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Streaming Videos on Steam

Streaming Videos on Steam is a new feature that enables watching a video on Steam without the need to first download the video locally.

Steam 360 Video FAQ

How does this differ from downloadable versions of videos on Steam?

  • Streaming allows you to start watching without having to first download an entire video file or run a custom installer
  • The video quality will automatically adjust based on your available download bandwidth
  • Videos will appear in your Library under the Videos filter
  • Feature Film, Series, Episodic and Tutorial Content are all available in this format

What are the requirements for streaming videos on Steam?

  • Streaming is supported in all Steam Clients on Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, Steam Machines and streaming via the Steam Link.
  • Recommended Operating Systems: Windows 7, 8.1, 10; MacOSX 10.10+ or Linux Ubuntu 12.04+; Steam OS 2.20+
  • Minimum of 12Mbps network download speed for 1080p, 8Mbps for 720p, 5Mbps for 540p and 3Mbps for 360p.
  • Playback performance will vary based on CPU. I3 or above CPUs are recommended for 1080p streaming

How do I test my system requirements for streaming videos on Steam?

Before you purchase a streaming video on Steam, you should consider watching one of the free streaming videos already on Steam. That will help to determine if your system can successfully stream videos.

  1. Log in to the Steam Client
  2. From the Steam Store, click in the Search Box.
  3. Type in Free To Play and select Free To Play - Free Movie from the search results
  4. On the Free To Play store page, find Watch Free To Play (Streaming) and click Watch
  5. The streaming video will then begin playing back

How long do I have to watch a video rental on Steam?

Steam Video rentals give you a certain number of days to begin watching the video and then a certain number of hours to finish watching the video. That information can be found in the following places:

  1. On the Steam Store within the rental package section, e.g. Watch this 48-hour rental any time in the next 30 days.
  2. After renting a movie on Steam, the remaining time is shown in the Steam Library for the rented video.

Note: After the rental time has expired, the video will remain in your Library for up to 48 hours but will not be playable without purchasing a new rental period.

How do I select a specific bit rate for streaming?

The video quality will automatically adjust based on your available download bandwidth and current video resolution. However, if you wish to select a specific bit rate:

  1. Move your mouse over the video player
  2. Click the settings icon on the right-hand side of the control bar
  3. From the Quality drop down, select the target bit rate
  4. The video will pause to buffer content at the selected resolution and then begin playing automatically

How do I enable Closed Captions?

Not all streaming videos contain closed captions. If closed captions are available, they will be enabled automatically if the language of the audio does not match the language set in Steam.

To manually change the selected closed caption:

  1. Start playback of a Streaming Video
  2. Move your mouse over the video player
  3. Click the Caption Options (CC) on the right-hand side of the control bar
  4. Select from the Captions drop down the language of captions you want displayed, or None to turn off captions.

How do I configure the display of Closed Captions?

  1. Start playback of a Streaming Video
  2. Move your mouse over the video player
  3. Click the Caption Options (CC) on the right-hand side of the control bar
  4. Set the desired closed captions display options
  5. Click Done to accept the changes or click Cancel to undo all changes

How do I switch to an alternate video or audio track (e.g. commentary or language dub)?

If a streaming video contains an alternate video or audio track such as a commentary or a language dub, you can switch between the available tracks using the Settings, Video / Audio Track selector.

  1. Move your mouse over the video player
  2. Click the settings icon on the right-hand side of the control bar
  3. Click the dropdown related to the video or audio track and select the track you want to switch to
  4. Note: In Big Picture mode, the track will not change until you press A and close the Settings dialog

The Free To Play (Streaming) video contains an example of alternate audio tracks including an English Audio Track and two commentary tracks featuring Dota players, Fear and Dendi.

How do I control a video using a game controller?

A game controller (Steam Controller, Xbox, etc.) can be used to control the video player only when in Big Picture mode. A specific user interface has been implemented to support this.

