Thanks to the huge success of Twitch, gaming can be even more social and entertaining than playing alone. Everyone from pros to casual gamers can find a niche in the streaming community, gathering fans and followers to watch them play.
Here, we’ll walk you through the essentials of how to get involved with the Twitch community — now more than 55 million strong — and start streaming your games from either a PC or a console.
No matter what your gaming platform of choice is, start by making an account on Twitch. You probably have one already if you’re an active follower or subscriber on the site, but for those those want to go straight from lurking to streaming, you’ll need to make it official.
Check your specs
Streaming is a powerful activity, so you’ll want to make sure your PC can keep up. The recommended specs from Twitch are:
– Windows 7 Home Premium or newer operating system
– 8GB of RAM
– At least an Intel Core i5-4670 or AMD FX-8350 for CPU
Ideally, you’ll also want a graphics card that can easily support your games. Twitch suggests a card that supports at least DirectX 10, but this isn’t a central factor in creating the best setup.
It’s also worth noting that some games are much more demanding on your gear than others. If you plan to mostly share older games, then you won’t have to trick out your computer with top-shelf components. If you want to dive right into the latest releases that push the envelope on graphics and performance, then you’ll need to make the investment to give your viewers a good experience.
To actually get the visuals from your game onto Twitch, you’ll need to have some third-party broadcasting software. XSplit is one of the top choices for streamers who are okay with a paid subscription. The best freebie is Open Broadcast Software, or OBS. FFSplit is another common option.
Each of those three broadcasting programs have resources to walk you through the setup. If you run into problems with completing the installation or determining the right settings, check out that software’s support or forum pages for troubleshooting help.
If you have the latest generation of gaming hardware, then streaming to Twitch is much simpler. Both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One have streaming capacity built in.
Sony has made streaming from the PS4 a matter of just a few menu selections. Once you’re logged in to your account and have started a game, press the Share button on your controller. Select the “Broadcast Gameplay” option, then pick Twitch. It will take you to the streaming site, where you’ll need to log in. Now you’re set up. Once you’re ready to start the stream, press the Share button and choose “Broadcast Gameplay” again. Pick Twitch, then select “Start Broadcast,” and you’re off.
For the Xbox One, Microsoft has a free Twitch app in the Xbox Live store. Open in and click “Broadcast.” You’ll need to enter the activation code on Twitch’s website to continue. Once your console is activated, you can start broadcasting from within the Twitch app. Or you can use the Kinect’s voice controls by saying, “Xbox, broadcast.”
If you want to stream from a different console, you’ll need extra hardware to do it. Companies like El Gato, Roxio and Hauppauge make devices that will intercept the video and send it to your computer to stream.
Depending on the type of stream you expect to run, you’ll want a few other items to give your viewers the best experience. Grab a microphone so that everyone can hear your fabulous monologues. It can be a headset or a freestanding mic; it all depends on what will be most comfortable and useful to you.
Although it’s not necessary for streaming, including video of yourself is also a nice touch. Just hook up a reliable webcam to your PC and you’ll be set. If you do opt for a webcam, try to stream from a well-lit room so that your fans can actually see you. If you’re streaming from a console, the built-in camera capabilities of the PS4 and Xbox One mean that including your face is just a setting option when you set up your broadcast. The Xbox One’s Kinect will work as the camera, but you’ll need to purchase the PlayStation 4 camera separately.
Find your voice
The final point to consider when you’re getting ready to stream has nothing to do with your hardware. If you’re putting your gaming online for people to watch, then you need to give them a reason to tune in. Are you highly skilled? Are you a funny host? Are you good at explaining a particular game and its nuances?
A huge range of gamers and personalities can find followings as streamers. Think about why people might be interested in your gaming and what you bring to the Twitch community. Be ready to present that from the first time you go live.