In the world of video game streaming, Amazon-owned Twitch is still the 800lb gorilla. But that world is wide open for disruption by those with the right technology. Google launched YouTube Gaming last year, and Microsoft’s Beam has just been given a substantial upgrade.
YouTube Gaming’s major strengths over Twitch are its strong support for archiving—many Twitch streamers already depend on YouTube for saving historic videos—and its much better playback experience. With YouTube, you can pause and rewind live streams for up to four hours. This enables convenient as-live viewing of tournaments, even accounting for bathroom breaks or weird timezones. Beam’s angle is its interactivity: the stream has a latency of around 200 milliseconds on average, enabling streamers to interact with viewers in a way that’s awkward at best on Twitch, with its multi-second delays. To enhance this interactivity, Beam has various gamification options that allow viewers to interact, not just with the streamer, but with the game they’re playing (spawning enemies, making volcanoes erupt, or whatever else a game developer might choose to integrate).