  • Use the joystick or dpad to move between the controls shown on screen
  • Use the A button to execute a control (Play/Pause, Stop, Skip Back/Forward, etc.)
  • Use the B button to navigate back or hide the controls
  • Use the trigger, shoulder and grip buttons where applicable to skip forward and backward through the video at different time intervals, from 15 seconds to 5 minutes
  • Use the Start button to Pause the video
  • Use the Back button to Stop the video and return to Big Picture
  • To preview the video, navigate to the playback progress bar and use the left or right stick (or scrub the right pad on the Steam Controller) to change the preview thumbnail. Press the A button to seek to that point in time for video playback
  • Use the CC icon to select a caption or subtitle language and customize the look of the captions
  • Navigate to the Volume control to change the volume using up and down or press the A button to mute/unmute
  • Use the Settings icon to change video quality, audio tracks, playback speed and other options
  • When appropriate, a Next Video button will be shown to move to the next video in the Series, Season or Bonus Video content.

Why does the video look corrupted with random blocks appearing?

On some system configurations the combination of video hardware, video drivers and Steam's hardware acceleration can cause large pixels or macro blocks to appear on screen during playback. For some users, turning off Hardware Video Decoding can resolve this issue:

  1. From the Steam Menu, select Settings
  2. From the settings list, click Interface
  3. Uncheck "Enable hardware video decoding, if supported"
  4. Click OK and Restart Steam
  5. Play the Streaming Video to test this change

What are the "additional components" required for playback?

When the Steam Client starts up, a set of components required to playback DRM encrypted content is downloaded. If you receive a message indicating the additional components failed to download, you can attempt to download and install the components manually. This may be necessary if your ISP restricts access to certain domains or URLs. 

Windows 7 and above

  1. Quit Steam
  2. Download https://redirector.gvt1.com/edgedl/widevine-cdm/970-win-ia32.zip
  3. Unzip the files and copy them to C:\Users\[yourusername]\AppData\Local\Steam\widevine (you may need to create the widevine folder)
  4. Restart Steam and attempt to play the video
     

MacOSX

  1. Quit Steam
  2. Download https://redirector.gvt1.com/edgedl/widevine-cdm/970-mac-x64.zip
  3. Unzip the files and copy them to ~/Library/Application Support/steam/config/widevine (you may need to create the widevine folder)
  4. Restart Steam and attempt to play the video
     

Linux

  1. Quit Steam
  2. Download https://redirector.gvt1.com/edgedl/widevine-cdm/970-linux-x64.zip
  3. Unzip the files and copy them to ~/.steam/steam/config/widevine (you may need to create the widevine folder)
  4. Restart Steam and attempt to play the video

I am receiving an error about failing to retrieve a required license, what do I do?

For DRM encrypted videos, Steam must be able to allocate a license to begin playback. If you receive an error message indicating a license could not be retrieved, please restart Steam and attempt to watch the video again.

I am receiving an error about HDCP, what do I do?

If you receive a HDCP (High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection) error when attempting to playback a video, you will need to use your graphic card control panel to determine which monitors are not HDCP enabled and disable them.

I've received an error message while streaming, what should I do?

  • If you receive an Access Denied message, make sure you are still logged into Steam and own the video you are attempting to play
  • If you receive a network issue, please close the video window and click Watch to start the video again. Network issues are often temporary and should resolve quickly.
  • If you are suffering from regular buffering during playback, make sure Auto is selected in the Quality settings.
  • For any other error messages, please post the issue to the discussion forum for the video or related game.

How can I provide feedback on streaming the video?

  • During playback, performance logs may be captured and sent back to Steam to assist in analyzing playback issues. No personal information is collected. If you have technical issues regarding playback, please contact Steam Support to help identify and resolve the issues.
  • If you have additional feedback, please post in the discussion forum or write a review for the video or related game

How can I remove the video from my Steam Library?

  1. Browse to https://store.steampowered.com/account/
  2. Sign in with your Steam account
  3. From the Licenses + Subscriptions section find the video you wish to remove from your Library
  4. Click the Remove link associated with the video. Confirm the removal.
  5. Restart the Steam Client if the video isn't removed immediately

How can I filter out streaming videos on the Steam store?

