The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Video game Streaming 2020
Besides creating them, you could also record yourself playing them for a living. Video Game streaming is something that many don’t understand yet (especially parents). But it is real: you can do it right now.
This ultimate beginner’s guide will cover everything you need to make it happen: from doing your first stream to growing an audience and changing people’s lives.
So, do you want to be a Streamer? How can you get started?
How to Start Video Game Streaming in 2020
I get asked this question all of the time: “how do I start streaming?”
It’s possibly the most frequent question (FAQ) people ask me.
First things first… It’s exactly as you imagine: Streaming, or “to be a streamer,” is to record yourself playing video games over a live video feed so that others can watch you play in the hope of either being entertained or learning gaming insights to apply to their own gameplay time.
Choose the hardware and game to play, a platform to stream, press “Record,” and interact with your viewers.
And while there are several ways to get started (most well-known streamers are also esports players, game developers, designers, or content creators)… Sometimes, the best way to get started is to simply jump into and do it.
So, in theory, anyone can start streaming.
But to be frank, it is also not something you can simply pick up and grow overnight to superstar level audiences such as Ninja, Pokimane, Shroud, or Dr. Disrespect.
Streamers of this caliber have put in several years to get where they are now.
They often have a professional media team at their disposal to help them curate attention-grabbing content. Besides, it ain’t easy to go LIVE consistently and open the doors to hundreds or thousands into your private, un-editable life.
Don’t worry. There’s an alternative path if you don’t like the idea of live streaming.
Just record yourself playing your favorite games and then upload it to content providers such as YouTube or Gamerone.
Both the main and alternative paths are connected (streamers upload videos of their plays and content creators go LIVE on special occasions).
But this is just the overall Macro point-of-view. Let’s get down to the juicy details.
There’s much more to it (which I’ll explain in this guide).
This is the Equipment You Need to Stream Video Games
There are a few basics that you will need to stream video games. I’ll cover the essential equipment (both hardware and software).
In the first place…
What hardware do you need for Streaming?
- Gaming hardware to play your games (PC, console, or mobile device).
- A microphone (built-in default mic or wired/wireless headset).
- A camera (USB camera, Phone, iPad, or built-in laptop camera).
Let’s talk about each point now.
- Streaming Video Games with a Desktop Computer or Laptop
Most streamers will use a single desktop computer or a laptop for streaming.
We call this a single-system setup, where the streamer uses one piece of hardware to play games and capture their live stream all at the same time. Or, you could use a dual-system setup (two laptops or desktop computers) to push the boundaries of in-game performance, as well as in-stream animation effects.
As you can imagine, with one device, you play the game, and with the other, you capture, record, and broadcast the stream.
You could expect a smoother, non-laggy experience, with fewer drops of FPS rates.
On the other hand, also expect to pay more than what you would with a single one.
But who said “PC master race” is the only way to stream?
- Streaming Video Games with Consoles
Fortunately for the fellow console players, the latest generations have streaming software built-in. The only downside is the need to purchase online access passes.
Just get your monthly or yearly membership, follow the simple set-up process, and you’ll be ready to start. But the good news is that you probably are subscribed already to one of these services (You need them to play online games).
Fact: some streamers have their console of choice and computer connected to benefit from each hardware device.
Now that we talk about devices… What about mobile gaming?
- Streaming Video Games with Mobile Device
Did you know that you can share live gameplay videos directly from your Android and iOS devices? The two most common ways to do this are:
- Installing a broadcasting app (as StreamLabs or MobCrush) that connects with popular platforms.
- Download platforms Apps (Twitch) and use their broadcasting option.
But if for any reason, these two don’t work out for you, you could also install the Reflector 3 app to connect your smartphone or tablet to your computer. That way, you’ll have the option to launch the live streaming software on the computer. Use the AirDrop feature for iOS devices or Cast option for Android.
Now, after choosing your gaming hardware, take some minutes to think about the camera and microphone you’ll use from now on.
I mean, you can go LIVE without a cam or mic… But my honest suggestion is to not do it.
So, starting with the mic: what should you consider before picking one?
Picking a Microphone for Video Game Streaming
When streaming, you want your voice to come across to your audience in a clear fashion.
To start, you can simply use a built-in laptop microphone or plug in your wired handsfree headphones into the mic jack of your desktop to pick up your audio.
This is the cheapest option to get started with.
Often the biggest issues with using the basic kit are that it can be prone to ambient noise such as your gaming desktop fan whirling in the background, noisy keyboards or controllers, and any awkward heavy breathing.
Therefore, it is a good idea to spend some money buying a decent headset that will act as both headphones and should come with a decent microphone.
If you’re looking for something a little more advanced then check out SteelSeries Arctis Pro wireless gaming headset with lossless high fidelity wireless + Bluetooth.
