There’s a new entrant in the already-competitive online game-streaming space. Game developer, publisher and retailer Valve just announced the beta version of Steam Broadcasting, a tool for watching your friends play from within the company’s popular game store and community hub.
Steam has long offered the ability to see when your friends are playing a game on their PC. With today’s release, you’ll be able to click on those status updates and go straight to watching a live stream of your friends as they hunt orcs in Shadow of Mordor or ruin a stranger’s day in DayZ.
If you don’t want everyone watching you play, there are privacy settings ranging from letting all friends watch at all times to only allowing friends you request (say, if you need pointers for beating a level). In addition, there’s a new tab in the Community hub for watching people play popular games. The feature’s still very new, but there are already hundreds of active streams.
While Amazon-purchasee Twitch and YouTube are the dominant players in the game streaming space, Valve’s prospects in the market are bolstered by the fact that it is the de facto games marketplace on the PC. Steam Broadcasting is simply a new option within the Steam experience, with no new accounts to sign up for or third-party apps to download.
Back in August I wrote about the ways that Amazon’s retail strengths mesh well with Twitch’s function and audience. Many of those points apply to Valve and Steam as well — though unlike Amazon, Valve’s games are actual killer apps for hardcore gamers.