Watching people play games has become immensely popular on streaming sites like YouTube and Twitch. It’s evidenced by the fact that the most subscribed YouTuber of all time is PewDiePie and he plays games on his channel. Microsoft apparently wanted to cash in on this so it acquired Beam, an interactive game live streaming service based in Seattle.
Beam allows users to interact with gamers that are live streaming their progress. It allows users to select different things within the game like what gun to take to a shootout or which quest to choose or even assign challenges. This is very similar to when you’re playing a game that has multiple story lines with in itself. Think Spiderman: Web Of Shadows. However, this time, you get to pick what the player does and sit back and watch the game unfold. Beam launched at TechCrunch disrupt in New York City and won their Startup Battlefield competition.
Microsoft is acquiring them for their long fight with Sony and the PlayStation. This is because both Sony and Microsoft are introducing virtual reality gaming consoles in the coming months and years respectively. Sony has its PlayStation VR that is launching on the 13th of October and it’s also launching the PlayStation 4 Neo in September according to reports. Answering in kind, Microsoft is working on Project Scorpio, their own VR baby. But of course to succeed over the other, one will have to bring something to the table that is special.
Now in terms of overall sales, the only statistic that matters, PlayStation 4 is leading by a significant margin. But Xbox can catch up with something like Beam. If integrated rightly in to the gaming console, could this could mean that players could develop their own walkthroughs of games and post them online via the Xbox and Beam? It could also mean the creation of a large community in the Xbox world where players participate in each others campaigns. This should make Sony nervous if nothing else will.
“We at Xbox are excited about this convergence between playing and watching, and want to provide gamers with the freedom and choice to have great multiplayer experiences across all of Beam’s platforms,”
-Chad Gibson, Partner Group Program Manager for Xbox
However, this doesn’t mean that Beam will become exclusive to Windows or Xbox. Matt Salsamendi, the CEO of Beam reported that the service will still be available across all platforms. Beam currently has over 100,000 users and counting.
Amazon had previously acquired Twitch for a hefty sum of $970 million and it paid off because the service generates 100 million unique viewers each month.
Gamers have become desensitized to the level of immersion that games have offered throughout the years. There’s only so much detail you can put in a game to make it life like. Sometimes you need a whole new environment, a whole new perspective. Efforts like VR gaming and Augmented Reality gaming are catching on and so is the concept of beam. A whole new level of immersion is coming.