdown has also brought a new wave of opportunity for gaming and non-gaming brands alike. Streamers will have more chances to grow their audience on established platforms willing to invest in their long-term satisfaction. Meanwhile, the cloud gaming implications could give Facebook Gaming the seamless gaming experience that YouTube has been trying to make work with Google Stadia. If gamers spend more time on gaming content platforms, it is only going to create a larger audience of dedicated players who will be looking for brands to support the gaming content they love.