The Best Game Recording Software – July 2018
In today’s era of gaming YouTubers and Twitch streamers, everyone wants to know what the best solutions are for recording and streaming their gameplay. While we’ll be focusing primarily on the “recording” aspects in this article, many of these applications also function as streaming applications, so we’ll discuss those features as well.
Whether you want to record quick highlights, collect footage for your sick frag video or become a full-time streamer, we have you covered. Let’s dive right into it.
OBS, or Open Broadcaster Software, is easily our top pick for this list.
What makes OBS impressive is how versatile it is. Anything you want to change, you can change. Any way you want to record, you can record. This is thanks to plentiful configuration options and a fully-fledged plugin system that extends functionality even more. Whether you're doing real-time Twitch streaming or just want a more powerful, customizable solution for recording footage for videos, OBS is by far the best out there.
There is a caveat, though.
Namely, OBS is a bit hard to use if you aren't very tech-savvy. It's easily the most complex application on this list, and it can be daunting if all you want is basic game recording functionalities. But if you want to take your content creation to the next level, OBS is a no-brainer.
Nvidia Share/Shadowplay is another very capable solution but is exclusive to Nvidia GPUs.
By utilizing an Nvidia GPU's onboard CUDA cores, Shadowplay is able to record gameplay while only causing a minor impact on performance. You probably won't need to turn down any settings when recording with Shadowplay, though if you're playing a game that's very demanding on your system you may lose somewhere in the area of ~5 FPS and experience a stutter when you start/stop a recording.
One of Shadowplay's best features come in the form of "shadow recordings". Essentially, having Shadowplay passively active will allow you to press a hotkey or keyboard shortcut to make a "shadow recording" whenever something cool happens, which will save the last 1-20 minutes of your gameplay (depending on your settings). It's a great way to capture quick highlights!
In addition to recording, you can also stream with Shadowplay. It's...okay, but the main appeal of Shadowplay is as easy-to-use, lightweight recording software. If you're serious about streaming, use OBS- otherwise, this will do.
The AMD equivalent to Shadowplay offers the same general features but is slightly more performance-intensive. The reason for this is because AMD GPUs have a more traditional architecture, and don't have CUDA cores to offload this job onto.
However, the performance differences shouldn't be major- an absolute worst case should be in the area of ~10% for any relatively modern AMD GPU, and it still serves as a very good and convenient way to make recordings.
Plays.tv isn't locked down to any GPU, and has a very nifty clip-sharing service that allows you to quickly and easily upload your gameplay clips, which you can share with anyone. The only caveat is that these clips go straight to the Plays.tv service, which isn't nearly as large as Twitch.tv or YouTube.
While a solid solution for game recording, Plays.tv is tied to a smaller community and also lacks live streaming capabilities, which many of the entries on this list are capable off.
Due to its limited functionality, we're giving Plays.tv a slightly lower 4-star rating.
XSplit Gamecaster is an easy-to-use and pleasant application for streaming and recording, and also comes with a great in-game overlay to make both of those things easier.
Unfortunately, XSplit Gamecaster has a heavy performance penalty when compared to OBS. If you have a very powerful system and don't mind that, XSplit is still a viable option for streaming, but if you want something less intensive and are willing to do the extra setup work, OBS is definitely the better option.
With Windows 10 comes Game DVR.
It's...okay. It functions, it's integrated with the operating system. However, it's known for causing problems with certain games when enabled, and it's not quite as lightweight as a solution like Shadowplay or ReLive.
In addition, Game DVR doesn't have any streaming features and lacks the ability to precisely change recording resolution and quality. The only real options are framerate (30 or 60 and no higher) and Video quality (only presented as "Standard" and "High").
Due to lack of options and middling performance, Game DVR gets a lower score than most of the other options on this list.
Game DVR isn't the worst option here, though. FRAPS is.
While FRAPS has some nostalgic appeal for those who like old-timey gaming videos, it's obsolete. Its recording performance is easily the worst of the batch, it has no streaming capabilities to speak of, and your videos will be plagued with an ugly watermark unless you shell out $37 for a license.
Everything else on this list, sans XSplit, is free and provides a better experience. In 2018 and beyond, FRAPS is obsolete and should not be bothered with.