How To Get Paid To Play Video Games (Methods That Work)
If you love video gaming and are looking to make money online, paid gaming could offer a well-paying career path, with some gamers reportedly making around $10,000 per month.
However, as I learned the hard way after being forced to close my business, making money online can be both challenging and extremely rewarding. Earning an income playing video games could be your work-at-home solution.
If you’re curious to learn how to get paid to play video games, read on.
How Much Money Can You Make Playing Video Games?
As with other online ventures, your income depends largely on which money making method you choose, how hard you work, and how much you’re willing to invest in becoming successful.
Video game tester jobs are one of the most popular ways to make money playing games. In this job, you’ll get paid to test out new games, identify bugs, and help the game developer make improvements. In the US, the average annual salary for game testers comes out to $63,676, or $31 per hour — a comfortable living, by most people’s standards.
You could make an even more impressive income with your own YouTube channel or Twitch livestream feed. Some of the biggest gaming stars on these platforms make millions of dollars per year, although that kind of success usually comes from having an enormous fan base that can take years to build.
Becoming a pro gamer and playing in tournaments may not provide a steady income stream, but some players still net six-figure incomes from winning big competitions. You do need to be a skilled player and win pretty regularly to see significant returns for your efforts, but it’s definitely possible.
Best-Paying Video Games
Not all games are created equal when it comes to making a living as a gamer. Let’s take a look at five of the top money making games and how much you can potentially earn from playing each one.
Dota 2 is currently one of the highest-paying video games. Since the action-strategy game was released in 2013, tournaments have paid out a staggering $227.9 million in prize money. The first-place team in 2019’s International Championship took home $15.6 million — although, in all fairness, the money was split between five people.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
The fourth game in the Counter-Strike series, Global Offensive, has been very lucrative for gamers. A total of $103.2 million has been awarded to tournament winners since 2012. A few top players of this first-person shooter game have accrued lifetime earnings of over $1.7 million.
Fortnite, the hugely popular battle royale game, also pays handsomely. In 2019, the World Cup Finals gave out over $15 million in prizes for players. Most tournaments have much smaller pots, but winners may still earn tens of thousands of dollars.
League of Legends
Although not as popular as its competition, Dota 2, League of Legends has plenty of devotees, and tournaments have paid out over $81 million in prize money over the game’s lifetime.
The military sci-fi strategy game Starcraft II has awarded the least money of these five games, with only $33 million given in prizes since the game came out in 2010. Still, some of its best players have banked hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of their gaming careers.
Of course, getting paid to play video games comes with some costs. If you’re a gamer, you likely already have a gaming console (such as a PlayStation, Xbox, or Nintendo Switch) or a decent-quality computer to play on.
If your computer or console is a little older or out-of-date, you might want to upgrade to something newer. PC players should consider investing in a computer specifically designed for gaming if they don’t have one already — standard computers lack the heavy-duty processing power needed to run games optimally. Modernizing your gaming console to its latest version is also advisable.
Either way, you want to have equipment that performs consistently well and offers smooth, seamless gameplay, especially if you plan to compete in tournaments. And if you intend to livestream your playing, you’ll need a webcam as well as a reliably speedy internet connection.
Most of these items are not cheap, and depending on how many of them you need to buy, your starting costs could be steep. Once you get started with paid gaming, you’ll hopefully be able to earn your money back (and then some).
Legit Ways to Make Money Playing Video Games
There are plenty of ways to make a good living from playing video games. Ultimately, the gaming career path you choose will depend on your skills, interests, and personality — we’ll compare some of these options and provide information about how to get started with each one.
Test Video Games
If you’re looking to break into the video gaming industry for the first time, game testing is a great place to start. You can either work as a quality assurance (QA) officer, helping identify potential issues with new game releases, or become an in-house game tester for a game developer.
As a QA officer, you’ll thoroughly test games while they’re in the development phase, providing feedback to the developer about what works well and what could be made better. You’ll often play the same game numerous times, and you’ll be expected to report any bugs or glitches you find.
After QA officers give the green light on a new game, in-house testers will extensively play the finished version of the game and continue looking for any more potential problems before the game is released to the public. In-house testing typically pays well, but also requires more gaming experience and expertise than QA jobs. Most of these testers are established gamers within the industry, and they sometimes lead the QA process for new games.
QA is an easier field to break into, but professionals are usually hired as independent contractors rather than employees, so the work’s not always steady. The pay isn’t terribly high, either (usually $10-$15 per hour), although you have the potential to earn more as you gain experience and skills. QA officers may also advance to become in-house testers later in their careers.
