Ever thought of video games as a waste of time? It turns out they can make you big money. Whether you play, stream, or develop them, there’s a ton of money put into gaming.
Who knows? Most things you do for fun could be tasks that other people pay for. While you’re reading this, these people are making money:
All these ideas may sound too good to be true for a beginner. So how does someone with no experience can live off of gaming?
In this guide, we make sure you don’t lack career options. Here you’ll find 8 ways to make a living just by playing games, plus 4 careers you can start with zero experience.
- Can You Really Make Money Gaming?
- 4 Strategies To Profit From Videogames
- 8 Ways To Make Money As A Gamer
- 4 Ways To Make Money When You’re Bad At Gaming
- The Gamer Life Is Still A Career!
Can You Really Make Money Gaming?
All the time, we hear stories of gamers who earn thousands a month doing what they love. But for every success story, there are thousands of people who never earn +$100/mo.
Do these guys know something we don’t? Or did they just get lucky?
Why Living Off Gaming Is Hard
Maybe you know the potential, but you don’t believe it will work for you. If you ever tried to pursue the gamer dream, you’ll probably have faced some of these obstacles:
#1 Entry barrier
The good and bad of gaming is that anybody can do it:
- You don’t stand out enough to get views
- There’s less market need (less opportunity for new channels)
- It’s fast and easy to start a gaming business
Because it’s so easy, competition makes it harder. You have two choices:
a. Be different
b. Work harder than everyone else (unlikely)
If you chose to work harder, that may mean earning nothing for the first year or two.
Playing video games is easy because it’s fun. And when you spend enough time on a game, you become an expert at it. Many have spent years practicing.
That’s why it’s so hard to win in competitive gaming. Gamers don’t mind spending 16h a day for months on a game they love. Even if they don’t get paid.
Does that mean you can’t win? No. You can if you put in the effort, and even the best players rely on some luck.
If you thought of gaming as an easy way to make money, you may have the wrong expectations.
#3 The Audience
It’s hard to make money selling to an audience that doesn’t have much money (mostly kids). So unless you target the right people, you’ll need a massive amount to make decent money.
You may argue: “Advertisers have the money. Google Adsense, Youtube, and others pay you to display ads when you have enough people.”
Why would advertisers want to promote products to zero-income people? If you instead choose a profitable sector, advertisers may pay 4x more for the same views.
There IS money in gaming if you find the right people.
Why Living Off Gaming Is Easy
Pretty much every high-demand market has these limitations. If something is easy, everyone will do it, which makes it hard.
But unlike other topics, gamers have three special features. And these allow you to overcome the obstacles if you’re committed enough:
Because gamers have fun, they will keep doing it regardless of the money. As long as you make fun your priority, you will stick for long enough to see success.
As an extra benefit, it’s easier to sell an idea when you’re passionate about it. Maybe your content is amazing, and you just need some marketing to get traction.
Passion also allows you to understand the gaming space. You can easily spot trends and problems to solve, which helps you reach more people.
The more time you have for gaming, the faster you’ll grow.
Unless you’re very young, most gamers have spent at least a decade playing video games. Regardless of the genre, you can be sure there is some value in all those hours spent.
If that’s you, you have more than enough value to offer other people:
- You have expert skills at a high-demand game
- You know everything about your topic and have been attending events for years
- You excel at teamwork, strategy, reflexes, humor, creativity…
As a gamer, you are the ‘product’. People want to watch you play. So all you need to do is bring more people, and you will get more earning opportunities.
#3 Market Knowledge
After playing video games for so long, you already have an idea of what gamers want and how they think. You’ve been one for years, after all.
And when your ‘target audience’ is people like you, it’s easier to communicate and grow. You barely need any ‘market research skills.’ You can almost read their minds because you’re a gamer like them.
Maybe you know:
- What game challenges they like the most
- What the best gamer accessories are
- What other people they follow
Assuming you can find value to offer, promoting will be a piece of cake.
4 Strategies To Profit From Videogames
Creating content is often a good place to start. Once you get some material, you have to move onto other priorities.
Imagine you have no audience. How long will it take you to reach 10,000 people only by uploading videos? Unless you get blessed by the algorithm, it takes a long while.
