Sure, there have always been alternatives to Twitch out there (such as YouTube Live), but none of these has really ever taken off to the magnitude that Twitch has. Well, many have said that if one company stood a chance to try and shake things up, it might be Valve. Indeed, I recall earlier this year wondering why Steam didn’t have a built-in video recorder or live-streamer. After all, it is a powerful client, so those features just felt like they should be included.
Well, Steam has kicked off a beta feature in their client whereby people on a user’s friends list can opt to “watch them” play whatever game they are playing. Likewise, if that person wants to stream publicly, they can change a setting to allow their stream to appear for others to see on the appropriate pages on Steam. Users can use their microphones/headset to offer commentary as they play and they can see what others are saying in a chat log, not unlike what Twitch has to offer. Yet, as of right now, these streams are only live, and therefore once you are done playing, the stream is gone forever. Valve has stated that this is only currently the case, which may imply that they will later offer the ability to export your stream data to YouTube if you desire.
I, for one, would like to see them also include a video recording option, and hopefully they will add that in a future update to their client as well. In the meantime, though, anyone can test out this feature by opting in on the beta version of the client. So, give it a try and see what you think!