6 Ways to Actually Make Money Playing Video Games
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“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life How to Quit Your Job and Finally Pursue Your Passion How to Quit Your Job and Finally Pursue Your Passion Leaving your current job to do something you love is scary, but I did just that last month. Here's my story, and some considerations if you're thinking about doing the same. Read More .” It’s one of the most common sentiments you’ll hear when trying to decide a career path. Well, people love playing video games, don’t they? Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could make a living that way?

The truth is, you can! But… it’s hard work. Many who go this route give up within a few years because the work aspect vastly outweighs the fun. Instead of doing what they love, they end up hating what they once loved. It’s also quite risky. For every make-money-playing-games 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 six potential ways to make this dream a reality.

1. Live Streams

6 Ways to Actually Make Money Playing Video Games make money gaming 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 New to Twitch? A Complete Guide to Buying Subscriptions New to Twitch? A Complete Guide to Buying Subscriptions New to Twitch and not sure how the payments work? Here's a complete primer on how Twitch subs work and how you pay for them. Read More ). The biggest platform right now is Twitch, but YouTube Gaming is catching up. Ignore Hitbox and Beam, which are too small to make any real money.

Why It’s Difficult — It takes a long time to build a live stream audience 10 Tips for Building an Audience for Your Live Streaming Channel 10 Tips for Building an Audience for Your Live Streaming Channel Are you starting a Twitch channel and wondering how to create an exciting stream? These tips will help you draw loyal, regular viewers and expand your audience. Read More . You may not break 10 viewers for several months, and you might need several more months to reach 100 viewers. The reality is that some streamers never even reach that point — and to make a living, you’ll need thousands of regular viewers.

Game streaming is heavily saturated. Why should someone watch you when there are plenty of other well-established streams to watch? You can set yourself apart by providing a unique kind of humor or charisma, by being a world-class player, or by playing a game no one else plays Can't Get Viewers on Twitch? You're Playing the Wrong Games Can't Get Viewers on Twitch? You're Playing the Wrong Games Trying to build an audience on Twitch feels like hosting a party that you forgot to send out invitations for. If you want to boost your traffic, consider these questions when you pick a game. Read More .

Getting Started — The barrier to entry is low. All you need is a decent computer, some games that viewers will want to watch, a decent personality, and some streaming software. For PC gaming, I highly recommend using Open Broadcaster Software How To Live Stream Your Gaming Sessions Using Open Broadcaster Software How To Live Stream Your Gaming Sessions Using Open Broadcaster Software Live streams have become all the rage these days in the world of gaming, and with Open Broadcaster Software you can join in with your own streaming sessions for the world to watch. Read More , which is free, open source, and even works on Linux Getting Started With Video Game Live Streaming on Linux Getting Started With Video Game Live Streaming on Linux Video game live streaming rose to prominence with the popularity of platforms like Twitch, but how can you stream your game play from a Linux computer? Read More . For console gaming, we’ve covered some ways to capture your gameplay How To Capture And Stream Video Games From A Console How To Capture And Stream Video Games From A Console Read More .

Check out some successful Twitch streamers 7 Twitch Streamers to Watch If Esports Aren't Your Thing 7 Twitch Streamers to Watch If Esports Aren't Your Thing If you don't like eSports and you've written off Twitch as "not for you," it's time to reconsider. These entertaining Twitch streamers aren't associated with eSports in any way. Read More to see what makes an enjoyable stream and how they tap into their audiences.

2. Guides

6 Ways to Actually Make Money Playing Video Games make money gaming guides

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 guide-writing 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 into a game and setting yourself up as an expert.

On top of that, you need strong writing skills From Idea to Final Draft: How to Increase Your Writing Productivity From Idea to Final Draft: How to Increase Your Writing Productivity You don't have to be Stephen King to be a productive writer. Using the right applications and writing tips, you can get more writing done with less frustration, and finish what you start. Read More . Guides need to be dense and comprehensive without being wordy and full of fluff. Formatting skills are also 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 character guides and mechanics guides.

3. Podcasts or Videos

6 Ways to Actually Make Money Playing Video Games make money gaming podcast

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 certain game, etc. Podcasts and YouTube videos can be monetized with ads, but this format can also be supported through Patreon subscriptions 4 Unusual Ways of Monetizing Your Creative Content 4 Unusual Ways of Monetizing Your Creative Content Are you a creative person? Perhaps you're a fiction author, or an investigative journalist? Monetizing your work is tricky. Here are four of the best ways to monetize content without an inch of advertising. Read More .

Why It’s Difficult — You’ll need to build a sizeable audience before any revenue comes your way. Your show also must be compelling enough for people to tune in. Boring? Shallow? Poor production quality? These can all keep your show from succeeding.

