There is no shortage of media available in our current digital era. Independent creators around the globe are making online content to capture the attention and enthusiasm of huge audiences. One of the most popular and vibrant formats at the moment is live video game streaming.
Part of the appeal of video game streaming is it’s something you can engage in too. Indeed, it can be a lucrative pastime. The highest-earning video gamer in 2019 was Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, who drew in around $17 million. This revenue was largely the result of sponsorships and endorsements attracted by Ninja’s Twitch streams.
It can be challenging to get started in video game streaming if you don’t know a lot about the technical elements that can contribute to your success. So, we’re going to run through a few of the major components to focus on.
Know Your Tools
You don’t necessarily have to have the most expensive equipment to be a gaming streamer. Indeed, there are a growing number of gaming laptops on the market for under $1500. But you will need some essential items to achieve a quality stream.
Your biggest investment here will be a gaming system. You need to make sure the graphics and hard drive specifications are sufficient not just to run the games you intend to feature. It also has to be able to cope with recording your stream at the same time. You’ll be looking for a setup with a CPU featuring around 6-8 cores. The lower the cores, the higher the likelihood for a lag in your stream. Aside from your computer, you’ll need a USB microphone for your stream commentary. You don’t have to get a green screen to film yourself immediately — you can invest here later down the line.
Your primary software is likely to be your streaming service. This is the tool that allows you to broadcast your gaming to your chosen platform. Many streamers still choose to use Open Broadcaster Software Studio (OBS) as it is a generally reliable tool. It also happens to be free, which is great when you’re just starting out. However, if you’re planning to be ambitious with effects and overlays in your stream, you might also want to consider graphics editing software like Photoshop or GIMP.
A solid connection can mean the difference between a successful game stream and the audience looking somewhere else. The absolute minimum upload speed is 10mbps, but the higher you can get, the better. However, some of your attention should also be on how to fix connection problems during your steam. There are some common causes for stream disruption, some of which — like provider problems — are beyond your control. Take time to consider how many devices are actively on your network during a stream or use a virtual private network (VPN) to give you access to a server with less traffic.
It’s probably safe to say few aspiring video game streamers have any interest in marketing. However, you can’t rely on organic viewers if you want to reach significant audiences. Remember, you’re battling your streaming platform’s algorithm to be seen above other similar content creators. Though you might offer something new and interesting, the algorithm is always going to favor those stream channels with larger audiences. This means you need to build your audience using other methods too.
Just like game developers, game streamers need to leverage social media platforms. It’s not necessarily wise to use your personal channels for this. Set up separate business accounts on each of the main socials. You can’t casually approach this. From a technical perspective, you’ll find you will make much more impact if you have a regular schedule for your posts.
This isn’t just useful for gaining a regular, engaged viewership. You can also use social media analytics — sometimes known as insights — to learn more about your audience. It can tell you what your primary demographics are when they are most likely to respond to your posts, and what content they engage with most often. This information can be a valuable way to keep making improvements to both your marketing approach and your stream itself.
Develop Your Skill Set
When people think about the technical elements of game streaming, there’s a tendency to focus on external factors. While these can be important elements it’s not the be-all and end-all. Your success is dependent upon you and your abilities. As such, it’s worth investing in your skillset.
Some of the important skills to adopt for any video game streamer revolve around graphics. This is an intensely visual medium and you can’t just rely on the in-game visuals to make an impact. Take some time to learn graphic design — this is achievable through online tutorials and self-learning. You’ll be able to make logos, backgrounds, and effects for your stream. It can also be wise to extend this to photo editing for your marketing images. Photo editing software has a reputation for being expensive, but you can achieve great shots by exploring some of the free and cheap photo editing platforms, too. Many come bundled with a variety of effects and tools to give your shots an element of professionalism that attracts viewers and potential sponsors.
Beyond your visuals, your ability to communicate well is important in your game stream. If you’re not confident about your communication abilities it can be smart to review what others do, perhaps reach out and ask for pointers. From a technical perspective, it’s wise to make sure your sound is clear. As such, you should learn how to reduce background noise in your streaming space, minimize feedback, and pull down distortion using audio editing software.
Starting a video game stream can be a great way to connect with the gaming community and earn some money. You can make the best start by understanding how your equipment impacts your stream and marketing as soon as possible. Remember that your own skillset can be instrumental in taking you as far as you want to go, so you need to invest in it. It can take time and commitment, but you have the chance to build a stream that is uniquely yours.