Live streaming video games has become an extremely popular form of entertainment. Top streamers can make a full-time living broadcasting their gameplay to audiences on platforms like Twitch and YouTube.
If you‘re an aspiring streamer looking to share your gaming content, choosing the right platform is crucial. The streaming service you use can impact your potential reach, monetization options, and overall streaming experience.
In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll explore the top options for live streaming your games in 2022.
What to Consider When Choosing a Live Streaming Platform
There are several key factors to evaluate when selecting a streaming service for your gaming content:
Audience – Consider where your target viewers are already watching streams. Platforms like Twitch have huge gaming-focused audiences. YouTube also has a massive general audience.
Monetization – Most streaming services offer ways for creators to earn money. Look into subscription options, ad revenue sharing, tipping, and more.
Features – Platforms offer different features like chat, extensions, overlays and more that can enhance your stream.
Ease of use – How easy is it to set up and manage your stream? Some services are more beginner friendly than others.
Mobile streaming – If you want to stream your mobile games, make sure the platform fully supports mobile.
Community – Is there an active community of fellow streamers on the platform you can engage with?
Thinking through factors like these will help you select the best match for your streaming needs. Now let‘s take a deeper look at the top options.
YouTube Live is a great option for streaming your gaming content if you already have an active YouTube channel and audience.
With over 2 billion monthly users, YouTube offers incredible reach for potential viewers. Setting up streams is simple through YouTube Studio, and you can broadcast up to 4K resolution.
YouTube also offers multiple ways for gaming creators to monetize streams:
YouTube SuperChat – Fans pay to have messages highlighted during your live stream.
Channel Memberships – Fans pay a monthly fee for special perks like custom emoji.
Ad revenue sharing – Earn a cut of the ad revenue from your streams and VODs.
Merchandise shelves – Sell shirts, hats, and other merch right on your channel.
The YouTube platform is very beginner-friendly. And if you already have a following on YouTube, it can be easier to attract an audience to your livestreams. However, building a viewership solely focused on gaming content may take more effort compared to platforms like Twitch.
Twitch is by far the most popular streaming platform explicitly focused on gaming. It boasts over 30 million average daily visitors.
Twitch is home to well-established gaming communities and cultures. If you want to immerse yourself within a highly engaged gaming audience, Twitch is likely the best fit.
For monetization, Twitch offers Streamers:
Subscription service – Fans pay a monthly fee and you earn a share.
Bit donations – Fans buy Bits (Twitch currency) to tip you.
Advertising revenue share
The platform makes it easy to build relationships with viewers through community features. Extensions like Chat and custom stream overlays give you the tools to create an interactive streaming experience.
While Twitch provides awesome reach within the core gaming audience, it may not be as beginner-friendly as other options. Standing out can take time. But for serious gaming streamers, Twitch represents an incredible opportunity.
With over 3.6 billion monthly users, Facebook Gaming gives you an opportunity to reach a huge audience interested in gaming content. Fans can easily find your stream and subscribe right within Facebook.
Facebook offers monetization options like:
- Stars – Fans can buy and send Stars as tips during your stream.
- Ad revenue sharing – Earn a cut of the ad revenue from your streams.
- Subscriptions – Fans pay monthly for access to exclusive content and perks
- Donations – Supporters can donate during your stream.
An existing Facebook following gives you a head start on attracting viewers. But even without an existing audience, Facebook makes it easy to share your stream across your News Feed, Groups, and more.
One downside is that Facebook Gaming lacks some of the more advanced tools and tight-knit gaming community feeling of a platform like Twitch. But if you want to tap into Facebook‘s massive audience, it‘s a solid option.
In addition to YouTube Live streaming, YouTube also offers a dedicated YouTube Gaming platform focused entirely on game streaming and VODs.
YouTube Gaming makes it easy for viewers to explore both live and recorded gaming content in one place. As a streamer, your content may be more discoverable to the core gaming audience here versus the main YouTube platform.
YouTube Gaming offers all the same monetization options and benefits as YouTube Live. The main advantage is the ability to focus on building your gaming specific audience.
One potential downside is that YouTube Gaming has far less traffic than Twitch. However, leveraging the power of the overall YouTube platform can help expand your reach and earn a following.
Mixer is a live streaming platform owned by Microsoft and integrated with Xbox. The service isn‘t as large as Twitch, but it offers some unique advantages for gaming streamers.
Mixer has extremely low stream latency. This means your viewers experience your stream in real time with hardly any delay – a big benefit for stream interactivity.
Mixer also offers streamers monetization options like:
- Sparks (virtual currency for tipping)
- Ember donations
- Skills to trigger custom effects
In addition to the typical stream features, Mixer gives you creative ways like Skills to engage your audience. The platform also makes it easy to manage and grow your stream with tools integrated right into the Xbox experience.
The downside of Mixer is its relatively small user base compared to giants like YouTube and Twitch. But Mixer‘s focused community and interactive features give it strong appeal among certain gaming streamers.
Caffeine is a newer platform quickly making a name for itself in live streaming. The service markets itself on a "lean back" viewing experience that aims to mimic TV programming.
Caffeine offers minimal interface elements and distractions and focuses on high quality, lag-free video. As a streamer, you can broadcast gameplay seamlessly from a variety of platforms and devices.
For monetization, Caffeine lets viewers support streamers by purchasing digital items to trigger special effects and animations during broadcasts. There are also options for subscriptions and fan donations.
One major advantage of Caffeine is that it allows you to retain ownership rights over your streams. You can download and reuse content however you like. Just be sure to follow individual game copyright rules.
As a newer platform, Caffeine has work to do in catching up to the big players. But it brings a unique approach to live streaming that may appeal for your gaming niche.