Since QA roles are usually contractor positions, you may work in an office that will provide materials and equipment for you, or you may have to work from home using your own computer or game console. Keep in mind that if you are asked to supply your own equipment, you might be able to negotiate higher pay.
Game testers are typically 18 years of age or older, have completed high school (or a GED), and have extensive amateur gaming experience. Other essential skills include communication, creativity, persistence, and detail orientation. Because video game testing jobs can be competitive, earning a degree in video game design, computer science, or a similar field might give you an edge over other aspiring testers.
Become a Pro Gamer
Another avenue to making money playing games is to become a professional video gamer. Pro gamers play in tournaments and win prize money for ranking among the top players. You need to be an excellent gamer to be competitive, especially on the national and international levels — but gamers who make it big on the pro scene can earn an impressive income.
This path will require a significant investment of time and energy, and you will probably need another source of financial support as you build your pro gaming career. It’s generally best to focus on developing your skills in a single game, so choose the game that you have the most experience with and get ready to start practicing. You might even consider hiring a coach to fine-tune your abilities.
There are a couple of pathways to becoming a pro gamer. Two of the major ones are playing in tournaments and joining an eSports team.
Playing in Tournaments
When you start to feel confident in your gameplay, you can begin by entering into smaller competitions as a solo player. You may not win right away — that’s completely fine. The key is that you learn from each match and improve your performance the next time.
As you start to win smaller competitions, you might go on to compete in bigger tournaments, some of which have huge prize pots. It can take years of competing and practicing before you might start winning those matches, and some gamers never reach that level. But if and when you get to that point, you’ll be rewarded for all of your hard work.
Joining an eSports Team
If you prefer playing alongside other gamers, you can apply to join an eSports team. As a team player, you can make a regular monthly salary of $3,000 to $5,000 and compete in tournaments around the world.
Usually, talented gamers with established followings on YouTube (or other platforms) are the ones who make the cut for eSports teams. It can take time to build yourself a fan base, so you may want to start that process as soon as possible if you’re thinking about pursuing an eSports career.
Start Your Own YouTube Channel
Some gamers have achieved huge success through their YouTube channels. YouTube lets you post creative, engaging videos to connect with other gaming enthusiasts. There are all kinds of creative ways to leverage the YouTube platform to make money and build a name for yourself as a player, although it can take a while to begin earning revenue this way.
If you’re starting from scratch with a brand-new channel, you’ll need to build a following. Make sure to fill out your profile completely and create a channel trailer so that your audience will know who you are and what you’re about. Adding video game-related keywords to your “About” section will help people discover your YouTube channel more easily. And your channel trailer is a great way to reach non-subscribers and potentially convert them into audience members.
Next, it’s time to start adding videos to your channel. Not sure what kind of content to post? Here are some video ideas and inspirations that have worked well for gamers on YouTube:
- Recording and sharing your gameplay with friends or fellow YouTubers
- Creating tutorials and guides for popular games that you know how to play well
- Reviewing the pros and cons of new games on the market
- Sharing your commentary and thoughts about various games (or the gaming industry)
- Adding commentary or effects to gameplay videos
Try to stick to a regular schedule of uploading high-quality, unique videos with attractive thumbnail images. You want your content to entertain and inform potential followers. If you’re on social media, you can start sharing your videos with your contacts and connections.
Over time, as you add to your body of content, you should start to see more and more subscribers who enjoy your videos and want to see more of them. Once you’ve built up a base of followers, you can apply for the YouTube partnership program and start to make money through methods such as advertising, affiliate marketing, and sponsorships from gaming companies.
YouTube has pretty substantial requirements for its partnership program — you’ll need at least 1,000 subscribers and a total view time of at least 4,000 hours over the past year — but once you meet these standards, your YouTube channel can become quite lucrative.
Livestream Your Gameplay
If YouTube isn’t your thing and you’d rather focus on playing your favorite game, you can livestream your gameplay on a platform like Twitch.
Similar to YouTube, you do have to start by adding content to your feed and building a following, and you’ll need to qualify for Twitch’s partnership program to start monetizing your content. But once you’re accepted as a partner, you can start generating income through ads and sponsorships.
The bottom line is that you can potentially make a very good living playing video games through legitimate means. More than likely, it will mean starting your own business, which can require a lot of time and effort on your part. But for many people, venturing out on their own is an exciting step and brings increased freedom.
Video gaming is not an easy career path, and success is never guaranteed. But if you’re great at what you do, and you’ve got the means and the drive to work hard at it, you could be rewarded with a career that fulfils you and pays well. Isn’t that what we all dream of?