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Microsoft’s Beam renamed to Mixer, adds co-op streaming (update)

Split-screen viewing hits PC for all, Xbox One for Insiders

The logo for Mixer, Microsoft’s streaming service
The logo for Mixer, the streaming service formerly known as Beam.
Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Beam, the Microsoft-owned livestreaming platform that’s integrated into Windows 10 and the Xbox One, will henceforth be known as Mixer, the service announced today.

“Why the name change? This was a tough decision, and not one that we made lightly,” said Matt Salsamendi, co-founder and engineering lead at Mixer, in a blog post. “But, it was something that we decided on as a team. We believe so much in the power of the platform and want to grow it in every major market around the world. Unfortunately, that wasn’t something we could do with the Beam name.”

It’s an understandable change for the service to make. Mixer offers something unique in the livestreaming market — interactive streaming, which allows viewers to affect gameplay for supported titles — and the company touts its low-latency streaming as a better alternative to the competition. (Mixer says that its streams run with less than one second of delay, while the latency is typically 10-20 seconds on other services.) But the vast majority of people who livestream video games use Twitch or YouTube, two platforms that are more popular than Mixer by orders of magnitude.

Mixer plans to continue attempting to distinguish itself by adding features that other services don’t offer, and to keep focusing on streaming as a social experience. “We chose Mixer as our new name because it represents what we love most about the it brings people together,” said Salsamendi.

Beam debuted in January 2016; Microsoft acquired the Seattle-based company in August. Microsoft added Beam to Windows 10 and the Xbox One earlier this spring.

In addition to rebranding itself, Mixer also announced today a slate of features that are coming to the service. The list is headlined by what Mixer calls “co-streaming,” which is available today on PC for everyone and on Xbox One for Insiders. Co-streaming allows for as many as four Mixer users to team up and broadcast together, combining multiple “separate stream sources into one shared ‘split-screen’ view, including a centralized chat experience,” according to Salsamendi.

The feature will give viewers the ability to watch, say, an Overwatch match from the perspective of four different teammates simultaneously. But the streamers in the party can each be doing different things — they don’t need to be playing the same game or anything.

Mixer is also introducing a new mobile app in beta today, Mixer Create, that supports self-broadcasting at launch on Android and iOS. The company plans to add the ability to stream mobile games “soon thereafter.” (The existing Mixer mobile app is just for watching streams.)

On the console side, the Xbox One dashboard will now feature a Mixer tab with a selection of livestreams curated by Mixer staff. The company also said today that it will stream Microsoft’s E3 2017 press briefing in 4K.

Update: We’ve clarified some details regarding the Mixer Create mobile app.

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