Microsoft Wednesday pushed a significant update to Xbox One users, and it’s called Beam. The Beam Streaming utility allows you to livestream your game session and let others watch as you play.
Until now, most Xbox-ers have been using Amazon’s Twitch to livestream their games. Beam Streaming now brings a more native streaming experience to Xbox One. The biggest advantage that it offers over Twitch is that you won’t need to download an app, because it is built into the software.
Both Twitch and Beam are acquisitions made by Amazon and Microsoft, respectively. While Twitch was purchased in 2014 for $970 million in cash, after months of speculation that Google would buy the livestreaming platform. Beam was acquired by Microsoft in August 2016 for an undisclosed amount.
Incidentally, Beam is also expected to come with the new Windows 10 Creators Update that’s rolling out to the public on April 11, 2017. Xbox-ers are now getting their Beam Streaming access ahead of the Windows 10 release.
When Microsoft bought the Beam platform last year, it was still under testing and not available to gamers. At the time, testers were able to modify video games, and this was seen with Minecraft, where players could randomly spawn cows and so on. During the Beam launch announcement for Xbox One, however, Microsoft did not mention this particular feature.
However, Microsoft partner group program manager Chad Gibson reportedly told GameSpot that the company was exploring interactive modding with third-party developers, and that the additional feature could be coming later this year to Xbox users.
In fact, that’s one of the things that sets Beam apart from other streaming platforms like Twitch – the ability for game watchers to interact with the gamers, deciding to either help them or challenge them.
One of the things that enables this is the sub-second latency (less than 1 second) on Beam, which is impressive considering the fact that other platforms have a latency of between 8 and 10 seconds – a significant difference for near real-time game streaming.
On Xbox One, gamers will be able to broadcast their game play right from the Guide. On Windows 10 you can do that from the Game bar because Beam is built right into Windows 10 at a system level.
Beam is obviously going to be competing against Twitch for gamer engagement, and they could have a disadvantage there. But Microsoft wants to play fair, and will allow Twitch to work as usual. The hope is that the low-latency feature and future modding possibilities will attract more gamers to Beam over time.
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