Video game company Valve opened up a beta feature today that will let users on its Steam gaming platform broadcast and watch live game play.
The streaming feature puts Steam in direct competition with Twitch, the video game streaming startup Amazon acquired for $970 million in August. That said, Twitch, which began as an offshoot of the now-shuttered Justin.TV, has a major head start. Even before its acquisition, the three-year-old company was steadily gaining momentum with integration in the new Xbox and Playstation consoles, and the build-out of new infrastructure to support its swelling worldwide audience of people who like to watch other people play video games.
“The question is not will we grow, but how fast and how steep that growth curve will be,” Matthew DiPeitro, Twitch’s vice president of marketing and communications, told me last year when the company raised $20 million.
Twitch, which now counts more than 60 million members, has been the de facto streaming partner for all the major gaming conferences and esporting tournaments. The recent League of Legends championship, which was broadcast on Twitch and other streaming services, drew more than 32 million people, making it the most-viewed esporting event ever. Prizes are also growing: $11 million was up for grabs at the Dota 2 tournament this past summer.
So far, it doesn’t appear Twitch is worried about the new competition.
“While Steam’s broadcasting solution and the Twitch platform are very different things with vastly different feature sets, it’s really validating to see a company like Valve embrace streaming in this way,” DiPietro said in a statement today. “Live video is the future of social connectivity for gamers and this is another proof point. We wish them the best of luck.”