Broadcasting from Windows 10
We have to give Microsoft props for baking support for broadcasting games right into Windows 10. The Creators Update has the best version of Game bar to date, which added a new section in the Settings app dedicated to gaming. On the plus side, this option is native to Windows 10: there’s no additional software to download and possibly cause conflicts on your PC. On the minus side, Microsoft’s solution is extremely limited.
For starters, open the “Settings” app and select the “Gaming” category sporting the Xbox logo. Here you will see four categories in the menu to the left: Game bar, Game DVR, Broadcasting, and Game Mode. The Game bar simply provides visual tools within your game for recording gameplay, broadcasting, and taking screenshots. It’s not absolutely necessary to use given all these commands can be performed using keyboard shortcuts.
Under the Broadcasting section, you’ll find slim pickings. You can choose to record audio while you stream gameplay, disable the microphone, use auto echo cancellation, and adjust the system and microphone volumes. You can also choose to enable/disable your camera, and toggle an option to capture the mouse cursor during the broadcast.
Finally, you’ll see a section called “Game Mode.” Microsoft says this feature, when toggled on, will increase your performance when broadcasting by suspending unnecessary processes running in the background. It doesn’t overclock your hardware, but simply makes adjustments on the software level so the processor and graphics chip have less non-gaming tasks to perform. However, not all PC games support Microsoft’s Game Mode option.
It’s a step in the right direction, at least
Microsoft’s integrated broadcasting component isn’t feature-rich like third-party software despite its native Windows 10 roots. There are no scenes to create, and no camera settings to adjust in one central solution. Instead, when you launch your game and open the broadcasting tool (WIN + ALT + B), you’ll see a small blue panel providing a limited set of options: the source to broadcast (Game or Desktop), and the camera’s position in the feed. You can also toggle on/off the camera and/or microphone, but that’s it.
While that sounds like a great native setup, playing games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim renders the Game bar useless. The game completely hijacks the entire screen in fullscreen mode, preventing Game bar from appearing. The keyboard shortcuts actually do work save for the broadcasting feature (we have no idea why), but the only way you know a shortcut even works is by a brief flashing of your screen acknowledging the keystrokes.
We managed to get Skyrim working correctly with Game bar and broadcasting to Mixer using the borderless windowed mode. But the results were of a lesser quality than what we’ve seen using third-party broadcasting software. Because we have no option of changing codecs, bitrates, keyframes, and processor usage, our feed was at the mercy of Windows 10.
We have to note at least one positive feature: Game bar will render your output in a small overlay within the game. This comes in handy if you need to see what you’re broadcasting without opening Mixer on a second screen. Of course, Microsoft’s integrated gaming features are friendlier with games designed for the Windows 10 environment, especially those sold on the store such as Minecraft, Gears of War 4, Quantum Break, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, and so on.
If you don’t care about scenes and camera effects, this may be a better option than installing third-party software that can reduce performance, and cause software conflicts. Hopefully, Microsoft will beef up Windows 10’s broadcasting setup in future updates.