Can you really earn money playing games?


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Have you ever played your favorite game and thought, “Could I make money doing this? Could I escape my boring 9-5 job and play games all day?” If you’re anything like me, you have thought about these questions dozens, if not hundreds, of times. So I set out to find out if it really is possible to make money from the games we love to play.

Can you really earn money playing games? Yes, you can. There are many ways to earn money playing games including:

  • Pro Gaming
  • Streaming
  • MMO gold farming
  • Bodyguarding
  • Mobile gaming
  • And many more

All of these can help you earn an income from gaming.

Once the stuff of teen dreams, playing video games is now a real viable career. Not only that, but there are many ways you can earn money with your favorite hobby. In the following sections, I’ll take a look at some of the ways you too can join the legions of career gamers.

Can you really earn money playing games?

Over the past 40 years, gaming has grown from the hobby of nerds into the largest entertainment industry in the world.

And with that massive growth has come a huge surge in money-making opportunities.

Here are just a few of my top picks for making money from games:

  • Pro gaming tournament play
  • Game streaming
  • MMO Gold mining
  • Bodyguarding
  • Mobile gaming
  • Youtube video (Eg. Speed plays)
  • Game Journalism
  • Selling CS:GO weapon skins
  • Leveling
  • And many more…

The most lavish way to make money from games, and probably the hardest depending on who you ask, is pro tournament play.

Gamers around the world now compete in the super competitive world of Esports.

Esports has given rise to the Pro gamer.

There are litteraly thousands of tournaments played worldwide every year where elite gamers come together to duke it out for the top spot in their chosen game.  

Game types range massively from FPS’s like Counterstrike: Global Offensive, to Real-time strategy games Like league of legends, and even extream sports games such as Rocket League.

But there are way more ways to earn money than just pro gaming…

How’d you feel about getting paid to play your favorite game all day and have 100,000 avid followers cheer your every move?

That’s exactly what elite streamers do. They play their favorite game and rake in the cash as their fans subscribe to their channel and/or donate money.

Or if you don’t like the idea of streaming, how about “Gold Mining” in your favorite MMO?

Yes, you can play your favorite MMO all day, farm monsters for gold, then sell that gold for real cash on websites such as eBay.

Some game developers aren’t happy about this practice. But others positively endorse the idea. Some Dev’s even going as far to help create real-world economies based on their game.

And there’s even more money making methods. BodyGuarding is when an experienced player is paid to protect a new player.

For example in the game Fortnight, you can die pretty quick, which is, let’s be honest, no fun. But a bodyguard can join your squad and will actively teach you how to play the game while keeping you alive.  

This may come as a shock but some digital bodyguards have been known to be paid hundreds of dollars per hour!

All this, and I haven’t even touched on making youtube videos such as speed runs, tips vids, or reviews. Here you can earn huge amounts of cash from affiliate sales and advertising.  

And what about mobile gaming… and Game journalism? Two massive areas of gaming that can pay hansomly if you dedicate yourself to them.

The point is, regardless of the types of game you play, or how you want to play them, there is a money making method for you.

Can You Make Money As Pro Gamer?

I want to answer the question “Can you make money as a pro gamer?” Immediately:

Yes, you absolutely can.

Pro gamers are the elite athletes of the digital world.

They train as hard and for as long as any physical athlete. They exceed F1 drivers’ reflexes. They rival marathon runners’ stamina. And they have the focus of ancient Tibetan monks! Ok, I made that last one up. But each will have mastered their game of choice to an almost inhuman level of skill.

You can get a small taste of some the insane skills they have by taking a look at this youtube vid of pros playing Counter Strike: Global Offesnive:

Pro Tournament play has gained so much attention and reputation that gaming is even being considered for inclusion in the Olympics. Soon, elite gamers across the world could be hanging the iconic Gold Medals around their neck and stand side-by-side with Olympic legendary such as Paula Radcliff and Usain Bolt.