Save your time and start to work (play!) smarter:
#1 Viral/Trendy Content
When people don’t go to you, you go to people. You find what they like and you show them what they want. And when enough people see you, you eventually find the ones who also like what you like.
You can’t find them if your gaming brand doesn’t grow. When it does, you then have more creative freedom. You can upload pretty much anything fun and get tons of views, more than any skilled gamer that nobody knows.
If you’re playing for money, popular games promise the best rewards. Assuming they’re not saturated, it doesn’t take much skill to get people’s attention.
That’s the ideal case. If the things you like are NOT related to trends, you can still connect them somehow. Try topics like:
“If [Insert your videogame here] were [Insert trend here]”
“X things [Videogame] taught me about [Trend]”
Besides chasing trends, what matters is being an interesting gamer. Take whatever game you find fun and talk about trends from that perspective. You will communicate much better.
#2 The Micro-Niche Strategy
How do you stand out in your favorite game when there are so many competitors already? Can you really make money with yet another gaming channel about WoW, LoL, CoD, Minecraft, or Fortnite?
You see, while the broadest niches are competitive, that’s not the case of microniches. For example, it’s easier to rank a website when targetting long-tail keywords instead of main keywords.
In video games, you want to be the specialist. It’s not about the game, but choosing an original approach. When players visit your channel, they must know that nobody knows about the topic more than you.
If you’re looking for, say, Warzone, which channel would you choose? The one that streams many games? Or the one that only uploads Warzone?
When a channel does just one thing, you expect it to be better than everyone else. Because it approaches your search to intend the most.
How-to videos and challenges do quite well:
- “Game completed only using X weapon”
- “I got X item. Is it good?”
- “X things only X character can do”
- “X How-to guide: How the worst player can be a pro at X”
Note: If you’re not a streamer/YouTuber, you can still get insane value from microniches. It positions you better when freelancing or pitching game companies.
#3 Early Releases
Trends can be wildly profitable. But to get in early enough, you have to know the sector:
- What new games are coming out? Which ones are still in development?
- What new games are currently getting the most attention?
- Is there a way to stream an existing game that nobody tried yet?
Most games started small and then became worldwide popular: Minecraft, Call Of Duty, League Of Legends, World Of Warcraft, FIFA, Fortnite, Runescape, GTA V, Rocket League…
What if you were one of the first people to talk about these games? Everyone who did this back then is insanely popular today. It’s easy to get millions of views when playing the latest game.
In the early stages, it’s not easy to access these games. You may need a special console or pay high prices to get it. But from the investor’s perspective, getting in first will earn you more than what you pay for it.
#4 Gamer Collabs
Gamers rarely play alone. These days, most of them have Discord groups to talk with their friends while playing online. And the bigger the community is, the easier it is to get known.
But what if your friend has thousands of followers? That can boost your visibility too.
Suppose this guy is always uploading to his Youtube/Twitch, which gets thousands of views. Because you’re friends, you always play together for fun.
Let’s say you have gaming channels too but no content in them. Even if you do nothing, people will start following you because you appear on those videos.
If you collaborate with enough people, it’s easy to grow without paid marketing.
You can pay too if you do it right. For example, you contact a gamer with 50K+ followers. You pay around $100 to make a super-cool video with him. And if people find it fun, you could get hundreds of new followers overnight, starting from zero.
8 Ways To Make Money As A Gamer
Most people think of gameplays as the no.1 way to make money gaming. And while it’s the easiest one to do, there are alternatives that pay better (and sooner).
If you don’t know where to start, it makes sense to create those channels (Youtube, Twitch, Patreon) and upload some videos. You can build your online presence this way.
It may sound exciting at first, but after a dozen videos, it’s not the same. Once you have a few videos for your online presence, try as many income strategies as possible. The more you try, the sooner you’ll find the one you like.
After trying a few, choose only ONE. Side hustles don’t make any money in the beginning, so if you’re splitting your effort among many hustles, you’re only delaying getting paid. Once you master one income stream, you can add another one.
