What's better than playing video games?
Getting paid cash money to play video games!
Gaming is an extremely fun past-time, and turning it into a full-time income is many people's ultimate dream. Luckily for you, it's not only possible — video games can earn you more than a traditional job.
Some people are making six, seven, and even eight figures playing games for a living.
Want to learn how? Here are eleven ways to make money playing video games (that really work).
Hit start to begin.
1. Become a Video Game Tester
This is pretty much the O.G. way to make money playing video games. Game developers will pay game testers to try out their games in a real player environment. They are paid to spot bugs and make suggestions on how to improve the game.
And get this: The national average pay for video game testers in the US is $67,813 per year!
Considering the average salary across all industries is only $44,564, game testers can make a good bit more than the average job.
However, keep in mind that just because you're getting paid to play video games doesn't mean the job is just like your average gaming session on the couch. It's still a lot of hard work.
For example, game testers have to do matrix testing. Let's say you're testing a fighting game like Mortal Combat — a matrix test means you play all 20 characters versus all 20 characters 1-on-1, one match at a time, to determine how each character matches up. That's over 8,000 matches!
You'll also have to test every nook and cranny of the game, trying to find every glitch and bug, taking meticulous notes along the way. Check out this article for an inside scoop on what it's like to be a game tester.
This job is best for those who are very analytical and methodical. If that doesn't describe you, this might not be the job for you. But this isn't the only way to get paid to play!
Think it's for you? Search job boards like Indeed for some open positions.
2. Start a YouTube Channel
Another way to earn money to play your favorite games is by starting a YouTube channel (or a blog or podcast, but we'll focus on YouTube as it's the most visual platform).
YouTube is one of, if not the biggest potential earner on this list. PewDiePie (shown below) was the sixth highest-paid YouTuber in 2017, earning a whopping $12 million — and he started with basic video game commentary.
Some things you can do on your YouTube channel to gain a following are:
- Use entertaining commentary and add effects to make your videos more interesting and engaging, as Nightblue3 does.
- Record popular games such as Gary's Mod or Fortnite with your friends and other YouTubers, as VanossGaming does.
- Teach people how to play the game better with guides, tutorials, and commentary explaining why you make certain decisions in the game, as Metaphor does.
- Review new games and help people decide if a game is worth buying or not, as Joseph Anderson does.
- Live stream games and record "Let's Play" style videos where you show off a game or play through the story, as LetsPlay does.
- Record playthroughs of a game (new or old) where you comment on the story and read the text out loud or do speed runs or restricted runs of the game, as TetraNinja does.
There are other ways as well; these are just the main ones that many YouTubers have used to make money with their videos and grow their following.
The majority of your money will come from ads and sponsorships on YouTube. To get ads, you need to become a YouTube partner, which requires the following:
- Have more than 4,000 public watch hours in the last 12 months.
- Have more than 1,000 subscribers.
Once you meet those requirements, you can apply. If you're approved, you can start displaying ads on your videos and making some money! But the big money comes from sponsorships from game developers and companies who sell game merch, such as gaming chairs.
You can worry about getting sponsored once you have developed a more serious following, though. So get crackin'.
3. Stream on Twitch
Twitch is a streaming platform where viewers can watch others play their favorite games.
Of course, that's not typical. The average Twitch streamer earns closer to $10,000 to $40,000 per year. Still a decent revenue stream!
To get started making money on Twitch, you must become a Twitch Partner. To do that, you need to have:
- At least 500 total minutes broadcast in the last 30 days.
- At least 7 unique broadcast days in the last 30 days.
- An average of 3 concurrent viewers or more over the last 30 days.
- At least 50 Followers.
Once you become a partner, you can start earning money from subscribers and displaying ads on your channel. Of course, you can also get sponsorships from gaming companies just like you can on YouTube!
4. Compete in Tournaments
While not a consistent source of money (unless you're extremely talented), winning game tournaments for competitive games like Call of Duty, League of Legends, Fortnite, etc. can net you some serious cash.
One of the world's top e-sports competitive, Timothy Miller (aka "Bizzle"), earns around $322k per year participating in Fortnite tournaments.
This is probably the easiest way to make money playing video games, but also not a big earner unless you're really good at the game and consistently win.
5. Become a Game Developer
Another way to earn as a gamer is to actually develop the games yourself. Game developers at major companies like Ubisoft or EA earn an average salary of $83,000. However, jobs for major game companies are notoriously stressful and tend to force you to work long hours and holidays.
