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Steam takes on Twitch with new broadcasting feature

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Valve is moving into video game streaming with a new broadcasting feature for Steam. Launching in beta today, the feature will let Steam users watch other people play games without leaving the service. It sounds like it's primarily designed so you can watch your friends — Valve advertises it as a way to "watch friends play, with the click of a button" — but there's also a public option that lets anyone view a game stream, which puts the service in direct competition with Twitch. You can also use it not only from the Steam client, but also from either Chrome or Safari.

"Watch friends play, with the click of a button."

At present, broadcasts are only available live, so you won't be able to share your streams for later watching, and in order to use the feature you'll need to sign up for the beta version of Steam. Game streaming has rapidly become a big business, thanks in part to the rise of esports (Valve's own esports tournament, The International, featured a $10 million prize pool this year, and parts of it were even broadcast by ESPN). In August Amazon purchased Twitch for nearly $1 billion, and YouTube was reportedly also eying the company. The trend has even created its own celebrities — YouTube star PewDiePie has more than 30 million subscribers and reportedly earns millions of dollars from advertising revenue off his gaming-related videos.