If you’re reading this, there is a good chance you want to start streaming or recording sports (or any genre) video game content on platforms like Twitch, YouTube or Facebook. If that isn’t you, perhaps you’re thinking of buying equipment for someone who has those interests.
In either case, you’re in the right place.
I’ve been a YouTuber and an occasional streamer for more than 10 years specializing in sports video games in addition to producing written content on titles like Madden, NBA 2K, EA UFC, WWE 2K and more. While that is the focus of my videos, streams and articles, what I’m going to share with you in this article applies to games of all genres.
Equipment is important to the set up and maintenance of a video game content creation career, and while there are some expensive options, there’s also some that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
I’ll share with you my current setup, and explain which pieces I can’t function without.
In addition to sharing my own tech setup, I’ve spoken with several YouTubers and streamers to get a gauge on what they use as well. Perhaps this amalgamation of experiences and tech setups will help you find your equipment groove.
At the least, this article was written to help you create a starting point for yourself or the aspiring content creator you have in mind.
Let’s look at the 6 pillars of a content creator’s setup: gaming source, PC/laptop, capture device, mic, camera and editing software.
We’ll then get into quotes from the professionals who were kind enough to share their setups and favorite pieces of equipment from their capture areas.
The Gaming Source
You can use any game system or PC as the base for your content.
All newer consoles and most PCs/laptops have an HDMI-out port, which is what you need to send the game signal to a capture device (more on that in a minute).
The most popular consoles to use for capturing are the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch and mobile devices.
If you’re still using a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One X, don’t worry, you can still start your YouTube channel or streaming career. While neither are the newest consoles, both still have tons of games in rotation with gamers and remain popular on the social media platforms where you’ll be streaming.
The games you choose to create content with can vary as well, but it is a best practice to use the titles from the genres that you love the most. Viewers can tell when you’re not into the game you’re playing.
I use the PS5 primarily, but when I want to stream or make content from a throwback game, or for a Nintendo or Xbox exclusive, I switch to that console. Because of the amazing NBA 2K modding community, I’ll also dabble in some content creation for PC games. That is a rarity for me, while it is the foundation for others.
The choice is yours.
The PC or Laptop
There is no specific brand of PC or laptop that works best for capturing or streaming. You’ll want to pay more attention to the specs.
Most serious streamers or content creators work to invest in high-end PCs or laptops. If you’re just starting, you’ll probably want to make sure your system has the following specs, per Career Gamers.
- CPU – 2.8Ghz Core i5 or better
- RAM – 8GB DDR3 RAM
- Graphics Card – GTX 660 or AMD 7870 or higher with 2GB Video Ram
The higher you go, the better results you’ll get, but these minimum requirements should be enough to get you started.
The Capture Device
If you’re going to stream or post quality content of games online, you’ve got to own a solid capture device. Aside from your PC or laptop–and obviously the console if you’re not gaming on a PC–the capture device is the single most important piece of your technical setup.
This is the equipment that takes what you see on your monitor or television and transmits it to your PC’s hard drive, or directly to YouTube, Twitch, etc.
Without it, you’re left capturing footage off the screen with your phone or another camera, and that’s just not going to cut it in 2021 and beyond.
There are a number of options, but the best and most commonly used come from Elgato. As a matter of fact, get used to hearing that name throughout this article. The brand has carved its niche in the gaming world by becoming arguably the most prolific provider of content creator equipment.
I use the Elgato 4K 60 ProMK.2 capture card. It enables you to capture gameplay footage in 4K, and I’ve found it to be the best capture device available.
While I love it, Elgato’s 4K capture card might not be your choice if you aren’t comfortable installing it to the motherboard of your PC, or aren’t willing to fork over $249.99 to purchase it.
Both can be drawbacks–especially if you’re relatively new to the content-creator world or short on cash. If none of that causes pause for you, and you’re ready to create top-notch visuals from the beginning, you won’t find a better option.
In the event this is a direction you’re looking to go, the video below is helpful if you’re having a hard time, or nervous about installing it.
Elgato has some other capture options that don’t require you to install it into the motherboard of your PC. The Elgato HD60 and HD60s is still used prominently by several of the YouTubers and streamers I spoke to in preparation for this article.
