How to Stream or Record Your Games for Online Streaming

Social gaming is much more than just inviting friends to play Mario Kart these days. It’s easier than ever to share every game you play online with hundreds of people, creating one giant community around your exploits in your favorite games – whether you’re good or not.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at streaming and recording your games on the largest platforms. Our instructions will focus on Twitch , but be aware that there are many other streaming services you can use as your home base for all your gaming adventures:

Why would I broadcast my games?

Streaming games to an unfamiliar audience may seem a little … odd. After all, isn’t the game more fun than watching someone play? But when you think about it, people have gazed into each other’s eyes over the years, from the early pinball machines to the slot machines to the present day, when celebrity players make millions on YouTube and broadcast major online gaming tournaments. thousands.

You may not be the famous superstar of your favorite game yet, but sharing your daring digital achievements with the world is a challenge. Sometimes you do some nice trick or discover a hidden gem. Sometimes it’s interesting to watch someone screw up. Sometimes the story is so engaging that it’s almost a movie. Watching movies is fun, so why not enjoy watching cinematic video games?

All the videos you’ve ever watched about people playing online games must come from somewhere. Broadcasting is easier than ever, and not only can you share your experience with other people, but they can also see what the game is like before buying it.

Basically, if you enjoy playing a game, there is no reason to think that other people won’t like watching you play it either.

How to stream games on Twitch

When it comes to streaming games, there is Twitch and everyone else. (Sorry Mixer and YouTube Gaming .) Twitch lets you stream your gameplay live, embed the stream on your website or blog, and share it on social media. It even has a built-in chat room for your viewers. If you want to share your games online, this is your first stop.

For all of the methods in this section, you need to register for a Twitch account, so do it here if you don’t already have one.

How to stream games to PC or Mac

Streaming from your computer requires dedicated broadcast software. Twitch recommends several options here . XSplit Gamecaster is one of the easiest to use. While there is a fee to upgrade to premium, its free offers are more than enough for most players. It only works on PCs, but another robust option, Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) , works on Macs as well.

XSplit Gamecaster (PC only)

Here’s how to get started with Gamecaster:

  1. Download the software and sign in with your Twitch credentials. In addition to Twitch, Gamecaster offers support for the following streaming services: YouTube Live, Facebook Live, Mixer, Smashcast, Ustream, Dailymotion, Niconico, and
  2. The software will automatically configure itself to stream your gameplay to Twitch.
  3. Choose a template to frame your game. Themes have an opening, main, and intermission scene that allows you to customize the screens your viewers see before the game, during the game, and when you need a break, respectively.
  4. Click Stream at the bottom of the screen, select Twitch and start playing.

Pressing Ctrl + Tab opens the Gamecaster HUD (top display) where you can customize your chat room and control other features. Gamecaster also lets you customize your webcam and microphone by clicking the options in the lower left corner of your screen.

Open Broadcaster Software (Mac, PC, Linux)

Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) is a little more complex, but completely free and offers professional streaming capabilities. Once you master it, you can use it to create impressive streams and recordings.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed OBS , you’ll need to sign in to Twitch. OBS does not support the ability to sign in directly to Twitch, so you need to obtain a “stream key” from Twitch, which you can get here . This key changes periodically, so you may need to update it every time you stream with OBS. After receiving it, follow these steps:

  1. In OBS, click the Settings button in the lower right corner.
  2. Select “Stream” in the left pane.
  3. Next to Service, select Twitch.
  4. Next to Stream Key, enter the key you received from your Twitch dashboard.
  5. When you first set up OBS, you may be prompted to change some video settings, depending on your settings. They will be displayed at the bottom of the window in red text. If any of them exist, fix them before moving on.

When you’re done, you can move on to setting up your broadcast. It will take a little more customization to start the stream than the Gamecaster, but it’s still pretty straightforward. To get started, follow these steps:

  1. Open the game you want to stream.
  2. In OBS, right-click the Sources field.
  3. From the Add menu> choose Window Capture. (You can also use Desktop Capture if you want to share more than just a game window, but we’ll keep it simple for now.) Name the source and press Enter.
  4. From the drop-down menu at the top of the next dialog box, select your game window. Click OK.
  5. When you’re ready to start broadcasting, click Start Broadcast.

You can create additional window capture sources for your stream, for example, add webcams to the feed on top of the game. OBS also has a set of plugins that can extend the functionality of the application. While OBS is a little more difficult to use, it also offers a lot more features and customization options than Gamecaster, so it’s up to you what you want to use. It’s also the best option for streaming gameplay from your Mac.

Twitch studio

If you’re an early adopter, you can try Twitch’s own new broadcasting software, Twitch Studio . It is currently in beta and available for PC only. The program guides you through everything you need to do to start streaming, making it easier than OBS.

How to stream games to Xbox One

With Xbox One, game streaming is built into the OS; you don’t need to install a separate application to stream the game. By default, you submit your stream to the Microsoft Mixer service.

To get started, hold the Xbox button while playing (or preparing to play), select the Streaming tab, and then select Start Streaming. A wizard will open to guide you through settings such as stream quality, adding additional players, and more. Pressing the B button will return you to the game.

If you’d prefer to stream to Twitch from your Xbox One, you’ll need to download the Twitch app to your console. And before broadcasting, you need to link your account. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Twitch app on your Xbox One console.
  2. On the left side of the application menu, select “Login”.
  3. Open on your computer or phone.
  4. Enter the six-digit code on your Xbox to link your account.

Once your accounts are linked, you can start streaming. Just select the Start Streaming tile to start publishing. You will be given the option to turn on the Kinect video or audio using your microphone. If you are a Kinect user, you can also say “Xbox, Broadcast” to start your streaming session after everything is set up.

