Fancy joining one of the fastest-growing industries out there? Then take a look at how to make money gaming, either from playing or working in the background.
Top ways to earn money from playing video games
- Game Tester
Make money gaming
I played my first video game (or computer game as they used to be known) back in the mid-1980s on a Dragon 32. Then we upgraded to a Commodore 64, then an Amiga, and then on to a PC. Controversially, I never owned an Amstrad or Spectrum.
It wasn’t until the late 90’s that I owned my first console, a Sega Dreamcast. But, this console came with a big advantage compared to everything that had gone before it… you could play online with complete strangers. Yes, rather than mixing with friends, I was typing away to people across Europe on games like Phantasy Star Online and Quake. Ah, fond times.
Gaming has come a long way over the last 20 years and some of the biggest games are now only available to play online, attracting a huge following of both hardcore and casual gamers.
Why join the gaming industry?
This is a growing market, with a reported increase of 20% in job vacancies for 2020 alone. Over the last 5 years, gaming has employed over 47,000 workers – either directly or indirectly and this is expected to increase.
According to a report by Robert Walters, a recruitment specialist, “the average contribution per employee of the gaming sector is sitting at £80,000 – double the national average.”
In the words of Yazz ‘the only way is up’.
How do you make money playing video games?
Well, there are plenty of options giving you the opportunity for a small side income up to a full-time wage.
If you decide to become a streamer, then you will usually need to produce videos that others need to see. That’s either tutorials, guides or you just need to be entertaining. Or sometimes, being very attractive seems to help too.
One of the most popular ways to make money from gaming is YouTube. There are 10s of thousands of channels out there, with everybody competing with each other to gain followers.
One of the most famous YouTubers is PewDiePie who is estimated to be worth well over $14 million. He plays a variety of games such as Minecraft and The Last of Us and has well over 100 million subscribers. Even if you had 1% of his following, you can still make a decent living.
How to get paid on YouTube?
It’s all very well having videos and followers, but how do you actually make money?
Connect your channel to AdSense
AdSense is an advertising programme that will give you a small commission when people watch or click on videos shown on your channel. Although it’s not a huge amount per video, it can soon add up.
If your channel is doing well, companies will want to work with you directly. This might require you to mention a product whilst playing, sharing images or even show yourself using it.
But think carefully before you take on any endorsements. They may pay well, but are they trustworthy? If you start to promote dodgy products, you could lose followers and face worse consequences.
If you really are popular, why not start to sell some of your own branded products? T-shirts, mugs, photos and hoodies. You name it, there are people out there who will want to buy it.
Meet and greet
Not my cup of tea, but you could hire out your services by attending events such as parties or openings. You get paid well, just for turning up, staying a short while and then going home. How much you can charge does depend on how popular are.
Facebook Live is a fairly new service and quite heavily promoted by the platform. Most users just stream the game they are playing, whilst also chatting to followers and answering questions.
To earn money, you need viewers to send you stars, which are a form of currency. 1 star is equal to $0.01.
There are rumours that Facebook plan to allow streamers to charge users a fee to access their content. However, with so much free content around, I’m not sure how well that will go down.
Twitch is actually owned by Amazon and is the leading live streaming service for video games. The most popular games streamed are Fortnite, League of Legends, Dota 2, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Hearthstone, Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
How to get paid through Twitch
To make the most money via Twitch, you need to sign up to their affiliate programme. This opens up 3 main ways to earn.
Viewers will subscribe to see your ‘premium content’ and pay a monthly price ranging from $4.99 up to $24.99. You will then split the amount you make with Twitch 50/50.
Like Facebook, Twitch has its own currency known as Bits. Each Twitch Bit is worth $0.01 and can be donated to streamers through the use of ‘cheers’. However, you must be signed up to Twitch’s affiliate programme if you want to cash in your Bits.
People will generally award cheers to either their favourite streamers or when they see some skilful gameplay.
Another way to earn is to sell games and in-game items through your page. Every time somebody makes a purchase, you receive a 5% commission.
Although affiliates make the most money, it is possible to earn without joining the programme. Plenty of streamers leave their PayPal address on show and allow users to send donations directly.
With gaming being so popular, naturally, there are tournaments to discover the best of the best. These are also known as eSports and the people taking part are called eSport athletes. Now, that’s the kind of athletics I can take part in.
eSports are a big business and are often streamed online and can even be found on some television channels. They attract big sponsors, which means big money and big prizes. In 2019, a 16-year-old won the Fortnite World Cup, taking home a cool $3 million.