Both plug into one of your PC or laptop’s USB ports and connect to your gaming console through an HDMI cable. Essentially, the capture device is what connects the console to the PC or laptop, while also sending a feed to your TV or monitor.
While you can run a YouTube channel or stream without a quality mic, don’t underestimate the importance of this part of your setup.
I use a Shure SM7B, which is ideal for podcasting. I chose it because that’s been a part of the content on my channels, and I thought it looked cool when Joe Rogan uses on his show.
It has also worked well for streaming and content creation while gaming. The clarity is the best I’ve experienced, and for what it’s worth, it looks slick.
This one might be overkill for some, as it still costs $399. You don’t have to go with that mic, or one on that same price level. Elgato has a mic called the Wave 3 which also offers solid quality for less.
Color Me Porcha, an arts and crafts YouTuber who works with Cricut devices, resin and ink sublimation, recently told me about her experience using the Wave: 3.
“The Elgato Wave was easy to setup an adjust,” she said. “My videos sound a little crisper than they did before when I was using the mic from my cell phone. That mic was solid, so I’d tell anyone that if that’s all they have right now, it’s good enough to start. However, The Wave has been a step up for me.”
According to Porcha, this was the first video she recorded with The Wave:
The Wave isn’t exactly cheap at $199, but it’s literally half the cost of the Shure mic. Going down a level, but still in the respectable price category is the Blue Snowball.
When I started my YouTube journey, this is the mic I used. As you’ll see, a popular WWE 2K YouTuber I spoke with used the same mic when she started.
You can get this mic for just $39.99, and while there is an obvious difference between the three, this will get you in the mix.
Using a camera is optional.
If you don’t want to be on camera, it’s not totally necessary. However, I will say you become more relatable when you’re willing to show your face and interact with your viewers.
That said, using the camera on your phone offers great quality, especially if you have one of the newer mobile devices. If that’s a hassle and you’d rather not double dip with the device, you can use a webcam, or even a DSLR through a cam link to your PC or laptop.
I use the Elgato FaceCam, and while it doesn’t supply the same quality as a DSLR, it does deliver the best results I’ve experienced from a webcam. I upgraded to it from the Logitech Brio, which was also a strong product.
The Elgato FaceCam costs $199.99, but as webcams go, it’s worth it if you’re serious about content creation. If you’re unwilling to spend that much, there are webcams available as cheap as $49.99 and you can find more with a little better quality closer to $100. Remember, with cameras, you’ll usually get what you pay for in those instances.
If you’re a streamer, this isn’t as important. However, if you’re a content creator on YouTube, you’re probably going to want to edit your videos to remove dead spots or dull moments from your gameplay.
Unless you’re like Jay-Z and you only need one take to complete your voiceovers, there’s a good chance you’ll want to have a working knowledge of some video editing software.
In case you’re not the most tech savvy person, don’t let this scare you off. There are several very user-friendly editing applications available on PC and mobile. I use CyberLink Power Director, which isn’t as advanced as Adobe Premiere or Final Cut, but because my content is more about my gameplay, my personality and opinions, it works fine.
If you plan to add tons of on-screen effects, then you’re going to want to look into Premier or Final Cut.
Top Content Creators Share Their Setups and Favorite Equipment
I spoke to five sports video game YouTubers who shared with me their tech setups and their favorite piece of equipment. I also included an example of their work for your inspiration.
Brian Graves, aka RGS has an MLB The Show YouTube channel with 55,000 subscribers. Here is his setup and an example of one of his videos
- Mic: Audio Technica AT2035
- Mic stand: Rode PSA1
- Audio interface: Line6 UX2
- Capture card: Elgato 4k60 Pro
- Camera: Logitech C920
- Studio Lighting: 2 Elgato Key Lights
- Keyboard: Logitech Pro series
- Mouse: Logitech G502
RGS said: “I would have to say my favorite part of the entire setup has to be my AT2035 microphone. It allows me to communicate with my audience in incredibly high quality audio. Having a high quality and clean sounding microphone is a key to being successful in content creation!”
WWE 2K YouTuber Macho T has 118,000 subscribers. His setup is scaled back compared to some. Clearly, he makes it work. He also rarely uses a camera and explains why he approaches his content that way.
