Steam Broadcasting Offers Twitch-Style Streaming

Lately, gamers enjoy watching other people play games almost as much as they enjoy playing themselves. Steam is keenly aware of this, and is no longer content with letting services like Twitch hog all the delicious market share. Steam Broadcasting lets PC gamers stream their Steam games right to an audience without the need for an intermediary service.

Although Steam Broadcasting is currently in beta, everyone has access to it. Valve outlined what Steam Broadcasting is and how it works on its website. To get it, all you have to do is open Steam and make sure it's updated to the latest version.

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I tried out Steam Broadcasting, and while it's not terribly difficult to use, it's a little obtuse. Rather than choosing to broadcast a game and see who shows up, at least one person on your friends list has to request to watch you. From there, you can select whether to let anyone watch, let just friends watch, let friends watch only with your approval or keep your play session entirely to yourself.

If you're looking for a popular streamer or a particular game, you can see who's broadcasting publicly via the Community menu under Broadcast. There, you can search for games or users, or just see what other people are watching at the moment.

The actual game-streaming works fine, although on our office network, the action for the viewers was a good few seconds behind what I was actually experiencing. This lag could make Steam Broadcasting problematic if a streamer decides to commentate his or her own sessions via voice or typed chat, although it could just be a quirk of our connection; I did not notice any issues when watching other broadcasts.

Since the feature is in beta, it's probably worth testing out for yourself and letting Valve know what you think. At present, it's not quite ready to replace Twitch, but being able to stream Steam games without another program in the middle sounds like a useful proposition.

Marshall Honorof is a Staff Writer for Tom's Guide. Contact him at mhonorof@tomsguide.com. Follow him @marshallhonorof. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.

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