#1 Game Streaming
Today, regular streamers can live off of gameplays. By just playing a few hours a day, you can earn enough to cover basic expenses. Who would have believed this would be possible a few years ago?
Suppose you have a steady 300 viewers a day. Between donations, subscriptions, and perks, you can earn $20-$40 per day.
If you apply the 9-to-5, 40hs a week, you might make $3k to $5k a month as a streamer. With time, anyone can reach 300 viewers with any game.
Think of all the games you’ve played for years. If you instead streamed all that time, you’d have hundreds of viewers today without trying.
The catch? It takes time. If you have the patience and passion, then you’ll be one of the few who make the big money.
#2 ESports & Competing
There’s no doubt you can make tons of money from Esports prices. Is it fun? Maybe. Will you make big bucks? Probably not.
There are so many obstacles in the way of a million-dollar prize:
- There are THOUSANDS of competitors who’re putting in more hours than you
- The error margin is very slow. Press a wrong button at the wrong time, and you might lose your chance
- Most of these games require years of training reflexes
- The RNG (randomness) can make you lose, even as the most skilled gamer of the event
Now, most games are cooperative. Calculate the chances of you having those four conditions in your favor. Divide that probability by five, which is the number of members you’ll find in an Esport team.
Maybe it’s more likely to die from a meteor or a plane than winning Esport world events. But possible? Absolutely.
You can still make good money if you target local/regional events, for example. Those have less competition than national/international. And there’s enough of them to compete at least four times a year.
What if you dream of your team winning the biggest of the events? You certainly need to believe you’re better than everyone else. But at the same time, accept that you’ll likely lose. That mindset will make you more prepared for victory.
Hey, if you don’t win anything, that doesn’t mean you wasted your time. As an Esports gamer, you may find it easier to make money streaming/uploading. And if you freelance, that role will make others see you as “the expert.”
#3 Selling Accounts
Some videogames like World Of Worldcraft have entry barriers. They can be fun for an advanced player. But to get to that point, you have to grind items and levels for weeks.
Take waiting games as an example. In MMOs, you have to wait days before unlocking some building or technology. And to max out the entire city, that takes two years on average.
These games are often monotonous and require lower skills. Those who have the patience to reach the end typically create secondary accounts along the way. One of which could be yours.
You can pay someone $100-$1000 to save you years of non-sense grinding. If you want to get to the fun part of the game fast, then why not?
That means that the guy who levels your account has to wait 2+ years. But because the game is so mechanic, you can manage 5-10 accounts at the same time.
These games rarely need you to put in more than 1-2h a day. So there’s good ROI in selling pro accounts.
#4 Monetizing Content
Most gamers this income source because uploading videos is the closest game to actual gaming. You just set up some accounts, play, and get views. It’s easy, and anybody can do it:
- Find a balance between what you and others like about gaming
- Create content
Unless you use the four mentioned strategies, it can be a while before you make anything. But hey, it’s low effort. It can be a good idea if you want to keep your current career.
If you want to make a living off video game streaming, even if you put all your effort, it’s going to take time. So while it’s the most favorite method, it shouldn’t be your only income stream (at first).
#5 Sponsoring Gear & Merch
Why are brands so powerful? Trust. If your people have been following you for years and you’ve always made great content, they associate you with those standards. If you try something new, even outside of gaming, people already know it’s going to be great.
Especially with popular gamers, merch is a powerful brand tool. It’s a way of including people into your unique gamer world. When people buy t-shirts, hats, and hoodies, they’re actually buying you.
They’re also buying you when you promote other content that you support:
- Video-sponsors related to your videogames
- Ads that your audience cares about
- Gamer products you use yourself
Game sponsors have a higher potential for e-commerce. If besides having that brand, you also make your products intrinsically valuable, then you’ll make a fortune.
Jocko Willink is a branding example. He constantly uploads content on Youtube, and his online stores are always out of stock.
#6 The Gamer Freelancer
Just like you get rewards for completing quests in video games, you can do the same in real life. Yes, people will pay for gaming services, while those might not be as easy as in-game missions.
So what kind of gigs are people buying?
