The beginner’s guide to Twitch streaming

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With over 15 million daily viewers, Twitch has become a cultural phenomenon that has swept up the gaming world. Popular Twitch streamers such as Ninja have created a new breed of internet celebrity with legions of fans tuning in daily to watch them dominate Fortnite matches.

The likes of Microsoft and Sony have caught on to the craze and have integrated Twitch streaming support into the Xbox One and Playstation 4 so that virtually anyone can start streaming their gameplay to the world with a click of a button.

But if you’re new to the world of live streaming, where do you start and what do you need to get going? Let’s dive in.

What is Twitch?

Twitch is a streaming service where gamers around the world watch others play all kinds of games across all manner of systems. It plays to the social aspect of gaming where viewers can engage with other streamers and the broader gaming community via a chat window, and in turn streamers can interact with viewers in real-time. Streamers will typically have a webcam pointed at themselves alongside their live gameplay so viewers can see the entertaining reactions of the streamer while they play.

A big viewer count means potential sponsorship from gaming companies and a career as a streamer that in some cases can be very lucrative. Viewers tune in for a multitude of reasons from learning new tips and strategies so they can get a leg up on their opponents in the next round of Apex Legends or to see how a game looks and plays before they buy.

Start here

The first thing to do is head over to www.twitch.tv and sign up for an account. If you want to save the videos you stream automatically to your channel, be sure to go into Settings on Twitch and check the “Automatically archive my broadcasts” box.

How to livestream to Twitch on Xbox One

Download and launch the free Twitch app from the Xbox store and then log-in with your Twitch account. Follow the prompts to link your Twitch account to the console and then open the game you want to stream on your Xbox One.

Once in the game, double-tap the home button and select Twitch under the ‘Snap’ menu. Once the app is open, select ‘Broadcast’. Also, be sure to go into the ‘Settings’ menu and adjust the microphone and chat settings in addition to adjusting the broadcast quality of your stream to a quality your internet speed can handle.

Select ‘Start Broadcast’ to go live. The Twitch chat window will stay on the right side of the screen but you can also hide the sidebar by double tapping the home button and selecting ‘Unsnap’.

Things to remember when streaming to Twitch on Xbox One:

  • Xbox Live Gold subscription is not required for Twitch streaming.
  • Xbox One supports a wide array of USB webcams. If the webcam works with your PC, chances are it will work on your Xbox One. Kinect is also supported.
  • Headphones with a microphone is essential if you plan on streaming your games to Twitch so that viewers can hear your commentary clearly without the distraction of your game audio overlapping with the audio coming from your Twitch stream.
  • A stable internet connection with fast upload speeds is a must. Twitch recommends an upload speed of at least 3.5Mbps for streaming in Full HD (1080p) or 1.8Mbps for 720p HD.

How to livestream to Twitch on Playstation 4

Sony has built Twitch streaming right into the PS4’s OS so you don’t actually need to download the Twitch app unless you plan on watching other people’s streams.

To begin streaming, simply hit the ‘Share’ button on the controller, choose ‘Broadcast Gameplay’, select Twitch and then follow the prompts to sign-in with your account.

On the final screen, you will be given the option to set a title for your stream and adjust the video quality. Once that is done hit the ‘Start Broadcasting’ button and you’re live on Twitch.

Things to remember when streaming to Twitch on PS4:

  • Playstation Plus subscription is not required for Twitch streaming.
  • If you want your face in the stream, you’re going to need to invest in the Playstation Camera (sold separately).
  • Headphones with a microphone is essential if you plan on streaming your games to Twitch so that viewers can hear your commentary clearly without the distraction of your game audio overlapping with the audio coming from your Twitch stream.
  • A stable internet connection with fast upload speeds is a must. Twitch recommends an upload speed of at least 3.5Mbps for streaming in Full HD (1080p) or 1.8Mbps for 720p HD.

How to livestream to Twitch on PC

Being an open platform, there is plenty of software available on the PC that will enable you to broadcast your gameplay to Twitch – with two of the most popular being Open Broadcasting Software (OBS) and XSplit. OBS is completely free while XSplit offers a more intuitive interface but requires a paid subscription.

Regardless of your choice of software, setting up your stream consists of the same steps: picking your sources (such as your computer monitor, gameplay feed or webcam); laying out how they’ll all appear for the viewer; and finally, syncing up your Twitch account and going live.

Things to remember when streaming to Twitch on PC:

  • If you want your face in the stream, you’re going to need to invest in a USB webcam.
  • A pair of headphones with a microphone is essential if you plan on streaming your games to Twitch so that viewers can hear your commentary clearly without the distraction of your game audio overlapping with the audio coming from your Twitch stream.
  • Consider a dedicated USB microphone for the best audio quality.
  • A stable internet connection with fast upload speeds is a must. Twitch recommends an upload speed of at least 3.5Mbps for streaming in Full HD (1080p) or 1.8Mbps for 720p HD.
  • Twitch streaming while playing graphically intense games at the same time can impact your computer’s performance.  Some streamers get around this issue by using two PCs at once – one for streaming and the other for gaming. Another option is to slot in a newer graphics card, such as Nvidia’s RTX series of GPUs (RTX 2060 through to the 2080 Ti) which have a dedicated hardware encoder onboard and is optimised for OBS so you get smooth performance while streaming.

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Tips on growing your audience

Anyone with the right equipment can stream, but the hard part is growing your audience. While there isn’t a magic formula that will make you an overnight streaming sensation, here are a few tips that the pros abide by.

Webcam goes a long way in engaging your audience

People follow specific streamers because they connect with the streamer’s personality more than anything else. Remember, the human element is just as important as the gameplay so don’t be afraid to be yourself in front of the camera.

Being a good player helps but it isn’t essential

It doesn’t matter if you aren’t particularly good at the game you’re planning on streaming – often times those can be the most entertaining. Be funny and interesting and consider getting a friend to sit in on the stream with you to make things more engaging.

Consistency is key

No one wants to watch a streamer if they only stream when they feel like it. Have a set time every week or month of when you will be broadcasting and stick to it. Also make sure to title your videos correctly so people know what they’re about to watch.

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Picture credits: Casimiro PT/Shutterstock.com, Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock.com, George Dolgikh/Shutterstock.com, icemanphotos/Shutterstock.com, Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock.com, OHishiapply/Shutterstock.com

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