As any video game-loving kid would know, I’m sure you’ve dreamed of the day when you could make money playing video games all day.
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 where I could play games all day. 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 video games for a living…
15 Ways to Make Money Playing Video Games
As luck would have it, it’s now actually possible to make money playing video games!
In fact, there are some Twitch streamers out there pulling over six figures per month!
Granted, you probably have better odds of winning the lottery than hitting those kinds of numbers. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any realistic options.
Here are some ways to earn that certainly have potential as moneymakers.
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 $10.00 just for signing up.
They’ve paid out over $628 MILLION dollars so far and you can get in on that action just by creating a free account.
2. Video Game QA: Become a video game tester.
This! This is what I wanted to do as a kid, and I bet most gamers still want to do this, too.
Being a video game tester is the classic way to earn while playing video games, and most of the bigger game studios have openings for video game testers.
I mean, what could be better than getting paid to literally play the latest video games, spot bugs and glitches, and give your suggestions to game developers?
The position isn’t glamorous, though. Video game testers generally don’t earn that much money. Realistically, you can expect something between $12–$20 per hour.
Also, testing video games can become quite dull: you’ll often be asked to play the same section or level of a game over and over, you rarely get to play games you’re actually interested in, and the hunt for bugs is usually a priority than assessing gameplay or whether it’s even fun to play.
That being said, you’re still getting paid to play all day!
This list of 8 video game tester jobs will help you get started.
3. Farm for gold.
Farming in-game currency and equipment is another way to earn money from playing video games.
Many MMOs have a farmable in-game currency that players can earn within the game. However, this takes a lot of playing time, and players who can afford it would rather exchange real-life currency for in-game currency rather than play for hours.
Aside from currency, you can play for hours to get equipment, or to have your character level up. Again, these items require hours and hours of playing time, and a number of impatient players who can afford it are willing to pay to get these items without playing all those hours.
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 it.
No joke. Here are the fastest ways to make easy money online. Click here to see how.
Steam offers an easy way to make money selling items.
Items might be more profitable, often one item can sell for $5 to $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 have made it even easier by having the real-life auction system built in the game.
However, quite frankly, it doesn’t pay much. For instance, 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.
However, if you’re spending hours playing the game and having fun anyway, this might be a good way to at least get some coins on the side.
4. Livestream Video Games: Create “Let’s Play” videos.
With the rise of YouTube, Twitch, and streaming sites in general, more and more people are watching other people play games.
Let’s Play-style videos can garner hundreds of thousands of views.
You do need to be a talker, though. For instance, Amazon has a rule that you need to be commentating on the video throughout the playtime to be eligible for advertisement earnings. This probably has something to do with the games’ own distribution terms.
Your commentary can be the clincher or deal-breaker. If you’re boring, no one will watch your videos. Be hilarious, exude personality, and people will lap it up and watch you again and again, even if you suck at the game!
To monetize your videos, sign up for advertising networks to earn ad revenue.
Exactly how much can you earn? To give you an idea of the possibilities, Twitch’s top streamers earn over half a million dollars per month.
Of course, you won’t earn that much in the beginning. But streaming your gameplay regularly can become a steady stream of money.
If this seems to be a good fit for you, look no further than our guide on how to make money on Twitch.
5. Make video tutorials.
This option is perfect if you know a game inside and out.
While some gamers like to watch Let’s Play videos, others want to know how to get past a particularly difficult level in a video game, how to uncover secret rewards, how to unlock secret characters, or simply how to play the game from the perspective of a fellow gamer.
Basically, this is everything one couldn’t learn from the official tutorial of the video game.
Gamers want to watch tutorials from another gamer who is not only knowledgeable about the game but also entertaining to watch. Most of all, they’ll listen to someone who genuinely likes the game and enjoys playing it.
You can make money from home and it doesn't have to be challenging. Click here to see how.
To earn money, you can run ads on these videos the same way that you can run ads on your Let’s Play videos.
6. Sell your character.
In MMO’s (that’s massively multiplayer online game for you noobs), building up characters is a large part of the game. Kitting them out in end-game gear takes time, effort, and mad skills.
What do you do, then, when you get bored of the character or just want to make some cash?
Why, sell your character, of course!
Be aware, though, that this is likely to be forbidden by most video games’ terms, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still do it.
Don’t be dismayed 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.
If you want to become famous in the community while bagging some serious, legitimate cash, then playing in esports is the way forward.
The DOTA 2 International 2021 prize pool was a sizable $40 million, while Arena of Valor’s Honor of Kings World Champion Cup 2021 had a prize pool of over $7 million.
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 just to have a shot at the prize money.
That’s a lot of unpaid hours for a mere chance at millions, so competing in esports is unlikely to pay bills unless you can get sponsored.
8. Coach other gamers.
When you know your favorite game inside out, and maybe even joined a tournament or two, why not offer your services as a video game coach?
You’ll want to target gamers who are gunning to be tournament players, so being an established video streamer gives you an advantage, even more so if you have tournament experience.
Having your own website makes it simpler to sell your coaching services, but you can also offer your services on freelancer websites, such as Fiverr, or on esports coaching marketplaces like Challengermode and Gamer Sensei, among other marketplaces.
Depending on the demand, the difficulty of the game you’re playing, and many other factors, you can charge anywhere from $10 to $50 an hour.
9. 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 reviewing games is that you can choose which games to review and talk about, unlike being a video game tester.
Obviously, you still need to play the video game before you can write the review, but at least 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 and services, 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.
Unfortunately, writing reviews has a higher barrier to entry, and it will take some time to gain traction in the community so people can find your content and enjoy and share it.
But out of all the other options on this list, this is likely the best way to build a stable, scalable, and profitable business out of playing video games.
