PC vs. Console: Which Platform to Start Streaming On

WARNING: This article is not intended to start a fanboy war between PC gamers and console gamers.  So before you raise your sharpened keyboard to the sky and exclaim something about frame rates or start yelling about console exclusives…I’m here to say, “relax”.  This article is here to share some insight on what might be a more comfortable platform to start streaming.  Note: no matter if I’m talking about single PC streaming or console streaming, I’m still implying a PC is used along with streaming software like OBS to broadcast to Twitch.  At no time will this article reference the streaming Apps that are available for both the PS4 and Xbox One.

So you’ve finally decided to strip away your secret Internet identity and show your face and gaming skills to everyone.  You’ve watched plenty of hours of your favorite streamer and thought, “Boy, does that look easy.  I’m going to start streaming and become king of the world just like Leonardo DiCaprio in that chick-flick about boats.”  Or maybe you just thought it looked like fun and you wanted to share your pixelated adventures with other like-minded individuals.  Either way, you have to start somewhere, right?  But before you strap on a football helmet and call yourself a streamer (What?  There’s no such thing as being over prepared), there are decisions that have to be made…like which platform to stream.  So I’m here to offer some options on which route to take when you first start out (most streamers, down the line, will eventually stream on every platform).

WHAT’S MORE COMFORTABLE:  If by the age of six, you already hacked the pentagon and changed the lunch menu from filet mignon to meatloaf every day, you probably would be more comfortable with streaming PC games.  But if you can look around your room and see posters of Mario Kart and controllers lying all over the floor, then you might be better off streaming console games.  The object when you first decide to start streaming is to do so without spending a crap load of cash.  You’re going to need a PC, a microphone, webcam, multiple monitors, and a capture card, but those are things that can be used whether you’re streaming PC or console games…or both.  So if you already have shelves and shelves of Xbox and Playstation games just sitting around, it wouldn’t make sense to start streaming PC games or vice versa.

DO YOU HAVE ENOUGH POWER:  Can your PC run a small island nation?  Is it powerful enough to recreate the Tron world and stuff Jeff Bridges inside?  If so, then you probably already crank out the highest frame rates for the newest AAA games.  If that’s the case, then you could easily handle streaming from a single PC.  But if your computer has been sitting around collecting dust or is mainly used for surfing the web, then your best bet might be console gaming.  See, streaming HD video over the Internet can already be very taxing on your computer, but adding a new AAA game to the mix—not to mention an IRC client for reading chat and the numerous other programs for notifications of followers, subscriptions, etc.—might crash your older PC or cause your stream to lag or be very pixelated.  So if you already have a console, even last generation, then streaming console games might be the best way to start.  Let the console do the heaviest lifting, while the computer just handles all the streaming applications.

THE MONEY ISSUE:  As already stated above: you need at the very least two monitors (you’re going to communicate with chat while you play, right?), a decent microphone (either a USB or studio mic with a USB interface), a webcam, and a capture card (whether internal or external) to start off.  But the good thing is once you buy that stuff, you can then use it for either PC or console streaming.  So down the line when you’re adding a third monitor or a green screen or a mic stand or…well you get the idea, you won’t have to worry about the basics.

FREE MOUSE vs. LOCKED MOUSE:  One difference between streaming from a console and streaming from a single PC is mouse freedom.  Sure, if you’re comfortable with switching between windows on the fly or minimizing your game to access other things while streaming, then a single PC setup won’t be a problem.  But if you want mouse freedom and instant access to all open applications, then a console would be a better choice.  See, when streaming a console game, you won’t have to worry about minimizing windows or hitting quick keys to switch to OBS from your game, because the mouse is always free to move about the screen.  The controller is operating your game, so all you have to do is reach out and touch the mouse and you’re in business.  But in the end, it all comes down to personal preference: always stick with what’s natural first then venture out.

CRASHES:  Crashes happen…on every gaming platform and to even the biggest veterans of the streaming industry.  The difference is when you’re streaming and gaming from a single PC, there’s the slight possibility that a crashed game will lock up your computer, which in turn will stop your stream and cause you to have to restart.  If you’re streaming from a console (or rocking a two PC setup, which hasn’t been mention yet, because this article is about just starting out) and the game crashes, the stream continues and you can spend the rebooting time conversing with chat.  “Are you saying PC gaming is crap?”  Nope.  I’m just stating a possibility.  Could your PC crash while console streaming?  Sure, anything is possible when you’re beholden to technology.

CONCLUSION:  The object when you’re just beginning in the streaming business is to spend the least amount of cash to find out if you enjoy broadcasting.  You don’t want to empty your bank account to learn you’d rather be gaming alone on your couch.  So always start small and use whatever you have lying around the house.  Once you do find out you love broadcasting and interacting with other gamers, then expand your gaming repertoire.  So if you’re already rocking a massive computer with all these PC games taking up a few terabytes of hard drive, then single PC streaming is probably the best avenue for you to start.  If you’re sitting like Scrooge McDuck atop a mountain of consoles and their games, then maybe console streaming should be your initial platform.  Of course, it always comes down to what you’re more comfortable using and playing.  Every new venture in life starts with choices that only you can make.  I’m simply presenting options and paths that maybe you didn’t think of originally.  So good luck with all your streaming endeavors and as always, feel free to ask any questions in the comment section or send me a direct message through Twitch.

twitch.tv/hankbananas  Gaming with a hint of sarcasm.

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