6 Ways To Actually Make Money Playing Video Games [MUO Gaming]

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make money playing video gamesGetting paid to play video games is the dream of many young gamers. While it may seem like an impossible dream, there are many people out there making some money – or even a living – off playing video games. The ways people make money playing video games are fascinating, even if you have no desire to do so yourself. From eSport athletes making six figures a year by winning tournaments in front of crowds to game testers making near minimum wage with little appreciation, the field of making money playing video games is a wide, diverse one.

This isn’t a get-rich-quick guide – competition is harsh for many of the methods here. If making money playing video games was easy, every gamer would be doing it. Quitting your job or dropping out of school and diving head first into the video game economy is not recommended.

Farm Items & Gold

Gold farming has existed for a long time. If you’re a gamer that’s played a massively multiplayer online RPG like World of Warcraft, you’ve no doubt seen spammers advertising their gold prices in-game. Item selling has existed for a long time too – Diablo 2 had an ecosystem of black market-style websites where players could sell their items to other players for cash.

Selling virtual goods went mainstream with Diablo 3 and its real-money auction house. Far from being something frowned upon that could get your account banned, virtual item and currency selling was integrated into the game. Not only was it allowed, it was encouraged – it helps that Blizzard takes $1 from each sale (15% for currency and commodities), as well as another 15% when you cash out via PayPal. It’s certainly lucrative for Blizzard themselves.

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There are all kinds of anecdotes out there about the real money auction house. A Reddit user named WishboneTheDog claims he’s made over $10,000 legitimately, and includes screen captures of his PayPal account and the Diablo III auction house. On the other hand, one bot user claims he makes 80 cents per bot per hour. This causes inflation that decreases the value of gold and other item drops – it’s the kind of thing legitimate players are competing with.

Will real-money auction houses be the wave of the future, or is this an experiment confined to a single game? No one really knows. It’s clear that prices have been declining from their initial highs, however.

make money playing video games

Win eSport Tournaments

Tournaments are a way for highly skilled players to cash in on their skill. Video games played at a professional, tournament level are often referred to as “eSports.” You might be surprised just how large the prizes are – the winning team at Valve’s 2011 DOTA 2 tournament received one million dollars. The 2011 North American Star League Starcraft 2 tournament gave away $100,000 to the winners.

It goes without saying that very few gamers make money at tournaments. The professional gamers that make it this far are dedicated and talented.

Pro-gamers can also make money through corporate sponsorship, just like Nike sponsors professional athletes and Nascar race cars are decorated with corporate branding. Companies that have sponsored players in the past include Intel, Western Digital, and SteelSeries, which develops gaming peripherals.

Become a Game Tester

Large video game companies employ video game testers, whose job it is to test games in development and report problems they find. Game-testing has been referred to as “play testing” and been glamorized in the past, and it’s easy to picture a life of playing unreleased video games before anyone else gets to, only occasionally encountering bugs that you’ll need to report.

In fact, testing video games isn’t all its cracked up to be. Job security is poor, and the pay is often barely above minimum wage. Game testers don’t necessary get to test games they enjoy, and may often end up testing a kids’ game they hate. The actual experience can be made up of performing tedious, repetitive tasks, and running into a large amount of bugs that must be written up. One game tester recounts that he’s seen people quit gaming entirely after their experience in game testing. Like other people in the video game industry, game testers often find themselves working overtime for extended periods in “crunch time” – one tester reported working 92 hours one week.

Check out IGN’s The Tough Life of a Games Tester for more information on what game testing is actually like, straight from actual game testers. This information is rare, since game testers sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).

Share Your Knowledge

Are you an expert at a game – an MMO like World of Warcraft, for example? There are people out there who will pay you for your knowledge. Sites like Killer Guides will let you write an eBook that turns that knowledge you’ve built up into money. MakeUseOf’s own Christian Cawley has written guides there. You can try selling eBooks on other sites — like Amazon or your own website — but the market may be smaller.

