With the Windows 10 Creators Update, gamers are now able to live broadcast any game session, at any time, and for free via Microsoft’s Beam service.
Note: This tip is derived from the Windows 10 Field Guide, which is now being updated for the Windows 10 Creators Update.
Sign up for our new free newsletter to get three time-saving tips each Friday — and get free copies of Paul Thurrott's Windows 11 and Windows 10 Field Guides (normally $9.99) as a special welcome gift!
"*" indicates required fields
Windows 10 previously introduced a feature called the Game bar, which provides a handy front-end to Game DVR features like screenshots and game clips. The Game bar can’t be found in Start. Instead, you invoke this feature with a special keyboard shortcut: WINKEY + G. Or, if you have an Xbox controller connected to your PC, you can press the Xbox button on the controller instead.
In the Creators Update, the Game bar has been updated to support Beam live broadcasting as well. If you’re unfamiliar with the service, Beam lets gamers broadcast live gaming sessions to the Internet at any time, and for free. This service also provides interactive capabilities for those watching live broadcasts, or streams.
Before you broadcast your first game, you should also configure the system settings related to this functionality. To do so, open the Settings app (WINKEY + I) and navigate to Gaming > Broadcasting.
Among the options you should consider configuring are:
Record audio when I broadcast. Here you can enable or disable all audio output and optionally configure the audio quality. (The recommended audio quality is 128 kbps, but you can choose from several options between 96 kbps and 192 kbps.)
Turn mic on when I broadcast. By default, your own microphone—which may be built into your webcam or PC, or a separate mic—is disabled during broadcasts. But if you’d like to provide a running commentary during the broadcast, you can enable your mic here.
Microphone and system volume. Two sliders let you set the volume of the microphone (for your voice) and the system (for the game) independently of each other so you can find the right audio mix for the broadcast.
Use camera when I broadcast. By default, video provided by your webcam will not be streamed with your game broadcast. But if you’d like a live video feed of you, in a small picture-in-picture window, to appear in your broadcasts, you can enable this option. Once you do, you will see an option for choosing which camera to use. (Combine this with a microphone for the full experience!)
To begin broadcasting, open the game you wish to play and then open the Game bar (WINKEY + G). Select the Broadcast button, and a Broadcast Setup window will appear.
Here, you can configure some important options:
Broadcast title. By default, your broadcast will be titled with the same name as your Beam channel. But you can personalize it if you’d like to be more descriptive.
Broadcasting window. Here, you can choose between Game—typically used when you are playing a game full-screen—or Desktop, which can be handy when you are broadcasting a windowed game and wish to show something else next to that window.
Camera position. This option determines where your webcam PIP window will appear, in the bottom right of the display or elsewhere. (Just keep selecting this option to cycle the PIP to the various available positions.) Note that this option only makes sense if you’ve chosen to use a camera when you broadcast (as described in the previous section).
Camera on. This is off by default unless you configured your camera to be on in Gaming settings.
Microphone on. This is off by default unless you configured your mic to be on in Gaming settings.
Ready? Select the Start Broadcast button to begin.
From here, the game plays normally but with one major exception: You are now also broadcasting your gameplay—and, optionally a webcam view of you, complete with audio narration capabilities—to the Internet. Reminding you of this fact is a floating Beam window on the right, which includes a number of tiny icons that are a mixture of non-interactive displays and commands.
These displays and commands are, from left to right:
Recording. A red “now recording” button indicates that you are now live, on Beam.
Viewers. The eyeball icon indicates the number of people currently viewing your live broadcast.
Time elapsed. This running timer will keep track of the length of your live broadcast.
Pause/resume broadcast. You can use the Pause/resume button to pause your live broadcast and then resume it as needed.
Stop broadcasting. You can select the square “Stop” icon to stop the live broadcast and close Beam.
Mic. This icon will toggle your microphone on and off.
Webcam. This icon toggles your webcam on and off.
Chat. Here, you can toggle the Beam window display between the normal thumbnail view of your gaming session and a chat window where you can interact with viewers.
Drag handle. The icon on the far right, which resembles two horizontal lines, is a drag handle. You can use this control to drag the Beam window to a different part of the screen.
During a live broadcast, you can also access two key Beam features—Pause and Stop—via the Game bar (WINKEY + G).
Bonus tip: Windows 10 does not currently offer much in the way of access to some of Beam’s more interesting interactive functionality, but I assume that is coming in a future update. In the meantime, you can at least find popular Beam broadcasts in the Xbox app, which also comes with Windows 10: Just navigate to the Trending page.