Microsoft’s Xbox Group Acquires Live-Streaming Game Startup Beam, Taking on Twitch

Microsoft’s Xbox division has snapped up Beam Interactive, a startup whose live-streaming service lets users not only watch their favorite gamers but also play along with them.

With the deal, Xbox is looking to one-up Twitch, the live game broadcaster Amazon bought in 2014 for a reported $970 million. Beam’s secret sauce is that instead of viewers simply engaging in a “watch-and-chat” experience (a la Twitch) they can participate in real time directly into a streamer’s gameplay and live broadcast. YouTube Gaming also provides a live game-casting feature.

Terms of Microsoft’s deal for Beam were not disclosed. Based in Seattle, the 15-employee startup had raised seed funding from investors including Courtside Ventures, Ore Ventures and Techstars. It officially launched its service in January of this year and has garnered more than 100,000 users per month.

Microsoft is betting that Beam will drive up usage of its Xbox Live service, which saw monthly active users increase 33% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2016, to 49 million users.

“Bringing Beam, their award-winning team and their inventive technology into the Xbox family supports our ongoing commitment to make Xbox Live more social and fun,” Chad Gibson, Xbox Live’s partner group program manager, wrote in a blog announcing the deal.

The system is designed to work with any game, and “Beam remains committed to its mission of empowering users and streamers across platforms,” according to Gibson.

Beam CEO Matt Salsamendi, who co-founded “Minecraft” hosting service provider MCProHosting, will continue to oversee the Beam team in Redmond, Wash., as part of the Xbox’s Engineering group.

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