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Record Let’s Play Videos

Do you play lots of games? You can record Let’s Play videos, put them up on YouTube, and enable monetization to get some money when people watch your videos. It’s not quite as simple as it sounds – YouTube’s help pages informs us that:

Video game content may be monetized if the associated step-by-step commentary is strictly tied to the live action being shown and provides instructional or educational value.

Videos simply showing a user playing a video game or the use of software for extended periods of time may not be accepted for monetization.

You’ll have to provide running commentary over your entire video, not just record a video of yourself silently playing a game. It’s also not a road to riches, as competition is tough and each individual view isn’t worth very much alone. You’ll need a lot of views to make a decent amount of money.

make money playing video games

Write About Games

The web is full of video game websites with advertisements on them, and many of them pay their writers. If you’re a decent writer with a good base of knowledge, you can try writing for one of these sites. Websites need reviews, news, and everything else people want to read about video games. Bear in mind that games journalism is a very competitive field – it attracts a lot of interested people.

You can also try starting your own blog and putting advertisements on it – we’ve published a guide to monetizing your blog.

Do you have any experience to share? Leave a comment and share your knowledge.

Image Credit: Video Game Industry or U.S. Dollar Crisis via Shutterstock

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30 Comments - Write a Comment


Roni Mmi

if you visit in china you will know how people mad about playing online games. every cyber cafe..is full of gamers…


Randy Luczak

thanks for the “real” take on game testers – not all as glamorous as it may sound.

Chris Hoffman

Never done it myself. It’s certainly a job that people do, but I think a lot of kids have an idealized picture of what it’s like.


Ron Morrow

6. Buy cheap games at garage sales/craigslist/ebay, play your heart out, sell for profit!

…who am I kidding, I never get rid of any of my old games lol.

Chris Hoffman

Hah, I don’t know about profit, but that could certainly help defray some of the costs!



LOL for that,,, first of all u must have Money :P


Va Du

Making money with video games is like an urban legend. I’m still having doubts about that Reddit user doing it legit and maintaining a steady income especially when you have to compete with botter. Like with sports, Olympics athlete comes to mind, you have to start early to gain a competitive advantage and just practice and practice to make it in esports.

Being a Game Tester in my past life, all I can say is that it sucks if you value your freedom. You work long hours and even with all the overtime, your pay is still relatively low. There are better ways to make money and spend your time. Also that’s the worst way to break into the industry and the people that say that it is are delirious.

Chris Hoffman

It is like an urban legend, which is why it’s so fascinating to me (and hopefully other people!)

Thanks for the information about game-testing. It mirrors a lot of what I heard and I wanted to give an accurate picture here.


I can confirm it is the worst way to break into unless you are also going to school for computer programming/design/animation….etc. Then it would help. You make about 10 bucks per hour so if you were working 6 days a week (which you could be) you make like 600 or so a week. To me that’s not bad at all.


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Arron Walker

I’ve been considering doing some live streaming or lets plays… maybe I should get round to actually doing it.

Chris Hoffman

People do love watching them. If nothing else, they’re a lot nicer to use than old text walkthroughs (remember GameFAQs?)



Me and a few friends wrote an eBook for popular Football Manager. It didn’t go down well with the makers of the game. They didn’t believe that someone should profit from the knowledge instead they should share it freely amongst the community as many people already do.

We proceeded and it was a nice little success. But there did seem to be a small resistance that people may have to be aware of. Great to do and build though.

Chris Hoffman

Yikes, that’s ridiculous. Glad you continued and did well in spite of the developers being unreasonable!


Juan Carlos Espinosa Agudelo

They should make a gaming tournament with both older and modern games like Starcraft 2, some FPS and the older games for NES(Silver Surfer, Megaman and Ninja Gaiden are known to be very difficult). Add some more genres and more gaming styles and it would be a decent tournament. :D
Unlike the Golden NWC which apparently was sold for $17.500: http://blog.pricecharting.com/2009/06/how-i-got-nintendo-world-championships.html

Also, in the past you had the Swordquest games by Atari, which gave gamers the chance to get actual $25.000 worth treasures and the four winners could play against each other for a $50.000 worth sword. The last three prizes were never given away since that’s when the video game crash occurred. It’s said that the new owner of Atari has the sword in his home, but it’s not been confirmed.