10. Be a video game writer.
If you love playing video games AND love writing, why not combine these two passions and be a video game writer?
You can write for video games; that is, you can be involved in developing video games.
On the other hand, you can write about video games; that is, you can write from the perspective of someone who plays the video game or someone interested in people who play the game.
Writing for video games opens doors for you to be part of the video game industry, while writing about video games, including writing reviews (see the previous item), can help you build a career as a video game journalist or reviewer.
Read all about it in our guide to video game writing jobs.
11. Start a video game podcast.
Yes, you’re here to make money playing video games, but you can also make some serious cash by simply talking about them as well.
Come up with a unique angle and dust off your microphone. Launching a podcast is easier than ever before and you can combine your love of reading about, talking about, and playing video games all into one show.
12. Become an influencer and Earn from your followers
This one goes hand-in-hand with livestreaming.
Once you put yourself out there and gain followers on Twitch and other platforms, you can monetize this newfound popularity.
Here are some ideas:
- Create a TikTok account (and YouTube Shorts). Create short-form videos, and earn from them.
- Subscription options. When you’ve had experiences with Twitch, you should know by now that you can add other subscription options with different bonus items for every tier.
Of course, you can also set-up your PayPal to receive donations from loyal fans and sponsors. Some list this PayPal link on all their “about me” sections and ask their followers to “buy them a cup of coffee” or something similar.
No commitment necessary when it comes to donations, but it’s good to remind followers of their options to donate every now and then.
13. Become a Video Game Developer
This one is a full-blown career. You will make money playing video games as a profession, but you wouldn’t be playing 24/7. Most of your time involves working on game concepts, translating them into programming code, testing games, and revising the work over and over until the game is ready for production and launch.
While degrees in the video game industry isn’t a sure-in, having a degree in either computer science, animation, 3D graphics or software engineering is definitely an advantage. Experience is important though, so create simple games to build yourself a portfolio. When you’re ready to get hired as a game developer, you’ll realize there is such a high demand.
14. Build your own gaming website.
When you start playing a video game, you probably search gaming websites for articles about that game, reviews, tutorials, strategies, and other useful information.
If you’re passionate about gaming and want to contribute to the community while earning some money, why not create your own gaming website?
With the rise of esports as a legitimate sporting event, gaming sites have some of the highest potential traffic.
And when it comes to monetizing a website, more traffic means more earnings. These two make the bulk of your site earnings:
- Ad revenues – When your website has enough traffic, you can apply to certain ad networks such as Adsense, Ezoic, Momentum, Mediavine, and Raptive (formerly Adthrive). Once you setup ads on your site, you get to earn real money for every visitor that reaches your site. The money varies depending on the ad network and level of traffic your site has (it’s usually around $3/1000 views), but a couple of thousand dollars is definitely doable even for new sites.
- Affiliate income – You can also combine affiliate links with ads. The difference in this income option is that you find a product you’d want to promote from sources like Amazon (and other affiliate programs), you post a link or a code on your website with a blurb, review, or any comment mentioning the product, and every time someone clicks that link and buys from Amazon, you get a commission. Multiply this to 50 people clicking that affiliate link or 100 people, and you’ll be able to earn without thinking about it.
- Sponsored posts or ads – Leave a banner for sponsored ads, or a space for reviews. Proactively seek out sponsors who might have a product or service they want to promote. Don’t wait for sponsorship deals to find you – you can always begin the outreach yourself.
A word of caution, though: don’t try to create a “video game” website. It’s too general, too wide in scope, and you’ll be competing with large companies with big budgets and you’ll never win in the search results war.
The smart way to go about this is to pick a specific niche in which you have detailed, expert knowledge to share.
For instance, you might want to choose a particular game (e.g., Call of Duty, League of Legends), console (e.g., PlayStation, PC, Xbox), or genre (e.g., RPGs, MMORPGs, fantasy games, horror games) and focus on providing high-quality information on that specific niche.
Another advantage of building your own website is that aside from monetizing your website (e.g., through affiliate marketing, ads, sponsored posts), you can incorporate other ways of making money from video games.
So if you already have a Twitch or a podcast, you can use those to promote your gaming website and vice versa.
15. Get serious with branding and Build a business around video games
When you already have a name for yourself, make sure you think about branding and build a business around it.
Here are several ways you can monetize your gamer name with proper branding:
- Make and sell video game merch: You don’t need to build a factory for this. There are print-on-demand companies that can take care of this for you. You just need to create templates of your printed hats, caps, shirts, mugs, mouse pad, and other merch, wait for people to order, and your partner POD company would do the printing and shipping for you.
- Build your own app: Did you know that you can also promote your products or affiliate links within an app? If you think your followers would find something valuable, make it easy for them to find it by building and maintaining your own app. Before you dive into this idea, make sure you’re going to release a function one, since having a wonky app just so you can release an app is one of the easiest ways to lose followers.
- Build your own video game: Turn your video game playing experience into something you’d be proud of for years. Whether you’re sticking to mobile apps or a full-blown video game, creating one for your brand means you’re creating another source of income. This could even be a potentially big exit (if your game goes viral and someone decides to buy the game from you).
Consider Joining the Industry
You can turn your love of playing video games into a full-time career by going to the other side and working in the computer game 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.
Can you really make money playing video games?
The bottom line is that your desire to play video games can go hand in hand with making money. But if you do decide to earn money this way, bear in mind that playing video games as a job rather than as a hobby can suck all the fun from it.
However, the earning potential in gaming is unlimited, considering the size of the video game industry.
According to a Grand View Research report, the global video game market was valued at almost 200 billion in 2021, which is expected to grow 12.9% annually from 2022 to 2030.
Diving in deep with all the techniques to make money playing video games may just be worth all the trouble.
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.