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How to Stream on PS4

Streaming is more popular than ever, with creators dashing to share their experiences in Fortnite, PUBG, Overwatch, and more. In this guide, we’ll be showing the Sony fans among you how to stream on PlayStation 4 using a capture card and with the PS4’s built-in streaming capabilities.

Although the PS4’s streaming ability is impressive, it’s not suited for those who want a full stream with commentary, interactions in chat, and overlays. Still, we’ll show you both methods for streaming on PS4 so you can broadcast your gameplay to Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, and more.

Further reading

Method 1: Use the PS4’s Broadcast feature

The PS4 and PS4 Pro have a “broadcast” feature built into the operating system. With it, you can automatically start streaming your gameplay to Twitch and YouTube, all with a few clicks of your X button. That said, there are some downsides when it comes to console streaming.

Streaming requires computing resources and, considering the PS4 is already operating on thin margins when it comes to rendering games, that could lead to a choppy stream. Furthermore, there are limited controls when it comes to the quality of your stream. If you want finer control over how you broadcast, we recommend method two.

Still, the broadcast feature is convenient, and a sure way to show the world your gameplay in an instant. Follow the steps below to get set up quickly.

Step 1: Link your accounts

Before streaming, you need to link your accounts. There are a variety of different services your PS4 can link with, but only Twitch and YouTube work for live video streams. To find the account linking area, follow these steps.

Click Settings from the home screen.
Select Account management, then Link with other services.
Select the service you want to use. We’ll be using Twitch for our example.
Follow the instructions on-screen to link your account.

That’s it, really. Basically, you’re just authorizing your PS4 to interact with these services, so the process is fairly painless. With Twitch, you’ll need to either enter a code on your computer or scan a QR code with your phone to authenticate your account. After that, you’re ready to start streaming.

Step 2: Adjust your video settings

All that’s left to do is launch a game. Once you do, you’ll be able to open the “share” overlay by clicking the — you guessed it — Share button on your controller. With this overlay, you can take a screenshot, share your gameplay with a friend, and more. For the purposes of this guide, click on Broadcast gameplay.

Don’t worry, you won’t start streaming right away. Before sending you live, the PS4 will ask for your video stream settings, as well as the platform you want to stream to. There aren’t a ton of settings, but you can still adjust the video quality, give your stream a name, and choose if you want to broadcast your PlayStation Camera and microphone.

Finally, hit Start broadcasting and you’ll be sent live. There are some advanced settings you can tinker with, but they’re not necessary for most people.

Step 3: Start streaming

Now you’re streaming, but there are still some settings you can change while you’re live. If you’re encountering issues, you can open the share overlay again to find the Broadcast gameplay button replaced with a Broadcast settings button. There, you can change aspects of your stream without going offline.

More importantly, you can end your stream with the broadcast settings, which you’ll want to make sure you do whenever you wrap up.

Method 2: Use a capture card

Using a capture card is the preferred method of streaming on PS4, especially if you’re serious about it. Although console streaming is far more convenient, it’s also far more limited. You can’t add overlays to your stream, webcams are supported though not in a customizable way, and you have very little control over your broadcast settings.

Enter the capture card. These little devices take the data from your PS4 that would normally be output to your TV and allow you to use it with your computer. With the video being streamed to your OS, you’re free to use third-party broadcast software, giving you far more control over your stream.

Furthermore, you’re reducing computing overhead. As mentioned, streaming requires computing resources on its own, and that’s in addition to the rendering your PS4 is already doing. Streaming on a high powered computer with your PS4 will result in a far higher quality stream, so long as you have your video settings configured properly.

Step 1: Plug everything in

Half the battle with a capture card is getting everything plugged in. The goal is to plug your PS4 into the capture card and then have that video stream sent to your computer. For most setups, the capture card works like a middle man, relaying the information being sent from your console to your computer.

There are a few different setups you can have, though, which we’re going to highlight using some graphics from AVerMedia and its AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus capture card. If you just want to stream your gameplay, you’ll need to connect your PS4 to the capture card via HDMI, your capture card to a display via HDMI, and the capture card to your streaming computer over USB.

AVerMedia

For those who want commentary while playing, the easier solution is to connect your PS4 to your capture card and your capture card to your computer. The Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus actually has a headphone and microphone connection built-in, so you can easily capture your voice while you’re playing. If you’re using something like the Elgato Game Capture HD60S, which doesn’t have a microphone input, you can still do live commentary. You’ll just need to set that up through your streaming client.

AVerMedia

Step 2: Set up your streaming client

Speaking of streaming clients, you’ll need a separate piece of software to stream when you’re using a capture card. Most capture cards come with some form of streaming or editing software bundled in. We recommend OBS, however. It’s open-source, easy to use, highly flexible, and, above all else, free.

With it, you can set up multiple scenes, add transitions to them, and do picture-in-picture. We’ll leave the finer points of the software for you to discover on your own. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll show you how to get your PS4 running. Before streaming, you’ll need to connect your accounts, which you can do following the steps below.

Open OBS and click Settings.
Select Stream.
Choose your streaming service and connect your account.

OBS supports Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, and just about every other streaming platform. You can connect your account by logging in through OBS, but you don’t need to. All OBS requires is a stream key, which you can find in your account on Twitch, and the like.

Still in the settings, you’ll need to adjust some video controls. Under the Advanced tab, make sure you set your process priority to High or Above normal. That way, OBS will take more resources to send your stream. If you’re having a choppy experience, closing some background apps can help, too.

Otherwise, you’ll need to adjust settings in the Video and Output tabs. For the former, you can set your base resolution, as well as a scaled resolution. For example, you can capture in 4K and downscale it to 1080p for your stream. You can also adjust your FPS and downscale filter here.

“Output” is the most important section, however. Here, you’ll need to adjust two important settings, your bitrate and encoder. Your video bitrate determines the overall quality of your stream, with a higher number being better. Of course, this takes some experimenting, but the rule of thumb is to take your upload speed and divide it in half for your video bitrate. In OBS, the video bitrate is displayed in kilobits per second, so you’ll need to convert the megabits per second you’re getting for your upload speed.

Next, you’ll need to set your encoder. OBS gives you the option between hardware and software encoding. Hardware encoding relies on your CPU, while software encoding uses the power of your graphics card. The one you choose is entirely dependent on the computer you’re using the stream. For those without a decent GPU, using hardware encoding is usually better. If you have a decent gaming computer, however, you can get away with software encoding, as your PS4 is doing all the heavy lifting when it comes to rendering the game.

Step 3: Setting up your stream

Finally, you can close the settings. Now, it’s time to set up your stream. You’ll need to add your capture card input as a source in OBS, which you can do by clicking the plus button under the Sources area. There are a handful of settings you can tinker with when it comes to new sources, but leaving everything as default should be fine.

Multiple sources and scenes can take your streaming to the next level if you’re feeling adventurous. OBS allows you to scale and drag sources around the streaming window, so you can set up an overlay, add your webcam, and add a comments ticker to your stream. In the Scenes section, you can add overlays for when your stream is beginning and when you need to take a break, too, smoothly transitioning between them.

Step 4: Start streaming

Now that you’ve set up your stream, click Start Streaming to broadcast. OBS offers the flexibility that serious streamers need. But it may be too complex for newcomers, who might want to start with a more accessible alternative.

Streamlabs OBS is our favorite, with its integrated chat, support for widgets, and free themes. Streamlabs actually uses the same source code as OBS, but it’s tailor-made for streaming on Twitch and similar platforms, whereas you can use OBS for almost limitless broadcast scenarios.

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