Today has been an eventful day to say the least. Sure Apple was having it’s yearly tech conference but behind the scenes bombs were dropping. In a move that caught many off guard, Microsoft has closed the doors its streaming platform Mixer. While Mixer may have been a home for popular streamers Shroud and Ninja, Microsoft offered a new platform as a solution, Facebook Gaming. Facebook’s own answer to Twitch is here and ready to soak up the remains of Mixer with Microsoft’s blessing. But why did Microsoft decide to partner with Facebook?

For those of you who have been living under a rock, there have been major moves by both Amazon and Google in the gaming space. Google has Stadia, a stand alone game streaming service that promised Netflix like gaming content on demand. Amazon too is rumored to be creating a similar service of its own. On top of that, Amazon has budded heads with Microsoft in the past, going as far as snatching Double Helix, the developers that were working on Microsoft’s Killer Instinct property. These companies are a serious threat for Microsoft and Xbox when it comes to dominating the future of game streaming. Project xCloud is barely getting its feet off the ground and Microsoft is going mad trying to buy up developers in order to make its Netflix like service the only choice to go with. If they give even an inch to Amazon or Google then that first place spot could easily be lost. Then Project xCloud could easily become the Vimeo to Youtube, the Yahoo to Google, the Mixer to Twitch.

The main threat comes from the streamers themselves. You may not believe it or not but they are the key. Thousands of people watch content creators like Ninja and Shroud everyday. Google showed us the way they planned to leverage these content creators by simply having a button on streams that directly linked to games. That’s a powerful way to transition gamers to their service. Any current gaming company be it Microsoft’s Xbox or Sony’s Playstation have better take a good look at partnering with either company, they could eventually grow to become a dominant competitor in the industry.

The reason why Sony didn’t want to partner with Amazon or Google for cloud gaming was because they knew giving them any inch in the race would mean another big threat like Xbox emerging onto the scene. So instead of creating new competition they would rather work with Microsoft, the company they had already beat this generation, on cloud gaming and Azure.

So those people puzzled that Microsoft opted to work with Facebook when it came to Project xCloud should realize this isn’t a move they came up with lightly. Sure it’s a move that may upset some gamers, but this is a defensive maneuver in order to prevent a competitor from arising from xCloud’s popularity if they partnered with Twitch or Youtube Gaming. That being said, Facebook itself is starting to make moves to better position themselves in gaming.

In the end it looks like the gaming industry is rapidly changing. Youtube is the dominant force in videos on demand, Amazon is the dominant online shopping portal, Netflix is the… you know, but who will be the dominant video game streaming platform? Looks like the next 10 years may determine that.