The news of a Valve project that could compete against Twitch – what the press has taken to call Steam TV – raced around the world in the last 24 hours. Apparently, the video-games giant is preparing to expand its control of the global entertainment market with a product dedicated entirely to streamers!
If Steam TV really wants to crush the competition, however, the team behind it will need to focus on a series of features that are key to achieving this goal; and this begs the proverbial question!
In the next few lines, let’s try to figure out what to expect from this new platform when it finally comes out for good!
High Quality Audio and Video
While YouTube and Twitch have spent the last few years improving their algorithms for data transmission, Valve seems to have lagged behind in this field. Steam already offers a in-home streaming service via Big Picture and the ability to spectate our friends’ games, but the platform has never supported high-quality public broadcasts.
For Steam TV, we can expect developers to cannibalize parts of both systems. The Steam Broadcasting chat, for example, would be perfect if you want to give viewers a chance to interact with each other. A Big Picture-like dashboard, on the other hand, could be re-adapted to act as a HUB; providing an initial page from which to find the games we’re after.
In any case, it will be difficult for Valve to provide a better service than the one already available on other sites. It is more likely, instead, that Steam TV was built following the Twitch model, a choice that would leave the company with much more resources to invest into other parts of their project.
The Return of the Curators
The success of the various streaming sites is based, in its entirety, on the concept of aggregation among users. Whole communities end up forming around particular individuals, giving fans and detractors a place to discuss recent events and exchange opinions. For years, Valve tried to do the same thing with Steam.
The figure of the curator – an expert videogamer who is entrusted with the mission to promote and recommend new titles – has always been a way to transform a purely commercial application, a store, into something more akin to a social network.
With the spread of YouTube channels and Twitter accounts, however, the whole project soon fell into oblivion. Considering the scope of Steam TV, it’s no wonder Valve will try to resurrect these groups in some way; perhaps giving curators and fans new tools to play around with!
Even here, though, is very likely that the team responsible for Steam TV decided to recycle some of the stuff they already had available. We can expect a restructuring of the pages dedicated to curators but it is almost impossible that Valve will introduce an entirely new system; mainly because doing so would risk confusing the users even more!
Donations and Tips
If it is true that, for the neophyte streamer, passion is enough to keep going; we can’t say the same for those who’ve made streaming their full-time job. Even those who broadcast games from morning to evening, after all, need a way to put food on the table and pay their bills!
For this reason, it’s almost certain that Steam TV will include a series of options through which to thank the streamers for the show they’re offering. The ability to send and receive donations, as well as to leave small tips to our favorite players, will be essential for a streaming platform that wants to outperform the competition.
In this respect, however, Valve can enjoy a huge advantage. Steam has moved huge sums of money for years, giving its developers the opportunity to refine exchange techniques and come up with new ones. Among these, at least at the moment, coupons and product codes seem to be the most popular.
There is no way to understand, at least for now, how Steam TV will address the problem we have just discussed. Personally, I expect a system similar to that of Twitch; with tokens the streamer can convert into their favorite currency. Whatever the solution, Valve will never be able to survive on this market without a solid payment system for its content creators.
Let The War Begin!
The fact that Valve’s plans have been exposed to the public ahead of time may have helped create interest; but might also have anticipated an inevitable failure. It will be difficult, for Steam TV, to cut themselves a slice big enough to become a threat to the hegemony of Twitch and YouTube.
Convinced that this project is not – as the company has quickly tried to explain – only an accessory for the international Dota 2 Championship, we can only wait for Uncle Gaben to tell us something more… maybe on August 20th; when the tournament will start!
In the meantime, we at The Indie Toaster will keep our eyes open and – as usual – share any news directly on our website! If you do not want to miss a thing, like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter!