Microsoft’s (MSFT) Latest Acquisition is Like YouTube on Steroids

Microsoft (MSFT) enters the interactive live streaming segment with a startup that offers participatory play in games.

Microsoft Xbox

Xbox fans, rejoice! Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has acquired Beam, a startup interactive game streaming service based in Seattle. Unlike YouTube or Twitch, the service lets viewers interact with streamers as they watch using crowd sourced controls. This means no more passive interaction with videos!

According to the Redmond, Washington-based technology giant, Beam will make it infinitely easier for gamers to play a game. Using visual controls, the players can direct the game such as choosing which weapon to load out for battle for multiplayer shooters or pick a quest, assign challenges, and so on. With these features, players are given the power to alter the gameplay.

The startup, which launched at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016, won the website’s Startup Battlefield competition. Apart from winning TechCrunch Disrupt, Beam successfully raised about $420,000 in seed funding.

During the announcement, Microsoft noted that Beam will join the Xbox team and “remains committed to its mission of importing users and streamers across platforms.”

At the moment, the terms of the deal were not disclosed by either company. Just recently, Beam announced the launching of its interactive tools at Disrupt. Salsamendi will reportedly lead the Beam team from Microsoft’s Redmond campus where the startup is set to operate as part of the Xbox engineering department.

Meanwhile, Beam founder and CEO Matt Salsamendi expressed his excitement over the takeover and collaboration with the Xbox team. In an email to TechCrunch correspondent Darrell Etherington, Salsamendi wrote, “I’m really excited about Xbox’s focus on community…Beam is fundamentally built on a connected group of passionate individuals that love gaming, and Xbox is super in tune with that.”

In a blog post announcing the merger, Salsamendi explained that there would be no immediate changes planned for the platform. However, the acquisition will help the startup grow as a platform, enabling the company to get funding to develop new features and game integration.

The deal enables Microsoft to enter the interactive game live streaming segment by developing Beam’s participatory play. Following the announcement of the deal, Microsoft highlighted how the acquisition can enhance other games that the Redmond tech company owns, such as Minecraft.

Microsoft said, “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. Using Minecraft as one example, with Beam you don’t just watch your favorite streamer play, you play along with them.”

With Beam’s technology, Minecraft gamers can create one of a kind interactions with the game, enhance social play and improve user experience. The agreement could also turn into a worthwhile investment if Microsoft can apply participatory play to attract young players and drive community engagement among Let’s Play videos gamers.

“Right now it’s business as usual!” Salsamendi wrote. “We just launched three brand new interactive integrations and we’ll continue to focus on making the Beam platform an awesome place for gaming communities that want to interact with their audience.”

In their latest fiscal year fourth quarter results, Microsoft’s revenues in the gaming division has dipped by 9%, or about $152 million due to low hardware revenue and a decline in unit sales. However, Xbox users have grown to 49 million users, in the same quarter, up from 46 million in the earlier quarter.

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