Ever dreamed about making money playing video games?
You’re not alone.
Being an established name in the video game industry can mean serious cash. There are plenty of gamers who already earn enough money to make playing video games their full-time job.
But with the market getting saturated, you need to choose which revenue streams would make the most sense for you based on your skill set and experience.
In this post, you’ll find some of the best ways to earn money playing video games. By the end of this post, you should have a better idea of which of these methods would suit you best.
1. Join gaming tournaments
Video game tournaments are more popular than ever. And because of that, event organizers can offer insane cash prizes for the winners.
Getting all that respect and admiration from your peers in the video game industry isn’t bad either.
Take pro DOTA player N0TAIL. The man has won over $7 million in prize money throughout his competitive gaming career. His fame also brought in additional revenue through sponsorships and other opportunities.
You should know that this path isn’t for everyone. Realistically, only a select few ever reach the point when they’re considered “tournament-ready”.
To be competitive, professional gamers spend most of their days playing the same game over and over again. That alone can be tough on a person’s physical and mental health.
These people also tend to get scrutinized by fans of the sport — not something everyone can handle. It messes with their confidence. That’s why some of them resort to cheating during live tournaments.
Being a professional gamer doesn’t last forever either. While there’s no rule stating what age a player should retire, most do so in their mid-20s to early 30s. That’s when they shift to other roles like managing a competitive esports team.
But if you’re okay with all that and you think you have the skills to dominate other players, this could be a career path for you.
Unfortunately, there’s no direct path to becoming a pro player. What you can do is attend local gaming events and hope that you get noticed. There are events you could join for a fee. If you’re lucky, a professional league will watch your matches and invite you to a try-out.
2. Be a streamer
This is arguably the best way to make money playing video games. And the best thing about being a streamer is that you have control over your time and content.
You also control which platform to stream on. Create a YouTube channel and go live there or make your money on Twitch, Facebook Gaming, or even Kick.
The only exception is when you sign an exclusive deal with a platform. Then you’re required to do specific hours depending on what type of deal you signed up for.
But this probably won’t be an issue until you amass a ton of watch time and subscribers.
Some video game streamers like TimTheTatman stream anywhere between 4 and 8 hours a day. He mostly plays video games but also devotes part of his time just chatting with his audience and reacting to non-gaming content.
As of this writing, he has over 5 million subscribers and often streams with other popular streamers like Dr Disrespect.
If all you really want is to play video games at your leisure and you have no problem showing your personality, being a video game streamer is as good as it gets.
You can get paid through donations, sponsorship deals, and ads. Selling merch is another way you can earn money once your audience gets large enough.
And there’s barely any barrier to entry. All you need is a good camera and microphone. You can capture gameplay footage through your PC. But if you’re using a gaming console, you’ll need a capture device.
If you have those, then you’re pretty much set to begin streaming.
3. Publish video game reviews
People don’t have to be professional gamers to make money playing video games. If you can’t join video game tournaments, then why not review games instead?
A video game journalist is someone who reports on the latest news in the gaming industry. This includes developments that affect gamers and industry watchers alike. Game reviews fall under this category as well.
Gameranx is a popular YouTube channel that publishes game reviews through its Before You Buy series. Each video tells people what’s unique about a game, why they should care about it, and what issues it may have.
At the end of each video, the host gives a recommendation and leaves it to the audience to decide if the game is right for them.
The Gameranx team are writers who all play video games regularly.
You can make money by turning on ads for your video reviews or through affiliate links provided by video game companies.
Some reviews also make money through blogging. They post articles about the games they played, sharing their initial impressions. If you have a day job, blogging about video games could be a great side hustle for you.
Or if you don’t want to start your own channel or website, some companies hire video game reviewers. Work for one of them until you’re comfortable starting your own channel or site.
4. Coach new players
There’s no shortage of new players who want to improve their skills. Help them achieve their goals by becoming their coach.
If you fancy yourself an expert in a particular game, you can share your knowledge with aspiring competitive players.
You can use a job posting site like Fiverr to advertise your services and get clients. There are several competitive gamers on the platform making money playing video games with players who want to be as good as them.
There are even video game companies like Metafy that make it their mission to teach players how to excel at their favorite video games.
But you can’t make money playing games and coaching others if you don’t have some experience. Who would want to learn from someone who doesn’t have the credentials to teach, right?
If this is the career path you want to take, then you might want to consider investing in yourself. Some companies will teach you how to become a video game coach for a fee.
