If you love video games, chances are you've stumbled upon a Twitch stream or two. The world's biggest destination for live video game broadcasts, Twitch attracts roughly 140 million unique monthly viewers, who spend hours watching the platform's 2-million-plus creators that stream everything from Apex Legends and World of Warcraft to art and cooking shows and even live sports.
The best part is, anyone can become a Twitch broadcaster. The PS4 and Xbox One both have built-in streaming capabilities. If you game on PC (or want to stream from other consoles such as the Nintendo Switch), all you need is decent hardware, streaming software and a free Twitch account to share your gameplay antics with the world.
And thanks to Twitch's Affiliate and Partner programs, you can even make money (and potentially start a career) streaming your favorite games and activities.
Once you're all signed up, here's how to go live on gaming's biggest broadcasting platform.
For more in-depth tips on becoming Twitch's next superstar, check out our Ultimate Guide to Twitch Streaming!
Setting Up Your Twitch Page
1. Install a broadcasting app on your PC. Two common solutions are Open Broadcaster Software (OBS), which is available on Windows, Mac and Linux, as well as XSplit, which is built for Windows. OBS is free and open source but requires a bit more setup, while XSplit is highly intuitive but requires a paid subscription for some of its better features.
2. Log in to Twitch.tv.
3. Select Dashboard from the drop-down menu at the top-right of the screen.
4. Search for and select a game you want to play under the Playing tab.
5. Enter a title for your broadcast.
How to Use OBS
Configuring Your Stream
1. Open OBS.
2. Select Broadcast Settings from the settings menu.
3. Select Twitch as your Streaming Service and click Optimize on the bottom-left of the menu.
4. Return to your Twitch dashboard and select Stream Key.Follow the prompts to receive your special streaming code.
5. Copy and paste that code into the Stream Key box in the Broadcast Settings menu. Select OK.
Setting the Scene and Going Live
1. On the main OBS interface, right-click the Sources box and select Add > Game Capture.
2. Select Your Game of choice from the drop-down menu and select OK.
3. Right-click the Sources box again to add any additional feeds. You can add images and text to customize your layout, use Monitor Capture to show anything on your display or select Video Capture to use your webcam.
4. Select Preview Stream and Edit Scene to tweak your stream layout to your liking. For example, you might want to feature your gameplay stream prominently, with a small box in the corner that shows your webcam feed.
5. Select Start Streaming on the OBS dashboard. You're now live!
How to Use XSplit
Configuring Your Stream
1. Open XSplit.
2. Select Broadcast >Add Channel > Twitch.
3. Select Authorize and enter your Twitch username and password.
4. Select Finish. XSplit will automatically set an optimal resolution.
5. Edit your stream properties and click OK.
Setting the Scene and Going Live
1. On the Screen Sources section on the bottom left of the XSplit interface, select Add.
2. Hover over Game Capture and select your game of choice.
3. Select Add again to bring in any additional sources, such as images or your webcam feed.
4. Drag and resize each source to your liking. For example, you may want to feature your Game Capture feed prominently, with a small box in the corner that shows your webcam feed.
5. Select Broadcast > Twitch. You're now live!
Layouts, Alerts and More
Once you have the basics of OBS and XSplit down, you can start customizing your stream with layouts and custom alerts. Two popular toolsets for upping the look and feel of your stream are StreamLabs and StreamElements.
StreamLabs offers a variety of customizable widgets, such as an Alert Box that shows on-screen notifications when viewers do things such as subscribe to your channel or make a donation. You can also use StreamLabs to set up Bots that help moderate your chat room.
StreamElements is an all-in one, browser-based solution that lets you design entire layouts (or pick from a variety of pre-made ones) complete with widgets, animations and more. Once you've created a theme, you can easily bring it to OBS or XSplit with a simple browser code.
Streaming From PS4 and Xbox One
If you have a PS4 or Xbox One, you can broadcast directly from your console without having to worry about any external hardware or software.
To stream to Twitch on PS4, simply press the DualShock 4's Share button, select Broadcast Gameplay and choose Twitch. Once you're logged in, you can go live with the push of a button.
Streaming to Twitch on Xbox One is similarly simple, though you'll have to download the free Twitch app from the Xbox Store before you get started. Once you have the app and are logged in, fire up whichever game you want to stream. Then, open the Twitch app and select Broadcast from the main menu. Keep in mind that you can also stream to Microsoft's Mixer platform directly from your Xbox One by simply hitting your home button and selecting the Broadcast icon.
Both consoles let you chat with your viewers from your headset, as well as show your face via either the PlayStation Camera or Microsoft's Kinect. You can also plug in select microphones, such as the HyperX Quadcast for PS4. You won't get to customize the look and feel of your stream the way you can on a PC, but console streaming is a great way to test Twitch's waters and start building your audience.
Streaming From Your Phone
There are a number of ways to stream to Twitch from your smartphone, whether you want to do some live vlogging or want to show off your skills in your favorite mobile game.
The official Twitch app for iOS and Android lets you go live right from your phone's camera -- all you need to do is open up your profile and tap the big camera button on the right side of your status page. This is a good way to broadcast your everyday adventures, or stream yourself making music, working on art or simply talking about games.
Broadcasting actual gameplay from your phone is a bit trickier. On Android, you can use apps such as Screen Stream Mirroring or BitStream to capture your screen and sharing it with the world. If you don't mind using YouTube instead of Twitch, the YouTube Gaming Android app has native screen streaming support. As pointed out in TouchArcade's handy guide, streaming from iOS is also possible -- you just need to jump through a few more hoops.
Best Gear for Streaming
If you want to take your streams to the next level, you'll need some decent gear. A powerful gaming laptop or gaming desktop will ensure smooth streams -- some popular broadcasters use two entire PCs (one for gaming, one for streaming), but you should only invest in a setup like that if you're already making serious income on Twitch.
A good microphone such as the $129 Blue Yeti is key for communicating with your audience, and you'll want a solid webcam, such as the Logitech C920, so your viewers can see you clearly. A second monitor is handy for streamers since you can use it to monitor your Twitch chat, and you'll want decent headphones or a gaming headset to hear all of the action.