Video Game Streaming is a big business these days. Esports have really propelled video gaming to the forefront of pop culture. Esports stars alone can earn more than $4 million.
The likes of Summit1G, Ninja, and PewDiePie have amassed a net worth of approximately $36,000,000. Looking at Ninja alone, he earns roughly $500,000 every month, has around 11,000,000 followers, and works with big brands like UberEats.
In recent years the video game streaming market has become overly saturated with everyday players wanting a piece of the action. Visit any gaming category on Twitch, YouTube Gaming, Facebook Gaming, or even Mixer, and you will see countless streamers doing their best to stand out from the crowd.
Hopefully, this is where this guide to video game streaming can come in handy. Don't get us wrong, it will not solve every issue, but it will serve as a good foundation for starting to stream.
Do remember though streaming is hard work and not a get rich scheme.
Table of Contents
- 1 PC Gaming vs. Console Gaming
- 2 Streaming Software
- 3 Methods of Streamer Networking
- 4 Game Streaming Equipment and Budget
- 4.1 Which Webcam?
- 4.2 The Main Headlines
- 4.3 Bonus Things to Consider
- 4.4 Which Mic?
- 4.5 The Pros and Cons
- 4.6 Bonus: Things to Consider about Your Mic and Sound
- 5 Running a Test Stream
- 6 What's Next?
Choices, Choices and More Choices
There are many issues to cover:
- PC or console?
- Camera or no camera?
- Mic or no Mic?
- Which Niche?
- What platform will you stream through?
- What streaming software will you use?
PC Gaming vs. Console Gaming
Firstly let us discuss the ongoing war between consoles and PC gaming.
Now, if you only have one or the other, this decision will be pretty much made for you.
Without going all PC Snob, we would recommend PC as being the easiest to implement and customize your stream. On the other hand, a platform like the PlayStation 4, have more straightforward methods of game streaming and are much cheaper overall for the initial hardware.
It is possible to stream from your console using a PC or Laptop, thus allowing you more control.
Webcam or No Webcam?
Secondly, we have a debate around webcam or no webcam? We recommend game streaming with a camera all the way. Let us explain the reasoning for using a high-quality webcam.
Humans are social creatures; part of the enjoyment people get watching streams is seeing the reaction of the player as they play the game.
Do not worry if you are not a portrait as the majority of viewers are not searching for Twitch's Next Top Model. They want to find someone engaging to watch.
Mic or No Mic?
This boils down to whether you want to be a commentary based or a silent streamer. People watch both, and it is simply down to personal preference.
Once again, we have some excellent recommendations for Mic's should you wish to go down that route. Consequently, it is worth noting, if you do get a mic, invest in a decent one as viewers are more likely to switch off through poor audio rather than poor video display.
Fourthly is the niche.
- Which gaming genre will you specialize in?
- Do you want to specialize at all?
Variety game streamers play a variety of games; however, we would say you have to be more outgoing and engaging as a variety of streamers.
People will come to your channel for your personality and commentary rather than the games you play. Niche streaming creates less pressure as the audience you gather will be specific to that genre.
They know what to expect and are content with less engagement.
Examples of typical niches include:
- Battle Royale
- any many more.
One thing not to forget is how many people are streaming what you are, and more importantly, how many people are watching what you are streaming. Fortnite, for example, has a lot of viewers, but in addition to this has a lot of streamers and is quite oversaturated.
The two main options are YouTube gaming and Twitch. There is also Mixer and Facebook gaming; however, we don't have a lot of experience on those, if you do, feel free to add your own two cents in the comments section.
Google backs YouTube, and Twitch is back by Amazon. More people stream on Twitch; however, it may be easier to find an audience on YouTube.
Both have a simple to use interface, and both have means of generating revenue; however, the quality options for the stream are a lot higher and specified. Only recently has Twitch allowed streaming at 1080p /60fps, and one cannot feel that YouTube is slightly ahead of the game in this regard.
The total revenue received is higher on Twitch. Prime users also get a free subscription to the value of $4.99. Other subs are paid, and typically the streamer usually makes about 50%. YouTube gaming uses its' own partner program, of which the limits have just been increased to 1,000 subscribers.
The interaction is usually more apparent on Twitch Subscribers have access to emotes (similar to badges), and the moderation tools are far superior.
Streamlabs OBS is our recommended game streaming software of choice.
We like how easy it is to download themes and customize your setup. We also like the many ways you can add captures, windows, and audio. It even analyses you setup and adjusts the preferences to match your requirement, taking a lot of the hassle out of the hours you can spend tinkering with the settings with no obvious benefit.
