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…
Here’s How to Make Money Playing Video Games
The thing is it actually is possible to make money playing video games! There are some Twitch streamers out there pulling over 6-figures per month!
Okay, you probably have better odds winning the lottery than hitting those kinds of numbers.
I did round up the realistic options and some certainly have potential as money makers.
1. Play Games at Swagbucks
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 $337 MILLION dollars so far and you can get in on that action just by creating a free account.
2. Become a Game Tester
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. There were scams going around a few years ago that advertised testing jobs in the $50-$100 per hour range and that sort of gave the entire industry a bad rap.
Game testers generally don’t earn that much money. Realistically you can expect anywhere from $10-$17 per hour.
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!
3. Farm Items for Gold
If you like the concept of farming and hate the outdoors, 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 even go so far as to 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.
4. Write 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.
A lot of video game walkthroughs are making their way onto YouTube instead.
Gone are the days of GameFAQs where you’d find 100 page hand-written guides with colorful ASCII to spruce things up. Nowadays, people want their quick 10 second fixes and demand immediate answers.
5. Showcase Your “Let’s Play” Videos
With the rise of streaming sites 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. Literally, a gold mine. Twitch’s top streamers earn over half a million dollars per month.
If streaming is your calling, look no further than our guide on how to make money on Twitch.
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!
6. 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!).
7. Join eSports Tournaments
The rise in Twitch streaming has brought competitive video gaming into the limelight. Just last weekend I was flipping through the channels on my TV and saw 3 hours of programming on a major network dedicated to a video game competition.
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.
8. Write Reviews
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.
Consider Joining the Industry
You can turn your love of video games into a full-time career by working in the industry.
Most companies do require some college or even a degree. Experience in the industry is also a plus.
You will have to do some digging for an entry level position. The best way to get your foot in the door would be to start with an internship and work your way up to a full-time job offering.
I also highly suggest looking through all of the remote positions listed at Flexjobs.
There are positions available from all aspects of game design, from writing the stories to actually writing out the code. I even saw a position listed for a video game guide writer. Take a look through and see if there’s anything in there that might catch your eye.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, your desire to play video games can go hand in hand with making money. But you do need to remember that you’ll be working and may start looking at video games a little differently.
If you really enjoy spending long stretches on the couch, you may also want to consider reading my guide on how to make money watching TV.