There’s an old adage that says – do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. I believe that to be true, but what if what you love is something like playing video games? Is it possible to make that into a career? Or even simply to make money at it? The short answer to those questions is “yes”. There is a longer answer, which I will explore in this post, but yes, you can make money by playing video games. The downside to this (if there is one) is that it takes a lot of hard work. A lot of people will give up after a couple of years because somewhere along the lines it stopped being fun.
This reminds me of a friend of mine from high school. He was a really good basketball player and was the only one in our small town high school to get a scholarship to play basketball in college. But when he got there, he stopped loving the game. He was playing 24/7 and it went from his passion to the bain of his existence. I think this is an easy thing to have happen to someone. Don’t you? Afterall, they say too much of a good thing isn’t really good. But let’s get back to how you can make money from playing video games.
As I mentioned, it’s something that takes a lot of time and dedication. Read between the lines there. It’s not going to be for someone who has a family or a lot of commitments on their time. Because, like I said, it takes a lot of work.
Stream your gameplay in real-time for the world to see. Aim to build a large audience (which you can monetize with ads) or a loyal audience (which you can monetize with donations and subscriptions). The biggest platform is Twitch. YouTube Gaming is slowly catching up. Ignore platforms like Hitbox and Beam as they are too small to make money. The difficulty with this is that it takes a long time to build a live stream audience. It may take you several months to break 10 viewers. But hang in there. Your goal is to break 100 and in order to make a living, you’ll need thousands of regular viewers.
New players love to read guides, especially for multiplayer games. You can either create a website for written guides, upload video guides to YouTube or publish guides as ebooks. The first two options can be monetized with ads, whereas the ebook route will earn you revenue through sales. In order to make a living, you will need to create guides for popular games. But the more popular the game, the more competition you will run into. In order to set your guides apart from everyone else, you’ll need to offer more insight than others. In addition to that, you will need strong writing skills. Guides need to be dense and comprehensive without being wordy or full of fluff.
Videos or Podcasts
Create a daily, weekly or monthly show related to gaming. This could be opinion based or a series of interviews with high-profile players. You could also focus your video or podcast around tips and tricks for one particular game. You can monetize podcasts and YouTube videos with ads, but this format can also be supported through Patreon subscriptions. This is particularly difficult as you will need to build a sizeable audience before you will start to see any revenue come your way. Your show must also be compelling enough for people to tune in. If it’s too boring, or the production quality is low, you’re not going to succeed.
Tournaments are extremely common and the more popular the game, the larger the prize pool becomes. If you’re good enough to join an eSports organization you can likely earn a livable salary. Most competitive gamers also take advantage of live streaming for additional income. This can be particularly difficult because not everyone is going to be able to win money at the tournaments. You can be a world-class player and get knocked out early in a tournament. Even if you can win money, it might not end up covering the cost of your flight or hotel.
You can write news, reviews, and interviews for specific games, genres or even the industry. You can create your own site, which can be monetized with ads or Patreon subscriptions, or work for an established site and earn a paid-per-article basis. Journalism is a competitive business. There are so many people out there who want to write about games for a living. If you write for an existing site, you’re not going to earn a lot of money, but it will help you establish a portfolio and develop your skills. If you start your own site, it’s going to take years to build an audience before you can start to make a living wage. Also, journalism can be kind of demanding. Reviews and interviews can take a lot of time to do properly. In general, writing every day can be a huge drain on your mental and energy.
As games get to the end of their development phases, developers need outside people to test out their work. As a playtester, your job is to test everything the developer wants you to test, which includes finding and documenting bugs and issues. It’s not that difficult to become a tester, but the work isn’t exactly exciting. Nor is the pay all that great. Unless you can land an internal position at a large game development company, most testing positions are for mobile gamers.
This might not be the job for you, but there is money to be made in gaming. How you chose to do it is up to you. What works for you might not work for everyone. Stick with it as it will pay off eventually.