Did your favorite Twitch players inspire you to start your own channel? Playing popular online games is a great way to make friends and interact with people who have similar interests. The difficult part, however, is setting it up for the first time.
Unfortunately, streaming on Twitch can take a bit of effort and you need to make sure you have the right software and equipment before you start. In this guide, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about streaming from a PC or modern consoles like PS4 and Xbox One.
Create a Twitch account
Before you can start streaming your game, you need to create a Twitch account. Navigate to the official Twitch website, click the purple login link in the top right corner, and enter your desired login information before clicking the purple login button below. Then click on your user name in the top right corner.
Before you start streaming, visit the Twitch Community Guidelines page for information about violations. This includes promoting racist, homophobic and alteristic views as well as derogatory remarks about military veterans and people with disabilities. Nudity in the stream is also prohibited, and you are expected to do your best to prevent your viewers from engaging in hateful speech and harassment.
Streaming from Windows or MacOS
Streaming games from your PC or Mac is more difficult than streaming from an Xbox One or PS4, as most systems don't have built-in software to get you started. There are subscription-based products like XSplit if you want to have control over every aspect of your shipment. However, if you only learn the basics of streaming, we recommend downloading the Open Broadcaster Software (OBS). The software is completely free, can be used on both Windows and MacOS and is supported by Twitch. If you want to start streaming with the least setup effort, the Twitch Studio app is another great choice. However, this application is still in the beta phase and is only available on Windows.
In this guide, we'll focus on how to stream from Windows and MacOS to Twitch with OBS, as this provides an easy way to stream without additional fluff.
Step 1: Download OBS
Downloading OBS couldn't be easier. First click on your username in the main Twitch interface and click on the Link Creator Dashboard. An update from Twitch changed the way it works, so you're staring at a page that looks like this:
Find the three bars in the upper left corner of the screen. Click this drop-down menu to see a list of other options to choose from. You want to click the Streaming Tools option. This will take you to a page with multiple download links to various streaming applications such as OBS. Find OBS in the list and click Download or visit the official website here. On the OBS website, select the version of OBS that you want to download. You can choose between Windows, Mac and Linux.
Step 2: set up the stream
There are all kinds of instructions on how to get the most out of OBS. However, there are few things to worry about when you are just starting out. The only options you really need to focus on are your video bitrate, audio bitrate, and your encoder.
Click the Output tab after clicking Settings in OBS, and make sure your video bitrate is set to around 2,500. This should allow you to stream content at 720p. However, you can increase this number if you want to send with a higher resolution. If you want to stream at 720p and 60 fps, it's probably worth increasing the bit rate to at least 3,500. The audio bit rate should be set to 128 regardless of your resolution. However, you can also reduce this if your internet speed is not optimal. If you have used an Nvidia graphics card from recent years, you can use the integrated NVENC encoder. Otherwise, you want to stick to the standard software x264 encoder from OBS. Make sure you click Apply to confirm the changes.
Step 3: Enter your stream key
Return to the Twitch website and return to the creator dashboard. Click Settings and then select the Channel option from the drop-down menu. This will take you to a page with your primary stream key and other options. Find the stream key area and press the copy key next to it. If your stream key is released somewhere where it should not be released, you can also reset it here at any time. Enter your stream key in OBS by clicking on "Settings" at the bottom right and then on "Stream". There you can see where you have to enter the key. Make sure you click Apply to make the changes.
Step 4: Connect your microphone and set up your game
Now it's time to set up the audio devices for your stream. Check out the Audio Mixer section in OBS. At least the volume bar for your desktop should already be set up. If it doesn't, you can add it manually by following the same instructions that you will use to add your microphone. In OBS, find the Settings button in the lower right area of the application.
If you click on it, your settings window will open. Go ahead and navigate to the Audio tab. Here you can add or remove audio devices as needed. Make sure that Desktop Audio is set to the correct hardware, and then locate the Mic / Aux audio options. You can set your microphone here. Once you've selected your microphone and desktop audio, return to the main OBS window and you should see your audio get through in the mixer below.
Originally, OBS did not offer native support for Mac desktop audio. However, this problem has been fixed with updates.
Next, open the game you want to stream and look at the Sources menu below in OBS. Find and press the + button at the bottom of the Sources section. It should call up a list of items. The easiest way to capture gameplay is to use the Capture Ad option. In this way, you can capture an entire desktop screen. However, this also means that confidential information can be shared on this screen. So be careful when using this option. If you only want to capture the game, you can select the Game Capture option. However, it should be noted that some games – especially those running on Vulkan – do not work properly with the game capture system integrated in OBS.
Step 5: stream!
That's all about it! Click the "Start Streaming" button on the OBS main screen and you will immediately start transferring from your Twitch account. When you’re done, just click Stop Streaming.
Streaming from a PlayStation 4
Julian Chokkattu / Digital Trends
Streaming from a PS4 console to Twitch is easy. You do not have to use any external software and you can even use a PlayStation camera as a microphone and "Facecam" for your programs!
If you have a PlayStation camera and want to use it, connect it. Just make sure that your camera's microphone is not muted using the quick menu on your console. Otherwise, you cannot use it with your stream.
Step 1: play a game
Unlike Windows and MacOS, you should open any game you want to stream before changing the broadcast settings. Once you've started the game, press the Share button next to the touchpad on your PS4 controller to open your broadcast settings.
Step 2: change settings and start streaming!
Select the broadcast gameplay here and you'll be given the option to stream through three different streaming services. Select Twitch and the service will provide you with a streaming key. Then go to twitch.tv/activate and enter the key. Your PS4 can start streaming in a few moments. However, let's change some other settings first.
The broadcast gameplay menu allows you to change the title of your stream, the quality and use of your camera and / or microphone. When you are satisfied with your settings, click on "Start broadcasting" and show your skills to the world!
Streaming from an Xbox One
Bill Roberson / Digital Trends
Streaming with Twitch on an Xbox One is almost as easy as on a PS4. However, some technical problems mean that you need another device.
If you want to have a "Facecam", older Xbox One owners can use the Xbox Kinect. (Technically, the Xbox One supports all USB webcams, but only the Kinect is compatible with the Xbox One's Twitch app.) If you do this, make sure you pair it with a headset to record your voice: The Kinect's microphone tends to turn off temporarily when streaming via Twitch. However, as long as you have a headset connected, the Stream uses this microphone instead of the microphone on the Kinect. If you don't have a Kinect, the camera and its adapter are no longer manufactured, so all you have to do is stick to the language.
Step 1: play a game
Just like a PS4, start a game on your Xbox One before you start streaming. Twitch automatically detects the game when the broadcast starts, making your content easier for potential viewers to find.
Then download the official Twitch application, open it and log in to the service. You will receive a stream key, which you then have to activate at twitch.tv/activate with your mobile device or computer.
Step 2: change settings and start streaming!
You have the option to change the title of your stream and the resulting quality before you start broadcasting on Xbox One. You can also move your Kinect's camera display to the four corners of your game's display. This won't appear as soon as you actually stream on your own TV, but viewers can still watch it.
Next, press Start Broadcast to stream your gameplay to the world. A ticker is displayed at the bottom of the screen, indicating how many viewers you have. If you use the Xbox One's snap feature to keep Twitch visible on the page, you can see your fans chatting in real time.
Most games do not allow you to mute your microphone in-game without muting it elsewhere. So create an Xbox Live party with yourself as the only member so other players don't have to hear your comment. When you invite other players to the party, their chat is also broadcast in real time. Be sure to inform them in advance!