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Microsoft acquires game-streaming company run by a teenager

Beam can be used to let viewers assign missions, summon adversaries, or select virtual gear in games

Published: Updated:

Microsoft is bolstering its Xbox arsenal with the purchase of a startup specializing in letting people join in the fun while watching live-streamed game play.

"With Beam, you don't just watch your favorite streamer play, you play along with them," Xbox Live partner group program manager Chad Gibson said in a blog post.

"This acquisition will help gamers enjoy the games they want, with the people they want, and on the devices they want." Gibson said.

For example, Beam can be used to let viewers assign missions, summon adversaries, or select virtual gear in games being streamed online by broadcasters.

Post-acquisition, Beam will become part of Microsoft's Xbox team. The terms of acquisition were however not disclosed.

"As part of Xbox, we'll be able to scale faster than we've ever been able to before," said Beam co-founder and chief executive Matt Salsamendi in a blogpost.

"We're continuing our focus on providing streamers with the tools they need to create the most interactive broadcasts around."

Among the big trends on display at the premier Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles in June was the rise of the celebrity player. Appetite on sites like Twitch and YouTube Gaming for play video, commentary, trailers, and more seems insatiable, industry insiders say.

"There are hundreds of millions of users watching gaming content every month," YouTube global head of gaming content Ryan Wyatt told AFP at E3.

YouTube Gaming, a version of the Alphabet-owned video-sharing service tailored as a one-stop shop for game lovers, launched a desktop website and mobile app in August 2015. Now, billions of hours of gaming content are watched monthly at the service -- and that number is rising, Wyatt said.

Amazon-owned Twitch.tv lets anyone broadcast game related content and allows them to connect with publishers or advertisers.

In 2014, US online retail giant Amazon snatched up Twitch and its huge audience for $970 million in cash, one of the company's largest purchase in its history. There is a direct correlation between people watching video games and buying them, according to Twitch and YouTube.