From here, you can stream to many platforms directly, including Facebook, Youtube, Twitch, and Mixer. It is even possible to stream to multiple platforms at once. Best of all, it is free, although it is only available on Windows at the time of writing and not Mac.
If you are a little more technologically advanced, you can undoubtedly look at OBS Studio, the parent version of Streamlabs; however, we see a little benefit as it has a bit more complicated interface.
It is quite simple. Streamer networking is interacting with other people in the streaming and gaming industry to build professional relationships. It can be something as simple as a conversation, a tweet, viewing their content, or even playing an online game with them.
But is networking really worthwhile?
By making use of networking as a streamer, you can leverage people's knowledge as a streamer, and their technical know-how and even their audience base. If they stream in a similar niche to you or you are both variety streamers, through careful networking, you can share in their contact base and followers.
Methods of Streamer Networking
Social media may seem a bit vague for now as a method of streamer networking, but we will attempt to break it down as much as possible.
The main channels of social media you can leverage as streamers are Twitter and Facebook. Beginning with Twitter, there are many accounts you can follow focusing on streaming, and often they have large communities who follow them. Only by following them and tagging them in posts, you can ensure they you are putting yourself in front of like-minded people.
A simple twitter search of game streamers on my twitter gave me the following.
The first thing this will do is put you on the radar of other streamers. Secondly, it will act as a useful forum for you to publicize yourself as well as an excellent source of technical advice and support should you have any issues with your set up. You can also look through their followers and connect with people who like-minded streamers to yourself. Be it niche streaming or variety streaming.
Facebook is another way to network with other streamers. There are once again the variety of streamer network groups available to join or follow on the platform.
Be mindful these streamer networks often have rules that must be adhered to by the members, for instance, some groups encourage self-promotion, and some groups will ban you for it.
We would recommend making use of the groups that do ban for self-promotion purely for technical assistance and advice.
Watch and Interact with other Game Streamers
This is probably the most effective way of building viewers and relationships with other streamers. You will not be using this method for technical assistance but as a means to engage with the community through chatting.
The most important thing of all, though, is to DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES PROMOTE YOURSELF ON SOMEONE ELSE' STREAM.
It may be a cheap way of getting a few viewers; however, it lacks class, and the majority of people will not visit your stream out of principle.
Instead, you should be spending your time in chat interacting with the streamer, asking questions about their content. You can mention that your game, and play similar content. You can also converse with other viewers.
It may be an excellent tip to view and interact with some of the smaller streamers in your niche first. They are more likely to remember you and may even look to host you. (play your stream on theirs when they are finished).
You can also don your preemptive hat and host them on your channel. Most people are likely to reciprocate this when given the opportunity.
Discord is a free voice and text app designed specifically for the gaming community and can be a useful tool in streamer networking. It allows gamers to communicate via private servers. Thus linking you to other streamers to get tips on your stream, some groups such as the likes of @SupStreamers have their discord allowing you to promote yourself to their members.
Finally, other streamers may be streaming the same game as you, and if these are online games, you can play and simultaneously speak to them while they stream.
All it takes is one viewer to ask the streamer about the people they are playing with, and you get free publicity while doing nothing but playing your favorite game.
Don't be selfish in your interactions while streamer networking.
If you give off the impression, you are only there to get viewers for your channel people will not engage with you. The more you give, the more you will get back. Consider it an investment of your time and skills.
Your twitch channel is your brand, and through positive streamer networking, your brand can have a positive influence on people. Offer helpful tips, identify things that have worked for you and share them, if someone has a technical issue you have solved, tell them! You will start to build your reputation and community, and some will stick around as friends allow you to support, host, and watch each other.
Game Streaming Equipment and Budget
Let's face it, the better the equipment, the better your stream will be. If your budget is tight and you can't afford a decent webcam, we'd recommend not using one at all until you have the budget for one.
Furthermore, it is worth mentioning a lot of streamers are very successful without a camera.
This article lists the top 10 streamers who have “made it” without a webcam. Webcam and visuals are essential, but as you can see, not essential. Moreover, some of these streamers make excellent careers on Twitch and the like by choosing not to stream with a webcam.
Despite this, we do recommend utilizing webcam and visuals to really take your stream to the next level.
The most obvious place to start is which webcam and visuals you should be looking to invest in.
We recommend the Logitech C920 HD webcam. At present, we would still say it is the best-priced HD webcam available on the market. Check out Wild4Games review below and most definitely check out his channel. The guy is a genius when it comes to excellent streaming advice. As a streamer, his videos gave me so much great information.
