One of Beam's signature features is its ridiculously low latency between the streamer and viewer, powering a more engaging experience as the participating audience and stream host can effectively have a real-time conversation.
The results tend to vary by region and server load, of course. But during off-peak times, this is the kind of insane experience I'm getting on a very clunky home Wi-Fi network.
Beam stream via the internet (left), Xbox locally (right). Pardon the mess.
I was testing Beam streaming on the Xbox Insider Alpha ring this morning and was stunned with the results. Beam uses regional servers and some homegrown encoding wizardry to produce its video streams, which obliterate Twitch for speed. A couple of Twitter users pointed out that I must have amazing internet, but the experience above was powered by a fairly modest 40MB down, 6MB up internet connection.
As global internet speeds increase, it seems logical that Beam could be the vehicle that Microsoft will use to provide personal gameplay streaming over the internet.
Many companies have tried (and arguably failed) to provide a Netflix-like cloud-based game streaming service, where your games run remotely, uploading your inputs to the internet and giving you feedback via a video stream. While it might work well enough for turn-based games, the latency kills any games that run in real time.
Beam already has developer features that allow users to send inputs to games via buttons on its website, and the logical progression is that it will expand to full game controls in the future.
Consider too that Microsoft is investing in high-speed trans-continental undersea cables, and the company famously demonstrated Halo running on a mobile device via the Cloud. This sort of functionality really fits with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's cloud-first strategy, and Xbox's wider "Play Anywhere" ethos. Hey, they also just launched a Netflix-like, subscription-based service for games.
It could take years for global internet speeds to meet the standards required, but it's only a matter of time before we see this sort of feature arrive on Beam for Xbox One and Windows 10.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!