Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved playing video games. Even now I load up a game on the weekends to help burn off some frustration and tension that the past week has built up.
As a kid I always wondered how I could get a job playing games. Then of course I grew up a bit and ended up floating around until finally starting my own online business.
Still, sometimes I dream of playing games for a living.
The thing is it actually is possible to make money playing video games! Not all of the options are going to make you rich, but some certainly have potential as money makers.
Here then is my top 7 ways that you can make money playing video games.
DO THIS FIRST: Play Games. Make Money.
Before we continue with the list, did you know you can play games online and actually make money by doing so? Swagbucks will pay you to play and it’s completely free to get started. In fact, they’ll give you $5.00 just for signing up. They’ve paid out $136 MILLION dollars so far and you can get in on that action just by creating a free account.
#1 Game Testing
This! This is what I wanted to do as a kid, and I bet most gamers when asked would agree.
Becoming a games tester actually isn’t that hard, most large game studios have openings for games testers.
The position isn’t glamorous though, in fact it’s often quite the opposite. Games testers generally don’t earn that much money, which wouldn’t be an issue if the job was amazing.
Sadly testing games can become quite dull: you rarely get to play games you’re actually interested in, and the hunt for bugs is usually a higher factor than deciding whether the game plays well or is fun.
It can get quite boring playing the same section of a game over and over all day.
That being said, you’re still getting paid to play!
#2 Farming Gold and Items
If games’ testing isn’t boring enough for you, you could always try your hand at farming in game currencies and equipment.
Most games, such as World of Warcraft (WoW) actively ban this sort of practice, but some games such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CO:GO) actively allow and promote this.
Depending on the game and the virtual product, earnings have the potential to be quite good.
The downside though is the amount of time that is needed to spend farming the stuff in the first place, especially for things like gold where you need a lot of it to earn a small amount of money.
WoW gold currently sells for pennies per 1,000 gold which means you would need to farm 300,000 gold to maybe make $100. Maybe…
Steam offers an easy way to make money selling items.
Items might be more profitable, often one item can sell for $5 – $20 or more, but getting the drops worth selling takes time and patience. The Steam marketplace makes this sort of item sale very easy indeed.
Games such as Diablo 3 made it even easier by having the real life auction system built in.
It’s certainly going to help you retire at 30, but you could make cash on the side from it.
#3 Creating Game Guides and Walkthroughs
This option is perfect if you know a game inside and out. While some gamers look down upon guides and walkthroughs as basically cheating, a lot of people love them!
With a little bit of time and patience, and a good amount of knowledge you can easily create an e-book that could sell for $15 or more.
The difficulties with this option are that you need to get in there early when a game is released in order to beat the rest of the crowd. As well as that you need a place to market the product.
Sure you could do it on your own site, but unless you already get traffic you will likely not sell many.
That leaves the options of places like Amazon, or better yet a targeted site like Killer Guides
Both will take a part of the sale price, but they do open you up to a much larger market.
#4 Showcasing Your “Let’s Play” Videos
With the rise of sites like Twitch and eSports in general, more and more people are watching other people play games.
This could be turned into a gold mine by streaming or posting your game play, and hoping that you get enough views to earn advertisement royalties.
Let’s Play style videos can garner hundreds of thousands of veiws.
You do need to be a talker though. For example, Amazon has a rule that you need to be commentating the video throughout the playtime in order to be eligible for advertisement earnings (I think this has something to do with the games own distribution terms).
Your commentary is going to be the deal breaker; if you’re boring, no one will watch your videos. Being entertaining on the other hand and people will lap it up, even if you suck at the game!
#5 Sell Your Characters
In MMO’s, building up characters is a large part of the game. Kitting them out in end game gear takes time, effort and a skill.
What then do you do if you get bored of the game or just want to make some cash?
Sell your character of course!
Depending on the game this is likely to be forbidden by the games terms, but it doesn’t mean you can’t still do it.
Places such as Player Auctions allow you to offload your account for a profit.
Don’t be dismayed though if it backfires on you or if you only get a paltry fee, people only pay for the best of the best when they are gaming the system (pun intended!).
#6 eSports Tournaments
If you want to become famous in the community while bagging some serious and legitimate cash, then eSports are the way forward.
The DOTA 2 prize pool back in 2014 was a sizable $6 million dollars, and Blizzards Hearthstone championship in 2015 had a prize pool of $250,000.
The great thing about eSports is that it’s open to anyone; you simply prove your worth by beating everyone else!
With that in mind you need to play, and play a lot! You will need to know your game inside and out even just to have a shot at the prize money.
That’s a lot of unpaid hours just to have a chance at it, so eSports is unlikely to pay your household bills unless you can get sponsored.
#7 Write or Record Reviews and Opinions
As a marketer, and frankly not that great of a video game player, writing reviews and opinions appeals to me.
The great thing about it is that you can choose what games to review and talk about, unlike being a games tester.
Obviously you still need to have played the game, but you can do it at your own pace and style.
Making money from this method is pretty much like any online business: you sell your own products (think guides), affiliate with places like Amazon so people can buy the games, and sell advertising space on your website.
If you use video as well then there’s the potential for YouTube earnings too.
This method does have a higher barrier to entry though and it will take time to gain traction in the community so people can find your content and enjoy and share it.
That being said, this is likely the best way to make a stable, scalable and profitable business out of all the options listed.
The Bottom Line
Just because you want to play games all day doesn’t mean you can’t make money from it. Sadly there’s still a lot of work involved with it, but if you’re interested in video games as well as making money, then these 7 options all have their own merits.