6 Ways to Make Money Playing Video Games

Joel Lee Updated 14-12-2019

You can make money playing video games, but the truth is, you can! But it’s hard work.


Many who go this route will give up within a few years because the work aspect kills the fun of playing video games. Instead of doing what they love, they end up hating what they once loved. And, it’s risky: for every success story, there are hundreds of others who tried and failed.

It’s not something I’d recommend unless you are young, single, and willing to commit several years knowing that it may all be for nothing. But it’s certainly possible! Here are several potential ways you can start earning money by playing video games.

1. Get Paid to Live Stream

How It Works

Stream your gameplay in real-time for the world to see. Aim to build a large audience (which you can monetize with ads) or a loyal audience (which you can monetize with donations and subscriptions). The biggest platform right now is Twitch, but YouTube Gaming is also an option.

Why It’s Difficult

It takes a long time to build a live stream audience. You may not break 10 viewers for several months, and you may not reach 100 viewers for years. The reality is that some streamers never reach that point—and to earn a living streaming video games, you’ll need thousands of regular viewers.

The streaming landscape is oversaturated. Why should someone watch YOU when there are plenty of OTHER popular streams to watch? That’s the tricky part. Set yourself apart with your own brand of humor or personality, by being a world-class player, or by playing games no one else is playing.


Getting Started

Fortunately, the barrier to entry is low. All you need is a decent computer, some games that viewers want to watch, a decent personality, and some streaming software. Just make sure your PC can run the games Can You Run It? Find PC Games Your Computer Can Handle Can you run it? Wonder no more after you've read this guide. Learn how to find out your PC specs and if you can run any game. Read More you want to stream.

For PC gaming, we highly recommend streaming gameplay with OBS Studio How to Record Your Screen and Stream With OBS Studio Here's how to use OBS Studio to record your screen and stream on Twitch. OBS is available for free, so you can get started now! Read More , which is free, open-source, and works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. For console gaming, we’ve covered some ways to capture your gameplay How To Capture And Stream Video Games From A Console Read More .

2. Try Your Hand at Games Journalism

How It Works

Either join an existing site or launch your own and start writing news, reviews, and interviews for a specific game, genre, or industry. If writing for an existing site, you can get paid on a per-article basis as a freelancer. If starting your own site, you can monetize your traffic with ads or Patreon subscriptions.

Why It’s Difficult

As with most kinds of journalism, games journalism is competitive. Lots of people want to write about games for a living! If writing for an existing site, you’ll have to work for pennies while you establish a portfolio and prove your skills. If starting your own site, it’ll take years to build an audience from which you can earn enough to live on.


Journalism can be intensive. For news writing, you’ll need to tap into all kinds of sources around the clock to get scoops before others do. Reviews and interviews can take a lot of time to do properly. And in general, writing every day can be a huge drain on mental energy.

Getting Started

Look for open positions at intermediate-sized gaming sites. Forget sites like IGN for now, and ignore upstarts who have no readership. Make sure you have some writing samples on hand. Send in your application (with writing samples included) and hope for the best. If you don’t have any samples, consider volunteer writing for smaller sites first.

I don’t recommend launching your own games journalism site until you have several years of experience writing for an established site. Writing day in and day out is hard enough. Managing a site on top of that? That’s a whole new level of effort that can easily lead to burnout.

3. Create Guides and Tutorials

How It Works

Newbies love reading guides, especially for multiplayer player-versus-player (PvP) games. You can either create a website for written guides, upload video guides to YouTube, or publish guides as ebooks. The first two are often monetized with ads, whereas the ebook route earns revenue through sales.


Why It’s Difficult

Anyone can write a guide. To make a living, you need to create guides for popular games—but the more popular the game, the more competition you’ll run into. To set your guides apart, you’ll need to offer more insight than others can provide, which means investing a ton of time and setting yourself up as an expert.

On top of that, you’ll need strong writing skills. Guides need to be dense and comprehensive, but also entertaining and comprehensible. Formatting skills are imperative whether you’re publishing ebooks or writing for the web.

Getting Started

Find a popular game, figure out what players are having trouble with, learn the ins and outs of that problem, then teach others how to overcome it themselves. In massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), aim for gold guides, leveling guides, and raid guides. For PvP games like Overwatch, go for build guides and mechanics guides.

4. Host a Podcast or YouTube Channel

How It Works

Create a daily, weekly, or monthly show related to gaming. It could be an opinion-based roundtable discussion, a series of interviews with high-profile players, tips and tricks for a specific game, etc. Podcasts and YouTube videos can be monetized with ads, but this format can also be supported through Patreon subscriptions What Is Patreon and How Does It Work? What is Patreon and how does it work? In this article we look at the basics of Patreon and how you can get started using it. Read More .


