Videogame streaming has become a big business. 2 years ago, Amazon purchased streaming site Twitch for just under $1 billion. This year, TBS launched online and cable broadcasts of ELEAGUE, whose first season just wrapped up. But gamers were never going to be content just watching a game from someone else's decided perspective - they want to be able to control the action themselves.
Beam is a company that developed just such a platform. It allows individual control of the viewing angle within a game, allowing you to see what you want to see. For example, if you are watching a multiplayer FPS you would be able to follow the vantage point of any of the players instead of just one. You can also switch views, seeing the gameplay from a new angle entirely.
This capability exists in some games now, and is used for professional broadcasts, like TBS, to be able to switch from a map view to individual player view to be broadcast as part of the coverage. It is also used by individual viewers watching normal games. What has been missing has been a common way for game developers to integrate this feature into their games.
Microsoft's purchase of Beam this week will give game developers exactly that. Chad Gibson, Partner Group Manager for Xbox Live, said,
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. This acquisition will help gamers enjoy the games they want, with the people they want, and on the devices they want.
That certainly suggests that the main intention of this acquisition is to give Play Anywhere developers the ability to easily add spectator mode to their games through common Xbox Live APIs. This would give a much-needed draw for 3rd party developers to fully embrace the Play Anywhere platform, as well as giving gamers a great way to interact with their favorite streamers.