Microsoft reveals it bought Beam, a game streaming startup that offers "gamification" features that encourage and reward active participation. Users of the service will be able to earn Beam XP, which can be redeemed for in-game votes, cosmetic boosts, and other perks. Furthermore, Beam promises ultra-low latency, claiming that on average there will be a difference of just 200ms between when a game event happens and when viewers see it, which will make communicating with streamers less awkward.
Microsoft apparently won't waste much time jumping on this interactive aspect, as its announcements talked a lot about how Minecraft games can be altered by Beam's audience-participation systems—the company showed some video proof, to boot. Viewers can spawn bad guys, make volcanoes erupt, and do more via a clean, button-controlled interface. Beam will also support team-based streaming, which Microsoft has begun advertising by talking about its not-yet-released Xbox and PC game Sea of Thieves. (That game revolves around teams of players talking to each other while managing parallel objectives, including the simultaneous piloting, repair, and combat systems in its zany pirate ships.)
Fun fact: Beam is headquartered down the road from Microsoft in Redmond, Washington.
Full details at ARS Technica.