Microsoft buys interactive game streaming startup Beam

Microsoft buys live video platform Beam, which provides streamers with the tools they need to create interactive broadcasts

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 August, 2016, 5:33pm
UPDATED : Friday, 19 August, 2016, 5:33pm

Microsoft is bolstering its Xbox arsenal with its recent purchase of a startup that lets people join in the fun while watching live-streaming gameplay.

Microsoft did not disclose the financial terms of the deal to buy Seattle-based Beam, which puts an interactive spin on the hot trend of video games being spectator sports.

“With Beam, you don’t just watch your favourite streamer play, you play along with them,” Xbox Live‘s Chad Gibson wrote in a blog post.

As video games become spectator events, it’s changing how they’re marketed and designed

For example, Beam can be used to let viewers assign missions, summon adversaries, or select virtual gear in games being streamed online by broadcasters.

Beam, which launched in January of this year, will become part of the team at Microsoft devoted to the technology titan’s Xbox consoles.

“As part of Xbox, we’ll be able to scale faster than we’ve ever been able to before,” Beam co-founder and chief executive Matt Salsamendi said in an online post.

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“We’re continuing our focus on providing streamers with the tools they need to create the most interactive broadcasts around.”

Among the big trends on display at the premier Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles in June was the rise of the celebrity player.

Appetite on sites such as Twitch and YouTube Gaming for play video, commentary, trailers and more seems insatiable, industry insiders say.

“There are hundreds of millions of users watching gaming content every month,” YouTube global head of gaming content Ryan Wyatt said at E3.

YouTube Gaming, a section of the Alphabet-owned video-sharing service tailored as a one-stop shop for game lovers, launched with a website and mobile app in August 2015.

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Now, billions of hours of gaming content are watched monthly at the service – and that number is rising, Wyatt says.

Amazon-owned Twitch.tv lets anyone broadcast game-related content and allows them to connect with publishers or advertisers.

US online retail giant Amazon snatched up Twitch and its huge audience in 2014. The purchase was one of the largest in Amazon’s history – US$970 million in cash for the three-year-old internet company.

There is a direct correlation between people watching video games and buying them, according to Twitch and YouTube.