The most essential part of any streamer’s tool kit is a broadcasting software that lets you show your gameplay to the world. The two most commonly used streaming programs are Open Broadcasting Software (OBS), which is completely free, and XSplit, which has a more intuitive interface but requires a paid subscription in order to use its key features. The following is a list of 9 streaming software options which you can use to start broadcasting on Twitch.
1Open Broadcaster Software
Commonly known as OBS, it is the most popular streaming software amongst Twitch streamers. The very first look at its options corroborates this sentiment, since OBS is chock full of various ways to tweak the resulting video. For example, there are presets for different streaming websites including Twitch and with one click on the “Optimize” button you can get the recommended settings applied right away.
You start streaming by right-clicking the empty box titled “Sources” and clicking “Add”. Sources can also be grouped into so-called “Scenes” and switched at a moment’s notice. OBS supports 3rd party plugins, which add extra functionality and are installed by a simple drag & drop action into the folder. When it comes to recording, OBS performed beautifully. Within minutes of installation and on default encoder options, it produced silky smooth video that had no issues whatsoever. OBS represents the golden standard of recording and streaming software. If you’re looking to start recording right away, with minimum hassle, then look no further.
Details: Windows, OS X, Linux; Free
This is the coolest program on the list. It is extremely intuitive and actually fun to tweak. For example, there are no awkward dialog boxes and prompts for resizing a picture, you simply grab the edge with a cursor and resize it. Xsplit makes the chore of setting up your recording parameters so easy that you won’t even notice that you went through the setup process. There are two programs with similar functionality available: Xsplit Broadcaster and Xsplit Gamecaster. The difference is that the former is for streamers, while the latter is for gaming commentators.
Xsplit produces video in two formats, .flv and .mp4. Purchasing Xsplit is done on a 3-monthly basis, with the annual package giving discount of up to 50%.
Details: Windows; Free trial with a watermark, full version priced from $4.17 to $8.12 a month
Overwolf is an overlay software that brings epic apps into your game. One of the features that Overwolf offers is a Twitch streaming app that simplifies streaming and helps the streamer to connect with the audience. It is a streaming application which allows the user to go on air with one click.
Details: Windows; Free
Gameshow is a game changing new software product for broadcasters that makes professional-looking broadcasts easily, so you can spend more time playing the games you love and less time worrying about your production.
Details: Windows and Mac; Free trial, full version starting at $29
Evolve is a social platform for gamers with a set of free, easy-to-use Broadcasting tools perfect for Broadcasting your games to Twitch.
Details: Windows; Free
Wirecast is a professional recording and streaming suite, or at least, that’s what it tries to be. It attempts to be a rounded solution for everything a streamer might need, but doesn’t quite get there. The interface is convoluted, confusing and disregards all established conventions. For example, what OBS calls “Sources” are “Projectors” in Wirecast. This causes a lot of unnecessary frustration. Wirecast produces video files in .mp4, .mov and .wmv formats, which means that you won’t be able to run it if you don’t have QuickTime 7.7 or higher installed.
If you click “Stream” and then select Twitch, then click “Video”, open the “Output settings”, you will be able to input your Twitch login details. After a lot of trial and error, Wirecase managed to produce a usable video, but it had no sound. Overall, Wirecast is an ambitious program with a very fiddly interface that doesn’t have enough utility to justify the price tag.
Details: Windows and Mac; Free trial with audio and video watermark, full version starting at $495
GeForce Share is a special feature found only on certain GeForce graphics cards. It works by buffering 1 to 20 minutes of your gameplay and allows you to record it into a file when you press the specified hotkey. This means that, with Share, you don’t have to record all the time and then edit the boring moments out. In essence, Share is the equivalent of instant replay. The interface is very well designed and very easy to use, without any prior streaming and recording experience.
Local recordings produced byGeForce Share are much more optimized and smaller in size than the ones produced by rivals, such as Dxtory. Overall,GeForce Share aims at casuals and doesn’t have the range of encoding options one would expect from a professional recording and streaming tool.
Details: Windows; Free
FFsplit is a recording and streaming tool loosely based on the philosophy and code of the FFmpeg project which states that software should not be dependent on other people’s code. In fact, when you first start the installation process of FFsplit, you will be prompted to download the FFmpeg binaries in order to continue. Other than that, FFsplit is neither officially affiliated nor endorsed by the FFmpeg project.
By going to “Output” and changing the output type to Twitch, you will get a handful of special options, the most interesting one being the ability to automatically detect the Twitch server that will provide you with the best streaming performance. There are 3 video recording formats to choose from: .flv, .mkv and .mp4. Sources are called “Layers” and scenes are called “Canvases” but their functionality is the same as in OBS. Unfortunately, FFsplit failed to produce a usable video, even a choppy one. With default encoder options, the best result was a file that had sound correctly captured but a completely black screen instead of the video. Attempts at manual configuration didn’t resolve the matter either. This program has a rather steep learning curve and you should use it only if you have a lot of patience.
Details: For Windows; Free
This quirky little program isn’t enough to get you streaming to Twitch on its own, rather it requires a string of other programs to process what it outputs. The first problem you will encounter upon launching Dxtory is that there’s seemingly no way to designate what you want it to capture. The answer is simple – you cannot. Dxtory can only record video games, which it detects on its own. If it fails to do so, there is no manual override.
Dxtory does give you an option to capture video in raw format and process it yourself using muxer tools bundled with it, but unless you know exactly what you’re doing, the marginal improvement in quality isn’t enough to offset the headaches it causes. While recording on default encoder options, Dxtory significantly lowered the game’s performance and struggled to produce a usable .avi video, which in the end was extremely choppy and no amount of tweaking the options helped the matter.
Details: Windows; Free with a watermark, $34 for full version