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Can You Really Make Money Playing Video Games?

Written by Jessica Steer
For many, video games are a way to relax and blow off some steam. For others, they’re a fun way to make money, whether as a side hustle or full-time gig. If you’re a gamer who’s always wanted to pay the bills by putting your skills to the test, read on. It’s not only possible but there are countless ways to make money by playing video games.
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    We’ve all heard the stories about top esports players making jaw-dropping sums of money, such as the Dota 2 player who earned more than $3 million in winnings in 2019 alone, or the Fortnite champion who won $3 million in a single tournament

    Fortunately, becoming a professional esports athlete is far from the only way to make money by playing video games. It might be one of the most lucrative but it’s not an attainable goal for most gamers. Just like your glory days on the high school football team, no matter how skilled you think you are you’re probably not going to make the big leagues. 

    With video games on the fast track to becoming a $300 billion industry by 2025, there’s no shortage of other ways to carve out a slice for yourself. Whether you’re looking for a new career to replace your 9-to-5, or just a fun side hustle to bring in some extra cash, here’s a look a variety of different ways to make money from video games. 

    1. Become a game developer, designer, or creator 

    Have you ever played a video game and had a hundred ideas for how it could have been better? Do you find yourself daydreaming about cool ideas for video games? Then why not pursue a career in video game development? 

    You’ll have to invest time and some money into education, either online or through a more traditional post-secondary institution, but the hard work could be worth it. According to Neuvo, the average game developer salary in Canada is $117,000. 

    And don’t forget about mobile games, which are a 9.8 billion industry in their own right. You could find yourself working for one or several smaller mobile game development companies, or even start your own and sell your games on marketplaces like Google Play and the Apple Store. 

    2. Become a game tester 

    Of course, you don’t have to make games directly to work in the video games industry. Almost every single video game development company employs teams of video game testers to weed out the quirks and bugs in their games before launch. 

    Even though you’re literally playing video games for a living, these roles are serious jobs. You’ll be playing the same game—or even just a small part of a single game—thousands of times, again and again, to try and find bugs in the gameplay. 

    Compared to other positions in the video game industry, testers are typically on the lower end of the pay scale. However, you can also expect to work significant overtime as a launch date grows closer, which will increase your overall earnings. They’re also a great way to get your foot in the door of the industry. 

    3. Stream your gaming sessions 

    Streaming your gaming sessions on communities like Twitch and Mixer is perhaps the simplest way to directly make money from playing video games. But don’t mistake simple with easy. You’ll need an entertaining and engaging personality, plus a heavy streaming schedule, to challenge the top earners in the world of video game streaming.

    To start, you’ll need a gaming PC or console that’s connected to the internet. It also helps if you have a webcam, as the most successful streamers simultaneously broadcast themselves while playing. 

    Depending on the community you choose to stream on, you’ll likely have to meet some minimum requirements before you can monetize your channel. On Twitch, for example, you’ll need 500 total minutes broadcast, 50 followers, at least seven unique broadcast days in the last 30, and an average of three concurrent viewers or more. 

    4. Join gaming tournaments 

    You don’t have to be a pro gamer to win cash prizes in video game tournaments. There are plenty of tournaments open to everyday amateur players who want to test their skills. 

    If you’re consistently a winner or in the top ranks of most games and matches you play online, you might want to put your skills to the test and see if they can bring in a few extra dollars. 

    Sites like GamerSaloon, MLG GameBattles, and World Gaming host regular tournaments for a wide range of popular games across multiple platforms. All you have to do is create an account and register in the contests of your choice. Prizes range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand per tournament. 

    5. Start a YouTube channel 

    If you’re a creative type, another fun way to make money from video games is to start a gaming YouTube channel. You can review games, provide commentary, create walkthroughs and guides, do interviews, and more. 

    You can make money this way through ad revenue on your videos as well as from sponsors in the gaming industry. For instance, video game companies may pay you to review their game, or a gaming products company might pay you to promote or feature their gear in your videos. 

    Monetizing your YouTube channel won’t happen overnight, however. Before you can begin collecting ad revenue from YouTube, you have to meet the YouTube Partner Program minimum requirements—at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 total hours of view time in the last 12 months.

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