Now, they hear you.
But can they see you?
Picking a Camera for Video Game Streaming
To start, most built-in or external webcams are enough.
However, I suggest you check the box or in the “About Product” section for two important specs: Frames per second (FPS) and Progressive scan, which is the number of pixels displayed across a screen horizontally.
You may be familiar with this number when shopping for a TV. However, check for the recording resolution rather than display resolution.
For cameras, the higher the number before the P, the better, but to start, a basic 720p webcam should do the work. Of course, I suggest scaling from 720p upwards to 1080p if possible, for a clearer image definition that your audience will enjoy.
Equally, I suggest a camera that has an FPS rating somewhere between 30fps – 90fps rating.
Remember, if you can afford it, go get it.
If you don’t, no problem. There will be time for upgrades.
One of the best budget cameras to start with is the Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000.
Alternatively (at the mid-tier level), you can choose the Logitech C922x Pro Stream Webcam. This camera is widely popular with Twitch streamers.
Yes, that would be for it. There’s not much to think about…
Although, there’s one thing left: the software program you’ll use to Stream!
Software to Stream Video Games
The streaming software will be used for screen recording, video editing, and live streaming.
It allows you to take your video stream footage and combine it with effects, logos, audio, etc. It provides that professional edge that sets you apart from the amateurs.
I don’t think you can go too wrong with OBS Studio, a free, open-source streaming software. Check out the TechRadar OBS Studio review here.
But because you like to have extra options to go for, I also present you with the Nvidia Shadowplay (now Geforce Experience) and the Xsplit Gamecaster software.
Again, it is up to you which hardware and software you choose to stream. For whichever you go for, you will find hundreds of tutorials online to set them up correctly.
And now you have your hardware equipment checked off your list, let’s now pick the platform you want to live stream on.
Top 6 Video Game Streaming Platforms
Here’s where you’ll be on for a long time if you want to succeed. So it might be the best time to ask yourself: “why do I want to stream in the first place?”
If you are looking to stream within a community of friends, platforms like Steam and Discord cover this very well: in-game broadcasting and screen sharing for your friend’s groups or servers, with almost no delay.
However, if you decide to stream to make an income, then you should be looking to stream on a platform that offers as many commercial opportunities as possible.
Typically this falls within the following six platforms:
Twitch sets a precedent for streaming sites, still being the most popular platform in the world. It offers a user-friendly interface, chatbots integrations, and partner programs.
Twitch also has an underground community of trolls who could attempt to insult or mock you for fun at any time.
So, it’s evident that there are advantages and disadvantages to using Twitch:
2) YouTube (Not “YouTube Gaming” Anymore)
YouTube Gaming doesn’t exist anymore.
The colossal video platform decided to close it down on May 20. But you can still upload gaming-related content as well as live streaming in the traditional way.
YouTube is the world’s 2nd most popular search engine (after Google).
Still, has its pros and cons of using it for video game streaming:
Facebook is a well-established behemoth of a social network where gamers can now share their streams on their timelines and in gaming groups.
They created an incentivization program called “Level Up,” which offers a particular fan-focused currency, customized support, and high-quality streaming (1080p, 60 fps).
Our advantages and disadvantages of using Facebook Gaming:
This streaming platform, founded by Microsoft, gained attention when it signed Ninja and Shroud, big-name Twitch streamers, to a contract with the service.
But… Yeah. Mixer shut down on July 22 of 2020 (RIP MIXER).
So, unfortunately, you can no longer use it to stream there.
This one isn’t a direct competitor of the previously mentioned platforms, but instead, it’s more like a distributor to streaming and social media channels.
See it as a convenient way to spread your profile and unify your audience.
Still, there are several pros and cons to MobCrush that I must markdown:
Drake got his name on the news after playing with Ninja at Twitch, but he has its channel on this platform.
So Its primary focus for content isn’t gaming-only, but also sports and general entertainment.
They have gotten investment from huge companies like 21st Century Fox and partnered with Twitch to host events like the pre-game celebrations for Super Bowl this year (2020).
Being said, these are the advantages and disadvantages of streaming on Caffeine:
Azubu and Hitbox company websites were shut down to become one: Smascast.
It focuses mainly on eSports broadcasting. That’s where they got the inspiration to create features as the “Hype-o-Meter” to cheer your favorite teams, besides profile page feeds and Discord integrations.
Among the two biggest influencers that have broadcasted in DLive, I could mention: Alex Jones, after being banned from YouTube (and later banned as well out of DLive), and PewDiePie (from April 2019 to May 2020).
It’s well-known for using blockchain as its operational donation system.
When we talk about any of these video game streaming platforms, we usually lead ourselves with the expectations of hundreds, thousands, and hundreds of thousands of viewers.