We know every Steam user is unique and some users are not interested in video content on Steam. To stop video content appearing in your recommendations, discovery queues, etc., please follow these steps:

  1. Log in to the Steam Client
  2. From the Store menu, select Featured
  3. Hover over the main rotating capsule until the customize button appears
  4. From the list that appears, turn off Videos
  5. Complete the same customize steps for New on Steam and Recently Updated
  6. Discovery and New Release queues can also be customized using the appropriate settings dialog while in the queue.

How do I download the video instead of streaming it?

At this time there is no option to download a streaming video.

The streaming solution allows rapid development and Steam to support features such as:

  • A consistent video playback experience across Windows, MacOSX, Linux and Steam Machine and Steam Link
  • Closed captions in multiple languages with display customization options
  • Instant watch without requiring a full download of the video file
  • Alternate audio and video tracks for dubbed audio, commentary, alternate angles, etc. 
  • Integration into the Steam Client, Steam profile and community features (trading cards, playtime tracking, etc.)
  • Steam and XInput Controller support in Big Picture Mode

Known Issues

  • Playback performance in the Steam Client may be degraded on lower-end CPUs. Manually switching to a lower resolution and bit rate may help with this issue.

How Can I Get My Film/Video on Steam?

 


Steam 360 Video FAQ

The Steam 360 Video platform is a new initiative that provides an end-to-end platform for content creators to bring their 360 videos to consumers around the world. Launching in Beta on May 10th 2017, content creators can now deliver mono and stereo 360 videos to Steam customers.

Consumers with a SteamVR compatible Virtual Reality headset can then instantly be immersed in these videos using our streaming video technology in their HMD. For consumers without a SteamVR compatible headset, a version of the player is now available for watching videos on their desktop monitors.

Beta Program

Launching a new platform is a lot of work, especially one that is built upon bleeding-edge technologies. We want to take a few months to share various 360 videos and gather data on what works, what doesn’t, what features matter to creators and consumers, etc.

We’ve setup a community hub (http://steamcommunity.com/app/613220/) for discussions about the player or any other questions you may have. For the content itself, please use the associated community hub.

In the coming months, new features and updates will be released on both the content creator and consumer side, so jump in now, give feedback and help evolve the world of 360 videos.

Features Live Today

Content Creators
  • Ingestion of MP4 H.264, PNG and JPG Sequences, AAC and WAV audio files.
  • Creation of experiences using the Pixvana SPIN Studio.
  • Configuration of the 360 output format including mono, stereo, equirectangular and FOVAS (for up to 12K delivery). Stereo FOVAS support coming soon.
  • Export of configured 360 video directly from SPIN Studio to Steam.
  • Steam store page and delivery of the video to Steam customers.
   Consumers
  • Find ground-breaking 360 videos in the Steam store just like any other Steam content.
  • Instant playback of the 360 video in and out of a SteamVR Headset.
  • Tracked Input, gamepad and keyboard control of video playback.
  • Integrated Steam playtime tracking and other native Steam features.

Installing the Steam 360 Video Player

  1. Check the system requirements below. At the start of this beta, Windows 10 64-bit is a requirement.
  2. The Steam 360 Video tool requires a Steam Client released on or after April 25th 2017. If you aren’t running the latest Steam Client, make sure to update from the Steam menu, Check for Steam Client Updates...
  3. For HMD support, make sure SteamVR is installed. You’ll find that in your Steam Client under Library / VR / Tools / SteamVR.
  4. For non-HMD playback, SteamVR is not required but there currently no support for stereo playback.
  5. Just above SteamVR in the Steam Client Library, you’ll find the Steam 360 Video tool. Click on it, then click Install. A small download will occur and the player will be installed. Alternatively, the first time you attempt to watch a 360 video, you will be prompted to install the 360 video player.

What's available to watch now?

Launching with this beta, we have worked with some great content creators to give you a mix of content including live action and animated shorts, in both mono and stereo formats, and using various projection methods. We want you to see the range of what 360 can do and help us and content creators learn more about what's interesting.

