Live gaming videos on the Internet are about to start looking a whole lot sharper.
Hitbox has told GamesBeat that it plans to start offering the option to broadcast gaming content at a 4K resolution later this year. That will beam video that has four times the pixels of standard 1080p, and it is around twice as pixel-rich as 2K. Hitbox will also enable broadcasters to share this new ultra-high resolution at 60 frames per second. All of this means that people with beefy computers and the fattest bandwidth can run their games at max settings, and anyone with a 4K monitor, TV, or smart device will have content that will fill up all of those pixels.
This is a new way for livestreamers to stand out. PC gaming at 4K resolution and 60 frames per second is more reasonable these days thanks to megapowerful graphics cards like the Nvidia GTX 980 Ti and Titan X. But sharing that content has remained difficult in a live setting. YouTube supports 4K at 60 FPS, but its livestreaming has issues with chat that turn off many broadcasters. Twitch, meanwhile, does technically support 4K at 60 FPS, but it frowns on livestreamers who use more than 3,500 Kbps. And streaming at 4K — to really get the most of that detail — can sometimes require bandwidth usage in excess of 9,000 Kbps. Twitch would almost certainly consider that an abuse of its system.
“This is bringing streaming and streaming quality to a whole new level,” Hitbox chief executive officer Martin Klimscha told GamesBeat. “We’ve always loved producing new technology. We’ve always loved being for the early adopter.”
Hitbox is in a tough situation. It is in a market that Twitch dominates, and Google’s YouTube just announced its plans to expand its support for gaming broadcasters over this summer. So the Hitbox has always tried to set itself apart by focusing on technology. In 2013, the company introduced a HTML5 video solution that is now something that most sites in this space also use. In 2014, Hitbox focused on delivering 1080p at 60 frames per second.
“It’s natural for us to take the next step,” said Klimscha. “So dealing with the technical challenges of being first is something we have always dealt with.”
But you may wonder who really needs 4K streaming or who would even use it. It may seem like overkill at this point, but Hitbox notes that all of the individual pieces already existed to make it possible. People were playing games at that resolution. Superfast Internet connections are starting to pop up more thanks to companies like Google. And 4K monitors are more common than ever before. It was just up to Hitbox to put that together.
And so Hitbox, the scrappy livestreaming upstart, is happy to start providing 4K content for that ridiculous monitor that you bought. It’s ready to meet your needs.
“Gamers are super demanding,” said Klimscha. “We’re just first to put the pieces together to make it an actual product.”