Friday, 30 October 2015

How Good is the PS4's Streaming?

One of the things that I've been trying to do a little bit more of lately, is streaming. I watch things on daily, but I've never really consistently streamed there myself. So since I've been using my PS4 a lot lately, I thought that I would give it's in-built streaming capabilities a shot. I knew going in that it wasn't going to be an ideal setup, but if it was at least easy, then that counts for a lot for someone as mega-lazy as myself. So after messing with it for a little over a week, here are my findings...

To begin with, the service really is pretty easy. Connect up your Twitch account, hit share, select start broadcast, and you're pretty much good to go. Right from the start it's less than ideal, as expected, though. The PS4 can only stream the game feed directly, which makes quality settings and such very simple, but there is basically zero customization at any step. The only video options you have are handful of preset quality settings, and obviously you cannot use fancy stream overlays and such. There is the option to use the PS4 Eye camera deal as both a webcam and a microphone, but that's about it. Being as I didn't really want to spring for a PS4-only webcam or a proper capture card, it was video feed only for me. This also comes with the consequence of not being able to see PS4 UI objects such as achievement toasts, which is a small issue but kind of unfortunate.

In the end though, it was easy enough that I was ok with all that. I could just open up a chill stream, not feel like I need to talk or present, I can just play and respond to chat on my computer located right beside the PS4. However there remains one massive issue, which is the fact that each individual game can decide when it can and cannot be recorded. This goes for streaming, but also even simple things like screenshots, or the constant video encoding that the console would normally do. Near as I can tell this is because of potential copyright issues, and possibly because of spoilers, but either way it's super annoying.

To be honest, the blocked broadcasting is a bit of a dealbreaker. I was able to stream 25 hours of Dragon Quest Heroes unimpeded, but past a certain point in the game streaming was blocked entirely. This means I have most of the game sitting on my Twitch channel, and then suddenly nothing. That game footage will never be completed. I wanted to stream Guitar Hero Live, and that could not be broadcast at all (admittedly not surprising). Now I suppose I understand why it has to be that way, but it's a huge impediment to the service. What's worse is that as far as I know, there is no way of knowing ahead of time if you're going to be able to stream an entire game, if the game will block streaming entirely, if you'll get cut off half way, etc. That's not listed on the game box. And all told, because of that alone, I don't see the service as being worth using. If I want to continue streaming PS4 content, I will be buying a capture card.