When Microsoft announced that Beam would be Mixer, we weren’t sure what to expect outside of the name change and re-branding. Based on comments on the @WatchMixer we were slightly confused too. Was launching a new music service? Was it a Microsoft owned dating app? Was it a kitchen appliance? Of course, from looking into it, we saw it was the Beam rebranding announcement.
We have been using Beam for a while and found it offers a viable alternative to the king of the streaming services, Twitch. Including features like interactive streams it offered enough new ideas to be different to the Amazon owned counterpart too. Once the service switched to Mixer we gave it a try on PC and Xbox One and this is what we found worked and what doesn’t.
According to the Mixer team on Twitter, Beam didn’t afford them the ability to grow internationally likely due to some country out there already having a company using the Beam name. Mixer allows them the opportunity to grow although it might take some time for people to get used to the new name.
Lets get this out of the way first, overall we have been having a good experience with Mixer and the service shows a lot of promise.
One of the big new features of Mixer over Beam was the addition of cooperative streaming. This is where multiple streamers come into one feed and the chat feeds are combined. You could do this on Twitch of course but you’d need to set it up yourself as a viewer on 3rd party services like Multi Twitch.
First, cooperative streaming allows you to find streamers that create content you might like if they cooperate with a streamer you follow. Within the first day we’d already followed multiple new streamers thanks to watching a streamer we followed from Beam days, MAGNETRON. It is a brilliant way to get new streamers discovered which is a difficult to do when streaming services gain popularity.
In theory, the cooperative streaming works great. In practice, the Mixer team have some way to go to make it work smoothly. There are multiple bugs and missing features in cooperative streaming.
For example, if you watch a cooperative stream, only the streamer you selected gets a viewer count increase even though you are watching multiple people. The viewer count for cooperative streams should be collective.
The chat can be confusing especially with the use of bots. You’ll see “Followed” message but have no idea which streamer was followed unless the streamer renamed their bot. There should be some identifier, perhaps the channel logo, when activity takes place on their feed. Or a simple colour scheme change for each streamer to make them stand out.
Mixer isn’t anywhere near as big as Twitch so even the busiest streams don’t reach the same numbers as the busier Twitch streams. This is a blessing and a curse. The chat feed is readable for the most part as there aren’t the same numbers of viewers filling the chat with endless posts. It is a curse because for a new streamer, Twitch might seem the obvious choice to go to because that’s where the crowds are. That isn’t something Mixer will deal with for long as the service has grown in viewers since Microsoft bought the service and it is only growing.
Mixer held a fireworks display on the day of the rebranding where viewers could donate their sparks to set off real life fireworks. Outside of your firework choice not having any bearing on what happened like they pretended it would, the service really struggled. With a relatively small, compared to the busiest Twitch streams, the number of concurrent viewers topped 2,000. As this happened, the interactive section of Mixer outright failed to load. This is pretty bad when the entire point of the fireworks display was to be interactive.
The Xbox One app really struggled with the live fireworks feed as the activity became so much that our Xbox One S bogged down and prevented chat and the interactive features from working. At times the feed even locked up causing you to require you back out and go back in.
Bugs, Glitches and Missing Features
As part of the cut over to the new name, the site brought with it a number of new bugs that didn’t exist in Beam. Here are some of the issues we ran into in our time in Mixer.
- PC and Xbox One – The connection to the chat service is intermittent leaving you to refresh until it works.
- PC (Chrome and Edge) – Switching from one streamer to another occasionally keeps the chat feed of the first streamer on screen rather than switching over.
- Xbox One – While the cooperative streaming is a great idea, the Xbox One app just doesn’t handle it well at all. The streams lag and frequently you’ll find the audio from each stream plays. Want to mute the streams? Go ahead, more often than not the audio from every streamer will continue as if you didn’t mute anything even if you mute every stream you’ll still hear them.
- Xbox One – The Followed streams section occasionally doesn’t show up meaning those who you follow can only be searched like a random stream. That feature should show like the webpage displays it, an option in the top menu.
- Xbox One The navigation of the app is pretty woeful as it is. We know it is difficult to get web mage layouts to work with a controller but more often than not you lose where the currently highlighted section of the page is. The white boxes clearly show when you are in chat and you kind of know when you are on the video because the video controls show up. Outside of that you can lose your “cursor” which is compounded by the performance problems the Xbox One app has.
- iOS and Android apps – Beta apps are available for Mixer on iOS and Android and we haven’t tried them yet but from the comments we have seen, the apps seem to work well for the most part. For some reason Mixer has shunned Windows Phone 10 (I guess we can’t blame them since Microsoft shows the platform little love) but you can’t even switch to using Edge on your phone as the streams just don’t load.
- Sparks – Currently you earn sparks for watching a stream. However if you missed an event and watch the VoD version, you don’t get any sparks. That is a shame for those who can’t sit and watch live streams all day.
We really enjoy using Beam and now Mixer and we have plans to stream on it ourselves in the near future. We hope that the Mixer team have recovered from their celebrations and are busy getting to work on fixes and ironing out the wrinkles.
While Beam.pro still works, it’ll redirect you to the new Mixer website, so consider updating your bookmarks.