Microsoft Mixer jazzes up its live streams with new currencies and animations

Microsoft Mixer Season 2

Microsoft's live streaming platform, Mixer, is getting a big ol' update today with a host of new user-focused features – and a number to come down the line too.

Launched as 'Beam' in 2014, the live-stream platform was quickly snapped up and rebranded by Microsoft to launch its own competitor to Twitch.

Mixer has now entered what it calls 'Season 2' of its ongoing development, to try to offer a meaningful alternative to Twitch's much larger platform, with a larger focus on viewer engagement and ways in which users can interact during streams – whether moving around objects in-game or making decisions on what the streamer will do.

Season 2's changes include livening up comment threads during live-streams, with the somewhat oddly-named 'Skills' – allowing for a wider range of animations, GIFs, and images than just scrolling lines of text. Cue confetti, astonished robots, and beach balls jumping across the screen (and not just your screen, either).

Microsoft Mixer Season 2

Viewers earn Sparks currency by watching live-streams

Mixer's on-site Sparks currency – which is earned by watching or engaging with streamers' broadcasts – can be used to purchase these Skills. Streamers on the site will also be directly rewarded if they hit specific milestones of viewer numbers or engagement – incentivizing viewers to spend on Skills when watching their favorite streamers.

Other incoming features include a new souped-up currency (Mixer Embers) for buying bigger-impact forms of engagement, as well as an Applaud button for cheering on other viewers' comments and contributions.

Mixer has a way to go to truly take on Twitch, but Season 2 certainly seems like an improved experience for those willing to go with Microsoft's growing platform.

Henry St Leger

Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.