Microsoft Takes Twitch Head-On With Integrated Beam Streaming Service

Twitch has traditionally been the platform of choice when it comes to streaming video game content. Whether it’s a console or a PC, an eSports match or a round of Dungeons & Dragons in Tabletop Simulator, Twitch is practically synonymous with streaming. But today, Microsoft has revealed their own streaming service to compete with Twitch. During the October Microsoft Windows 10 event, the tech giant announced brand new Windows 10 streaming integration services with Beam.

Beam will be included within the upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update, which was showcased at the livestream event today. Beam appears similar to Twitch at first, but hosts a variety of features that differentiate the streaming service from Twitch. For one, Beam will be integrated into Windows 10 once the update hits. Which means any time a player is in-game, they can simply start streaming. This essentially cuts out the setup system necessary to use Twitch, which can be difficult or stressful for less computer-savy users. Chat is also in real-time, too. Whereas Twitch uses a lag system where a user’s stream is delayed by several seconds, Beam allows streamers to communicate right away with their viewers from the start.

There’s also interactive options, too. In the live event, the streamer setup a suggestion system. Viewers could choose between a variety of suggestions for the streamer’s in-game actions. When pressed, suggestions are shouted out loud during the stream. These actions appear to be timed, so they cannot be spammed. They’re also limited in nature beyond a time barrier. So while there’s definitely a focus on real-time interaction, Beam is well-designed with streaming’s limitations in mind.

Beam was acquired by Microsoft earlier this year. The service appealed to Microsoft thanks to its focus on viewer interactivity. Xbox Live Partner Group Program Manager Chad Gibson praised the service for evolving “game streaming from a passive, watch-and-chat experience into one with real-time participation by the viewer; directly into a streamer’s game play and live broadcast.” Which seems to be Microsoft’s goal with Beam for the near-future as a Twitch competitor.

But how well will Beam perform as an integrated platform? It’s hard to say. Ease-of-use streaming services traditionally suffer because they cut out customizable streaming settings for easy access. Which means hardcore streamers tend to prefer programs such as OBS or XSplit over automatic systems. Still, Beam’s interactive abilities challenges Twitch, so viewers are sure to see some interesting competition over the next couple months.