Legionfarm is one of those companies. And it claims that coaches can get a guaranteed starting income of $1,000 — and earnings will only go up from there.
What does a video game coach do exactly?
You don’t just go out and play games with students — though that is a crucial part of it. You’re expected to help them with strategies. This might involve watching replays of their matches to see what issues they’re struggling with.
Coaches also need to check how a player communicates with his or her team and answer any of the questions a student might have about the game.
5. Post social media content
Posting gaming content on social media could be the easiest way to earn money playing video games. All you do is share noteworthy moments that you captured while playing.
If you have plenty of followers on TikTok, then it won’t be long before you make money on the platform. This also works if you have lots of followers on Instagram.
You can do YouTube Shorts too if that’s more your speed.
How can you make money on social media? In the same way all influencers make money on these platforms.
A video game developer could offer sponsored posts. You can experiment with affiliate marketing as well.
Most creators in the gaming space use social media for additional exposure. These platforms allow them to expand their reach and introduce their content to people who aren’t familiar with them yet.
This leads to more revenue opportunities for them.
TikTok content creator Gamelancer has 5.1 million followers on TikTok. The account is home to shareable clips that almost any gamer can relate to.
Most of Gamelancer’s TikTok videos get tens of thousands of views which is truly impressive.
Famous_Streamer is another TikTok account that’s making waves in the gaming community. But curiously, it doesn’t feature video game clips.
Instead, the account owner, Leslee, shares her thoughts on video games. She does work in the video game industry so she’s more than qualified.
If you don’t want to share clips from your games, you can create the same type of content as Leslee’s.
6. Make video games
Joining the ranks of game developers isn’t as far-fetched as you might think. There are plenty of one-man developers who managed to create a game from scratch and make a lot of money doing it.
The most famous example would probably be Markus “Notch” Persson. He would go on to create Minecraft, one of the biggest games in the world right now.
Persson would go on to sell Minecraft to Microsoft for $2.5 billion.
Having a background in programming would be an advantage. But there are tools available today that let users create games without it.
The Sandbox is a game maker tool that you can download for free. It allows you to create games for the Metaverse.
Those who prefer making RPG games can try RPG Maker. It provides all the tools and assets aspiring game developers might need to bring their ideas to life.
However, RPG Maker isn’t free. Costs vary depending on what version of the product you download.
If you’d like to try your hands on 3D games, you can use Unity or Unreal Engine 5. These tools require some know-how to use though. Those who are set on using either platform can either hire freelance professionals or learn how to do it through tutorials and online courses.
As for distribution once you finish your game, you can try selling it on Steam. As long as you’re the developer and owner of the game, you can upload and sell it there.
Or you can upload it to your website and sell it from there. If you don’t have one, you can create a simple store and sell it using Sellfy.
Steam is the more ideal option because it gives you access to an existing audience and it’s 100% designed for this use case.
7. Upload video game guides
There’s serious money in making video game tutorials, let’s play videos, or walkthroughs. And they’re not that hard to produce as well. All you need to do is play video games as usual and record your progress.
However, you do need to do a ton of research and testing. Stealth games, for example, require players to go through a level without alerting enemies. Players want to know the best routes to take and what strategies to use.
If you can’t offer that level of information, nobody’s going to watch your videos.
TheRadBrad is one of the best content creators in this category. He has over 13 million subscribers as of this writing. He publishes walkthroughs for all the latest games.
Speaking of games, that can be a challenge for some creators. You can get limited to certain types of games and titles.
While you can do walkthroughs for whatever game you want, the views can take a hit if you don’t do the latest games.
The reality of it is that most people aren’t going to look up guides for older titles. They need guides for the games they’re playing right now — meaning mostly the latest releases.
And most guides are for games that have a story mode. So if you’re only playing battle royale games, for example, then making guides probably isn’t for you.
There are different ways you can go about doing a walkthrough.
Some people only watch walkthroughs that don’t have commentary. That’s great for those of you who don’t like playing while recording yourself. Then there are those who watch videos with commentary but no shot of the player.
You can also record footage of your gameplay while simultaneously capturing your reaction as you play the game.
If you’re going to record both gameplay and yourself, you’ll want to use a tool like OBS.
This will enable you to not only capture footage from two sources at once but also add elements like overlays for a much sleeker presentation.
8. Start a video game podcast
If you want to be a video game journalist but prefer to present your thoughts in audio format, you can host your very own podcast.
