Microsoft jumps into the interactive streaming arena with purchase of Beam

Microsoft has purchased streaming startup Beam, which helps make it easier for viewers to interact with their favorite streamers. Whether through something akin to Twitch Plays Pokémon — or having fans control a drone in the real-world office of the streamer — Microsoft wants to build a new interactive streaming experience around its latest buy.

Streaming games today is huge business. That’s why both main current-gen consoles launched with that functionality built in and Amazon purchased Twitch for close to $1 billion. While it might seem like Microsoft is coming to this game a little late, its purchase of Beam signals that it’s hoping to get in on the ground floor of a new and burgeoning entertainment medium: interactive viewing.

There have been attempts at choose-your-own-adventure-style movies and shows in the past, but the dedicated plots have been hard to handle. When it comes to streaming games, however, it’s more about the immediate experience, which is why letting a viewer decide what gun the streamer will use, or perhaps even remotely control their next opponent, could make for an exciting viewing opportunity.

Indeed, we know it is, because some of the most popular streams on sites such as Twitch in recent years have been those like Twitch Plays Pokémon or Twitch Plays Dark Souls, where thousands of people collaborated to play a game together. That was quite a jury-rigged system, but Beam is much more streamlined than that.

It does require developers be on board with it, but according to the official site, it’s incredibly simple to implement remote interaction within a stream. From there, it’s up to the host of the channel to decide how to use it. They’ll also be able to dole out rewards to the community. Viewers will earn experience and bonuses as they watch and contribute, adding an addictive leveling mechanic to the mix.

One of the big advantages, we’re told, is that Beam has incredibly low latency. Inputting a command as a viewer and seeing it play out on the stream can take less than a second. It’s also built entirely in HTML5, so it’s compliant with new standards. It also doesn’t use the antiquated Flash player, something Twitch has been ditching over the past year.

Microsoft can immediately bring Beam functionality to millions of gamers all over the world as part of Xbox Live. It doesn’t need to launch a new site or service and encourage people to use it — it will simply be able to put Beam in front of its user base and let them run with it.

“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,” said Microsoft in a statement. “This acquisition will help gamers enjoy the games they want, with the people they want, and on the devices they want.”

No word yet on how much Microsoft paid for Beam.


‘The Walking Dead: The Final Season’ returns with Episode 3 next month

Skybound Games revealed the release date for Episode 3: Broken Toys of Telltale Games' The Walking Dead: The Final Season. Clementine's story will be getting the ending that it deserves after all.

It's dangerous to go alone! Have fun with friends in our favorite co-op games

Video games don't always have to be so brutal, dog-eat-dog experiences! Here are some of our all-time favorite co-op games across a range of platforms, genres, and difficulties.

Take-Two Interactive takes down another ‘GTA Online’ modder, seeks $150K

Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar Games have filed a lawsuit against the GTA Online modder behind the software named Elusive. The publisher is continuing its crackdown against GTA Online mods.

‘Fortnite’ streamer reportedly arrested after abusing wife while on Twitch

An Australian Fortnite streamer who goes by the name MrDeathMoth abused his pregnant wife while he was live on Twitch. An anonymous cybersecurity expert took matters into his own hands, resulting in the arrest of the streamer.

Miss Black Friday but still need an Xbox? Walmart has you covered

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have both come and gone, but you can still save some cash on a new Xbox One bundle at Walmart. Both the Xbox One S and the Xbox One X are on sale now.

Relive Nintendo’s handheld golden age with the 25 best Game Boy Advance games

The Game Boy Advance was the swan song of the Game Boy era. It also happened to have a boatload of amazing games. We decided to countdown our 25 favorite GBA games. Check it out and let us know your favorites in the comments below!

The Epic Games store is already luring indie studios away from Steam

The Epic Games Store is less than a week old, but it's already making waves among indie studios. Multiple studios have announced that their games will be timed exclusives on the Epic Games Store, with one studio forgoing Steam completely.

The most common Nintendo 3DS problems, and how to fix them

The Nintendo 3DS has seen its fair share of issues since it launched in 2011, including poor battery life and fragile Circle Pads. Here are some of the most common, as well as the steps you can take to solve them.

Bundle up for the huge ‘Monster Hunter: World’ expansion coming in 2019

Monster Hunter: World is getting a major expansion in fall 2019 called Iceborne. The expansion will be similar in scope as the Ultimate versions of previous Monster Hunter games, featuring new quests, monsters, weapons, and armor.

How to keep a PS4 in your pocket with the PlayStation Mobile app

Sony built the PlayStation 4 with smartphone and mobile integration in mind. Take a look at our guide for connecting your smartphone or tablet to a PS4, so you can browse profiles, trophies, and other content directly on your mobile device.

Play ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ the best way with a Switch GameCube controller

If you're a longtime Super Smash Bros. player, then you know there's only one true way to play. Alongside the recent launch of the new 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate,' Nintendo has brought back the iconic GameCube controller.

Apple Mac users should take a bite out of these awesome games

Contrary to popular belief, there exists a bevy of popular A-list games compatible for Mac computers. Take a look at our picks for the best Mac games available for Apple fans.

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now, from Super Mario Odyssey to Fortnite.

Check out the best Green Monday deals for those last-minute gifts

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone, but that doesn't mean you've missed your chance of finding a great deal. We're talking about Green Monday, of course, and it falls on December 10.