Valve has announced that their digital gaming platform, Steam, can now allow players to broadcast their gameplay from within the client itself. Players can choose to broadcast to friends or to the public; providing for a broad appeal to regular streamers, or for more private games.
The broadcasting feature is only in a beta phase for now and players who wish to broadcast or watch games must have the Steam client beta. Broadcasting happens automatically and viewers need only to select the watch game option in their friends list. Steam also allows players to customise their privacy options with the defaults brought up the first time a game is watched.
There is a catch to the new streaming feature however, players are only able to stream their gameplay only if they are not banned from the community and have made a purchase from the Steam store. One thing to also keep in mind is that as Steam’s streaming feature is in an open beta, some players may run into an error message that says “broadcast unavailable”, this is due to insufficient bandwidth from the nearest steam server that the streamer is connected to.
As for spectating platforms, Steam currently supports spectating from within the game client, Google Chrome and Apple Safari. Unfortunately, only computers that are running either Windows 7 or Windows 8 can broadcast their gameplay. Steam has however, said that they will be rolling out broadcasting support for other operating systems such as Linux, OSX and Windows Vista in the future.
Steam’s own streaming service means that other video game streaming platforms such as Twitch.tv and YouTube have a new competitor. Although that does not appear to trouble Twitch, as VP of Marketing Matthew DiPietro stated that Valve’s involvement in streaming validates what Twitch is trying to accomplish.