Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek is the latest Twitch icon to be lured in by Microsoft for their competing streaming platform, Mixer. This marks the second high-profile departure this year after Tyler “Ninja” Blevins left Twitch in August to stream exclusively on Mixer. Since that move earlier this year, Ninja is setting records as his following on the platform exploded. Both Grzesiek and Blevins are two of the gaming world’s most watched streamers, so seeing them jump ship is very big news, and a lot of people are excited.
The move itself was pretty surprising, as Grzesiek was originally thought the be looking for that top spot on Twitch after Blevins departed. “Hey man, Ninja’s gone,” he said during a stream in August, just after the announcement was made. “It’s all me, baby. Gotta take advantage.” Although it looks like Microsfts team in charge of brand development was on point with snapping up another big name. Shroud’s Mixer channel already has over 140,000 followers (and will certainly be higher by the time you read this-his follower count was around 100,000 last time I checked. His first Mixer appearance will be live in a little under two hours from writing of this post, so if you’re a fan, get moving if you want to catch his first appearance.
One has to wonder though, will the Epic approach of throwing money around work out for Microsoft. The exclusivity contracts these streamers are getting are no doubt lucrative, but they certainly won’t last. And if Microsoft really wants to compete with Twitch, the need exponentially better brand awareness. Most of the average viewers on Twitch won’t see much point in jumping to Mixer just because of a few big names being on the platform. Microsoft needs both a critical mass of new broadcasters, as well as huge influx of new viewers, if they want to really capitalize.
It’s true that Twitch has done some pretty shady things that have squandered a fair bit of good will. From using Ninja’s channel to accidentally promote pornographic content, to holding open parties where attendees were allegedly drugged due to lax policies, there’s been some pretty major problems for the Amazon-owned platform. The competition could still go either way though, especially if Microsoft manages to lure thousands of new streamers in with promises of success.