Valve has recently announced Steam Broadcasting, a new feature of their popular PC gaming platform that will allow anyone to watch other players “with a click of a button.” In its current state, the service is not quite as robust as its main obvious competitor, Twitch, but it’s an interesting step that could make some real noise in the world of live video game streaming.
On the surface, how Steam Broadcast actually works is extremely simple. If you see a friend playing a game, and they list themselves as being available to broadcast, you can just click on one option under their name and you are good to go. You are then free to watch them play Skyrim without the hassle of them setting up some external broadcasting software and connecting it to Twitch as the whole system is contained within Steam.
Depending on a player’s chosen security restrictions, anyone in the world – not just friends – could be free to watch. By default, only friends who request to watch you play can do so, but there are also options to restrict it to only friends you explicitly invite – or you can expand the audience to any friends, or the public. Should you choose public, your broadcast will be listed in the game’s community hub.
For anyone wishing to watch, they can do so within Steam itself or on Google Chrome or Apple’s Safari browser. Curiously enough, Internet Explorer and Firefox are absent from the list of supported browsers, with no hint that they will be made available anytime soon.
Valve seems to be pretty open to letting anyone try the beta as they get the kinks worked out. Literally anyone is able to sign up as long as you have made a previous purchase on Steam and you are not banned from the Steam community. That’s it.
The only real restrictions come in the form of what you can’t show on your broadcast. As detailed in the Steam Broadcasting FAQ, they basically boil down to “don’t be a knucklehead.”
You agree that you will be personally responsible for the use of your Account and for all of the communication and activity on Steam that results from use of your Account. Your online conduct and interaction with other Subscribers should be guided by common sense and basic etiquette. Broadcasts and chats should not include:
- Porn, inappropriate or offensive content, warez or leaked content or anything else not safe for work
- Discussions of piracy, cheating, hacking, game exploits
- Threats of violence or harassment, even as a joke
- Copyrighted material
- Soliciting, begging, auctioning, raffling, selling, advertising, referrals
- Racism or discrimination and abusive language
While they obviously are coming out way behind the already established Twitch, Valve is in a good position to really put some pressure on the streaming giant. As previously mentioned, there is no longer the need to set up a cumbersome third-party streaming software such as FFSplit, XSplit, OBS, or one of the many others required to stream your game on Twitch. Instead, you can passively play your game and as soon as someone is interested in watching, you are up and running. Valve also has the built-in advantage of their game community hubs, which in the past have been used as methods to share screenshots and game tips, but will also now include live public broadcasts.
In the end, it will all come down to how well the streaming actually works. It will not matter one bit how easy it is to jump into a friend’s game to watch them play if the quality is constantly poor or suffering from a lot of disconnects.
If you wish to try your hand at Steam Broadcasting, you can do so by opting into the Steam Client Beta. To do so, click settings in the main Steam client window, then accounts, and then change your “Beta Participation” to “Steam Beta Update.”Source: Steam