It may not seem like it but there are a lot of gaming-related podcasts out there. People love talking about video games regardless of the format.
Podcasting works even better if you have a video version that you can upload to YouTube. Some even broadcast their podcasts live through Twitch.
One of the biggest names in video game podcasts is Giant Bomb with over 200,000 subscribers on YouTube. Gamers can also access their content through its website.
Every episode is over 2 hours long and covers the latest in gaming — though the hosts do tend to go off into tangents about other subjects.
You can do it alone. However, podcasts tend to work better when there’s more than one person on the show. So if you and your friends have nothing better to do than talk games all day, why not record yourself doing it? You might have a hit show on your hands.
As for equipment, the list isn’t that different from that of a streaming setup. Having a good mic is the most important thing. If you’re going to record yourself on video, then you’ll need at least a webcam.
9. Apply as a game tester
Sometimes, a video game company would need someone with excellent gaming skills to test the projects they’re working on.
If you really want to make money playing games, then why not apply as a video game tester?
You’ll find job postings for these positions on sites like Upwork.
Alternatively, you can sign up as a tester for companies like PlaytestCloud, a game testing service provider. It’s worked with some of the biggest game studios in the world like Ubisoft and Gameloft.
All it takes to join the program is answering some basic information. The company will then send you a qualification test. If you pass, you’ll get invited to test games. If you fail, you can retake the exam.
Since taking the test is free, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t try at the very least. If you don’t like the terms for whatever reason, you can check out other game testing service providers like Testbirds and BetaTesting.
It’s important to remember that you’re not just there to play games. These companies will expect certain things from you.
You need to have a good sense of what game development is. It would help if you have great attention to detail. You should also have good problem-solving skills. And you need to be able to follow instructions.
While it’s exciting to play new games well ahead of others, you need to remember that your job is to find bugs and report them. You’re not playing a finished game. So better manage your expectations.
10. Join the sportscasting world
Sportscasting is another exciting way to earn money playing games. If you can’t compete with the best players in the game, calling out their matches could be the next best thing.
To be a sportscaster, you’ll need extensive knowledge of the game you’re going to commentate on. So you will still need to play pretty regularly.
You’ll also need extensive knowledge of game patches and other factors that would affect gameplay. Familiarizing yourself with the top competitors in the field is also a requirement.
LowKo is a professional video game commentator — more specifically, he commentates on Starcraft 2 games. He takes clips from professional matchups and user-submitted gameplay, does play-by-play commentary, and uploads his clips to his YouTube channel.
He does more than react to the matches though. He explains what strategies the players are using, explains the pros and cons of their approach, and points out things that the average player might not see.
On top of all that, he uses his signature brand of humor to keep his viewers entertained throughout the matches.
He is a widely respected personality in the Starcraft scene even though he isn’t a professional gamer himself. This is even more amazing given the fact that Starcraft is a game that hasn’t seen any significant releases or updates for quite some time.
You can earn money from the ad revenue you make from YouTube videos. Sponsorships aren’t off the table either. But gain enough following and you could end up getting tapped for an upcoming gaming event. That’s where you could start your career as a paid sportscaster.
11. Talk about video game tech
There are gaming-adjacent careers for people who want to make money off it. One of them is reviewing gaming tech.
You can look into some of the gadgets and gaming peripherals in the market and offer your thoughts. You can then upload them to your review site or YouTube channel.
Your reviews could be about other tech items too. For example, Senpai Gaming is a YouTube channel run by Harris Heller, a known name in the streaming space.
Heller streams his gaming sessions but that’s not what his YouTube channel is about. He reviews tech related to streaming — lights, webcams, peripherals, microphones, and everything else in between. He also covers news in the streaming space.
He managed to carve out a niche for himself.
And unlike other tech reviewers who aren’t immersed in the streaming world, gamers are more inclined to listen to Heller. That’s because they know he’s one of them.
If this is the path you want to take, you will have to think about how you’re going to secure products to review. You can start with reviewing software and online services first since you can download some of them for free (or sign up for a free trial).
Once you gain traction, companies might want to sponsor some of your videos or send in their products for review.
There are a lot of ways to make money playing video games. And the good news is that most of them are accessible to the public. Nothing is stopping you from creating your own gaming channel, for example.
But it might take some time before you see results. So you better keep at it.
Also, it’s a good idea to use multiple revenue sources. Some streamers edit the most interesting parts of their Twitch broadcast and upload them on YouTube. You can do the same. That way, you get exposure on two platforms instead of one.
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