Worth mentioning is that the C920 is well over six years old now. If you want the most up to date hardware and you have a larger budget, it is worth investing in the 4K equivalent as the majority of the streaming market like other media is leaning towards this resolution.
You still can't go wrong with either, and you are paying an extra $100 for 4K resolution. Is it worth it? Possibly not as we believe there is better money to be spent elsewhere.
The Main Headlines
Logitech, C920 HD Pro Webcam
Logitech Business Brio Ultra HD Webcam
Check out the affiliate links for both below.
Bonus Things to Consider
As well as the actual webcam itself, it is also worth considering some of these extras designed to really push your Webcam and Visuals to the next level.
Professional lighting may be worth considering if you want to look your best on the webcam and visuals. As well as really showing off your setup.
If you don't want people to see any of your backgrounds or you're simply like the effect of seeing a webcam image with no background. You can get a green screen. However, we believe the background can be useful in showcasing your personality and letting viewers see your setup.
Sound and audio are two of those features that are more important than gamers realize. Example: try playing your scariest horror game without audio whatsoever. Immediately, you will find the games ten times more difficult as you cannot hear enemies off-screen.
In addition to this, you will find the game less scary simply because the sound helps build an immersive atmosphere to play in. Similarly, in streaming, without decent audio instantly, you will be less enjoyable to watch.
We recommend the Blue Yeti USB Microphone. It is by no means the cheapest microphone on the market, but it delivers one of the crispest sounds while also being easy to implement into your gaming set — the microphone equivalent of plug and play.
As good as the Blue Yeti USB Microphone is, there is a slightly cheaper option available. The Snowball iCE microphone is about $50 more inexpensive and comes with many great features.
Here is a comparison between the two.
The Pros and Cons
+ Solid Retro Metal build. (It will look great on your desk, and there are plenty of designs to choose from)
+ Exceptional Sound quality.
+ Plug and play.
+ Good quality cable.
– Very sensitive, I am listing this as a negative as with the mechanical keyboard, the click can almost be distracting to viewers.
– Chunky build so cannot be put everywhere and not very portable.
+ Solid build and more portable than alternatives.
+ Cheaper price and good quality for said price.
+ Plug and play.
+ Great at eliminating background noise. (not too sensitive).
– No on/off button the same as the Blue Yeti, but no mute button also compounds this.
– Sounds feel so much cheaper than Blue Yeti, less professional more commercial.
Bonus: Things to Consider about Your Mic and Sound
As well as the actual microphone itself. There are a few other things to consider when it comes to good sound.
Game Volume vs. Mic Volume
Unlike you, your viewers will not have the option to be able to adjust the game sound and mic sound separately. If one of them is too low, the viewer will be forced to increase volume meaning the other could then become too loud. Remember, there are hundreds, even thousands of streamers out there. The best thing you can do is try and make your stream as easy to watch and hear as possible. The best way to solve this is to test the sound in a separate room on every stream. Record a 30-sec segment with some talking and in-game audio in the background.
Too Much or Too Little?
It can be challenging to define talking too much or too little on-screen. There is no wrong or right answer. Consequently, you are best off being guided by your personality.
People will watch you because of your personality, and if you are not a big talker or you have verbal diarrhea, that is fine. However, the critical thing is to engage your audience, and if they communicate with you or tip or even subscribe, make sure you do talk to them and thank them.
There are few final points worth mentioning just to give your webcam and sound the edge.
Have a quick look over your desk. You may be very comfy with it; however, people like seeing nice setups and cleans desks. Have a quick tidy!
People like looking at art. If you have some great artwork, consider putting it up in the background. LED lights can also be a great way to make your webcam stream look pretty slick.
Whatever your goal when game streaming, playing is meant to be fun, whether you are in it to make some side money, as a hobby, or even as a full-time career, people are there to be entertained. Consequently, if you are miserable as sin on stream, people will disappear in search of more fun streamers.
Once again, what you say is there to be scrutinized. Have strong opinions? Try to keep them off stream.
Firstly anything controversial you say will likely be challenged and could even find its' way back to your employers. Controversial opinions on games are fine, however controversial opinions on politics, gender, race, and orientation are best left to yourself. People are here to enjoy games rather than engage in political debate, and there are plenty of other mediums for that.
Fake it until you make it! Confidence will engage your viewers. When talking, don't mumble and communicate clearly. With a good mic (more on that later), you don't need to be shouting so loud they could hear you in real life.
Once you have all your equipment, it's time for a test stream.
Running a Test Stream
Firstly why do we test stream?
Primarily the purpose of testing in any discipline is to identify errors, mistakes, and flaws in the hope you can remedy mistakes that affect the reputation of your brand. But what does that mean for a streamer?
