The biggest digital store and the most popular game client in gaming isn’t enough for Valve. Last year, Steam announced the launch of their own operating system, controller and Steam-branded Steam Machine gaming PCs for the living room. Now, Steam is taking on Twitch with its latest project.
This week, Steam announced Steam Broadcasting, a new streaming service that will let you watch people play games in and through the Steam client.
The setup for Steam Broadcasting seems a lot simpler than Twitch because it all runs through Steam without any additional accounts or software. When you start playing, a friend can request to watch you play. This triggers your Steam Broadcast privacy settings for people being watched for the first time (which doesn’t sound even slightly creepy) that allows you to set who can watch your broadcasts from only invited friends, friends who request to watch (which is the default), all friends and anyone.
What concerns me slightly is that Steam’s FAQs say that if you allow people to watch you play (such as under the all friends or everyone settings), you start to broadcast as soon as you start playing a game on Steam. You can shut down the broadcast from the in-game Steam overlay menu but it looks like you don’t have the same option to start a broadcast. As for other integration that you’d expect from a professional or serious hobbyist Twitch streamer (such as webcams, music, subscriptions, etc.), Valve is being quiet on that front but I’d expect it to get closer to Twitch as it nears full release.
And while Steam Broadcasting appears to be a shot across the bow of Twitch, I don’t think that it will replace Twitch any time soon. After all – Twitch is a STREAMING company and Steam is a GAME MARKETPLACE company. Twitch has dozens of features that will only continue to expand like Twitch overlays for channels, competitions and even an in-house donation platform for gamers. Even Twitch hinted at as much by issuing a statement that read in part: “While Steam’s broadcasting solution and the Twitch platform are very different things with vastly different feature sets, it’s really validating to see a company like Valve embrace streaming in this way… We wish them the best of luck.”
Steam Broadcasting is currently available if you opt-in to the Steam Beta Update through the beta participation option in your Steam account settings.