I stream from my Xbox One. Few watch it, but that’s by the by. The fact is, that some people are really successful streamers, and they use tools to provide the best content they can.
However, some people have neither the means, nor the inclination to invest in these things (microphones, cameras, capture cards, PCs and software), nor the time to set up some of the excellent overlays and really add interaction with their audience.
Fortunately these days, those of us who like the idea of streaming and letting people abuse you in real time, have two options straight from the dashboard of their Xbox One.
Twitch: Arguably the biggest streaming site in the world, provided an app that can be installed and set up directly on your Xbox, or;
Beam: Microsoft-acquired stream service that doesn’t seem to have the same clout as twitch, but it does have the added benefit of being added directly into the Xbox One system as of the latest update.
So what does what, and which is best?
Twitch is the daddy when it comes to streaming, a huge user base and a household name (if your household talks about streaming).
They created an app for the Xbox One that allows you to stream directly to your account. This feature was a revelation to me at the time, as I had no other real means of doing a stream, without it costing me for the extra gear.
You set up your account on the website, then link your Xbox with your account and you’re away.
With it being an app, it can be “snapped” back and forth whilst you play, and you get a nice little overlay telling you how many people are watching at any time.
It’s simple to set up a stream, name it whatever you like and then choose your options (camera? No problem! Audio from your mic or party? No problem!). It a solid app with everything you need straight away. You end your stream, and then it’s saved on the Twitch website for several days, where you can export directly to YouTube (this is a great feature!), download your video, or even create highlights so people can see your best bits, straight away.
I’ve had nothing but ease using this app. It’s a little slow on occasion, and choosing to either see the chat, by taking up a portion of your screen, or hiding the app altogether, are a bummer. It’s a great experience for someone with minimal means of streaming from their Xbox One.
Beam is the new kid on the block. Not got quite the following or renown that Twitch has……however, as an Xbox user, being owned by Microsoft means it has an edge. It is now built into you Xbox One, no additional app, no creating a separate account, simple straight forward streaming.
This is a joy to use, super simple, with all the same features as Twitch. Although because it’s built in, it’s not an app that needs to be ‘snapped’ in and out so you can keep your screen real estate to a maximum at all times.
Beam itself is a service I don’t quite understand. You earn XP and “Sparks” to improve your streams, but so far I’ve found the earning of sparks to be very very slow. The only use I’ve found for the sparks thus far, is the ability to set up a “Team”, I’m not 100% clear on what this will provide, but having only earned just over 1600 sparks, I’m not likely to find out just yet (creating a team costs 5000 sparks!).
Yeah, it’s nice to “earn” XP etc, but with little sign of any real value from it, it seems a little redundant to a novice like me. A bit of research hasn’t made things much clearer, either.
The site doesn’t automatically save your streams for download/upload, and I can’t see any means of exporting directly to YouTube, which is a real downer!
It’s a strong, easy to use service, built straight into your console. Providing an excellent means of streaming with minimal effort. This makes it perfect for anyone wanting to try.
Which is better?
It’s pretty clear to me that Beam is a superior app, but Twitch is a superior service. The ease of use and my curiosity to create a “Team” on Beam means I’ll be sticking with it a little longer. But I really don’t fancy downloading these videos, just to have to re-upload them.
Twitch has been excellent thus far, and although it’s not as light as the native Beam software in the operating system of the Xbox One, it provides everything you need with the added benefit of being able to upload to YouTube from their website. It’s a better service that is only brought into dispute at all because the app isn’t as fluid as Beam.