One of the innovations from the PS4 and Xbox One generation of game consoles is the in-built video capture they offer. These consoles have powerful features embedded right into the operating system that allow you to broadcast your gameplay from your PS4 straight to services like Twitch or YouTube, so you can show the world your glorious triumphs – and epic fails. Here’s how to get started streaming from your PS4.
The PS4 has built-in sharing tools which also allow you to broadcast. But, before you can use the one-button method to start, you’ll need to set up a destination to stream to. With the console switched on, hit the SHARE button to bring up the share menu (unless you’ve changed how the button works, in which case you’ll need to hold or double-tap for the menu). In this menu, navigate to Broadcast Gameplay. If this is your first time, it’ll ask which service you want to use and you’ll need to log into the selected service. There are also options for setting up your broadcast, like setting the title and configuring extra inputs.
If you have connected a PlayStation Camera for facecam, or are using an external microphone or one connected to your headphones, such as the HyperX Cloud III, then you can hit the OPTIONS button to begin advanced config. Here you can change some settings, for instance using the Chroma Key background to make the wall behind you disappear and regain more gameplay space on screen (only if you are using a pure blue or green background). If you want even more options for the layout of your stream, or wish to stream on services that are not listed in the broadcast options menu, then you’ll need to get some extra hardware.
Get a capture card
If you’re not happy with the options available in the PS4 broadcast menu, you can always route the video output to a PC and classify it as an input with streaming software. To capture gameplay from the PS4 you’ll need a capture device like a capture card or PCIe card installed in your PC. For capture cards, Elgato and AVerMedia are the two biggest supplier, and both have compact boxes available to purchase. We recommend picking up something at least capable of 1080p at 60fps to ensure you have a smooth and clear stream.
Get yourself connected
These capture devices work by adding a link to your PC between your Switch and TV. Start by plugging the USB from the capture card into the PC you’ll be using to encode and broadcast video. Next, plug the HDMI out from the Switch into the capture card, then use a second HDMI cable to connect the out port from the capture card to your TV or display. The capture device uses passthrough to let you see your gameplay while recording, or in this case broadcasting it. This can add a small amount of input latency to your display, but shouldn’t be too intrusive. Depending on how far your PC is from your Switch display, you may need longer HDMI cables -- so make sure you measure up and order accordingly!
Choose your streaming software
Once you have the capture device working on your PC, you’ll need software to send it to your streaming service of choice. There are a few main choices here: Open Broadcast Software Studio (OBS) is the most common choice for beginner streamers as it's powerful and free to use. XSplit has tailor-made plugins and can do more complex overlays and transitions, but does have a subscription cost for the more powerful features. Twitch also has its own software, Twitch Studio, which could make everything a bit easier if you plan on streaming exclusively there.
Set up your software and streaming platform
Once you’ve got your preferred software, you need to set it up. Each is slightly different and will have documentation on their main help or FAQ pages to guide you through in more detail, but we’ll lay out the basics here. When you’ve decided on which streaming site you want to use -- be it Twitch, YouTube or something else -- find your broadcast dashboard (usually under your account settings, found by clicking your profile picture). On the dashboard, there will be something called a Stream Key. This string of numbers and letters will identify your account when sending video to the site’s streaming servers, broadcasting it on the right page. You'll need this key to link your streaming account to your broadcast software of choice, but make sure you do not share it with anyone else or they will be able to stream to your account without your permission.
You need to find the settings of your streaming software that asks for your Stream Key and paste it in there. Other options to do with bitrate and other technical upload specs can be worked out by heading to a bitrate calculator and putting in your numbers. You’ll need to know the output resolution (for a basic PS4 it’s likely to just be 1080p at max, a PS4 Pro may be able to do higher resolutions depending on the game and your display settings) and your internet upload bandwidth to make sure you can stream without buffering.
After everything is put in properly and you’ve done some testing to work out the best settings, you’re ready to show your PS4 gaming skills to the world! Have fun streaming your adventures to fans and friends!