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Letters from the Front

I hate Facebook. It is gross and disgusting for a myriad of reasons. A simple research into the company’s past and history reveals a much more darker secret, this includes disrupting democracy and slowly eroding privacy online amongst other shadier stuff going on but it may become necessary in the future when it comes to Microsoft’s Project xCloud.

A couple weeks ago, on June 23rd, Microsoft announced that Mixer would be closing down and partnering with Facebook instead. In my head, I was thinking, why would Microsoft want to partner with Facebook? Why would they want to partner with such a shady company, led by what can be considered, as a supervillain from a comic? It hit me at all once and the reason why Microsoft would want to partner with Facebook is because of Project xCloud.

Facebook’s social power and clout is undeniable, even for a company like Microsoft. Xbox has a social problem that has a serious potential to harm in the coming years, which may see a potential disruption in the gaming scene, a historic disruption on the level of the introduction of the smartphones in the late 2000s. This potential disaster may never come to fruition, but it doesn’t hurt to guard yourself from incoming attacks in the future.

Project xCloud is the future and could hold the key for what gaming could become in the future. I don’t think consoles will go away anytime soon, but the ease of access provided by something like Project xCloud will change the way gaming divisions grow. In several years, the market for consoles haven’t really grown that much, with many casual gamers refusing to buy a dedicated device meant for gaming. Most casuals or normies would rather play on their phones or smart devices like tablets or on an app via TV.

There is an argument to be made on why does it need to grow? The ultimate answer to that argument is if Microsoft doesn’t fill in the patches then other companies will and you may not enjoy what that company might do. They could end up being more lucrative which will leave Xbox and Playstation behind in the wind, left behind by developers if the userbase shifts towards the cloud. Project xCloud bridges that gap between the cloud and the local hardware since it all uses the same developer tools and environment, it anchors the home grown console as an environment developers can use to target both sides. Getting to the point, competing products like Stadia or whatever Tencent is working on in this space will gain high levels amount of exposure due to their social platforms, integration features that Microsoft would otherwise be locked out of.

Microsoft sunk hundreds of dollars into Mixer, from the initial purchase of Beam to the acquisition of major streamers like Ninja and Shroud but it could never get off the ground. Microsoft hoped it could’ve taken advantage of the streaming side of things to a point where it could at least begin to catch up to Twitch but it couldn’t. I believe that it was a mishandling of budget which was allocated to require huge names like Ninja rather than home-grown talent, or, a bigger dev team to address innovation on the platform. Indeed, Twitch destroyed Mixer by adopting all of Mixer’s unique features in a huge bite. It would’ve been wise to have Mixer grow as a platform and a product, rather than a brand, before prime time debut of some of the world’s biggest streamers.

It’s a shame that it came to this, instead of Mixer grown to be a competitive platform against Twitch, it grew to die in the same vein as other Microsoft ventures like Windows Phone but it was a necessary death. Putting Mixer on a slow death via underfunding would’ve been far more drawn out and painful to endure, in the long run. The death of Mixer gives Microsoft a chance to revisit one of their strengths which is gaming while building a relationship with the world’s biggest social platform to expand the userbase.

As for the Facebook angle of things, Microsoft doesn’t have the social clout it needs to push out their services. Microsoft effectively buried Skype as a tool for gaming communications, and Xbox Live has only tens of millions of users, which is a far cry from Facebook’s users which ranges in the billions. Partnering up with Facebook offers scenarios described previously by Google Stadia and without Facebook’s help, Microsoft could be buried on this side of the moon, moving the Mixer operation to Facebook comes with a great collaboration in the face of Google Stadia and Tencent.

We all make fun of Google Stadia, but it is a very scary reality. Google is awash with cash and is intent on growing their gaming platform and the social platform that is Youtube. Youtube outstrips anything Microsoft can do. When Google Stadia is ready for the world, Google can push Stadia users into the billions at a mere click, giving instant access to games directly from watching a YouTube video or performing a Google search. This same outcome is true for other giants like Amazon and Tencent, which owns massive social media platforms in Asia and China, including WeChat. Out of all the threats Microsoft faces, I would say Tencent is the most significant threat, as it is a blitzkrieg across the world stage. Tencent is a moving machine eating up every media industry on earth, dumping cash into Epic Games and other ventures. Developers will go to where the money is and the money is with Tencent. With Tencent mangled with the Chinese government, it gives a scary precedence to the future where censorship and communist dictatorial propaganda seeping into our entertainment platforms.

Even if these scenarios don’t come true, it still a possibility it could happen, and it would be ignorant if Microsoft ignores these warning signs. It’s a smart play that becomes valuable over time than trying to grow Mixer. The tragedy is, as usual, something had to go and that something was Mixer.

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