The gaming community is one of the most vibrant and powerful groups on the Internet. The power of platforms like Twitch to unite gamers interested in watching streams of other people playing video games seems intensely foreign to those outside the community, but has quickly become a pretty dynamic arena for gamers to chitchat online.
Beam Interactive, launching a public beta today out of TechCrunch’s Disrupt NY Startup Battlefield, is aiming to turn game streaming into a more exciting experience for both viewers and those broadcasting their gameplay. Beam hopes that their emphasis on social interactivity can make them the go-to spot for gamers looking to get social on the interwebs.
The service allows gamers to contribute directly to onscreen gameplay through crowdsourced controls. Broadcasters can have viewers pick the weapon they use before heading into battle. The service also supports fully group-autonomous gameplay, where the viewers are the only ones controlling a character. This seemed a bit dizzying for adventure games, but certain genres certainly work better.
“Massive communities are formed around games, and live streams provide a central place for those communities to hang out and experience the game from another perspective,” said Beam CEO Matt Salsamendi onstage.
A key to keeping the action entertaining is not bringing everyone’s experience to a crawl. While platforms like Twitch can have a 15 to 20-second delay, Beam’s delay stands at around two-tenths of a second, according to Salsamendi.
The service launched a beta just 90 days ago and is already gathering major traffic. Last month more than 100,000 users logged on to the site to check out streams. What’s perhaps crazier (and scarier) is that these users are on the site for an average of 3 hours each session.
That is truly frightening, but also clearly shows the demand for a product like this in the gaming community. Gamers are desperate for some sort of second-hand social network, and have shown their willingness to flock to platforms like Twitch and YouTube Gaming that appear very different from traditional social networks but meet the needs of gamers.