How to Record and Produce Gameplay Videos

Boy playing video games
Yuri_Arcurs/Getty Images

If you're an avid gamer and love to share your gameplay with the world, get feedback on your skills, and share your fun video game stories with others, the easiest way to do it is to record yourself playing and then upload the video to YouTube.

Producing high-quality videos isn't actually all that difficult, so long as you have the right software and hardware ready to go. You need the correct hardware to record the gameplay and the right software to edit the video before you share it.

While it's true that newer models of the PlayStation and Xbox have automatic video recording features, and let you easily share videos to the internet, they can't really replace high quality, well-edited videos that people record and upload themselves.

If anything, they have just flooded social networks with lots of terrible footage that no one actually wants to watch. If you're interested in producing real video game-related content to share on YouTube, we have some tips.

Note: When we say video game content for YouTube, we're talking about videos like Rooster Teeth's Red vs. Blue, Achievement Hunter videos, Game Grumps, or TheSw1tcher's Two Best Friends Play, to name just a few.

Get a Video Capturing Device

One of the main pieces of hardware you need is some sort of video capturing device. This is what allows you to literally capture the video output of the game so that you can store the video file on your computer and do all your editing before publishing it to YouTube.

Tip: These devices are honestly worth the cash if you really want to make good quality videos. See how we rank some of the best gaming video capture devices to find out how we compare some of those video capturing devices.

They all have different features, such as some supporting a microphone for live commentary and others being able to record component or composite in addition to HDMI, or having a PC-free mode. The recording quality, particularly for producing YouTube videos, is fairly even among all of them.

All of those devices mentioned above can record your Xbox gameplay footage just fine, even in 1080p. High performance does come with a cost, however, and a decent capture unit can run you anywhere from $90 USD (2018) for the Roxio, on up to $150+ for the Hauppage HDPVR2 or Elgato.

Note: Some gaming consoles, like the PlayStation 4, have protections in place that make it a little harder to record your gameplay. Be sure to read what your video capturing device has to say about your console so that you can make sure you have all the appropriate hardware and software components prepared to record the video.

Check out our full guide to the Basics of Capturing Gaming Videos for YouTube.

Edit Your Video Game Footage

Now that your video game video has been made, you need to consider what you want to use for editing and creating the video that you'll end up using for YouTube. Not only do you need a software program to actually do the editing but also enough hardware resources to support the editing software.​

Video/Audio Editing Software

There are tons of both free and commercial video editing software available. Your capture device will most likely come with some sort of simple editor too, but it might not have all the features you're looking for if you're wanting a professional video.

Versions of Windows that have Windows Essentials installed can use the built-in Microsoft Movie Maker program for light editing, and macOS users can use iMovie. Otherwise, you might consider something much more advanced, but not free, such as VEGAS Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro, or MAGIX Movie Edit Pro.

Adding commentary to your video requires a microphone of some sort. A popular choice among podcasters and many video producers on YouTube is Blue's Snowball mic for around $50 USD (2018). Or, you can step up in quality and go for the Yeti Studio, also from Blue, but for around $130 USD (2018).

While any microphone will do, you'll usually get better quality with a higher-end device. For example, the quality will improve between the Blue Snowball and the built-in mic already installed in your laptop.

Also, think about audio editing. You can use a free program like Audacity to edit the minute details of the sound file, and then you can encode it in the right audio format that's needed by your video editor, and combine the two to make your YouTube video. Keep in mind that some video editing tools also have good audio editors built-in, including some that come with video capturing hardware.

Note that if your video or audio data needs to be in a different file format, try using a free file converter program (e.g. you need the video to be an MP4 instead of AVI file or the audio to be in the MP3 format instead of WAV).

Required Hardware for Editing

It might surprise you just how frustrating it is to try editing a video when your computer won't cooperate. Some systems just aren't built for video editing, and you'll know right away as it struggles to load menus or play the video back to you. It's therefore important to have the right hardware necessary for high-quality video editing.

You don't necessarily need a high-end gaming computer to do some video touch-ups but it isn't uncommon to need upwards of 4-8 GB of RAM for some video processing to take place.

If you're patient, you might be able to get by with cheap hardware, but that isn't always true. Check with the program manufacturer before you purchase anything since you might need different hardware to run the editing software, and it's best to know that before you buy anything.

Hard drive space is another component that might go overlooked when you're dealing with editing gaming videos. If your game is hours long, it could take up quite a bit of hard drive space. Consider getting another hard drive if your main one isn't up to the task, like an external hard drive.

Also, consider your internet bandwidth. For example, if your maximum upload speed is only 5 Mbps (0.625 MBps), it will take a full two hours to upload a 4.5 GB video file to YouTube.

Consider Copyright Issues

In the distant past. copyright issues were a huge minefield when it came to making gaming YouTube videos, but things have changed. Many game companies have issued blanket statements allowing gamers to create videos, and even monetize them, with little to no restrictions.

There are still some things you have to be careful about, though, such as using music. Make sure you're fully aware of the sounds your video has; don't just add any song you want during the editing phase or it might be stripped from your video while YouTube processes it before it's even published.

Is It Worth It?

Making gaming can be a lot of fun, whether your goal is to make some money or you just want to share your gaming skills with the world. However, the whole process, from the gameplay itself to the video processing, can take a really long time.

The gameplay, editing, encoding, and uploading can take hours just for a 10-minute video, but that's not to say that the whole thing isn't enjoyable just because the process isn't full of fun. You get to see your raw work come together to form a finished and (hopefully) entertaining project, which can be immensely satisfying.