Microsoft’s new streaming service is getting ready to challenge Twitch

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In August, Microsoft made a low-key blog post to announce that the company had acquired Beam. Haven’t heard of Beam? That’s okay. You’re going to hear a lot more about it since the service is coming to Xbox and Windows 10 later this year. Beam is a streaming service for social video game broadcasting like Twitch or YouTube Gaming. Beam’s twist is that it allows viewers to interact with the game being streamed.

Using Minecraft as one example, with Beam you don’t just watch your favorite streamer play, you play along with them. You can give them new challenges and make real-time choices that affect their gameplay, from tool selection to quests to movement; all through simple visual controls.

While certain games like Rise of the Tomb Raider and Choice Chamber had Twitch interactivity, these early efforts relied on the viewers’ chat to vote on actions. Beam allows players to use on-screen controls to mess with a streamer’s game, and those buttons and widgets can be customized for different games. If that’s not impressive enough, Matthew Salsamendi, the CEO and founder of Beam is just 19 years old!