Blizzard Streaming, First-Impressions
I was fortunate enough to recieve an e-mail from Blizzard today, telling me that I was a beta participant in their new Battle.net client feature, Blizzard Streaming.
The service is completely integrated into the Battle.net client and all of Blizzard’s games. It’s very lightweight and there’s virtually no FPS drop while streaming, which is a nice change compared to many other streaming programs. It’s also the first streaming platform that’s fully integrated into Facebook, which sets a new precedent for spreading this markets reach, however, that’s where this new-found tech’s glory ends.
I tested the service using several different Blizzard titles to ensure continuity in performance and to check for bugs. Although I found none and FPS was unwavering, I found many flaws in its inherent design.
Firstly, customization of the stream settings is very limited. The only control you have over the appearance of your stream is your webcam placement and size. There are no outlets that I could find to add any additional media to the stream either.
The next flaw I found to be a massive hinderance in the streaming experience was the lack of any chat interface. Your viewers have to utilize your Facebook comments as a way to interact with the stream. Although you can delete comments in the event moderation was needed, there’s no feature that you can setup to allow a friend to moderate for you while you continue to stream and entertain your viewers.
Broadcast settings are non-existent. The end-user watching the stream can switch between an HD and reduced quality but the streamer can’t control anything regarding output. Basic settings such as bitrate, resolution, and recording are missing. It’s entirely unknown what server you’re even mirroring from, and as is with many other settings, it’s unable to be changed.
Finally, you have no dedicated stream page. Every time you launch the service it creates a new post on Facebook, making switching games very annoying for your social media followers. Blizzard titles aren’t unfamiliar to game crashes, which will add to stream posts. Unless the Facebook account you connect to is a dedicated fan page, I also don’t see how you could integrate donation links, FAQ sections, or any of the other common stream page elements that viewers desire.
Suggestions for Improvement:
This convenient service Blizzard has gifted us with doesn’t need to be just another bad idea that’s thrown in the dumpster and never heard from again. I’ve compiled a list of easy fixes that could improve this service, and have dedicated Blizzard users eager to give it whirl.
- Add more stream customization settings, and room for additional media to be integrated onto the stream, such as overlays, or sponsor images
- Add an actual chat interface, or at least comment interface, in the streaming pop-out widget, so as to negate the need to have your facebook page open simultaneously while streaming
- Add a much broader range of Settings for the streamer to adjust their stream output
- Work with Facebook to develop a streaming page that’s integrated into people’s Facebook profiles
Although the streaming service couldn’t have been integrated into the Battle.net client and it’s games any better, it’s left a lot to be desired. A severe lack of customization, a weak integration into Facebook, and common streaming elements missing, leaves end-users with a very unfulfilling experience to offer their viewers. I’m not sure if this product was designed just to share your hobby with friends and family, or it was a genuine attempt at creating a competitor to OBS/XSplit, but it needs some refinement if it’s to stand among giants. With some minor tweaks and more available settings, it could be the next step to broadening streamers reach in the social media market.