Valve’s new Steam.TV site was accidentally unveiled ahead of schedule last week, but now its true purpose has been revealed: it’s streaming Dota 2. At least, that’s where things are starting. This is a major revamp of the Steam Broadcast system to integrate new features and Steamworks support, and we’ll likely be seeing those additions continue to pay dividends beyond the TI8 main event.
But that event is where things start. Steamworks integration means that the video timeline is updated with game-specific markers like first bloods and team fights. The timeline also segments out individual matches and other notable parts of the broadcast, and offers smooth scrubbing throughout the video from the moment you jump in. That’s a feature most streaming services offer, but its implementation is notably smooth here.
You can check out Steam.TV for yourself if you’re keen to see the rest of The International 8. Valve’s also integrating the Steam Chat update into all of this, letting you form viewing parties to watch the stream with a friends-only chat – even with voice channels.
That’s cool and all, but the biggest bit of news is the fact that these features will be coming to other games in the future. There are custom elements in the current Dota 2 update, but more broadly, Steam Chat support will be integrated for all games broadcasting directly via the service. A Steamworks API will also be provided to “Steam partners” so that they can offer similar custom support in their own broadcasts.
Steam.TV awoke plenty of speculation when it inadvertently went live last week – Valve tells CNET that “was a test feed that was inadvertently made public” – and the grandest of ideas was that it would be a full-on competitor to Twitch. That’s not quite the case just yet, but the seeds are planted for a vastly expanded take on Steam Broadcasting. What that blossoms into remains to be seen.