While details of the deal have not been announced, Microsoft is surely forking over a significant amount of cash as Shroud—who is best known for playing first-person shooters including Counterstrike: GO, Apex Legends, and PUBG—had become Twitch’s second most popular streamer since Ninja’s departure with more than 7 million total followers. (Tfue is slightly higher with just under 7.2 million followers.)
However, while Shroud’s move will clearly have an impact on his many fans, the potentially bigger takeaway is that Microsoft’s latest talent acquisition could be a sign that it thinks Mixer is finally ready to take on Twitch for control of the video game streaming market.
Currently, according to StreamElements’ latest Q3 report, Twitch dominates the streaming scene as it owns 75.6 percent of the market, followed by YouTube at 17.6 percent, with Facebook and Mixer essentially tied for third, at 3.7 and 3.2 percent, respectively.
However, despite Ninja switching to Mixer in August, Mixer’s popularity has not changed all that much. That’s because despite the number of unique channels on Mixer doubling from 1.96 million to 3.92 million in Q3, Mixer also saw the number of livestream hours watched fall by around 10 percent in Q3, as compared to a three percent rise for Twitch over the same time period.
However, with Microsoft set to release a new console next year—which will almost certainly have support for livestreaming gameplay to Mixer baked in—it seems like Microsoft is prepping for a big campaign against Twitch that could peak during the 2020 holiday season.
And now that Ninja isn’t the only huge name to abandon Twitch in favor of Mixer, I expect to see Microsoft poach a few more big streamers between now and next fall.