In a way, this is almost a hybrid of guides and live streams. You need the knowledge and insight of a guide creator plus the diligence and charisma of a streamer. On the bright 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 How To Start Your Own Successful Podcast How To Start Your Own Successful Podcast Podcasts can be heard by millions of people worldwide. Now it's easier than ever to collaborate, record, edit, publish, and promote your own show. We show you how. Read More and what makes a professional-quality podcast 4 Tips for Producing a Professional-Sounding Podcast 4 Tips for Producing a Professional-Sounding Podcast They say content reigns king when producing a podcast, but it's not the only thing that matters. Read More , so those are good places to start. There’s a lot of overlap if you prefer the video route: just upload to YouTube instead of using a podcast host. Check out popular gaming podcasts Attention, Gamers! Here Are the 10 Best Gaming Podcasts Attention, Gamers! Here Are the 10 Best Gaming Podcasts Video games were one of the first mediums to go all in on podcasts, and there are now a wealth of gaming podcasts from which to choose. Here are 10 of the best. Read More to get a sense of what works and what doesn’t.

4. Competitive Gaming

6 Ways to Actually Make Money Playing Video Games make money gaming competitive

How It Works — Tournaments are commonplace for PvP games, and the more popular a game, the larger the prize pools become. If you’re good enough to join an esports organization The Newbie's Guide to Getting Into Esports The Newbie's Guide to Getting Into Esports Competitive gaming is getting serious! Need some resources to learn more? Here's all you need to know about the swelling phenomenon of esports. Read More , you may earn a livable salary. Most competitive gamers also take advantage of live streaming for additional income.

Why It’s Difficult — Not everyone can be a net-positive player. 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 money, it may not cover the hotel and flight costs. If you aren’t consistently at the top, forget about living on winnings.

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

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 honest, you’ll likely have better luck (and earn more money) pursuing a career as a non-competitive streamer.

5. Games Journalism

6 Ways to Actually Make Money Playing Video Games make money gaming journalism

How It Works — Write news, reviews, and interviews for a specific game, genre, or industry. You can create your own journalism site (which can be monetized with ads or Patreon subscriptions) or work for an established site on a paid-per-article basis.

Why It’s DifficultAs with most areas of journalism 9 Free Online Journalism Resources for Every Aspiring Writer 9 Free Online Journalism Resources for Every Aspiring Writer Internet is full of free resources for learning journalism. Here are some of the must-read (or must-watch) educational materials that you shouldn't overlook or miss. Read More , it’s quite 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 hone your skills. If starting your own site, it will take years to build an audience from which you can make a living wage.

Plus, journalism can be quite demanding. If you pursue 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 on intermediate-sized gaming sites. Make sure you have some writing samples on hand. Send in applications (with your writing samples included) and hope for the best. If you don’t have any samples, you may want to consider volunteer writing for smaller sites first.

I do not 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 that can quickly lead to burnout.

6. Games Testing

How It Works — Games go through various phases of development What Does "Beta Software" Really Mean? What Does "Beta Software" Really Mean? What does it mean for a project to be in beta and should you care? Read More . When they near completion, developers need outsiders who can 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. Also, 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 testing positions are for mobile games.

Getting Started — For on-demand playtesting, look into services like PlaytestCloud, BetaFamily, MyAppAware, BestReviewApp, 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.

Playing Games for Work Is Still Work

Games are fun because they grant us periods of escape from reality. When gaming becomes your job, that aspect of escapism will disappear, 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. That said, if a living isn’t what you’re after, there are a handful of games that can leave you with extra pocket change Make Money Gaming: 5 Games You Can Get Paid to Play Make Money Gaming: 5 Games You Can Get Paid to Play If you could make a living by playing video games, would you do it? Thousands of people do it every year with these video games. Read More . Either way, good luck!

Have you tried any of the above? Know of other ways to make money while playing games? Share with us in a comment below!

Image Credit: file404 via Shutterstock.com

Explore more about: Gaming Culture, Make Money Online, Twitch.

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

    This was a very inspired reading. Thanks a lot!

  2. 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

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

    Make money online

  4. 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.

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  8. 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?

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

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


  11. 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 ..

  12. 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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  14. Anonymous
    November 7, 2015 at 7:52 am

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  16. 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!

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

    download free ebook make money with playing video games

  18. 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

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  19. 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.

  20. 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.

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

    Have you seen http://www.onewinner.com
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  22. 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.

  23. 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...

  24. 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.

  25. 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!

  26. 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!

  27. 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?)

  28. 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
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  29. 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.

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

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

  31. 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!

  32. 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.

  33. 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...