Does the thought of gaming for money online appeal to you as an avid gamer? We've got 12 great ideas for turning that fantasy into YOUR reality.
How to Make Money Playing Video Games
In 1982, Arthur Szathmary – a Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University – said, “An old-timer I knew used to tell his students: ‘Find something you love to do and you'll never have to work a day in your life.'”
It's a well-known saying, of course, mistakenly believed to be a quote by the Chinese philosopher Confucius.
Well, what if the “something you love to do” is gaming?
We're here to tell you that you can most certainly make money playing games. And even though it can actually involve some hard work, we're still going to show you how. Just keep on reading.
Become a Streamer
As a streamer, you'll be gaming live for the world to see.
The trick here is to be clever about it: you need to build a large audience to monetize with ad revenue, as well as a smaller subset comprised of your loyal audience, who can be monetized through donations and subscriptions.
It can take months to build an audience on either of these 2 platforms, but you could make some decent money with both.
1. Become a Twitch Streamer
Sign up for a free Twitch account and start gaming for money online immediately.
Your first step is going to be adding a donation button to your channel. This isn't necessarily going to bring in a lot of money, but donations can be anywhere from $1 to $1,000+ per stream. Donations can be boosted through “bits,” which viewers earn through watching ads.
2. Become a YouTube Streamer
YouTube makes it even easier to play games for money, because unlike Twitch, your live streams stay online and can be watched later by more viewers.
That being said, it can also be a little harder to start earning money. You'll need to have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 view hours over the past 12 months to become a YouTube Partner. To start earning ad revenue (assume about $2 per 1,000 impressions), you'll need to link your Google AdSense account.
Once you have more than 1,000 active subscribers, you can then join YouTube Red, which lets you earn a percentage of the membership fees. You can also then enable Super Chat, where viewers pay a nominal fee to have their comments featured live.
Test or Review Games
Just like any other product, games need to go through a beta testing period before the official launch. And once they have been launched, they obviously want to expand their reach through reviews by real gamers.
This is where you come in: you can make money playing games as a beta tester and/or by doing reviews.
The difficult part is in building a reputation for yourself beforehand. After all, not just anyone is going to pay you for beta testing and/or reviewing their games. Luckily, if you've already started live streaming, you can use your followers as leverage.
3. Become a Beta Tester
The downside to becoming a beta tester is that not all of the games you'll play are going to be terribly exciting. In fact, they may even be downright boring. And they have a high possibility of being full of serious glitches.
On the plus side, it (probably) won't end up as badly for you as it nearly did for Kirito in Sword Art Online.
Besides, that's the point of beta testers: to identify the glitches and short-comings before games are launched. And you could make an average of $54,833 a year – up to $62,885 if you have more than 6 years experience.
4. Become a Video Game Reviewer
This requires a little more work. You may want to start a blog or YouTube channel specifically for game reviews.
If you're going the YouTube route, you'll be able to earn money the same way you do with streaming, by becoming a YouTube partner and earning ad revenue through your Google AdSense account.
Alternatively, you can enter affiliate partnerships with gaming producers and/or distributors to earn a percentage of sales made through your blog and/or YouTube channel. And with your blog, you can eventually start making money by selling ad space to those same companies.
Make YouTube Videos
You didn't think we were done with YouTube, did you?
That makes YouTube a very lucrative platform to jump onto if you want to play games for money. How does a six-figure income as a top YouTuber sound to you?
And it doesn't stop at streaming and/or posting reviews.
You'll still be using the same basic tactics here, of course: become a YouTube Partner, link your Google AdSense account, add affiliate links, and a crowdfunding donations method. But what you post is going to be slightly different.
5. YouTube Guides
Chances are, you've come across a game that you're interested in, but you don't want to spend money on it if you're not going to enjoy it.
So what do you do? You hit YouTube and look for a gaming guide.
This is slightly different from a tutorial or walk-through in the way we usually think of such things. Instead of being shown how to play the game, you're seeing what it's like to play it.
All you need to do is record and post guides of your own. Add some topical humor with witty commentary to help you stand out from others.
6. Tutorials Videos
Okay, now we're getting to the traditional type of walk-through: one where you explain what you're doing and how to do it.