Chris Hoffman

Wow, interesting to see such promotions were even happening back then!


John Bushman

I have played games since a child, I have a variety of skill in most games, as well as skills in photography, editing, design. As an open-minded, cynical, educated, playful, sometimes funny, critical thinking intellectual who’s quite open to the opinions of others I think I would be great writer/critic for video games. I play to have fun, by succeeding, and I try to be a good sport :P

Some of my favorites being:
Metal Gear Solid 3, Vanquish, Paper Mario, Call of Duty 4, Vanquish, Fist of North Star: KEN’S RAGE, Duke Nukem 64, Gears of War 1 and 3. Halo 3, Halo:Combat Evolved, Halo: Reach, Kingdom Hearts 1 &2, Seiken Densetsu 3 (Final Fantasy Adventure), F-Zero, Super Smash Bros (64, Melee, and Brawl), League of Legends (LoL), RIval Schools, SHENMUE, Oblivion, Skyrim, Black Ops, Fable 1, Street Fighter IV, VIrtua Fighter 5, Skullgirls, Sonic Adventure, Sega Bass Fishing Soul Calibur 2 and 4, Batman Arkham Asylum, Mass Effect 1 & 2, Metal Of Honor (Frontline & Rising Sun), Mortal Kombat 2 & 9, Dead Space 1 & 2, Assassin’s Creed, 1, 2, and Brotherhood, Animal Crossing, Star Fox 64, Dark Cloud 2, and more!

Also The modern warfare games are ok and i like borderlands and many other games as well. and Many others I have not mentioned!!! I’m willing to advertise, i may start posting videos soon from capture card, also on request I could play a selected game, and im sure there’s many more offers I would likely accept if asked if a company or corporation asked me too. I have some friends with relative same backgrounds as me, very funny some of them as well, if that holds any merit. They are intersted in doing something similar to this too.


Tyler Dunn

I want to be a game tester someday I’ll apply for a job at say RockStar Games or EA Studios

Chris Hoffman

Good luck with that, go into it with your eyes open! It’s not a cushy dream job, from what I’ve heard. If only it was…



Great article Chris.

Sharing knowledge/creating strategy content is a very profitable avenue for making money with gaming. After doing it successfully ourselves, we’ve started a venture that will help gamers accomplish this with great results.


It’d be awesome if you could include it in your article! Either way, great resource.



Have you seen http://www.onewinner.com
Play videogames for real money


jonathan long

SOE also added player studio. I haven’t got to play with it yet but you are supposed to be able to sell player made items for cash

Chris Hoffman

Just like Team Fortress 2 hats! Not really playing games, but very similar.


vmware consulting

This is really a nice topic and i am searching all over internet to find a great solution for a online money making game and its really have a great experiences for my life.


jonathan skurtu

Hello Chris Hoffman, I have a question: Do you know of any companies that will pay for video game concepts? I have been developing a concept for an MMORPG that will open a new horizon to gamers if you know where I can find such a company or group willing to pay for development ideas let me know thanks.

-Sincerely, Jonathan Skurtu.

Chris Hoffman

I hate to say it, but I don’t think there are companies that will buy ideas. Ideas are really cheap — it’s the implementation that matters. It’s possible you could pitch it directly to someone if it’s really amazing, but there’s no company that specializes in this.

Alex Moore

Hey, try with Habilia.com




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Alex Moore

Hello everybody,

i found out a new website that allows you to play simple videogames betting real money to challenge other users on the community.

You need to join in for free with your email address, then you choose how to play, with Habilia Token (wich means fake money) or you can ask for activation (you will need to send them your ID) to get some Habilia coins with your PayPal account or credit card. Then you can start creating rooms where to challenge your friends betting real money.

They are on a Beta version, but i see a great potential!


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