- Play my favorite game with me
- Help me win a cooperative game
- Level up my account/play the boring parts for me
- Help me get all achievements/missions
- Provide me resources/currency by farming from your multiple accounts
Mind that anyone can do these tasks, which is why you won’t see much money here. Or maybe you can create a hyper-optimized production system? For example:
- Find the shortest missions that give the best rewards
- Work on 4+ accounts at the same time among devices
- Get the best RNG by testing with dozens of accounts
#7 The Game Coach
Believe it or not, some people are willing to pay good money for coaching.
In competitive games, the secret to beat everybody is to gain the most skill. Having a coach can put you ahead of most people.
For every dollar you pay, you might be saving yourself a dozen hours of practice. If you’re training for PvP games, it’s even more effective.
Go to Fiverr.com and search for ‘game coach.’ You’ll find countless freelancers making good money teaching others. If they can do it, why couldn’t you?
Any achievements that you got will attract students, whether it’s ranking on the leaderboards or reaching max level in one week.
For example, if you competed in Esports for years, that’s still lots of experience for newbies, even if you never won anything.
After you get skilled at a challenging game, the fun is guaranteed.
#8 The Gamer Collector
As games become more competitive, it’s more important to keep fairness in mind. However, profits come first for big companies, and it’s proven that **randomness motivates gamers to play more.**
It’s powerful because it heightens the entry barrier. If you got lucky, you got a permanent advantage against other people, which feels great.
When the opposite happens, not so great!
Your game strategy may depend on weapons and characters, which you only get from loot boxes.
If you want the best gear, your best shot is to try accounts until you get what you want. Which can be frustrating and take dozens of hours.
Who wants to play so long for accounts you’ll probably delete? It’s better to buy the items from someone else (if the game economy has a player market).
If you can’t trade, you can still go to forums and freelance websites to buy accounts.
As for mainstream games, you can bet money on random boxes and sell those items for real money. As long as you’re not exploiting, it can be profitable.
If you collect valuable digital items, they may be worth more over time. For example, you might have got tons of loot from a beat-test game. But now that it’s updated, the economy makes it much harder to get the same stuff.
You can now sell it for more. It’s investing within a video game.
4 Ways To Make Money When You’re Bad At Gaming
Maybe you like video games, but you don’t have the best gaming skills. You like the space, but you don’t want to be a “gamer.”
The good news is, you don’t need to be one. There’s so much money put into video games that you can find whatever career fits you. You can make big money without being popular or having pro-gamer skills.
You could even get paid more than competitive gamers. For example, by building a business around video games (or a game company).
The four following skills will help you earn more, whether you want to live off of video games or keep it as a side hustle.
#1 Game Designer/Developer
For some people, designing can be more fun than gaming itself. It means that you can build any game you want, which obviously has lots of market value.
Developing isn’t as easy as gaming, however. You’ll need to build skills like design, programming, and problem-solving. Once you know the basics, it’s not that hard.
You can become an indie developer or you can work for game companies. There’s always work for you. The question is: What makes you stand out?
Maybe you have something that they don’t. For example:
- Research skills: You know what the market wants
- Initiative: You’re great at pitching companies, finding team members, and sharing your project
- Discipline: You develop your games daily while others rely on inspiration
- Seriousness: Although it’s a videogame, you treat it like a business
- Commitment: You finish your projects, rather than abandoning or starting new ones
How much you earn depends on the company you work with. If you develop on your own, of course, it’s about how many people you reach and how relevant your game becomes. Either way, you need to research what the market needs.
#2 Videogames Journalist
What would a game company be without journalism?
Imagine that you spend years building a mega-game. After all that work, you launch it, and it gets thousands of sales. Everybody is hyped about the new release.
Fast forward one year, nobody cares.
Because games ‘die’ when they stop changing (except for evergreen genres). It’s easier to hook your players when they’re expecting a major update.
Still, it’s not like developers can update games every day. It can take months (years) before the next release. Gamers will lose interest before it happens.
The dev team could communicate the incoming update. But that delays the development because all the time they spend with their community is time not spent on game design.
Videogame journalists are the bridge between developers and gamers, and they increase the perceived value of the product.
Marketing 101. The more often they see you, the more they think of you.
