Livestream ‘Em Up: Steam Broadcasting Out Of Beta

Stream-o!

The sky, rivers, my eyes, this pustule on my hip go on take a good look get right up close is it meant to be this colour and smell like that it seems wrong – everything is streaming lately. Steam’s at it too, as Steam Broadcasting left public testing last night and came to the main client.

It builds in support for livestreaming of games and whatever else you fancy, really, but doesn’t feel like a direct competitor to Twitch. It seems more personal, more intimate, and over the beta I’ve mostly used it with friends wanting to show me something. “Isn’t this puzzle garbage?” they ask. “See how poorly I sneak!” they blush. It seems a nice and easy setup for that, at the very least.

Along with plain old turned-off-and-won’t-intrude-on-anything, Broadcasting has three privacy settings: “friends can request to watch my games”; “friends can watch my my games”, and “anyone can watch my games”. Set it to the first, and if you’re playing something your pals can send a request to view a private stream. The second will let them drop in unannounced. The third will plaster your stream all over Steam Community pages. Go on, click that and you can watch video games live right now. Or have a poke around your Friends list and see who’s up to what.

I like the idea of those two more intimate options. Sometimes one does want to show something to specific people without e.g. Twitch strangers popping in to ask why you’re playing Binding of Isaac to French radio. Steam Broadcasting is simple, convenient, and pretty decent quality too.

Fire up Steam and it’ll try to download the latest update, if it hasn’t already. This update also makes mainstream a new in-game FPS counter on the Steam overlay, which I’m sure I’ll be grateful for at some point as I frown and mutter “What the HECK are you doing computer?”

17 Comments

  1. padger says:

    You should see a doctor about that.

  2. Wowbagger says:

    They missed a trick in not calling it Steaming.

  3. BooleanBob says:

    How have you found the stream quality, Alice? Blurry, artifacted, prone to bouts of buffering etc? Upload speeds in the UK tend to be pretty heavily strangled by the ISPs. I wonder if that mightn’t put a dampener on any social streaming revolution, over here at least.

  4. Cinek says:

    Well, that was quick. Quite the opposite of google who never can get the things out of beta status.

  5. WereCatf says:

    I have toyed around with the St(r)eaming ever since it landed on beta and I find it a really, really easy way of getting into streaming and I do totally love that it offers more privacy than Twitch or others. Here in Finland it works great, too, with no lag or anything whatsoever between me and those I tried it with. On the other hand, my buddy in ‘Stralia gets lagging and sputtering, so it’s still not without issues.

    As for quality and settings.. well, I would like for Steam to offer some configuration settings other than resolution and bitrate. Steam seems to automatically use NVENC provided by my GPU for H/W-encoding, but NVIDIA’s hardware-encoder produces totally shit quality and there’s just enormous amounts of blocky artifacting around whenever there’s any sort of movement in the scene. I do have the CPU to do the encoding in software, so it’d be nice if it offered me an option for that. That said, I do assume that Valve will be working on improving the feature sooner or later, so we’ll see.

    EDIT: Oh, I forgot to add that it seems that if you watch the streams inside Steam-client itself all the decoding is done in software and obviously eats up some CPU-time. If you instead visit the page with e.g. IE11 or Chrome you’ll get smoother video thanks to H/W-assisted decoding. Seems like something Valve should fix.

  6. MuscleHorse says:

    No one could connect to me last night – I’m assuming that the stream still needs to go through Valve’s own servers, so the service was being hammered by the demand for the new feature. That’s what I hope anyway.

    • WereCatf says:

      Aye, it goes through their network, which is a good thing in general: most people simply do not have the bandwidth to be able to support multiple people watching their streams whereas Steam does. And yeah, I would also assume it’s just demand for the new feature and it’ll probably subside in a week or so as people try it out.

  7. airmikee says:

    I was browsing around some of the public broadcasts and found it quite entertaining, even quite useful in learning. I don’t have Flash or Java installed so watching videos can sometimes be a pain if they’re not in html5. I’m not sure what Steam does to stream the video, but it’s almost like being in the game, not much of a delay or any lag.

    After watching an obvious veteran of Fallout:New Vegas for 15 minutes I learned so much about how to use the UI, little quirks that Skyrim made much more obvious. I guess F:NV is so engrossing and rich to me that I forget it preceded Skyrim.

  8. Jalan says:

    Still restricted to specific OS and browsers. Much like incorporating format support beyond the obvious in Steam Music, when they get around to extending it could be Valve Time multiplied by dozens.

    • Asurmen says:

      Doesn’t seem too restricted to me.

      • Jalan says:

        I don’t think I attached a gauge for metering to my post, so for the sake of argument if anything is locked out then it is, unfortunately, restricted.

  9. SuicideKing says:

    Well, I guess you need decent upload speed to make it work, all my friends and I have been able to do on 70 KB/s upload speed is a slide show.

    • airmikee says:

      Are your friends on dial-up? 70 KB/s barely even qualifies as internet, imo. That’s kinda like saying the car you’re in is only capable of driving 5MPH on the freeway.

    • JustAchaP says:

      My upload is 80 KB/s and it worked surprisingly well o.o

  10. Premium User Badge

    edna says:

    Only tried once, in Arma 3. My friend was about 20 seconds behind me and was getting some sort of echo when we were talking (with microphones, not typing) via Steam chat. We are both on fast (75/15 Mbps up/down) connections.So not hugely successful for what I want it for – to play games together.