Best Streaming Software for Live Gaming
Arguably, the streamer community has seen a surge in popularity, which has created a wider pool of both streamers and viewers. While this has led to more demand in live gaming, it has also created a very competitive market for streamers themselves. Which leads us to the question: how can you stand out in such a saturated niche? The answer probably lies in a whole, mixed bag of different aspects, anywhere from what you’re wearing, how you look, how you sound, or how you present yourself are just a few to name. But, today, we’ll be diving into the very core of online streaming, the software.
Given the right amount of effort and time, good streaming software can take you far. Given the exact ingredients as the former, great streaming software will take your live gaming to a whole new level. But how do we determine a “great streaming software”? Well, it just really boils down to what you need and what you have. Take a minute to review your budget, set-up, and check out areas in your streaming that need improvement and see which of these best fit you.
The Most Popular: OBS STUDIO
Open Broadcaster Software Studio, or OBS Studio, is undoubtedly the most popular FREE streaming software and for an excellent reason. Not only is it powerful and highly-flexible, but it’s also easily the smoothest streaming software offering an extensive array of customization tools and options. You can create visuals from multiple sources, engineer your audio to your taste, and adjust just about anything and everything on your streams.
However, while its versatility likely touts it as the best powerhouse streaming software, it can also be quite a challenge for beginners. Like any extensive software, it takes a few tutorials and a few hours squinting on YouTube to get used to its interface. But once you get the hang of it, the possibilities might be incomparable. To other free software, that is.
The Convenient Option: XSPLIT GAMECASTER
Tired of trying to figure out back-end interfaces to create an overlay? Well, luckily, XSPLIT Gamecaster was created with convenience in mind. It strips away many of the advanced and almost impossible to understand features that most streaming software has to give you a very easy-to-use interface that requires very little technical know-how to operate. Some of these include starting and pausing your stream from the overlay, drawing over your gameplay using the Annotations feature, and almost console-like keyboard shortcuts. And did we mention it also has a free version?
While the free to use version of this software is just as sleek and easy to use as any other on this list, you’ll be hard-pressed to produce your ideal streams with major limitations such as irremovable and very conspicuous watermarks, frame caps at 30 fps, and a max resolution output of only 720p. To remove these, you’ll have to pay a 12-month premium license of $5/month (approx. 243 PHP), a 3-month premium license of $8.32/month (approx. 404 PHP), or a one-time payment of a lifetime license at $199 (approx. 9673 PHP).
Best for Beginners: STREAMLABS OBS
Just entered the world of gameplay streaming and don’t know where to start? While closely related to OBS Studio, Streamlabs OBS features a friendlier interface on an otherwise very powerful streaming software. It offers automatic optimization and an array of tools that don’t look as daunting as its more advanced cousin, OBS Studio. This makes it perfect for beginners looking for an all-around, customizable streaming software without spending hours on Youtube to understand what tool does what.
Although not a big drawback, it lacks a studio option and gives little to no defensible reasons for switching from OBS Studio if you have already started practicing on that one.
Best for Low Spec Set-Ups: LIGHTSTREAM
Not everyone can afford a high-end set up with a room full of accessories to stream their gameplay. And that’s totally understandable. Unfortunately, many streaming software doesn’t take this into account, except for software dedicated to low-spec optimization such as Lightstream. This easy-to-use streaming software calls themselves the “Google Docs of video production,” and rightfully so. It allows you to remove any excess worry about other technical details, such as optimizing your computer settings to get the best performance. In fact, Lightstream automatically chooses the best encoding settings for your PC specifications and internet connection. If your internet speed drops (as it does in the Philippines), it will adjust the bitrate to accommodate.
While it’s free to use, it does come with major drawbacks such as max resolution output of only 720p and less than average audio quality. It also lacks the advanced functions of it’s more premium counterparts. And, while its stream layouts look great and very professional, you’ll be at wit’s end to find a unique one that will stand out. But if you’re looking for lightweight streaming software that sacrifices a little quality over CPU, then Lightstream might be the one you’re looking for.
In the end, it really comes down to your vision of what your gameplay stream should look like and be. Do you want a friendlier interface or one that gives you endless amounts of customization options? Do you want to utilize all your equipment with the software, or just looking for something to play within your spare time? This might be a good opportunity for you to list down what you need and want versus what you have and the time and effort you’re likely to put it in. And, remember this software are just tools and avenues to visualize and manifest your vision. Ultimately, creating your ideal streaming experience relies on you more than the hardware or software.