- Mic: AT2020USB+
- Camera: IPhone (when needed)
- Capture Card: HD60s
- MacBookPro Laptop (Starting)
- Monitors: 2 Asus Monitors for PC
Macho T said: “Starting off, I didn’t use a camera. So, that was my gimmick. So you will probably continue to see me with a Rey Mysterio mask. Therefore, audio and capturing my gameplay was most important. The mic I use offers great quality without having a $500 tag on it. Since it is a USB condenser mic, it’s easy to plug in and use in my PC or Laptop. My favorite piece of equipment though has to be the HD60/HD60s. Since I mostly game on consoles, this capture card is great. The best part about it is how easy it is to use and the convenience. Portability is everything, so it was important for me to have a capture card that I can use when I’m not near my setup. It has been good for trips to game previews and more.”
WWE 2K YouTuber Luge has 989,000 subscribers. Her reach in the WWE and WWE gaming community is as wide as almost anyone who shares the space. Luge’s channel has some additional layers beyond WWE and WWE 2K content, but that still sits at the crux of her YouTube foundation.
Here is her setup:
- Cannon Rebel SL2 DSLR
- Logitech G35 headphones
- IBuyPower Pre-Built Desktop w/ dual monitors
- Elgato HD60
- Elgato StreamDeck
- Amazon USB Plug-In Ring Light
Luge said: “When I started out making content on YouTube, I just used the built-in webcam and mic on my Mac. After more than 10 years, I upgraded my gear to look and sound more professional. I added a point-and-shoot Canon G7x for filming, but now I use a Canon Rebel SL2 DSLR. I started with a Blue Snowball microphone, but I have upgraded to the Logitech G35 headphones with an onboard microphone. I’ve also upgraded from a Macbook to an IBuyPower prebuilt desktop with dual monitors. To capture content from the PC, I use the Elgato HD60 and a stream deck to interact with my viewers while streaming. For lighting, I use an Amazon USB plug-in ring light with different tones and lighting options. When I game, I divide time between the PC, a PS5 and an IPhone.”
WWE 2K YouTuber, Brandon Collymore aka Brandon Does Everything is someone I covered very early in his content creation career. Back in August 2017, Brandon was gaining momentum and he’d grown his channel to just over 51,000 subscribers.
Today, he has 460,000.
- Mic: Shure SM7B w/ Cloud lifter and GoXLR
- Boom Arm: RODE PSA1 Swivel Mount
- Camera: Lumix G7 w/ Elgato Cam Link
- Elgato HD60s
- Monitor: (2) Samsung 27-Inch CJG56 144hz (Curved)
- Elgato Key Lights
- PC: Alienware Aurora R7
- Headphones: Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro
BDE said: “My favorite part of my setup are my headphones. They’re lightweight which makes it great for long recording & gaming sessions. The cord is pretty long too so I’m able to move without yanking it out of my computer.”
Madden YouTuber Zirksee has 212,000 subscribers. He has become one of the most popular content creators in the Madden space. His setup is nearly Elgato from top to bottom, but he also mentions OBS editing software. It is one of the most popular applications, but not considered the most user-friendly.
Here is what Zirksee said about his setup and favorite pieces of equipment:
“For my game capture device, I have the Elgato Game capture HD60 pro. An Elgato is an absolute necessity for any YouTuber starting their career. For my face-cam, I use a Sony A6400 camera with an Elgato CamLink device that allows my computer to register it as a webcam, and easily add it into OBS for recording. This saves me a lot of time for editing because I don’t have to transfer any files. As for my microphone, I currently have an Elgato Wave Mic 3. I prefer to pair that with a rode PSA 1 mic arm. It allows me to move the microphone to different areas. For lighting, I have 2 Linco standing lamps and a Neewer ring light. Both are essential to get the correct lighting for filming. I would say my favorite piece of equipment would be the Elgato CamLink. It saves me so much time because I instantly have my camera video on my computer as a webcam and it syncs it with my game audio, mic, and gameplay; Not needing to take the extra time to take the SD card out of the camera, upload the file, then drag it into the overlay of every video saves me a few minutes when I need to post content quickly.”
There is a lot to unpack here, and all of the information can be overwhelming for someone looking to start their career.
Still, if you can find the right starting point for yourself, this information and the testimonials can serve as a guide or inspiration to success in content creation.