As we approach the dawn of a new year, Beam, the interactive game streaming platform acquired by Microsoft back in August has today said that it’s introducing a major overhaul of its platform. This update will not only make the gaming experience more intuitive and speedier but also provide more depth to their efforts against rivals YouTube Gaming and Twitch.
Also, to jog your memory, Microsoft recently announced that it’s integrating Beam’s interactive platform into Windows 10 and Xbox One to provide gamers with a native streaming experience. The said experience is expected to be introduced to Insiders in the coming months but the company has started taking steps to improve support for Windows. Talking about the same, the blog post reads,
We’re no longer the scrappy startup we were last year, and with the resources of Microsoft behind us, we’re going back to the basics and evaluating how we can make every aspect of the site more smooth, stable, and epic.
So, let’s dive in and explore Beam 2.0 which focuses on scalability has been built from the ground up. Starting off with the branding, Beam is today introducing the masses to a completely new logo and brand assets which will enable gamers to make their stream even attractive. As compared to the previous 3D overlapping logo, the new one has a minimal design and shows off three colors — white, purple and blue. With regard to the same, Matt Salsamendi, founder and CEO at Beam, says,
We’ve thought a lot about how to take the awesome Beam brand, centered around communities and next gen technology, to the next frontier, and I’m extremely excited to unveil the new Beam logo.
Moving on to the redesigned UI and components, the company has started work on making the platform less finicky and more consistent for game streamers. This includes a new homepage design (attached above) which surfaces more featured content from your favorite game streamers. The company has also included a set of controls to provide you with the ability to schedule and feature multiple broadcasters at the same time, display mature 18+ streams and a cleaner plus minimalistic approach towards community interaction.
It has also debuted brand new kinetic animations, alongside the removal of that massive page load spinner, for displaying transitions and interactions. This nifty change alone, the blog says, has led to a significant change in the platform’s performance. The initial site load time has been improved by over five times, enabled the company to introduce sitewide 60 FPS streaming and further enhance mobile support.
In addition, the website also has plans to introduce changes in the way communities interact using the chat panel next to game streams. The company acknowledges that it has some rough edges but visual enhancements to the polling UI, inline emoticon auto completion, new Mod tools and improved error handling have upped the ante. The video player has also been updated to bring better browser support, even more controls, default HTML5 support, and better VOD playback for users.
It’s important note (in the interest of transparency) that this unification of our video stack means an increased focus on FTL, and a single, reliable, fallback stream (HLS) where FTL is not available. Because of this, streams that are not using an FTL enabled streaming client will see increased delays.
Beam has now extended support for FTL, which is the company’s own super-fast streaming service, to all streamers. Previously, the service was only available on Tachyon OBS client but streaming solutions XSplit, Restream.io and OBS are upgrading their service to include FTL servers. Thus, you can benefit from the changes and stream without any momentary lag between the broadcast and command input.
The most prominent change that is, however, being introduced to the platform is that it will now support the ability to sign up and login via Xbox Live. Initially, it is being offered as an optional service but with Beam support being rolled out to Windows 10, Xbox login will become the usual norm in the coming months. The benefits of the Xbox Login service has been described in the blog post as under:
- Allows us to leverage Xbox tooling, support, and moderation to scale Beam’s community
- Enables significant security enhancements with 2FA, suspicious login detection, and more
- Brings more viewers to Beam with a universal and easy to use authentication mechanism
- Enables deeper social experiences, game integrations, and richer content discovery
The company is also rolling out a Twitter-style username system, which allows you to recognize fellow players in the system. The existing users will also have the functionality to port their Beam accounts over to Xbox Live very soon (possibly with the Creators Update). Talking about the same, Salsamendi continues to add,
By introducing Xbox Live for sign in, you’ll be able to leverage the same account you use for Xbox, Skype, and Windows to log into Beam, and if you don’t already have a Microsoft account, we’re making it super easy to get started.
With this update going live soon, the company is now focusing on the streaming experience on Microsoft Edge for Windows 10 Mobile. But, Beam might also be working on a UWP app for Xbox and other corresponding platforms of the Windows ecosystem.