Microsoft gets in the game and buys live-streaming start-up Beam

11 Aug 2016

Beam is a Seattle-based game streaming start-up that lets users do more than just watch and chat, but actually get in the game

Microsoft has acquired Beam, a Seattle-based game-streaming start-up, enabling the software giant to muscle in on the live-streaming market currently dominated by Twitch and YouTube.

Beam, which won the TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016 Startup Battlefield competition, gives viewers the ability to watch and play along with their favourite game streamers in real-time.

This has evolved streaming from a passive watch-and-chat experience into real-time participation through live broadcast.

Microsoft is aiming to integrate Beam into its Xbox offering.

‘This acquisition will help gamers enjoy the games they want with the people they want, and on the devices they want’

Live game streaming is big business and one of the market leaders, Twitch, was believed to be the object of a bidding war between Microsoft and Google before Amazon swooped and bought Twitch for $970m in cash.

Last year, Google went live with YouTube Gaming, the video giant’s answer to Twitch.

Beaming the future of Xbox to the gaming world

“This acquisition will help gamers enjoy the games they want with the people they want, and on the devices they want,” said Chad Gibson, partner group programme manager for Xbox Live.

The acquisition of Beam also chimes in neatly with Microsoft’s multi-platform vision for the future of Xbox.

For Microsoft, aligning Beam with its Xbox console platform could be a game-changer for the streaming market, mainly because Beam does more than let viewers watch and chat – it brings them into the game.

“Using Minecraft as one example, with Beam you don’t just watch your favourite streamer play, you play along with them,” Gibson explained.

“You can give them new challenges and make real-time choices that affect their gameplay, from tool selection to quests to movement; all through simple visual controls.

“In the highly-anticipated Sea of Thieves, which is all about emergent adventures in a shared world, you can watch the drama play out between different crews from multiple player perspectives.

“One of the best parts about Beam is that interactivity is easy for streamers to enable and customise, and is designed to work with any game,” Gibson said.

Gaming image Via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years