If you’re a gamer looking to livestream your own gameplay on YouTube, there has never been a better time to join in on the fun of one of the fastest-growing entertainment genres in history.

Livestreaming your gameplay allows you to interact with your audience more directly than simply uploading game videos. And, if you’re an aspiring content creator with an audience on YouTube, you could earn a percentage of advertising revenue from your streams. How cool is that? You get to earn while you play. That’s definitely having the best of both worlds.

There are many other bonuses that come with hosting your own livestream. Content creators are always on the lookout for better ways to enhance their gaming experience — or to simply make their livestreaming stand out from the competition or crowded arena.

Gearing up for your livestream

For the most basic gameplay stream, you’ll need a computer or console that has enough power to encode video in real time while you’re playing a game. Your internet connection also needs to have enough upstream bandwidth to upload high-definition video in real time.

You’ll also need something to capture audio so that you can communicate efficiently with your viewers. You don’t have to break the bank if you’re just starting out. A basic microphone or gaming headset that you already own would do just fine. But for the pro or those looking to generate revenue, external microphones with multiple record modes and direct controls for headphone volume, mute and USB connection are the way to go.

Finally, you’ll need dependable software to take all of your input sources — such as the microphone, webcam, gaming footage, and other video elements — and put it all together to be streamed or broadcast to your audience or other players.

Pro microphone with pop filter
A good mic is more important than a nice camera when starting out. Make sure your viewers can hear your hilarious commentary.

This program records your gameplay, encodes it into a format appropriate for streaming, and uploads it to YouTube as a live video stream. Without an encoder, you can’t stream on YouTube Gaming — or anywhere else. There are two widely popular and free options you can use to stream on YouTube Gaming. Both Open Broadcast Studio (OBS) and XSplit Broadcaster are standard encoder programs for the task.

Beyond the basics

If you want to go beyond the basic screen capture game stream, you’ll need to make sure you have quality equipment for capturing video of yourself as you play. This kind of setup allows you to better interact with your audience.

For this, you’ll need a quality microphone and camera to capture your commentary and reactions as you play. You can use an internal or external webcam for picture-in-picture video, or if you want to make the most of your digital camera capabilities, most DSLRs can be used as webcams when connected to your computer via USB. And most offer better video quality for your streams.

Depending on your streaming setup, you may also need a capture card, and getting Internal capture cards can reduce the load on your PC for improved stream quality. Livestreaming from a computer requires additional processing power and you need that boost when streaming more resource-intensive games. They can also make it easier to connect external video and audio sources.

The last thing you may want to consider having in your livestreaming studio space is a green screen for your background. You can use a collapsible green screen that you can retract and store with ease.

Our article, Easy ways to livestream your content, walks you through a number of setups if you get stuck.

Livestreaming with OBS

Okay, by now, you should have your streaming setup nailed down. The next step to setting up your YouTube livestream is to verify your account. You can only livestream on YouTube if you have a verified account that’s linked to a mobile phone number.

OBS, in particular, highlights user-friendly features and is more commonly used by gamers on YouTube. And it’s absolutely free. It captures your game’s output and then streams it to YouTube.

OBS interface
OBS offers a simple, free way to start streaming to platforms like YouTube, Twitch and elsewhere.

Once OBS is open and after the auto-configuration wizard has completed, go to the Stream Information pane and select YouTube as your stream destination. Then, paste in the stream key from YouTube’s settings. As a side note, you should keep your stream key a secret because anyone with it can livestream o your channel. You can reset the stream key from the YouTube dashboard if someone does happen to get a hold of it. Like when uploading regular videos to YouTube, you can set your stream to public, unlisted or private before going live.

You’ll also want to look at your capture settings. For instance, you can use window capture or game capture with OBS to stream just the parts of your screen that you want to show your viewers.

Once all of your OBS settings are good to go and your YouTube channel has been configured to receive your stream, you only have one thing left to do: start streaming.

Time to go live

If you want to stream immediately, click the “Start Streaming” button in OBS, which is located at the bottom right. You can verify that your stream is live on your YouTube live stream dashboard. Your video and audio will appear on the dashboard and on its public page a few seconds after you begin. There will be a minor delay, but not because of anything you did.

You can also check that your stream is working on the Creator Studio page. You’ll know it’s working correctly when you see the big green circle mark next to the word LIVE at the top of your stream page. Once you’ve determined everything is in working order, it’s time to start playing for the world to see.

Setting up a live gaming stream may seem daunting at first, but if you follow the tutorials and steps provided in this article and dive in with that “can-do”, ready-to-succeed attitude, you’ll be livestreaming your own gameplay in no time.