After cinching a $26.2bn deal to buy professional networking site LinkedIn in June, the software giant said on Thursday that its Xbox unit was acquiring Beam, a livestreaming service that lets gamers watch and play alongside with one another.
No terms on the transaction were disclosed.
The deal comes amid growing interest in apps that combine gaming and live streaming.
Amazon spent close to $1bn two years ago to acquire video gaming platform Twitch while YouTube, which is owned by Google, unveiled a standalone gaming app last year.
Microsoft said in a blog post on its website:
Bringing Beam, their award-winning team and their inventive technology into the Xbox family supports our ongoing commitment to make Xbox Live more social and fun. Using “Minecraft” as one example, with Beam you don’t just watch your favorite streamer play, you play along with them. You can give them new challenges and make real-time choices that affect their gameplay, from tool selection to quests to movement; all through simple visual controls. In the highly anticipated “Sea of Thieves,” which is all about emergent adventures in a shared world, you can watch the drama play out between different crews from multiple player perspectives.
The trend of watching others play games online is part of a broader e-games phenomenon, where people even gather in their thousands at stadiums to watch people play computer games for significant prize money.
Gaming videos are worth $3.8bn worldwide according to estimates published by SuperData Research last year. YouTube has 72 per cent of the viewers but Twitch has the highest market share by revenue at 43 per cent, the research company said.