How To Stream Games
Since day one, technology has opened up an ever-growing portal of new job opportunities and endless entertainment options. One of the most popular aspects of the entertainment world is gaming; from PC to Xbox to PS4 and so on. However, if you were told eight years ago that people would become millionaires from simply live streaming a game they were playing, you’d have laughed uncontrollably.
As it happens, the art of streaming games has become a worldwide sensation, with the likes of ‘Syndicate’ and ‘Ninja’ earning a sweet fortune from doing it. Although not appealing to everyone, there’s still a huge demographic, with over 15 million users reported to visit Twitch (one of the most favored streaming sites) each day.
Sounds appealing, right? Luckily, if you have a true passion for gaming and are willing to invest, then you can stream games, too. Although a lot of hard work will need to take place before the dollar signs start rolling in, these 10 essential things to know when streaming games will be sure to get you off on the right foot. What equipment do you need to game and stream? How do you get a good following? All will be revealed…
Gaming & Streaming Equipment
The art of streaming games all starts with the equipment. There are quite a few things to consider here, so use the following items as a checklist for your gaming and streaming equipment. Before you know it, you’ll have a pro streamer set up and you’ll be ready to play games for the whole world to see.
1. A High-Quality Computer
The majority of streaming is done from a computer, and if you want any chance of high-quality streaming, then you’re going to need a solid device to support this. The art of playing a graphic-heavy game and streaming it to a large audience can get pretty strenuous for standard computers, so there are a few guidelines to take to achieve a seamless experience. According to popular streaming site Twitch, it’s recommended to opt for an Intel device which is at least an Intel Core i5-4670 processor. As well as this, it will need to be supported with at least 8GB of RAM, and if you’re on Windows, you’ll need to make sure you’re using Windows 7 or higher.
2. Go Back In Time To A Wired Internet Connection
If your internet is known for being quite temperamental, then you’re going to have a tough time streaming games; or just being the online full stop. Attempting to stream a game with a poor internet connection can become very frustrating for both the streamer and the audience, and is likely to result in small viewer counts and a bad reputation. To avoid internet troubles, a wired internet connection is the preferred option amongst successful streamers. Wireless internet increases the chances of lagging and buffering, whereas a wired connection will improve stability and reduce the risk of cutting out. Although it might feel like you’re stepping back through time, accepting that a wired connection will work better is a necessary hack. You can also consider getting a reliable gaming router.
3. Have An Excellent Upload Speed
Your upload speed will depend on your internet connection, but it’s still important to check before you start streaming. If you have a poor upload speed, then your viewers will be faced with a distorted image which looks like it was taken back in the ’90s. With a world full of high-tech software at your fingertips, anything which isn’t HD simply won’t suffice! Your bandwidth is important, and there are plenty of ways to test its strength before you go live. For streaming purposes, use an application like TwitchTest to ensure you’re all up to scratch. Here’s a simple guide to follow:
- Resolution: 480p30 = Recommended Upload Speed: 3Mbps
- Resolution: 720p30 = Recommended Upload Speed: 6Mbps
- Resolution: 1080p30 = Recommended Upload Speed: 13Mbps
4. Interact With A Microphone & Camera
Streamers do well not only because of their awesome gaming abilities, but because they bring personality to their corner of the internet. Your audience will have a hard time engaging with your stream if you aren’t showing your face or talking, so a decent microphone or gaming headset and web camera will be needed. Luckily, neither of these things are tricky to get your hands on, as they’ll be available in every tech store you enter or shop you browse online. The advancement in webcams has been incredible in recent years, making those in 1080p very accessible. The same applies for good microphones; an essential part of your viewers experience on your stream. The higher the quality, the better.
To improve the overall effect of your stream, purchase a shock mount or boom mic so that your viewers can’t constantly hear you tapping on the gaming keyboard. For some, this may be therapeutic, but for most, it’ll be distracting and aggravating.
5. Stream With Ease With Multiple Monitors
Although you can technically stream games from a screen as small as a laptop, multiple gaming monitors have been proved to enhance the experience and make the process far easier. If you want to keep on top of comments and interact with viewers, then using one monitor as your ‘chat screen’ will allow you to do this. There’s nothing worse than either ignoring your audience altogether or having to switch between displays; both make a very unsatisfying stream.
If you find that you like to keep an eye on your preview stream, then having multiple monitors will also make this procedure easier to maintain.
6. Use Capture Cards For Consoles
If the game that you want to stream is on a console such as a PS4 or Xbox, then you’re going to need a clever little device which will capture what you’re doing and upload to your PC for your audience to see. The majority of capture cards will do the trick, but if you want more control over your stream, use them in conjunction with a streaming software you’re familiar with instead of the one that they come with.
