What You Need to Record and Produce Gameplay Videos

Share your gaming experience with other fans

Boy playing video games
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If you're an avid gamer and love to share your gameplay with the world, get feedback on your skills, and trade video game stories with others, the easiest way to do this 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 actual video-game-related content to share on YouTube, though, viewers are always interested in seeing it. Below is a list of items you need and a few tips on using them.

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

Video-Capturing Device

One of the main pieces of hardware you need is some sort of video-capturing device. This allows you to record 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.

There are lots to choose from these days. Popular options include:

Tip: These devices are worth the cash if you really want to make high-quality videos. See how we rank some of the best gaming video capture devices.

Each has a few different features. Some support a microphone for live commentary, while others are able to record component or composite in addition to HDMI. Some offer a PC-free mode. The recording quality, particularly for producing YouTube videos, is fairly even among all of them.

All the 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 for the Roxio, on up to $150+ for the Hauppage HDPVR2 or Elgato. (Prices are current as of 2018.)

Note: Some gaming consoles, such as 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 required to record the video.

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

Video/Audio Editing Software

Now that you've made your video game video, you need to consider what you want to use for editing and producing the video that you'll end up sharing on YouTube. You need not only a software program to do the editing but also enough hardware resources to support it.​

Your capture device will most likely come with some sort of simple editor, but it might not have all the features you're looking for if you want to produce a truly professional-looking video. Instead, you can choose from a huge offering of both free and commercial video editing software available.

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.

Microphone

Adding your own audio comments 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, for about $130 USD (2018).

While any microphone will do, you'll usually get better quality with a higher-end device. For example, the quality produced using the Blue Snowball is much greater than anything you can make with the built-in mic already installed in your laptop.

Audio Editor

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

Computer

Trying to edit a video when your computer won't cooperate is enormously frustrating. Some systems just aren't built for video editing, and you'll know right away if yours falls under that category as it struggles to load menus or play the video back to you. The right hardware is crucial for high-quality video editing with minimum frustration. If you're patient, you might be able to get by with cheap hardware, but that isn't always true. Check the program's hardware requirements before you purchase anything; consider checking in with fellow gamers in online forums, too, for tips on what to buy. A couple of key considerations include:

  • RAM: You don't need a high-end gaming computer to do some video touchups, but it isn't uncommon to need upwards of 4 to 8GB of RAM for some video processing.
  • Hard drive space: If your game is hours long, it could take up quite a bit of memory. Consider getting another hard drive if your main one isn't up to the task, such as an external hard drive.

Internet Access

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 4.5GB video file to YouTube.

Consider Copyright Issues

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

You still have to be careful about a few things, such as using music. Make sure you're fully aware of the sounds your video has; don't simply add a song you like during the editing phase without checking its copyright restrictions; YouTube might strip it from your video before it's even published.