But this is an article about making money, not winning medals.

So what kind of cash could you expect to earn if you became a pro gamer?

A lot… If you’re good.

The average pro gamers will earn roughly $30,000 a year while tournament gaming. This will be a mixture of winnings from tournaments and sponsorships. Not exactly millions, but a nice amount of cash all the same. Especially considering your playing games to earn it!

But if you work your way up to the elite levels in the big games your earnings can increase one hundred times over.

Elite gamers such as Johan “N0tail” Sundstein, and Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka  both earn well in excess of $3 million a year just from tournament gaming!

If you include their sponsorship deals, the amount more than doubles to $7 million dollars a year!

A huge sum of money for “Just playing some silly games”.

And that doesn’t even include potential streaming earnings….

Can You Make Money as a Game Streamer?

For many, streaming has become the go-to chillout entertainment after a hard days work.

Many young adults and teenagers turn to Twitch or Youtube streams to get their daily blast of TV laughs.

20 years ago, most would be sitting down to watch Friends, or Soap Operas. But now they are tunning to gamers such as Dakotaz and Syndicate to get their Tv thrills.

But how much do these elite streamers actually earn? Surely it can’t be a lot.

Well, as you’ll see in a moment, they actually earn boat loads!

But before I reveal the figure to you, I need to do a little math…

Dakotaz and Syndicate are both neck and neck on the number of subscribers they have on Twitch: roughly 2.5 million each at time of writing.

Now, Twitch charge $4.99 to subscribe to a stream. And the gamers get 50% of that amount of money.

So for each subscriber, a streamer is getting approximately $2.50 a month. If I whip out my calculator quickly, and the do the math, 2.5 million subscribers would equal an income in excess of…

$6.25 million dollars per year. Per Year!

And that’s not even taking into account sponsorships. Or money that is donated to them by users while they play!

So if you were wondering if you could really make money from playing games, wonder no more.

Again, you absolutely can.

Can you really make money being a digital bodyguard?

Making money playing games need not be confined to pro gamers and streamers. Our massive hobby has given rise to hundreds of little markets outside pro gaming and streaming that are making some people huge amounts of cash.

One of those ways is Bodyguarding.

As a bodyguard, it’s your job to show new players how to play their favorite games and keep them alive.

Bodyguarding has to be one of my favorite ways to make money from games.

Why?

Because you don’t have to be an elite gamer. You just have to be good enough so you’re significantly better than new players.

Now you might be thinking, why doesn’t a new gamer just play with a few of their friends. The simple answer is that’s not always an option for some gamers.

For example, if I wanted to get really good at Fortnight, I could play with my mates, or I could even play with my girlfriend, but none of us are actually any good at the game.

Frustration would likely set in before we become sufficiently good to enjoy the game. Marry that frustration with a large disposable income and you have somebody who is willing to pay big bucks for in-game “protection”. They want somebody to run around with them to keep them alive and show them the ropes.

According to the BBC, Fortnight bodyguards can currently earn anything from minimum wage to $20 dollars an hour.

But elite bodyguards have created businesses around in-game “protection”. And have been reported charging gamers as much as $200 dollars per hour of gameplay.

If that figure doesn’t convince you there is money to be made playing games, nothing will.

Related Questions

How long to Pro streamers play each day? Most pro gamers can play anything up to 12 hours a day 7 days a week.

How much practice does it take to become a pro gamer? Pro gamers will often practice for over 10 hours every day, 6 days per week.

What equipment do you need to stream games? Basic equipment to get started includes a console or PC, a camera, and a microphone.

Nick Sinclair

Having played games since the golden age of the Commodore 64, Nick finally took the plunge and studied Creative Game Design in university. After 3 years of "Study", Nick co-founded a games company where he soon discovered his true calling: writing about games. 11 years later Nick writes about a tower of topics, but gaming is always stacked neatly at the top.

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