Obviously, you'll want to have played the game a few times and figured everything out already. If not, that's okay – sometimes newbies appreciate watching someone else learning by trial-and-error. And the newbies are your main target market, after all.
The possibilities are endless: gold tutorials, raiding tutorials, leveling tutorials, build tutorials, mechanics guides, weapons tutorials, campaign tutorials…
Your imagination and experience are your only limits.
Other Ways to Enter the Business
Let's face it – you're going to have a lot of competition gaming for money online using the above suggestions. Of course, that's not to say you shouldn't still pursue the listed opportunities. The key is to find as many opportunities as possible, after all.
That's why we've added this section on other ways to enter the business. With a little creativity and time, these can be just as lucrative.
7. Video Game Tournaments
Oh – you thought we were going to list easier ways to play games for money?
Video game tournaments are highly competitive. You're going to want to spend hours dedicating yourself to become an expert at a game such as Call of Duty. Part of that time is going to be spent building your reputation in the gaming community and joining a pro team to enter into the tournaments.
8. Become an eSports Coach
Just as professional NBA players need a coach, so do professional tournament players.
This can be just as much hard work as becoming a pro player – in fact, even more so. You won't necessarily need to have been a tournament player yourself, but you're going to have to train yourself just as much.
9. Become an eSports Host
Sports events have commentators. eSports tournaments have hosts.
Paul ‘RedEye' Chaloner, easily the most recognizable esports host, recommends getting started as a caster. This involves booting up a game and basically shouting over it. Chaloner says that this will help you gain experience in properly commentating: the art of pacing yourself and properly structuring your commentary.
An even better way is to use your streaming platform(s) to informally host games. Over time, you'll gain recognition in the community.
You can expect to earn an average of $700 to $1,000 per broadcast once you start monetizing that skill.
10. Become a Gaming Journalist
Becoming a gaming journalist is undoubtedly more work than simply gaming for money online. In addition to your gaming, you'll also want to do a journalism course.
As a gaming journalist, you'll be doing more than simply writing reviews. You'll also need to cover events, launches, developments, other newsworthy stories, and conduct interviews – just like any other journalist.
Get started as a freelancer with your own blog, which you can monetize with ad revenue, affiliate sales, and even Patreon subscriptions. You can eventually make money doing guest posts for more established sites.
All told, you could earn an average of $51,784/year.
“Farming” is, admittedly, a practice that's frowned upon in some gaming communities. Some games don't even allow for it.
Farming is the process of leveling up a character and then selling it to the highest bidder. Some characters will sell for as much as $1,000 each, which can make it worth spending those hours leveling them up. To make it even more so, make sure you know how to level up quickly.
As a bonus, if you're rather adept at gathering CS:GO skins, you can sell those while leveling your account.
12. Customer Service
Okay, this doesn't directly involve gaming for money online, but you're going to be spending a lot of time gaming anyway.
The more experience you have (and the more games you play, especially with a particular publisher), the better your chances of using those skills to make money providing customer support to other gamers.
Sometimes, you'll be able to get a position by contacting the publisher or distributor directly. You won't necessarily have to work in an office, as they occasionally have work-from-home positions available.
BONUS: Patreon/Kickstart Rewards Ideas
One advantage YouTube's Tip Jar has over Patreon and Kickstarter is that the latter 2 require you to create incentives or rewards. These are kickbacks you give your patrons to thank them for their donations.
If you're struggling to come up with ideas, don't worry – we'll get you started.
- Special shout-outs in your next video (any donation)
- Suggestions for your next series – create an exclusive poll (any donation)
- Access to exclusive videos (any donation)
- Merchandise – logo cap, shirt, etc (medium to big donation)
- Guest appearance as a commentator (big donation)
Gaming is one of the best past-times. We put it on the same level as reading, because both allow you to fully immerse yourself in a storyline set in a totally different world to our own. That type of escapism is pretty awesome.
But when you start gaming for money online – no matter how you do it – it can lose some of that magic.
So as lucrative as it can potentially be, you may want to stop and ask yourself whether the money is worth trading in your escapism. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't – that's for you to decide.
If you do decide to try make money playing games, then at least you've now got a pretty good idea of how to do so!