What's the best livestreaming software?


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What's the best software for streaming games on Twitch? What do you use and is it expensive? — Mark M.

The best livestreaming software is Open Broadcaster Software (that's it above, along with me getting destroyed in Hearthstone). You might consider trying others depending on the functionality you're looking for, but I think it's the best because:

  • It's free.
  • It's open source and keeps getting better.
  • It's easy to use.
  • It works really well.

OBS is what I use to stream. I love its stability, low resource cost, and simple interface. Multiple capture sources can be arranged and stacked with a simple GUI, and you can switch between scenes with a quick cross-fade. Capture sources can be whole displays, regions of displays, windows, webcams, and direct game capture. I imagine some are out there, but I've never found an incompatible game—and there's always window capture as a backup.

OBS does all the things most casual streamers want to do, and again, does them for free and without any hassle. That said, you'll get more features with Xsplit if you pay for the premium version, which costs $25 for a three month license. Don't bother with the free version: it doesn't even have dedicated fullscreen game capture, and it puts ads over your stream. Ew.

But what do you get for that $25? A lot, actually. Xsplit lets you do things like stream to multiple channels at once, pull in direct video from Skype, and output to a projector. If I were running a big tournament with multiple casters, I'd probably consider using Xsplit. But for everyday streaming, OBS is my favorite (and like I said, OBS keeps getting better, plus you can do a lot with plugins). If you want to get started with it, I made a quick guide to setting it up back when it first released.

Another free alternative is FFsplit, and Twitch has a guide to getting it working. I still prefer OBS, but FFsplit does have a more modern interface, and I'm sure some swear by it. There's also ShadowPlay if you're using an Nvidia card—we like using for local game capture, but it doesn't have many livestreaming features. The main point here is that you absolutely don't have to spend money to get quality streaming software.


As Executive Editor, Tyler spends a lot of time editing reviews and looking at spreadsheets, and whatever time is left over writing reviews. People joke that he doesn't like 90 percent of the games he plays, but he'll tell you he just has very discerning tastes.


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