Microsoft Acquires Interactive Gaming Livestreaming Company

Xbox-maker now owns Beam, but it's not immediately clear what its plans are.

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Microsoft has acquired video game livestreaming company Beam, the company announced today. Beam describes itself as an "interactive livestreaming service" that allows people to watch and play along with livestreams as they're happening.

One example that Microsoft provided was that a user could watch a Minecraft livestream and give the streamer challenges and other objectives through "simple video controls." In the case of upcoming multiplayer game Sea of Thieves, players could use Beam to watch the action play out from different teams from multiple perspectives.

In its statement, Microsoft lauded Beam for how it "evolved game streaming from a passive, watch-and-chat experience into one with real-time participation by allowing the viewer to directly influence a streamer's gameplay and live broadcast."

Xbox Live manager Chad Gibson added that it's Microsoft's hope that it can provide users with "the freedom and choice to have great multiplayer experiences across all of Beam's platforms," which to date include PC and mobile.

The Beam service launched on January 5 of this year, following a beta period that saw "millions of hours" of streams, according to Beam co-founder and CEO Matt Salsamendi. In his own statement, he said the Beam has over 100,000 users.

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By joining Microsoft, Beam will be able to "scale faster than [it's] ever been able to before," Salsamendi said. "We're expanding the team, bolstering our infrastructure, and most importantly, continuing to grow and support the amazing community at Beam."

For existing Beam users, nothing will change right now, Salsamendi said. In the future, users can expect "awesome new features" and "epic new interactive game integrations," he teased.

Beam's service is not entirely new for the industry, but Salsamendi says the service's low latency is what sets it apart. "You're talking around 200 milliseconds between when the streamer does something in their game and when their viewers see it."

Salsamendi will continue to lead the Beam team, which is being folded into the Xbox Engineering unit. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Microsoft was light on specifics regarding its plans for Beam going forward, but the company said, "We look forward to sharing more about Beam and our vision for interactive game streaming in the future."

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