To get started, take a look at this page to see what's on offer today: Steam 360 Videos

Once a 360 video has been added to your Steam Library, you’ll find it in Library / Videos. Look for videos that have a [360] suffix added to their name. 360 videos will also appear in a VR category in the Videos section of the library.

What are the system requirements to play a Steam 360 Video?

The minimum specifications for 360 video playback today are essentially the same as the minimum specs for your Virtual Reality HMD. Specifics are outlined on the store page for a video but in general are:

  • OS: Windows 10, 64-Bit Only
  • Processor: Intel® i5-4590, AMD FX 8350 equivalent or better
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce® GTX 970, AMD Radeon™ R9 290 equivalent or better
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Storage: 50 MB available space

Please be aware that playing back a 4K x 4K stereo video requires at least a GTX 1070 or equivalent AMD graphics card. If your computer cannot maintain playback at full resolution, a lower resolution will be automatically selected. A future update to the Steam 360 Video platform will introduce stereo FOVAS (see 360 Formats below) which will reduce the required bandwidth and video card requirements.

What are the bandwidth requirements to play a Steam 360 Video?

While the CPU and GPU will be heavily utilized when playing back the 4K stereo videos, an equally important factor is a consistent high-speed network connection.

The Steam 360 video player will automatically switch to the highest resolution that can be sustained with your network connection along with CPU/GPU usage. When a video plays, the current quality level including resolution and the bandwidth required will be displayed in the application window. If you wish to manually override the quality level, use the up and down arrow keys to change the quality level, or press the A key to return to automatic mode.

For this beta, we are recommending a download bandwidth speed of at least 15Mbps. For 4K x 4K stereo playback, a download bandwidth of at least 25Mbps is recommended. At lower download speeds, the videos will play but the quality will be diminished.

How do I control the Steam 360 Video player?


HTC Vive Controllers
  • If you have an HTC Vive, the controller should appear while you are watching the video in the HMD.
  • Click up on the touch pad to pause or play the video.
  • Click left or right on the touch pad to skip forward and back.
  • Click down on the touch pad to stop the video.
  • The current play time and play state will be shown just above the first active controller in the HMD.
  • Pull the trigger and you'll be shown the current quality level. Then click up or down to change to a different quality level. Click right (the A in a circle) and the video will go back to Automatic quality mode.

Oculus Touch Controllers
  • If you have an Oculus Touch, the controller should appear while you are watching the video in the HMD.
  • Push up on either thumbstick to pause or play the video.
  • Push left or right on either thumbstick to skip forward and back.
  • Push down on either thumbstick to stop the video.
  • The current play time and play state will be shown just above the first active controller in the HMD.
  • Pull either the trigger and you'll be shown the current quality level. Then push up or down to change to a different quality level. Push right and the video will go back to Automatic quality mode.

Gamepad / XInput Devices
  • If you have a gamepad, the video UI will show up in a fixed position (either the forward direction in the HMD or at the bottom of the desktop window)
  • Push up on either thumbstick to pause or play the video.
  • Push left or right on either thumbstick to skip forward and back.
  • Push down on either thumbstick to stop the video.
  • The current play time and play state will be shown just above the first active controller in the HMD.
  • Pull either the trigger and you'll be shown the current quality level. Then push up or down to change to a different quality level. Push right and the video will go back to Automatic quality mode.
  • Note: Gamepad input does not work if you are using an HTC Vive controller setup.

Keyboard
  • If you are using a keyboard, the video UI will show up in a fixed position (either the forward direction in the HMD or at the bottom of the desktop window)
  • Press the space bar on the keyboard to pause or play the video.
  • Press the left or right arrow keys to skip forward and back.
  • Press escape to quit the video.
  • Press up or down on the arrow keys to switch between the different quality modes.
  • Press A to switch back into automatic quality mode.

Mouse Mode
  • A mouse can be used when an HMD is not present and SteamVR is not installed. The 360 video will appear in a window on the desktop monitor.
  • Left-click and drag in the window to move the around the 360 video.
  • Right-click to show and hide the analytics and help information.
  • Keyboard input must be used for seeking or pausing the video at this time.