And everyone else thinks in the same way.
But to keep yourself accountable and reach your goals, you first need to start with smaller milestones. I mean, you can set baby steps along with your friends as a private audience.
That’s up to you. It is not worth it to feel down and unprepared.
Now, if you’re ready to get out to the public… Let’s go LIVE?
How to Gain More Viewers and Grow a Loyal Audience as a Video Game Streamer
So far, you have brainstormed many ideas and set up both hardware and software. You know what games you want to play and on which platform. Probably your username has been picked as well (it could be your game tag).
It is now time to attract viewers and grow a loyal audience.
First of all, put the Kevlar on before each Livestream session… Because people could either love or dislike your stream (not necessarily dislike YOU).
What could get you more over the “loved” side is to find out your unique talent and leverage on it. Especially if many try desperately to get viewers at the same time, it’s better to market yourself over the average Joe out there.
That doesn’t mean being better than everyone else. I don’t support playing the “Ego game.”
It’s just seeing how you can get viewers spending their most valuable resource (time) on your live streams.
it’s not about you. It’s about what your viewers want. And that depends entirely on the game genre.
For example, audiences of fast-paced shooters, battle-royales, and MOBAs tend to demand elite-level gameplay, differently than those more chilled that enjoy “just chatting” activities.
Can you guess which type of audience enjoys each category?
Again, the game to choose depends on your enjoyment. But your growth depends on theirs. Engage and ask as much as possible – that alone will make you stand out.
So probably, one of the most important takeaways from today’s guide is to not be afraid to put the game down and just chat.
That’s ironic, referring to videogame streaming… But think about it for a moment: how great would it be if your favorite YouTuber, streamer, or content creator mentions you while being LIVE, answers your questions, and discusses whatever options you might have.
That type of engagement is what will lead you fast-forward to grow a loyal audience.
Now, talking about fast-forwarding: shortcuts (Viewer bots and similar “growth hacks”) hurt you more than doing good. Instead, your best way to gain more views is through the following promotional methods:
Social Media Marketing (Effectiveness ☆)
Those who binge videogame streaming have a deep connection with social media.
Why? Because it’s like a new window to your life.
And for you, the benefits are plenty. Mainly, you can build anticipation for your schedule. Besides, it’s the best source for real-time feedback. But how to do it correctly, without spending a dime?
There are two ways:
- Networking: This is going after the type of profile you think would enjoy your content and just… Engage with them: like, comment, and share their content. The same applies to other content creators. For “competitors,” you could look into their follower lists and engage with those who fit your audience profile.
For non-competitors content creators, you can contact them to establish a relationship, and hopefully, a partnership that could put you in front of a new audience.
- Content: Have you ever heard “content is king?” After all, what is content?
In this context, it’s not more than the images and videos you could post for others to watch after landing on your profile. Live Streams are content as well. But to be honest, you won’t be streaming 24/7, don’t you?
Then, what can you do instead? Repurposing (taking the very best parts and chunking them into digestible images, memes, or 1-min-or-less videos).
To stand out, you should always aim for content to be both entertaining and educative (that it teaches a lesson, tip, or new trick).
Yes, this is highly-effective… I could even dare to say that it is more effective than the next method. But it just takes too much time to execute (especially when you’re first starting).
Paid-Per-Click Advertising (Effectiveness ☆☆)
As I just mentioned, organic social media marketing takes a long time to produce results. In this case, you can save a lot of it, spending some of your hard-earned money.
Yes, you can place Ads on social media platforms, on other’s websites, or inside Apps platforms. And it doesn’t have to cost you that much.
The only drawback to this is that it takes a learning curve to execute effectively. Meaning, to see a positive return-on-investment for every penny you put in.
What’s the best way to do it? Create a hard-to-resist offer (like a giveaway) and redirect everyone to your social media profiles, or even to your website. This website aims to host all your information (profiles, schedule, other projects) in a single place.
Although I would recommend you to do it once you start learning about your audience, or if you’re part of a team. A one-page website (landing page) is more than enough.
But what if I tell you… There’s a better and less-expensive way to do this?
GamerOne / G1 (Effectiveness ☆☆☆)
Inside our free platform, building your brand is easier and gets done faster than ever. Just create a gamer profile and showcase your skills, stats, and achievements.
With it, you can network and connect with influencers… And have all your content accessible into one feed. This gets you well-known without much effort or friction.
You can even find other like-minded gamers to play with and upcoming local events/tournaments to participate in. Additionally, team scouts and investors that you couldn’t find anywhere else.
Whatever the method you’ll try, consistency is the only growth hack that works here.
Your audience will like to see you often. Having a schedule to reference will add the odds to your side, and it will be sooner than later when you start noticing the snowball rolling.