7. Use Trusted Streaming Software
Speaking of using streaming software that you’re familiar with, it’s time to put one in use. Once you have your ideal set-up in place, you’ll be itching to get gaming, so now the fun begins. Sorting out your streaming software will be your final step before going live, and the last cog to get running smoothly. Two of the most popular streaming software available at the moment are XSplit and Open Broadcasting Software (OBS). The main difference between these two is that OBS is completely free for you to use, and XSplit needs payment for all of its features. If you’re a streaming beginner, then it’s wise to go for the free OBS, but if you want a more intuitive and ‘pro’ experience, consider investing in XSplit.
8. Set Up A Streaming Account
Once you’ve got your streaming software sorted, then you simply need to sync it up with your streaming account to get the ball rolling. You’ll find that a similar process applies no matter what platform you use, but Twitch is the most favored in the streaming world thanks to its large user-base and functionality. It’s unlikely that you’ll find 15 million daily users elsewhere.
As soon as you’re signed up to Twitch, you’ll be given a ‘stream key’ which you then need to link up with your streaming software. After playing around with the settings and getting everything in tiptop condition, you’ll finally be ready to stream.
9. Build A Large Audience
Streaming games is a fun experience and a perfect hobby for those looking to show off their skills. What’s even better, however, is having a large audience who support you and motivate you to stream more often. Although a large audience doesn’t appear overnight, there are some steps you can take in order to achieve one; if that’s what you want.
What you will notice amongst famous streamers is their personalities, as mentioned previously. Each streamer will have their own quirks and traits, which will give them their ‘appeal factor’. Just like any rise to fame, the more buzz the streamer gets, the more their audience will grow. At the end of the day, streamers are entertainers; they didn’t get their large view counts from awkwardly mumbling into a microphone and hiding their face. Take the following pointers as a start towards growing a large audience:
- Skill: You don’t have to be perfect, but a lot of gamers watch streams to learn a trick or two. If you want to gain a following and be known for your epic gaming skills, then take lots of time to practice the game that you wish to stream. Of course, the more you stream, the more skilled you will become, but it’s nice to start with a strong skillset so that you can distinguish yourself from the rest of the streamers.
- Personality: Focus on one of your most prominent personality traits and use it to your advantage. Once again, you can use your personality to distinguish yourself, so be confident and embrace your quirks.
- Humour: You want to keep your audience engaged, so to give your stream some worth, add a few humorous touches. Whether you joke around when something goes wrong or give humorous remarks to the viewer’s comments, you’ll find that adding some humor will keep viewers coming back for more.
- Niche: The type of game you play won’t be for everyone, which is why it is quite common for streamers to have their own niche. For example, those who enjoy up-lifting adventure games might not want to watch a hard-core battle stream. Finding your niche doesn’t just stop at the type of game you play, as your likeability factor will be what keeps certain types of people coming back. If you have a hilarious sibling or pet that your viewers seem to like, bring them into the mix more often to keep your niche smiling. It’s all about thinking outside the box, rather than just focusing solely on playing your game. Find what works and use it as your specialty.
- Gaming Friends: Just like the world of YouTube, collaborating with well-known steamers can help you to boost your own profile. Getting your name out there is one of the most effective forms of building an audience, and it requires little work on your behalf. If you already have friends who stream, then ask if they would be up for starting a new series with you, or if they would be happy to let you join their stream. It doesn’t take long for someone to subscribe to your channel, and if you play the right cards, you could have a following before you’ve even made content.
- Consistency: Some people get very lucky and have a one-hit-wonder which allows them to skyrocket to the top of the league. This, however, is extremely rare. Pretty much all online influencers have spent years creating content and gradually building up a legit following to get where they are today. As cliché as it may sound, the secret behind their success is determination, a positive attitude and a whole lot of patience. Consistency is key when it comes to streaming, so create a schedule and stick to it. You’ll very quickly discover which times your audience is most active, and you can work your streaming schedule around this in order to get the greatest exposure.
10. Want Money? Start Sponsorships
If you want to start streaming purely for money purposes, then it’s important to understand that you need to follow a very long road which may have some glitches along the way. Anyone can start earning revenue from streaming if they put their mind to it, but this takes a lot of time and effort to achieve. The main way that streamers earn their revenue is from adverts and promoting particular products, usually done in natural ways which don’t come across too intrusive. You’re going to need to have stacks of content and an authentic audience base before sponsors will even consider approaching you, so don’t fall at any hurdles and remember why you started this venture in the first place.
Enjoy The Experience
At the end of the day, streaming games are all based around having fun with likeminded people. Whether you want to stream for an income or just for leisure, make the most out of your experience and interact with gamers all around the globe. The gaming community is a very interesting one to be in, and memories will be made which will last a lifetime!