For PC gamers, Steam offers built-in streaming integration directly through the Steam client.
Steam streaming allows you to share your Steam library gameplay to viewers right inside the platform. Friends in your Steam community get notifications when you go live.
For discovery, your stream is listed within the Steam game community hub you‘re currently playing. This makes it easy for engaged players to find you.
Steam itself currently offers limited monetization options. You can provide links to third-party donation services. Some opportunities for affiliate commissions also exist.
But the main advantage of Steam streaming is the ability to tap into the incredibly active Steam gaming community. Reach is focused, but highly targeted. For serious PC gamers, this can be a powerful discovery tool.
Just keep in mind, you are limited to streaming titles from your Steam library. Overall, Steam integration shines for social streaming within Valve game communities.
Additional Gaming Live Stream Platforms
Beyond the major players above, here are a few other options to consider for game streaming:
- Trovo – Interactive streaming platform with fast growth. Provides subscription and donation revenue.
- DLive – Focused on gamers and blockchain rewards. Earn for engagement.
- Smashcast – Caters to eSports streamers. Provides video, audio and text chat.
- Vkontakte – Russia‘s largest social network. Built-in video streaming.
- Omlet Arcade – Focused on mobile gaming. Smaller user base.
The streaming service you choose ultimately depends on your specific goals and target audience as a gaming creator. As you evaluate options, think carefully about which platforms offer the best opportunities for growth and monetization.
Tools for Streaming Your Gameplay
Once you‘ve selected your streaming platform, you‘ll need software to interface with it and broadcast your gameplay. Here are some top options:
Open Broadcaster Software (OBS)
OBS is a completely free and open source streaming program for Mac, Windows and Linux. It‘s incredibly robust and provides a wide range of customization options.
OBS allows you to capture your gameplay, add special effects, overlays, videos, audio, webcam feeds and more. You can stream to most major platforms with OBS, often with just a few clicks.
While OBS is very powerful for experienced streamers, the interface does have a learning curve. It may take beginners time to configure properly. But overall, OBS is by far the most popular and capable free streaming software.
Streamlabs OBS offers an alternative to standard OBS built with beginners in mind. The easy-to-use interface still provides access to many advanced settings.
Key features include hundreds of free themes and overlays, widgets and alerts, and tools to help optimize streams. You also get deep analytics on your streams and a mobile control app.
Streamlabs OBS guides first-time streamers through setup and configuration. You can be up and running much quicker compared to native OBS. Just be aware you lose some customization flexibility. But for most simple to intermediate streams, Streamlabs OBS is an excellent choice.
Xbox Game Streaming
If you‘re playing on Xbox One or Xbox Series X/S, Microsoft offers integrated Xbox Game Streaming.
This allows you to broadcast your Xbox games directly to streaming platforms without capture cards or other equipment. Simply download the Xbox app on Windows 10 or mobile to get started as a streamer.
Configuration is straightforward and you can add overlays through apps like Lightstream. Quality and reliability is solid thanks to Xbox cloud infrastructure. Just keep in mind you are limited to streaming Xbox console titles only.
PlayStation Remote Play
Similar to Xbox, PlayStation 4 and 5 consoles offer integrated remote play and streaming capabilities through the PlayStation Remote Play app.
You can stream your PlayStation games to your Windows PC or Mac wirelessly over the internet. This feed can then be broadcast using OBS or other streaming software.
Setup takes a bit more effort compared to Xbox streaming. But remote play works very well for PlayStation exclusive titles. You can add overlays and other elements through OBS to create a quality production.
Lightstream offers a cloud-based streaming studio that lets you easily composite multiple video and audio sources into one professional-looking stream.
The service allows you to combine your gameplay footage, webcam, graphics, videos, audio and more. Lightstream handles compositing everything together into a high-quality stream in real time.
The cloud-powered approach means you avoid taxing your local gaming PC resources. Lightstream also provides templates, overlays and tools to customize your stream without advanced technical knowledge.
Lightstream pricing starts at $8/month for 720p streams. So it isn‘t free. But it can help amateur streamers achieve high production quality, especially when combining multiple input sources.
Mobcrush specializes in mobile game streaming. The platform allows mobile gamers to live stream content from iOS and Android devices.
Mobcrush offers overlays, multi-streaming, and other features tailored to mobile streamers. You can use the app to reach audiences across Twitch, Facebook, YouTube and more simultaneously.
The company also sponsors tournaments and events for mobile esports. If streaming mobile games is your focus, Mobcrush provides helpful tools to elevate production value and streamline multi-platform distribution.
Tips for Growing Your Game Streaming Channel
Once your tools are in place, focus on consistently growing your viewership and community. Here are some top tips:
Establish a schedule – Pick set times so fans know when to watch you regularly.
Interact with your audience – Read chat, answer questions, and make viewers feel welcomed.
Promote your stream – Share when going live on social media, gaming forums, etc.
Collaborate with others – Team up with other streamers to gain cross-exposure.
Analyze your analytics – Use dashboard data to refine your approach over time.
Optimize SEO – Include relevant keywords in titles, descriptions, tags, etc.
Aside from providing great entertainment, focus on building genuine connections with supporters. Your passion will shine through.
Start Streaming Your Gameplay Today
Game streaming presents an exciting opportunity to share your gaming passion while building an audience and potential business. With all the platform and tool options now available, getting started is easy.
Determine your goals, research options thoroughly, and select streaming solutions tailored for your needs. Build out well-produced streams true to your own style. Then focus on growth through consistency, quality content and strong community connections.
The world of gaming content streaming continues to explode. By learning the landscape and putting these best practices into play, you can begin your journey to becoming a top gaming streamer.