Why It’s Difficult

You’ll need to build a sizeable audience before you see any revenue. Your show must be compelling enough for people to tune in. Boring? Shallow? Poor production quality? These will all keep your show from succeeding.

In a way, this is like a hybrid of Guides (#3) and Live Streams (#1). You need the knowledge and insight of a guide creator, plus the diligence and charisma of a streamer. On the plus side, the content doesn’t have to be as deep as a guide and your personality doesn’t have to be as distinct as a streamer.

Getting Started

We’ve written about starting your own podcast The Best Podcast Equipment for Starters and Enthusiasts Looking to create your own podcast? We've rounded up some essential podcasting equipment for all budgets and levels of experience. Read More and starting your own YouTube channel 7 Things to Consider When Starting a YouTube Channel Starting a successful YouTube channel isn't easy, but if you keep these tips in mind, you'll be ahead of the curve! Read More . These are good resources to start with.

5. Win Tournaments and Acquire Sponsorships

How It Works

Tournaments are commonplace for PvP games, and the more popular the game, the larger the prize pools become. If you’re skilled enough to join an esports organization, you may be able to earn a livable salary through winnings and sponsorships. Most competitive gamers also take advantage of Live Streams (#1) for additional income.

Why It’s Difficult

Not everyone has what it takes to win. You can be a world-class player, get knocked out early in a tournament, and leave with zero winnings. Even if you do win some cash, it may not cover the cost of hotels and flights. If you aren’t consistently at the top, forget about living off winnings.

Furthermore, the esports industry is still young. Even if you land a position on a revered team, the “salary” could be below minimum wage. The industry is plagued with con artists and thieves who prey on naive gamers. It isn’t unusual to hear about players who are never paid what they were promised.

Getting Started

Find a popular PvP game with lots of tournaments and heavy interest from esports organizations. Practice, practice, practice. As you get better, network with other professional gamers to get your name out there. But to be completely honest, you’ll likely have better luck (and earn more money) pursuing a career as a non-competitive streamer.

6. Get Paid to Test Games

How It Works

Games go through various phases of development. Near completion, developers need outsiders to playtest their games with fresh eyes. As a playtester, your job is to test everything the developer wants you to test, which includes finding and documenting bugs and issues.

Why It’s Difficult

These days it isn’t too difficult to become a tester, but it can be mind-numbing work. The pay isn’t great (on par with, or slightly better than, minimum wage). And unless you can land an internal position at a large game development company, most game testing positions are for mobile games.

Getting Started

For on-demand playtesting, look into services like PlaytestCloud, BetaFamily, BestReviewApp [Broken URL Removed], and ErliBird. Becoming an internal tester at a company is tougher. You’ll have to browse job boards, research companies for open positions, send in applications, and hope for the best.

Earning Money to Play Video Games Is Still Work

Games are fun because they give us time to escape reality. When gaming becomes your job, that aspect of escapism disappears—and likely so will the fun. Love playing games? Think long and hard before turning it into a potential career. You may come to regret it.

If you still want to forge ahead, the opportunities in this post are the best ways to make a gaming-related living right now. Just don’t get caught up spending money in the games! If you’re interested in making your own games, check out these free game development software and tools.

Looking for other ways to make money with your device? Take a look at how to earn money from Instagram 7 Ways to Make Money on Instagram It's possible to make money on Instagram if you are popular and have a big following. Here's how to earn money from Instagram. Read More and earn cash by finding security issues in Android apps How to Earn Cash by Finding Security Issues in Android Apps Want to earn cash making Android apps safer? Join Google's bug bounty scheme, the Google Play Security Reward Program. Read More .

Image Credit: file404/Shutterstock

Related topics: Gaming Culture, Make Money Online, Twitch.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Iujy2
    August 14, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    I agree on streaming part

  2. MP
    December 26, 2018 at 10:22 pm

    Unless you like 2 hours of sleep on a couch, play testing isn't for you.

    Large companies hire and fire quickly so you better be ready to put your whole week into launches and whatever your leads need or you will be a temp forever.

    For me I worked for Sony during the launch of the PSP and only did that because I had other income online. However the lack of seeing my wife and the fact that most compaines larger like Sony do not promote to design/dev positions from testing pools made it a waste of time.

  3. davide
    November 10, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    This was a very inspired reading. Thanks a lot!

  4. Simon Alex Jahannson
    March 28, 2018 at 10:30 am

    This is really amazing, just playing video games you can actually make money. Just by reading this makes me understand more about online game tester and guided me in following my passion. Thank you for the information

  5. Rotek Jakl
    January 27, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    Make money online

  6. Tim McConnaughy Jr
    July 22, 2017 at 7:32 am

    I would argue getting thousands of viewers to a YouTube channel (plus donations) is a task in and of itself regardless of whether it's meant to promote gaming or not.