What do the 360 Formats on the store page mean?

There are 4 variations of 360 videos currently supported on Steam. Depending upon how the content creator has configured the video, you will see a combination of 1 or 2 and, 3 or 4.

  1. Mono - This means the video was captured from a single position in space (whether virtual or real space) and the result is both eyes in the VR HMD are shown the same image. While you can look around, there will be no sense of depth in the video during playback.
  2. Stereo – This means the video was captured from two positions in space (whether virtual or real space) and the result is each eye in the VR HMD sees a slightly different image. When combined, this provides depth and distance in a 360 video.
  3. Equirectangular – When you look at a map of the Earth on a wall, you’re often seeing an equirectangular projection. It’s flattened so you can see all of the Earth at once, but distorts the content toward the top and bottom. 360 videos use this technique to capture and playback a 360 view in a rectangular video frame. When the video is played back, the flattened video frame is wrapped around a sphere to restore the original 360 view.
  4. FOVAS (Field of View Adaptive Streaming) – When using FOVAS, the amount of network bandwidth needed is reduced by presenting only the content directly in front of the user’s eyes with the highest level of detail. The rest of the 360 view is lower quality. As the user moves their head around, a different area of detail is then loaded to maintain the lower bandwidth requirements. See this page for a more detailed explanation: https://pixvana.com/intro-to-field-of-view-adaptive-streaming-for-vr/

I have a 360 Video I’d like to distribute on Steam, how do I do that?

Excellent, we’d love to help out.

  1. Onboard as a Steam partner. You can follow the steps here to get started: https://support.steampowered.com/kb_article.php?ref=8172-YOPA-5719
  2. Sign up for the Pixvana SPIN Studio beta here: https://pixvana.com/spin
    1. Steam and Pixvana are collaborating on the Steam 360 Video platform, and you’ll need SPIN Studio to upload and prepare your content for Steam.
  3. Once you have completed onboarding with both Steam and Pixvana, you can then:
    1. Upload your 360 video to SPIN Studio
    2. Create and configure an experience in SPIN Studio.
    3. Render that experience into the appropriate delivery format in SPIN Studio.
    4. Export your rendered experience from SPIN Studio to Steam.
    5. Complete your store page and video configuration in the Steamworks Partner site.
    6. Launch your 360 video on Steam for the world to enjoy!

During this beta program, Pixvana will not be charging for use of SPIN Studio. In the future, SPIN Studio may have features at different price tiers that you may or may not want to utilize. More details to come as the beta continues.

Can I sell my 360 video on Steam?

Yes. All the transactional features of Steam Video including EST purchase and VOD rental are available.

Can I make a white-label 360 video player for distribution on Steam?

Eventually, yes. The Steam 360 Video player is actually the first attempt at building such a player.

The technology stack uses components that can be made available to any developers including:

  • Steam’s world-wide network infrastructure
  • The Steam Store for content discovery and purchase, along with access to a consumers video library.
  • Pixvana’s SPIN SDK and OPF format
  • Steamworks SDK 1.40 or above

Utilizing these components, a developer could build a new 360 video player and deliver a kiosk or branded application quickly and easily. More information will be delivered on this in the future.

What is the Open Projection Format?

The Open Projection Format is an open format that describes the relationship between an encoded 360 video and the way it should be presented by the video player. If you are interested in making your own OPF format supported player, more information can be found here: https://pixvana.com/open-projection-format/

Who is Pixvana and what do they have to do with Steam 360 Video?

Pixvana and Valve are working together to build a best-of-breed 360 video platform. For Steam 360 Video, Pixvana are providing the ingestion and editing workflow (SPIN Studio), while Steam is providing the storefront and delivery process (Steamworks and the Steam Store). The two companies have worked together to produce the Steam 360 Video player that is integrated with SteamVR and the Steam Client.

More information on Pixvana can be found at their website: https://pixvana.com/

Press Release: Pixvana and Valve Partner to Bring VR Video Streaming to Steam 360 Video Player

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