How to Live Stream With YouTube Gaming

Start streaming your games today

A man using OBS to stream on YouTube Gaming.

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Game streaming is one of the fastest growing entertainment genres, and YouTube Gaming makes it easier than ever before to get in on the action. If you want move on from uploading game videos to actually live streaming your own gameplay on YouTube, all you need is a decent computer and internet connection, a verified YouTube account, and a free video encoder program that's compatible with YouTube.

What You Need to Get Started With YouTube Game Streaming

YouTube makes it extremely easy to live stream your webcam, but streaming a game is a little more complicated. To stream on YouTube Gaming, you need:

  • A verified YouTube account - If your YouTube account isn't verified, you won't be able to stream.
  • A computer - You can use a Windows, Mac or Linux computer to stream, and you can use a desktop or a laptop. The important thing is that the computer must be powerful enough to encode video in real time while you're also playing a game.
  • Broadband internet - Your internet connection needs to have enough upstream bandwidth to upload high definition video in real time.
  • An encoder program - This program records your gameplay, encodes it into a format that's suitable for streaming, and uploads it to YouTube. Without an encoder, you can't stream on YouTube Gaming. Two free options are Open Broadcast Studio (OBS) and XSplit Broadcaster.

If you want to talk to your viewers, or insert live video of yourself on top of your games, you'll also need a headset or microphone and a webcam.

Here's where you can download the OBS and XSplit Broadcaster encorders:

How to Verify Your YouTube Account

Before you can live stream on YouTube, you need to verify your account. If you don't have an account at all, you'll need to first navigate to the main YouTube site and click Sign In. Since you don't have an account, you'll need to click on Create an account and follow the instructions.

YouTube Account verification options

If you have a YouTube account, and it isn't verified, you'll need to verify it before you can stream. This is an easy process, but you will need a working phone to complete it.

Here's how to verify your YouTube account:

  1. Navigate to YouTube.com/verify.
  2. Select your country.
  3. Choose to receive a voice message or text message.
  4. Enter your phone number, and click Submit.
  5. Wait for the voice or text message, and enter the code.

How to Stream On YouTube Gaming

Once you have a verified YouTube account, a decent computer and internet connection, and you've downloaded your encoder software, you're ready to start streaming on YouTube Gaming.

Go live button in YouTube gaming section

Here's how to get started with streaming on YouTube Gaming:

  1. Navigate to gaming.youtube.com.
  2. Click Go Live.
A screenshot of the Stream Now section of YouTube Creator Studio.

When you click Go Live on YouTube gaming, it takes you directly to the live streaming section of your Creator Studio page. You can also access this from YouTube.com, but you'll have to manually navigate to the correct area to start your live stream.

Reveal password button in Encoder Setup section of YouTube Gaming preferences

Here's how to set up your YouTube Gaming stream:

  1. On your Creator Studio page, with Stream now selected in the Live Streaming section, scroll down.
  2. In the Basic Info section, enter a title and description for your stream.
  3. In the Encoder Setup section, click Reveal.
  4. Write down the Stream name/key, which appears when you click Reveal. You will need this number if you use certain encoder programs like OBS.
  5. Make sure that it says All changes saved at the top of the page, and you're ready to set up your encoder.

How to Stream On YouTube With XSplit Broadcaster

XSplit Broadcaster is a free streaming encoder that's available for Windows. Some features are locked behind a paid subscription, but you can use the basic streaming functionality without paying anything. You do have to sign up for an XSplit account when you install the program, but you don't need to pay for a subscription. If you prefer open source software that's totally free, skip this section and use OBS instead.

A screenshot of the main XSplit screen.

The first step in setting up XSplit to stream your game is to make sure it's using the correct source. You can have it broadcast the specific game that you want to stream, or have it broadcast a specific monitor if you use multiple monitors.

A screenshot of XSplit showing how to capture a monitor.

To set up XSplit Broadcaster to broadcast a monitor:

  1. Click Add source.
  2. Click Screen capture.
  3. Click Monitor capture.
  4. Click the monitor you want to stream.
A screenshot of XSplit showing how to capture a game window.

You can also set up XSplit to broadcast a specific game if the game is currently running:

  1. Click Add source.
  2. Click Game capture.
  3. Click the game you want to broadcast.
YouTube Live Click to Configure button in XSplit Broadcaster

With your source selected, you're almost ready to start your broadcast. First, you'll need to authorize XSplit to connect to your YouTube account:

  1. Click Broadcast.
  2. Click YouTube Live - click to configure.
Channel ID and Authorize button in XSplit Broadcaster

For XSplit to work with YouTube, you'll need to enter your channel ID:

  1. Navigate to youtube.com/account_advanced.
  2. Look for where it says YouTube Channel ID.
  3. Copy the Channel ID.
  4. Return to XSplit, and paste your ID into the Channel ID field.
  5. Click OK.

You can leave the rest of the settings in this menu alone, and your stream should work just fine. If you experience problems, like video quality issues or lag, then you will need to tweak these settings.

A screenshot of giving XSplit permission to access YouTube.