Because as you might guess, some followers will start coming here and there when first starting and learning all the how-tos. But if you keep going and working smartly… It will be too hard to stop the follower’s count.
Now… In an ideal world, you could make it your full-time job.
But don’t drop out of school or quit your day job before getting some financial trust fund to back on. Here’s where the money-making part starts.
Let’s learn all the well-known ways in which streamers get money playing video games.
7 Ways to Make Money Streaming Video Games (Ideas to monetize)
Do you know what differentiates you from a PewDiePie-level of income?
Well, the difference is that he (and other gaming content creators) monetize through all or most of the following ways (sorted by achievability order):
This is how your audience can support you and get rewarded with exclusive perks by doing so.
Most platforms have tiers corresponding to better rewards (for bigger payout).
They would provide you with a recurring stream of income for your streams (pun intended) and get new emotes, plus ad-free live streams back, for example.
Have you seen or heard that text-to-speech message broadcasted during a live stream?
“@clarkerino donated $10!” – That’s what I refer to as donations.
Also known as tips or cheers, they can range from a few dollars up to the thousands. Paypal and Patreon are the most popular platforms to get donations.
If you want to see them come frequently, the best thing to do is, attach milestone goals for specific amounts.
What collective goal can boost your viewer’s goodwill?
They often fall under a flat-rate CPM (cost-per-thousand) model.
That translates to charging for every one-thousand views (impressions) from the Ads shown before or during your live stream.
The ads shown just right before joining the stream are called Pre-roll, while those shown during are called mid-roll or interstitial.
You could be the best player in the world, but you wouldn’t ever get recruited on a team if team owners can’t discover your talent.
That’s why streaming can be a huge door for joining an Esports league team. You could even get your name out and get entries on tournaments, getting good cash back (after winning, of course).
But we already published a guide to becoming a professional esports player.
Brand Deals (Sponsorships)
Video Game streamers are also considered influencers.
Naturally, advertising teams and companies inside the industry would like to work with you on one-time product campaigns or in long-term brand ambassadorships, if they see monetary value from doing so.
Remember that advertisers calculate if the amount they will get for the investment is bigger than the expenses. If so, you’ll get all the tech-and-travel offers.
Know your numbers (as subscribers and lifetime value) seeking a Win-Win scenario.
Have you seen any banner under your favorite streamer’s profile, promoting products and services from brands as Amazon, G-fuel, Razer, Jinx, G2A, blitz.gg, or many others?
They get a commission for every sale of a third-party product or service.
While you get only a fraction per sale (3% to 20%), it becomes profitable after you reach over a thousand viewers.
Related:68 Gaming Affiliate Programs
But maybe you want to take care of the production yourself (at least partly).
“What type of products?” – You may ask.
Well, you don’t have to limit to the mainstream T-shirts, Coffee Mugs, and Hats everybody else offers.
The idea here is to think out of the box and create something that your followers say, “I want and need that!” and that these companies can produce.
This A to Z beginner’s guide for Video Game Streaming opens many choices for you to choose between (as long as it makes you happy, be it getting your first bucks or just having fun with new friends).
But be aware… Because the fun can last you little if you don’t take enough precautions.
Risks & Legal Issues of Streaming Video Games
I don’t want to ruin it for you… But neither do I want to see you becoming a stalking victim and other common threats that public figures face on the Internet.
You might encounter insulting, death-threatening, disturbing people from now on.
Stream Sniping (spying enemy player’s streams to gain a tactical advantage) isn’t a threat to worry about.
Instead… Swatting is one of those things that I would love not to exist. But it does.
So make sure to take proper measures and face it with the best attitude if it ever happens.
Mostly because from now, this could count as a real business (it doesn’t matter how young you are). And business can be both ruthless and exciting.
So play smart, have a lot of fun, and please don’t get scared for what I’m telling you.
The following guidelines are there for you to not get a “Whoopsie” moment later on.
While these are the set of risks, you can’t control that much… There are others you definitely can.
Here’s where legalities come in: Copyright strikes and ToS violations.
For the corporate world, it doesn’t matter how big and important you are.
A minimal sign of violation could get you banned (24 to 48 hours, or even permanently). Just see how Dr. Disrespect, mang0, Jukes, Alinity, and Kaceytron were banned for seemingly “small mistakes.”
Warnings could come directly from big publishers or the streaming platforms.
So make sure to give an overview of the DMCA, Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act, and any other “rulebooks” shown just right after you sign in.
This will definitely make you feel more comfortable and less intimidated afterward, knowing what gets you banned and what not. For example, copyrighted music is a big NO to stay away from.
In conclusion: avoid feeling guilty for playing games while no-one’s watching.
Try this one project and see for yourself if it works or not.
At least you’ll know you’ve tried!