Of course, you may not win the big prize, but there are plenty of other cash sums to be won too. Who said that gaming was wasting your life?
Join an eSports team
This is a continuation of the tournaments section, but any serious gamer should look at joining an eSports team. Here, you join up with like-minded individuals and compete against other teams.
Most eSports team members will earn a salary. But how much you make will depend on how good you and your team are. But then eSports aren’t restricted to just ‘athletes’. There are other roles you can fill. These include:
- Content Creator
- Marketing executive
- Admin or referee
- Social media manager
- Production crew
Below you can see some of the top-earning eSports teams. As you can see, Team Liquid is top of the leaderboard with over $36 million, although they have played far more tournaments compared to their competitors. Lower down, Wings Gaming have earned almost $10 million from just 27 tournaments.
Joining an eSports team may seem like the perfect option, but remember, it’s a competitive world. The chances are, you replaced somebody and one day, you’ll be replaced by a better player.
This is the least glamorous and probably the poorest paid when it comes to making money from online games. However, it’s a steady income and you don’t need to be particularly talanted.
If you’ve ever played games like World of Warcraft, you’re probably aware that you need certain materials or gold to progress. The problem is, it can take you hours (if not days) of doing monotonous tasks to reach the required amount.
Because of the monotony involved, there are plenty of gamers out there that would prefer to buy the materials, rather than grind them out themselves. This is where farmers come in. They collect these items and then sell them for a tidy profit.
The problem with this way of making money is that the market is generally quite saturated. There are companies that will pay gamers in Asia next to nothing for collecting materials. That means the companies can sell their goods for a cheap price, making it difficult for you to earn a decent living.
You could find yourself working for £2 per hour, when really, your time could be better spent elsewhere.
Not only this, but a lot of gaming companies don’t like the farming aspect as they don’t like the idea of 3rd parties making money out of their game. If they find out you are doing it, you could be banned.
Computer games are complicated to design and produce, which means there is plenty to go wrong. And if you’re a regular gamer, you’ve probably noticed and been incredibly frustrated by bugs in a game. This could be anything from issues with graphics to areas of a map that players shouldn’t be able to access.
As a game tester, you’re there to test the game to its limits and find as many problems as you can. The fewer bugs there are when the game is released to the public, the better. It’s far harder for developers to correct a game once it has been released to the public.
One of the biggest games released in 2020, Cyberpunk 2077, was riddled with errors. So much so, a lot of platforms offered refunds to customers.
Once you find a bug, you’ll need to figure out how to reproduce it and then write a report, which is then submitted to the developers.
You don’t need specific qualifications to become a game tester as most companies consider it an entry-level position. Major companies like Nintendo and Microsoft employ 100’s of testers, either directly or through temp agencies. Just take a look through job sites or major developer websites to see if there is anything available.
But be careful. Becoming a game tester is quite desirable, which mean there are plenty of scams out there trying to catch people out. If a company asks for money from you, that should ring alarm bells.
Other careers related to gaming
Perhaps you’re not the world’s best gamer or you don’t fancy testing, but you would still like to work in the industry? Well, there are plenty of jobs behind the scenes that might take your fancy and they can pay very well.
Many of them will require professional qualifications though, such as a programme language like Python, C++ and SQL.
Gaming salaries in the UK
According to Robert Walters, you can expect to earn the following wage when working in the gaming industry:
|Average salary (£)||Average day rate (£)|
Where are the majority of jobs?
Obviously, you’ll find various jobs dotted all around the UK, but there are 8 main cities and towns where the majority of jobs are based.
- Newcastle Upon Tyne
- Leamington Spa
- Crawley and Horsham
If you’re looking for gaming jobs as a future career for your children, why not take a look at my review of Code Kingdoms, a site dedicated to teaching youngsters how to code.
Can you make a living playing video games?
This is very difficult to do because of the amount of competition out there. However, if you’re very good and manage to join a decent eSports team, it’s certainly possible to make a decent income.
Is Video Game Testing a Stable Job?
Generally, no. Most testers aren’t considered employees, which means they only work when needed. That means you can’t always rely on the income.
What games can you make money playing?
The most popular games are Fortnite, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Just Chatting, League of Legends, Minecraft, Call of Duty: Warfare, Apex Legends, VALORANT, World of Warcraft and Grand Theft Auto V.