Valve’s juggernaut digital PC gaming platform Steam today added a major new feature: broadcasting. Steam Broadcasting allows Steam users to watch their friends’ games with just one press of a button.
In a statement, Valve said Steam Broadcasting was designed for “ease of use.” And indeed, it is simple. All you’ll need to do is click “Watch Game” on your friend’s profile to see their gameplay.
Valve points out that there are no strings attached–you don’t have to also own the game, pay a fee, or install any additional apps. To try out Steam Broadcasting today, all you need to do is opt in to the Steam Client Beta, which you can do through the Steam Settings panel.
It’s not all good news, however, as Valve cautions that “bandwidth may be limited” during the Steam Broadcast beta, suggesting you may run into a few technical snags here and there.
Steam Broadcast will have a variety of privacy settings. When a friend requests to watch your game, you can allow or block their attempt. You can also choose from the following privacy settings regarding who is able to watch your games.
Only friends I invite can watch my games
Friends can request to watch my games (default)
Friends can watch my games
Anyone can watch my games (public broadcast, can be found in the game hub)
By default, only gameplay is visible to people watching Steam streams. However, you can choose “Broadcast my desktop when not in game” through the Broadcast options page.
Steam Broadcasts also forbid a range of content. This includes the following:
Porn, inappropriate or offensive content, warez, or leaked content or anything else not safe for work
Any discussion of piracy
Cheating, hacking, game exploits
Threats of violence or harassment, even as a joke
Posted copyright material such as magazine scans
Soliciting, begging, auctioning, raffling, selling, advertising, referrals
Racism or discrimination
Abusive language, including swearing
Steam Broadcasts are also live-only; archiving is not supported. You can read lots more about Steam Broadcasts on the Steam website.
In releasing Steam Broadcasting, Valve is entering the streaming market currently dominated by Twitch, which is owned by Amazon. Steam is indeed a force, with 100 million accounts, though it remains to be seen what effect Steam Broadcasting might have on Twitch.