Beam: Tools for broadcasting
Video game streaming is incredibly popular, with Twitch gaining 100 million monthly unique users watching over two million monthly streamers since it launched in 2011, with around 241 billion minutes of content being broadcast, so it’s little wonder that Microsoft is so keen to get involved. It has done this by acquiring rival service, Beam, last year, and integrating it into Windows 10’s Creators Update and the Xbox One. A classic Microsoft manoeuvre.
Of course, with the success of Twitch and other established services, Microsoft has an uphill struggle to convince people to move from their preferred service to Beam. However, it has a few tricks up its sleeve.
For a start, Beam has a focus on super low latency, something Microsoft is describing as the ‘Beam Faster than Light SDK,’ which allows for broadcasting with virtually no latency. By having almost no perceptible pause between the action in the game the broadcaster is playing and what the audience sees, it makes conversations between the broadcaster and the audience even better. You could now tell a broadcaster to look out behind them, and they’d react, rather than telling them, only to find out three seconds later that they are already dead.
Microsoft also plans for Beam to have a full suite of interactive elements for its streams. These range from simple soundboard apps (which enable viewers to trigger specific sound effects) that can be applied to any game, through to more complex interactive elements, introduced as part of Microsoft’s Interactive 2.0 initiative, launched at GDC earlier this year.
When implemented into a game, these features – combined with the low latency – will enable viewers to be almost as involved in the action as the streamers themselves, “blurring the lines between playing and watching,” as Microsoft puts it.
Beam wants to make watching “Let’s Play” streams more interactive.