How to stream games to PlayStation 4

The PlayStation 4 can also stream directly to Twitch. The PlayStation controller has a Share button that you can use to start the process, but as usual, you’ll need to link your accounts first. Do it:

  1. Go to Settings> Account Management> Link to Other Services.
  2. Select Twitch and sign in to your Twitch account.

Then start the game you want to play. Broadcast:

  1. Press the Share button while playing.
  2. Select an online service. We’ll be using Twitch, but PS4 also supports YouTube right out of the box. If prompted, sign into your streaming account.
  3. To customize your broadcast while you broadcast, you can use the Options button to open the Advanced Broadcast menu.

Of all the platforms, PS4 seems to be the easiest to stream as it doesn’t require any special downloads. You can also use the Share menu to take screenshots or record video clips.

How to record your games so you can show off

A live stream can be fun, but once the stream is over, you (or your viewers) may want to watch it again. You can also use your recordings later to make flashy clips or just show off something crazy you did. If you are using Twitch, as we have recommended so far in this guide, there is an easy way to make this possible:

  1. Open your Twitch account online before streaming. In the upper-right corner of the site, click your profile icon and select Authors Toolbar.
  2. Select the Channel option on the left.
  3. Click the toggle next to Save Past Broadcasts to On.

If enabled, you can save broadcasts for later viewing. Twitch will not save your stream indefinitely (currently all broadcasts will save for 14 days), but you can download videos to your computer and share them on any video platform you want. If you are not yet in the live stream, this is the easiest way to record a video. However, if you want to save and edit them before they are published, there are other ways.

How to record your game on PC or Mac

To record your PC gameplay, you can use any of the apps we talked about in the streaming section. (Mac users will want to use OSB.)

For XSplit Gamecaster, you will see a record button next to the stream button. If you’ve followed the instructions above but want to save your action rather than broadcast it, just click that option.

To find your recordings, go to Settings, click the Recording tab and click the location next to Directory.

To record your gameplay using OBS for Mac or PC, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Settings button in the lower right corner of OBS.
  2. Click Output in the left pane.
  3. Next to Write Path, select the directory where you want to save the output files.
  4. Select the output quality. Please note that if you select “as stream”, you will not be able to pause recording while playing.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Open the game you want to play and add it to the Sources panel.
  7. Click “Start Recording” in the lower right corner.

Your gameplay will be recorded to your hard drive as you play and will be available for viewing or editing as soon as you click Stop Recording. You may have to tinker with the recording settings if you find that the video quality is not up to par. Keep in mind that you are playing a graphics intensive video game and recording it on the same computer; this can burden your computer, so either reduce the graphics quality in your game, or the resolution you record, or both if you find your video stutters or skips too much.

The final option for recording your game on PC is to use the Game Bar in Windows 10:

  1. Open your game.
  2. Open Game Bar by pressing Windows + G on your keyboard.
  3. Adjust the settings if necessary. You can select volume levels and sound sources, and activate or deactivate the microphone.
  4. Press the Record button, start playing and capture the action.

How to record your game on the console

Back in the ancient era, just a few years ago, recording or streaming console games meant connecting your device to a capture card on your computer and using an application like OBS or XSplit. If you are using an older console such as the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, this is unfortunately still your best bet .

Recording new consoles is much easier, though: our sister site Kotaku has a detailed guide specifically for recording games on consoles , but here are the basic steps for both Xbox and PS4.

Xbox one

If you have Kinect installed, you can start recording by saying “Xbox, start recording.” You can also use “Xbox, Record This” to play a clip that includes the last 30 seconds of gameplay (thanks to the system’s default video buffer). If you don’t have Kinect, follow these steps:

  1. Press the Xbox button.
  2. Press the X button to save the last 30 seconds of the game.
  3. To record longer segments, press the view button (it has two small overlapping rectangles), then Record From Now, and then the A button.
  4. Recording will start when you resume the game. When you’re done, press the Xbox button again and then the X button.

Note that the Xbox will store up to 10 minutes of game play, or up to an hour if you plug in an external hard drive. You can edit your clips on Xbox using Microsoft Upload Studio if you want to customize endpoints or link multiple videos together.

If you want to transfer videos to your PC, you can install the OneDrive app on your Xbox, upload them to your storage, and access them on your PC.

Playstation 4

Sony has made recording your gameplay as easy as broadcasting it. To record clips, double-click the Share button. This will start recording immediately. Double-tap it again to stop.

You can only click the Share button once to change the recording settings if you want, including the default clip lengths. If you want to record more than a few minutes of gameplay, you can set the maximum recording duration to one hour.

If you want to record what just happened, rather than what is about to happen, the PlayStation will serve you even better than the Xbox because the machine always records your last 15 minutes of play. So if you’re doing something big and want to save it, just press and hold the Share button and select Save Video Clip, or hit the Square button. You can also use the sharing menu to post your clips to social media (found in the capture gallery).

Sony also has a built-in video editor called Share Factory that you can use to edit your clips. If you want to export them for editing on your computer, you can plug your USB drive into your PS4 and use the capture gallery to copy them. In the Capture Gallery, select Options and select Copy Video to USB.

This article was originally published in 2015 by Eric Ravenscraft and updated April 2020 by Michael Franco. We’ve revamped the article significantly in a new revision, clarifying the instructions for the software / devices that have changed, rewriting parts of the article for clarity, and suggesting some additional ways to stream and / or record your game. The post was updated again on November 9, 2020 to bring content in line with current Lifehacker standards for the use of photographs and screenshots.


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