Is It Worthy?
Streamlabs OBS quickly became my favorite streaming software. There is a little bit of a learning curve in the beginning, but it makes streaming with high quality content and overlays much easier than any other program we’ve tested thus far. Several friends of mine with limited experience in streaming felt the same way. It is intuitive, looks good, and makes life easier to focus on what’s important: streaming!
To make your stream look better than a basic game capture feed, there is a Themes store. It offers free and Prime-based overlays with custom scenes, graphics, and more. Earlier this summer, there was a great variety of free tier Themes with mostly static scenes. A few freebies had animated scenes but naturally the quality of the graphics were a bit lower or more simple. There are many other wonderful programs and utilities such as Mobcrush which can simplify streaming to multiple platforms at once. Another option is Restream.io if you’re okay with using a second site and account to assist with multi-streaming.
I wanted to spruce up my stream before going live so I ended up picking a static/free version of a theme from VBI called Dark Matter. It was simple, clean, and easy to work with. After hardware issues with a capture card we were reviewing (Avermedia GC553), I took a one month break, only to come back and find that none of my scenes were working correctly anymore. I could no longer see any video from my capture card, and the ability to stream was effectively dead. Did I do something wrong? Was it my replacement hardware? No. It was the latest “Update” from Streamlabs OBS (SLOBS for short).
Streamlabs overhauled the dashboard, tabs, and general navigation to take up less space and make it easier for content creators to focus on what was more important. Once you get used to the new layout I generally like most of the changes they made (I would love to always see the frame drop % again without having to click on something). What didn’t get fully disclosed was the September 7th push towards Prime membership for everything. They mentioned the great enhancement on their blog post on how Prime now includes everything but they didn’t mention that what was once free is now pay-walled via Prime membership.
Prime Features for a Prime Price
The Prime membership is awesome, don’t get me wrong. It gives you access to 750 themes, 500+ overlay assets, and 20+ premium overlay packages. The problem is, not everyone needs that level of content. Many of us do not stream as a full time gig. For some, it’s a hobby and spending $12 a month to use a particular theme throughout the year isn’t the most cost effective way to go.
Luckily the awesome folks at Nerd or Die (https://nerdordie.com/product-category/streamlabs/) sell a lot of the same themes for a single and perpetual cost. That means instead of paying $12 a month to use a single theme (assuming you do not take advantage of other Prime featues in SLOBS), you can spend anywhere from $5 to $40 on a single package that gives you animated scenes, premium graphics, Adobe After Effects source files, templates, and more. Even the most expensive themes will be cheaper to use over a span of three months when compared to the monthly rate of Prime through SLOBS. If you know what theme you want, it makes sense. If you have no idea which theme will work best for you, it may be worth trying Prime for a month so you can experiment with everything before making your final decision. There are other premium products within SLOBS to consider which is also included in Prime, but they aren’t necessary for a good looking stream.
In the end, I really like the Streamlabs OBS software. It just works, and you can be up and streaming in a fairly short period of time. I think many people are salty (as they should be) about the removal of content only to force or push you towards paying them $12 a month to get it back. Luckily it’s a free market so we can speak with our wallets. I’m sure they’ll see an uptick in sales volume in the end, even if less streamers use their platform as a while now.
Alternatives to consider:
StreamElements – OBS Live