  7. Corporation Master
    June 3, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    Corporationmaster.com is a social, political, economic simulation game where you can convert your Virtual Currency into Real Money. Each player has an opportunity to work, train, trade goods, set up companies, build corporations, gain military ranks, think about unique strategies and much more. You can also enter the arena to show your power, fight with your opponents and receive bonuses. Payout is through Paypal.

  8. David Warner
    May 12, 2017 at 7:35 am

    Most good mobile games are free to play but they offer optional purchases that make the game a little easier or give you a boost or a cosmetic improvement. When you are struggling with a challenging part of the game it is really tempting to buy especially when you like the game and have played it a lot. You can play games on sweeps-games.com

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    May 6, 2017 at 5:15 pm

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  10. Jack Black
    October 14, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    I've been playing video games since I was a kid back in the Atari days. When do you say enough is enough? Every month there's a major title that comes out $59.99. As of late, the new thing is "Limited Edition" or "Limited Bundle" that range from $80 to $100. The gaming industry will never die. Let the economy go to shit and the gaming industry will never die.

    To me, it's a raffle. The winner gets my money, the loser gets their game downloaded from piracy. So if there are 4 major games coming out at the same time, which game do I buy? All of them? I'm sorry. We live in a world where money has become an issue in life. The video gaming industry and eating up that money but nobody seems to see it. You buy 1, pirate the other 3. I'm sorry but that's the way it should be. I myself am tired of giving ripped off by game companies and 3rd parties like steam.

    You're going to lose all your titles if you don't agree to their terms? No problem. Go pirate your games and deny their agreement. You basically didn't lose shit unless it's meant for online.

    Sorry but I'm not a fan of the gaming industry anymore. It is the evil that continues to destroy our pockets yet we don't see it. Ask me, I worked for Electronic Arts. I will never forget what the leading supervisor of Madden said in a meeting. "If you shit in a box and label it Madden they will buy it". You know what my question was? How come we don't put new content in the current version and instead wait for the following year?

  11. Lajojlhs
    July 27, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    sell video games: "bitDOTly/2ahAO4Q"

  12. Louis
    July 27, 2016 at 7:48 pm


  13. MiaJones
    June 28, 2016 at 8:25 am

    You put all the information here which I am searching for . Great job . You can take a look on Earn Honey website to earn money faster ..

  14. Nick
    May 31, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    One legit way to make money is by betting items from counterstrike online, csgo500 is one of the better sites, you can even use code "sparks" for like a free dollar

    • xxColdxx
      June 27, 2016 at 2:29 pm

      that site is rigged af

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    April 9, 2016 at 6:12 pm

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  16. Anonymous
    November 7, 2015 at 7:52 am

    Wanna sell video games from home???? Check this out......


  17. edward toddy
    March 15, 2015 at 12:50 am

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  18. Alex Moore
    February 23, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    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!

  19. fati
    December 10, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    download free ebook make money with playing video games

  20. jonathan skurtu
    January 29, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    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
      February 1, 2013 at 8:47 pm

      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
      February 23, 2015 at 12:53 pm

      Hey, try with Habilia.com


  21. vmware consulting
    January 26, 2013 at 9:12 am

    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.

  22. jonathan long
    December 5, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    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
      February 1, 2013 at 8:47 pm

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

  23. Aroquetas
    November 15, 2012 at 1:49 pm

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

  24. Derek
    November 14, 2012 at 5:09 am

    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.

  25. Tyler Dunn
    October 21, 2012 at 7:42 pm

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

    • Chris Hoffman
      October 21, 2012 at 9:14 pm

      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...

  26. John Bushman
    September 21, 2012 at 2:14 am

    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.

  27. Juan Carlos Espinosa Agudelo
    August 26, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    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
      August 28, 2012 at 1:12 am

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

  28. Tom
    August 17, 2012 at 8:18 am

    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
      August 25, 2012 at 1:32 am

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

  29. Arron Walker
    August 17, 2012 at 7:18 am

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

    • Chris Hoffman
      August 25, 2012 at 1:29 am

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

  30. marketing with blogs
    August 17, 2012 at 5:15 am

    These kind of post are always inspiring and I prefer to read quality content so I happy to find many good point here
    in the post..
    Thanks for sharing me...

  31. Va Du
    August 16, 2012 at 5:28 am

    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
      August 17, 2012 at 4:47 am

      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.

      • D
        October 27, 2012 at 11:51 am

        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.

  32. vineedcool
    August 16, 2012 at 4:55 am

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

  33. Ron Morrow
    August 16, 2012 at 3:24 am

    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
      August 17, 2012 at 4:46 am

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

  34. Randy Luczak
    August 16, 2012 at 12:59 am

    thanks for the "real" take on game testers - not all as glamorous as it may sound.

    • Chris Hoffman
      August 17, 2012 at 4:45 am

      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.

  35. Roni Mmi
    August 15, 2012 at 11:35 pm

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