The next step is to let Google know that it's okay for XSplit to connect to your YouTube account:

  1. In the window that pops up, log into your YouTube account.
  2. If prompted, enter your two factor authentication code.
  3. Read the message, and if you consent, click Allow.
    1. Note: XSplit will not work if you do not click Allow. If you prefer not to give access to your account, then use OBS.
YouTube Live link in XSplit Broadcaster

You're almost there. All that's left is to set up your stream and start broadcasting:

  1. Click Broadcast.
  2. Click YouTube Live - your username.
Start broadcast button in XSplit Broadcaster

The window that pops up will automatically populate with the stream name and description that you entered on YouTube. Verify that this is correct, and click Start Broadcast.

A screenshot of XSplit with a live stream of Final Fantasy XIV visible.

At this point, your live stream will be available on YouTube. You can tell that XSplit is broadcasting by the Streaming Live message at the top of the window. If you don't see that message, your stream isn't live.

How to Stream On YouTube With OBS

OBS is open source software that's totally free to use. Since it's open source, people are even free to take the code, modify it, and make new versions available. If you're interested in monetizing your live streams, Streamlabs has a version of OBS that has a lot of features to help you do that. When you're just getting started, the basic version of OBS will also work just fine.

Settings button in OBS

Unlike XSplit, you don't have to sign up for an account to use OBS. Just download the program, install it, and you're ready to set it up.

The first step is to get it working with YouTube by clicking on Settings.

OBS Stream key field and OK button in Stream tab

To set up OBS with YouTube, you need to have your Stream key. If you forgot to copy it or write it down, return to your YouTube Creator Studio page and get it before you proceed.

Here's how to set OBS up to work with YouTube:

  1. With the Settings menu open, click Stream.
  2. Select Stream Type > Streaming Services.
  3. Select Service > YouTube/YouTube Gaming.
  4. Select Server > Primary YouTube ingest server.
  5. Paste your Stream key into the Stream key field.
  6. Click OK.
Add new Source button in OBS

OBS is now ready to broadcast to YouTube, but you still need to tell it what to broadcast. If the right game already appears in the OBS window, then you're good to go. If it doesn't, you'll need to press the + button in the Sources section and tell it what to stream.

Game Capture menu item in Sources window in OBS

The easiest way to set this up is to create a source for your game. You can create a separate source for every game you stream, or you can just choose to stream the specific monitor that your game displays on.

Here's how to create a stream source in OBS:

  1. Click the + button in the Sources section.
  2. Click Game Capture.
A screenshot of OBS showing how to set up a new capture source.

The next step is to set up your game capture source:

  1. Click Create new.
  2. Enter a title for your source.
  3. Verify that Make source visible is checked.
  4. Click OK.
Mode and Window fields, plus OK button in OBS

The next step is to tell OBS what game to capture:

  1. Select Mode > Capture specific window.
  2. Select Window > the process name of your game.
  3. Leave the rest of the settings alone.
  4. Click OK.
Start Streaming button in OBS

With your source created, you're ready to start streaming:

  1. Verify that the OBS window displays your game.
  2. If OBS doesn't display your game, click on your new source and switch to it.
  3. Click Start Streaming.

How to Verify Your YouTube Gaming Stream is Working

Once you have set your encoder to start streaming, your game stream should be live. If you want to be sure that everything is working, you'll need to go back to your Creator Studio page and open your live stream.

YouTube Gaming stream Live status with green dot

If your live stream is working, you'll see a big green dot next to the word LIVE at the top of your stream page. You can also scroll down and click on STREAM HEALTH to see if YouTube has any advice to improve the quality of the stream.

It takes a few moments for a stream to go live after you start streaming in an encoder, so if you don't see the green dot, give it a bit. If the dot stays gray, you will need to return to your encoder and start streaming again.

How to Stop Streaming On YouTube Gaming

When your stream is live, you can change the title, description, and whether it is private, public, or unlisted on your YouTube Creator Studio page. That is the extent of control you have over the stream from that page. When it's time to shut down the stream, you have to do it from within your encoder.

Broadcast menu in YouTube Gaming window XSplit

Here's how to stop a stream in XSplit:

  1. Click Broadcast.
  2. Click YouTube Live - your username.
  3. Verify that the red text that says Streaming Live at the top of the Xsplit window goes away. This means that the stream has ended.
Stop Streaming button in OBS

To stop streaming in OBS, you just click Stop Streaming. The green square in the bottom right corner of the window will go away, which means that OBS is no longer streaming.

Can You Stream On YouTube From a Web Browser Without An Encoder?

YouTube has made it easier than ever to live stream from Chrome. You can actually stream directly from the browser, without any kind of encoder software. However, you can only stream video from a webcam and audio from a microphone. You can't use direct Chrome streaming to stream games.

Go Live button in YouTube Creator Studio

If you want to use the streaming functionality that's built into Chrome to do some webcam broadcasts for your fans when you aren't gaming, here's how to do it:

  1. Navigate to the main YouTube site, or your Creator Studio page.
  2. Click the camera icon with the + symbol inside.
  3. Click Go Live.
  4. When prompted to provide Chrome to access your webcam and microphone, click Allow.
  5. Enter a title and description for your stream, and click Next.
  6. Click Go Live.
  7. Click END STREAM when you're done.

You can use this method to stream yourself playing games, but your viewers will only be able to see whatever you point your webcam at. To live stream high quality game footage, you need to use an encoder.