Valve updated the Steam beta client today to integrate Steam Broadcasting
, a new video streaming system that allows people to watch live video of others playing games through Steam.
It's a clear response to the rising popularity of livestreaming gameplay via Twitch and other video streaming services, but the current beta implementation of Steam Broadcasting offers a bit more control to broadcasters over who can watch them play.
Those who opt into the beta version of the Steam client and choose to enable Steam Broadcasting must select a privacy level for their broadcasts -- anything from "Anyone can watch" to "Friends can request to watch" to even "Only friends that I invite" can watch.
If broadcasters opt for minimum privacy by selecting "Anyone can watch" they'll appear in a new section of the Steam Game Hubs dedicated to gameplay livestreams.
As it stands, the current implementation of Steam Broadcasting seems designed to entice people into buying games on Steam -- broadcasters can not currently monetize or archive their broadcasts, and the integration of live streaming gameplay into the Steam Game Hubs appears to echo Twitch CEO Emmett Shear's recent comments
that such broadcasts can serve "as a native advertising unit for games."
While Steam Broadcasting is technically a beta feature, it seems almost inevitable that the service will quickly be folded into Steam proper. To learn more about the cultural and market forces that are driving Steam, Sony and other companies to embrace the practice of recording and streaming gameplay, check out Gamasutra's guide to the YouTuber phenomenon