Alternatively, you can become a solo game developer and make money through game sales and in-game purchases. For example, Minecraft was developed solely by Markus Persson under his company Mojang. Mojang sold to Microsoft for a whopping $2.5 billion.
Another solo example is game developer Finn Brice, founder of Chucklefish and creator of hit game Stardew Valley, which earned ~$24 million in 2016 (more than Call of Duty).
Both of these developers were self-taught and created the games out of a passion for game development and video games in general. What's stopping you?
6. Get Signed on an eSports Team
Esports players earn an average of $1,000 to $5,000 per month — or about $60,000 per year. It's grown massively since its inception in the late '90s (shown below) and it's not stopping any time soon.
Top games paying players include Dota 2, Counter-Strike, League of Legends, Starcraft II, and Fortnite (among others).
The best way to become a pro player is to focus on a single game, get extremely good, and use other platforms to show off your skills (like Twitch and YouTube). In fact, most players are found and signed on thanks to these platforms.
However, you don't have to be a player to make money in eSports. There are multiple other career paths, such as:
- Hosting esports events
- Coaching other online players
- Streaming and commentating on esports matches
- Acting as a referee
- Sales and marketing specialist
- Social media manager for a team or game producer
7. Work as a Video Game Journalist
Another avenue is through journalism. Most video game journalists earn around $26,000 per year, making it one of the lowest-income opportunities on this list.
But if you love games and you love writing and reporting, this is a great opportunity and you can earn much more as your skill increases!
To get started as a journalist, you'll most likely need at least a bachelor's degree in journalism and some journalistic experience (like the school paper and/or an internship). Speaking of internships, an unpaid internship is a great way to get your foot in the door as a game journalist!
8. Work in Customer Service for a Game Company
Like every other industry, gamers also need customer support. Becoming a customer service rep for a game company is a great way to get paid in the video game industry. The average customer service representative makes $13.64 per hour, with some making up to $20 per hour.
Some companies, like Blizzard, even have in-game admins who play the game a deliver support via the in-game chat function.
Landing this job is more about your customer service skills than your gaming skills. You have to be good with people and have excellent communication skills. Getting an internship is one of the best ways to get started on this career path.
9. Create & Sell Video-Game-Inspired Merchandise
Possibly one of the coolest ways to get paid to play is by creating and selling your own game-inspired merchandise. Just go on Etsy and type "Legend of Zelda" — you get over 16,000 results of t-shirts, figurines, coffee mugs, and more.
If you take this route, it means you're creating a business. The sky is the limit on how much you can make, but getting to ~$50,000 per year is possible with the right product and good marketing skills.
To get started on this, you'll either need to dropship goods from places like AliExpress, manufacture the products yourself, or find a supplier to work with to create the products for you.
10. Farm In-Game Currency
Next up on this list is good old fashioned grinding for gold. Many MMO's have a farmable in-game currency that people who don't feel like spending their own time earning it can simply pay you for it.
This is probably the most time-consuming and lowest-paying opportunity on this list next to customer service work — there are gold farmers in countries like China who do this all day for next to nothing. This is because China's minimum wage is just 16 RBM (or $2.34 per hour).
So while it's possible to do it, your time is probably better spent on any of the other nine options.
11. Video Game Coaching
One of the coolest ways to make money playing video games is by offering to coach on your favorite competitive game (such as League of Legends).
Video game coaches make anywhere from $20 to $200 per hour, depending on how good they are and how in-demand their services are. For example, Metaphor (a League of Legends coach mentioned in the YouTube section) offers coaching services for $50 to $80 per hour.
Getting started as a coach typically means gaining an audience through a platform like YouTube and offering your services to your audience.
And that brings us to the end of this guide on how to make money playing video games! The best method is combining several of these strategies together (i.e. streaming on Twitch, uploading recordings to YouTube, and competing in tournaments).
Next Steps: Start Your Own Business
Most of the options we've covered today require you to build a business of some sort. While that may sound a bit daunting, launching a business doesn't have to be a pain.
When you want to learn how to get better at a video game, you learn from someone who has already mastered it. Similarly, if you want to learn the quickest way to succeed with your business, simply follow the advice of someone who has already mastered the business process.
Here at Consulting.com, we've helped over 3,000 students quit their jobs and build successful businesses for themselves. We've mastered the process, and we want to help you master it as well.
Click below to try Consulting.com's premium business course, completely free.