The first thing you want to do is get people watching your stream and have those same people continue watching your stream.
Consider this, visit a person's stream, and the sound is not quite right visuals; a little bit off or even there is no stream at all? Are you returning to watch that streamer? Unlikely.
This is more important when you are just beginning your streaming career than when already established. When established, you have a reputation for falling back on — a loyal fan base who will come back even after one dodgy stream.
Four essential areas need checking when running a stream. Here we are going to look at each one in isolation and, hopefully, give you some starting point of what to look for when testing.
There are two ways you can run a test stream. On Twitch, use the built-in test function:
Get your stream key from the Twitch Dashboard.
In the encoder (such as OBS), add a parameter to where the stream key is added: e.g., type “?bandwidthtest=true” after the stream key.
Start Broadcasting. Using the “bandwidth test” flag allows you to broadcast without appearing online to viewers or sending notifications. This helps to test new settings or stability before a broadcast.
This option is specific to Twitch if you are using YouTube or Mixer or even Facebook gaming, you can record a test stream on Streamlabs OBS.
Let us start with sound and audio.
Firstly let's focus on the Mic, and the gameplay sounds are it in sync with the visuals.
A few things you can do to test this. Complete an in-game action and watch it back on the stream. Does the action, let's say a punch in this instance happen in sync with the sound effect.
Next, look at the Mic, repeat a simple phrase, and re-watch it back. Does the sound happen at the same time your lips move? Or do you look like an extra in a kung fu film? Also, is the same statement happening at the same time as in-game events are occurring?
Most of the time, this isn't a big deal, but occasionally in-game, you need these to be as close together as possible when describing actions of reactions.
Here is an excellent guide to troubleshooting any sync delay issues you experience when game streaming.
Finally, are the Mic and gameplay audios harmonious? If one is too loud, viewers may have trouble listening as they cannot turn it up, lest one be deafening. At the same time, they cannot turn it down, lest one be inaudible.
Be mindful your microphone may also have a volume knob you can adjust or omnidirectional settings. You ideally want it only to be picking up your voice rather than game sounds or background noise.
Quick Tip: Switch off your webcams build-in microphone by muting it here too. The webcam sound will never be as good a quality and can have interesting effects on your overall sound.
When monitoring this, there are a few things to look out for.
Is it pointing at your face? It is showcasing what you want people to see? Some streamers may want to more of them in the shot, and some may want just their face. Do whatever makes you comfortable.
Is it up to the quality you expect? You may have to log in to your webcam's user interface and adjust these settings. You can even flip the camera image around on stream if you think your face looks better from a particular angle.
A quick tip: careful if your computer has a built-in webcam as the stream will often default to this. You may have to select your webcam or disable the other individually.
Finally, good lighting is essential. In our webcam and visual guide, we discussed ways to improve your lighting set up.
Your alerts may seem like a luxury; in fact, they are essential. They will tell you and your viewers when people are donating, hosting, following, and subscribing. This is key as it allows you to thank your viewer's building rapport with them.
Luckily this is a straightforward thing to test.
Next to the record button from earlier, there are test widgets buttons. These widgets can be assigned by logging into the streamlabs website, and under alerts, you amend the alerts based on visual alerts and sound alerts.
We recommend having both as this will let you know in two ways if someone is contributing to you. You can download GIFs online to use as alerts and even sounds. We use myinstants.com for sound notifications and Giphy for alert GIFs.
Quick tips: Make sure your alerts are set to be the top layer on your layout. This ensures that you can see them all times. Double-check this every time you add a new layer.
This is something you may find yourself regularly toggling with, depending on the game you are playing. This is because there is a difference between essential areas of the screen of different games.
Generally, the webcam should be bottom left or right on an FPS or raised slightly if it interferes with build mechanics or weapon types. For an MMO, this should be slightly raised and can be elevated to the top corners as the bottom half of the screen usually has a lot of crucial battle and item information in it.
Finally, consider whether you want your chat on screen. I don't have this, on the other hand, if you have a large community that or talk together, this can be useful.
A quick tip: It may sound counter-intuitive, but I would recommend having your game capture right at the back of everyone else in your layout.
The options at the bottom of Streamlabs OBS allow you to drag and drop the sources in their hierarchy. Enabling you to prioritize specific layers. (for instance the alert box).
On the left, you can also use different scenes for different situations, including intermissions, stream starting, offline, and live stream. It is worth double-checking the settings on these layouts too to ensure maximum aesthetics.
Consider the most recent Avengers film. It had a budget of approximately $365 million. Reportedly $200 million of this was on their marketing campaign. That is more than most films spend on their budget in total.
