Steam customers can now broadcast their VR games using Stream Broadcasting, Valve Software announced on Wednesday. To enable this feature, users merely load up the Dashboard, invite a friend, and begin playing their game. To accept the invitation, friends only need to hit a button after the notification arrives.
Valve introduced Steam Broadcasting back in December 2014. The service is still in beta form, and allows Steam gamers to stream what their listed friends are playing by hitting the Watch Game button. For instance, say you noticed that a friend on your list is playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Right-click on his/her alias and you’ll see an option to watch the game on the list. A “Watch Game” button is also provided on the profile page … if you’re allowed to watch, that is.
What’s great about Steam Broadcasting is that users can decide who can and cannot watch a live stream. The first time a friend asks to watch a game, users are presented with the privacy settings list spanning friends that only the user invites, friends that request to watch the game, any friend on the user’s list, and any Steam user. For the latter option, the publicly exposed stream will be presented on that specific game’s hub.
To start broadcasting, the user’s friend merely needs to click the Watch Game button — no manual startup is necessary save for launching the actual game. When the broadcaster is done playing and exits the game, the stream automatically stops. If broadcasters need to pause and move to a different program for a moment, and Steam can’t continue to render the game, a placeholder image is displayed until the game resumes.
“You can optionally enable recording video of applications outside of your game through the Steam Client settings menu,” Valve stated in an FAQ. “Please remember that your broadcast viewers will be able to see any open windows when enabled.”
By default, Steam Broadcasting transmits only the audio provided by the game. However, broadcasters can add additional commentary by plugging a microphone into their PC. This option can be enabled through the Steam Client’s Settings panel. Unfortunately, Steam Broadcasting on a whole is only supported on Windows 7 and Windows 8, and won’t arrive on Linux, Windows Vista, and OS X until sometime in the future.
To watch a broadcast on Steam, users will need the Steam beta client, Google Chrome version 39 or newer, Apple Safari version 8 or newer on OS X, Internet Explorer version 11 on Windows 8 only, or Mozilla Firefox version 42 or newer. Users do not need to purchase and install a specific game to watch its live broadcast.
As for specific rules when broadcasting, users are not allowed to show porn, broadcast movies, or TV shows, and cannot threaten or harass others, even when joking. Discussions regarding piracy, cheating, hacking, and game exploits are not allowed, and racism and discrimination is also not permitted. These are just a few restrictions that can get users banned from Steam for life.
Adding Steam Broadcast support for VR games doesn’t come as a surprise. There are a huge number of VR games in the Steam storefront for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift including Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, Zombie Training Simulator, Vanishing Realms, Apollo 11 VR, Catlateral Damage, Subnautica, Fantastic Contraption, and more.
Finally, users are encouraged to leave feedback regarding the new VR game streaming in Steam by posting their comments on the SteamVR forum here.