Following in the footsteps of Sony's acquisition of game-streaming service Gaikai in 2012, Microsoft has acquired Beam. But unlike Gaikai, Beam's service has an emphasis on bringing interactivity to watching live-gaming streams.
Whereas services such as Twitch allow users to watch passively as game streamers play, Beam's service allows viewers to interact with the streamer's game directly.
For example, a streamer may be able to crowdsource what weapon loadout they take into battle.
However, given the slightly anarchic nature of Twitch's comment section, we wouldn't be surprised if most streaming audiences end up making life as difficult as possible for the streamer themselves.
A different beast from Gaikai
The service is very different from Sony's offering, which gives users the option of either passively viewing, or directly controlling the action. However, users cannot crowdsource choices through the service like they can with Beam.
Beam launched on January 5 this year, and according to a blog post written by Beam's founder, no immediate changes are planned, although we'd be very surprised if the functionality doesn't
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