Smaller companies may not need this service as they haven’t achieved enough success. But if you can get a position in bigger ones, you’re going to have regular work at the right price.
#3 Game Tester
We know, bugs aren’t cool. Nobody likes to spend weeks fixing minor glitches.
It’s not new to hear of amazing games that ruined their launch because of bugs. Sure, you can patch them later, but that first impression may turn off future buyers.
There’s indeed value in game-testing. Just hiring a guy for $10-$30 per hour can save you thousands with game sales.
This is the easiest way to earn guaranteed money from gaming. But is it for you?
- Testing the same rooms dozens of times can be a boring task. Or an opportunity to multitask
- You don’t earn big bucks as a game tester (due to the low entry barrier). So don’t rely only on this income stream
#4 Game Community Moderator
No matter how good a game is, there’s always something that could be better.
There’s a gap between the player experience and what developers think their game is. Gamers that spend hours playing know about the game more than anyone on the team. That’s where you get most of the ideas and troubleshooting.
Without a community moderator, it would be impossible to communicate between the gamer and the developer.
That may not be the case of indie games. But in big companies, nobody spends time reviewing feedback unless you get paid for it.
So while it may sound like another customer support job, it’s extremely valuable for making better games. It’s also super-passive and pays well for answering simple requests. While you moderate the community, you could learn a language, clean the house, study, travel, or work on another side hustle!
The Gamer Life Is Still A Career!
People typically play video games to break the routine and escape reality. If you make it your career, you will lose that feeling, which may be your only motivation. You’ll find out that gaming for a living isn’t that different from other work-from-home jobs, which makes you wonder:
- Am I getting paid well enough for my time?
- Am I trying to please my followers, or am I doing what I really enjoy?
- Am I making a positive change in the world, or am I just getting paid to play games?
If you don’t want to regret your decisions:
- Try enough things before you commit to a path
- Have a plan you follow daily to grow as a gamer. Don’t just hope for people to find you
- Avoid switching careers (or you’ll never reach success). Finish a path before going to another one
I’m new. Where should I start?
You like the idea, but you don’t know where to start. You don’t have any followers, no content, no skills. You don’t have previous experience and never tried any of these before.
Your first thought might be to upload gameplays to Youtube/Twitch. And it’s a good start when you have nothing to show. But then what?
The short answer is, try all the models we’ve shared. If you experience the many ways to make money gaming, you’re more likely to find your favorite one.
The long answer is, it depends on…
a. What you WANT
b. What VALUE you can offer
E.g., You don’t have much time for gaming but still want to generate income on the side. You can rely on “passive” models such as video-uploading, streaming, or growing accounts. (takes longer to get paid)
E.g., You don’t care much about gaming. But you have so much time you don’t know what to do with it. Consider game testing, coaching, or community moderation. (you get paid sooner, but not much)
E.g., If you want to develop skills you can use outside of gaming, your best choices might be game programming, content writing, or sponsoring. (you get paid well and fast)
Or you can go all-in with gaming, from freelance gigs to Esports competitions. (you earn a lot if you’re one of the few outperformers)
Is It Possible to Grow Fast With So Much Competition?
Competition is only a problem when you do what everyone else is doing. Knowing how easy it is to get into gaming, it’s hard for people to know who to follow, let alone give money.
If you want to stand out, any of the following needs to happen:
a. You’re getting early into a trend with no competition
b. You’ve been in the space for the longest time
c. Your niche is small enough for you to stand out and big enough to keep growing
d. You offer better value than others (e.g., better entertainment, frequent uploads, how-to guides, Q&As, giveaways…)
If these growth strategies aren’t fast enough for you, remember you can leverage other people’s followers. Influencers, sponsorships, and collaborations might be the shortcut you seek.
When Will I Make a Living Off This?
It depends on the strategy and skills you have. There are always fast-money methods, although it may not be passive income.
The ‘slowest’ strategies (years before success) are streaming, uploading videos, collecting, sponsoring, coaching, and competing. The fastest ones are any freelance or company job. You can get one within a few days.
If you want to make a living and need money now, upgrade your skills and do some jobs. Meanwhile, you grow the slower income streams, which have the highest growth potential.