Still, think a marketing campaign doesn't matter?
Now, we appreciate you are not going to be remortgaging your home or hoping for a lottery win to fund your marketing campaign. You are game streaming to make money and not spend it hopefully.
However, there are loads of ways you can get yourself noticed on stream and various platforms for free.
Make Use of Social Media
One of the fundamental principles of digital marketing is a marketing campaign and its use of social media. There are literally so many to choose from. Below is a list of the main ones worth utilizing in spreading the word about your great streams.
Probably the least popular for promoting yourself as a streamer, but it can be useful. If you are game streaming through Facebook Gaming, then using this is a no brainer. I recommend you set up a separate page to engage with like-minded people. If only so you don't irritate your friends and family for constant posting.
This is possibly more appropriate if you are game streaming to a particular niche and have an appreciated page set up. For instance, I might do a Final Fantasy Page on Facebook and promote my Final Fantasy streams on it.
For us, this is the big one. Twitter is not only a hive for various gaming posters, but it is also an excellent medium to get involved in a conversation and find people who already utilize twitch.
Instagram is also a good platform. The best thing to do is to use a screenshot from the game and utilize the tagging feature.
#twitchstreamer #twitch #streamer should be in your tags, but also you want to reach a broader community, so throw in a few tags with the name of the game, genre, and about gaming in general. You must link to your channel in your bio and in each post you publish.
We also recommend posting before, during, and after streams. The main reason for this is the feeds on social media are continually updating. Therefore, you want to reach the maximum audience.
You Are Now a Promotor!
The reality is, to be a successful streamer, you need to have a wide array of skills and roles. Look at successful streamers and even the girls' gamers. Say what you want about them, but they are fantastic at marketing themselves. Some of these are significant gamers, and some may not game at all.
The success of those that aren't massive gamers can mainly be attributed to how they market themselves.
Whenever you tell people on these social platforms, you are doing just that! Now I don't expect you to become a promotional wizard overnight; however, there is one natural principle you can utilize when promoting yourself:
Whatever You Do, Do not do this!!!
There is nothing wrong with promoting yourself on your social media and through websites and accounts that encourage it. But you must never promote yourself on someone else's stream or post. Not only is it absurdly rude, but also, as a viewer, it would make me not want to visit that person's Twitch out of principle.
Instead, try interacting with a few streamers in your niche in the hour before you start game streaming. Ask them questions and show genuine interest in their stream and game. There are several reasons for doing this.
Firstly, it is nice, and you get to support other members of your community, and you may even make a new friend.
Secondly, they may want to know more about you. They may ask if you stream in which you can mention yourself.
Thirdly, they may even host you on their stream when they finish streaming, giving you free publicity and viewers. Even better, you can host them!
Fed and Watered!
One of the basic principles of life is sustenance. I don't mean endless Redbulls, Redsquares, or Blue charges. Whatever color-related sugary monstrosity you drink. We would recommend steering clear of it while game streaming. Sure, you get the initial sugar rush; however, you will also get low and possibly a bit of a dodgy stomach as a result.
The same applies to food, while sweets, chocolate, and chips are great. Instead, you should be seeking more nutritious food to keep you going.
- Water and lots of it – No surprises here, you need to be hydrated. At the same time, a sugary drink will be like wasted calories.
- Fruit Tea or Green Tea – I am as guilty as the next person of going round after round with the coffee monster. Lately, I have tried switching this to fruit teas and green teas. Not only is it better for you. It can reduce anxiety and speed up your metabolism.
- Nuts and beef Jerky – High in protein and essential fats, food of the gods when it comes to gaming while maintaining that Adonis physique.
- Chicken drumsticks – Protein and more protein. It can be consumed one-handed to allow you to continue setting up your stream.
- Fruits – I wouldn't recommend consuming too much as certain fruits can be high in sugar; however, fruit will easily allow you to get your five a day and keep you healthy—a healthy body and mind games for longer.
You may be the next Ryan Reynolds or Margot Robbie, or you may be like me exceedingly average. Make sure before going live, that you are clean, presentable, and appropriately dressed. People logging on to be greeted with a dirty face will likely look elsewhere.
While an accidental nip slip may seem harmless or perhaps even enticing for some viewers, it will likely lead to you being kicked off your game streaming platform. Keep it PG, even if your game isn't.
You have checked your physical well being, but what about your mental well being? Meditation, not medication. A few minutes of meditation with a YouTube video, some relaxing music will set you up perfectly to feel relaxed on stream.
We hope you enjoyed our guide. Happy streaming!