Yes, you really can get paid to play video games.
With the rise of Esports, Twitch, and professional gamers, there’s never been a better time to monetize your video game hobby.
And the cool part is, you don’t have to be a pro. Even casual gamers are getting in on the action, and in this article I’ll break down some realistic ways to make money playing video games.
1. Video Game Coaching
Video game coaching is a great option if you have a deep understanding and passion for specific games.
You can instruct other gamers through tutorials, screen-sharing walkthroughs, and group classes. Wouldn’t it be cool to get paid to share your tips, tricks, and advice?
On platforms like Gamer Sensei, you can set your own rates (typically $30/hour and up) and availability. But not all coaches who apply get accepted. While this keeps quality high on the platform, it can be discouraging if you’re just starting out.
An alternative would be to set up some coaching gigs on Fiverr for your favorite games, or try and find clients locally.
When creating your profile, put yourself in your potential customer’s shoes. Why should they hire you? What video game credentials do you have?
Your rates will vary based on your experience, the popularity of the game, and competition.
Most video game coaches charge by the hour — usually in the $20-200/hour range. However, you could earn even more with group classes.
2. Group Video Game Classes for Kids
One place to sell those group classes is Outschool. The K-12 online education platform has both academic and extracurricular classes.
In the extracurricular category, video game classes are a hot seller. Why? Parents love the idea of a safe, nurturing online environment for their kids.
I connected with Devyn Ricks, a mom of 4, in this video, where she reported earning up to $4000 a month playing video games on Outschool!
3. Play-to-Earn Game Apps
Several smartphone apps let you make money playing video games in your spare time. Here are a few of Side Hustle Nation’s top picks.
The popular Blackout Bingo game app turns classic bingo from a game of luck into a game of speed and skill.
Each game only takes about 2 minutes to play, and you can earn real-world rewards and cash prizes. (Except in AZ, AR, CT, DE, IN, LA, ME, MT, SC, SD, and TN.)
With over 5 million downloads, the app has earned mostly positive reviews (players call it fun and addicting). In the negative App Store reviews, the most common complaint is that the ads claiming you can win big money with little effort are misleading.
As with all gaming apps, practice for free first. Then, never put more money at risk than you can afford to lose.
Thousands of users are cashing in with the free Cashyy app. With a 4.4-star rating from over 50,000 users on the Google Play store, this is a legit “get paid to play” app.
As you discover new free games and accomplish “missions” you’ll earn coins to exchange for gift cards or cash via PayPal.
I played my fair share of Windows Solitaire growing up, so Solitaire Cube got my attention.
The well-rated iOS and Android game app pits you against similarly-skilled players, where everyone receive the same deck, and the players who finish with the most points win. Of course, you should probably practice for free first!
Solitaire Cube is free to download and play, but “real prize” tournaments aren’t yet available in AZ, AR, CT, DE, IN, LA, ME, MT, SC, SD, and TN.
Winning real money is possible, but takes time. According to seasoned players, the deposit-required “pro league” can accelerate your earning power.
With more than 10 million downloads, Mistplay is an interesting app that rewards you for discovering and playing new games on your phone.
The more you play, the more “units” you earn. Then you can cash in those units for gift cards to your favorite stores.
Check out the games with 3x or 4x unit “multipliers” to earn gift cards faster.
4. Video Game Reporting
Another way to make money through your love of playing video games is to become a video game journalist.
The role involves reporting on video game news, upcoming games, writing game reviews, and even reporting from e-sport tournaments.
The two most common paths to get paid here are either as a staff writer for a gaming publication or as a freelancer. Your earning potential ranges from from $26,000 to $100,000 a year depending on your experience, writing skills, and portfolio.
5. Video Game Testing
Before video games get released to the general public, they go through quite a bit of play testing. This is where your vast experience comes into play!
Knowing how a great game should work and providing that feedback to the developers can be super valuable.
Plus, most game companies hire quality assurance (QA) testers to spot bugs and other issues with games before they go on sale.
If you love playing new games all the time and making a difference on the finished product, this could be a good side hustle or career for you. A quick search on Indeed found a number of job postings with salaries ranging from $30,000-85,000 a year.
6. Start a Video Game YouTube Channel
YouTube is still a popular platform that you can make money playing video games. Several avid gamers have created their own YouTube channel and stream their live gameplay or broadcast recorded videos that rely on followers and subscribers.
In addition to streaming, you can create:
- gameplay tutorials
- engaging video game reviews
- helpful gameplay tips
Followers can recommend you to their gaming friends and the revenue can quickly become substantial. Video game YouTubers monetize with a combination of:
- YouTube ad income
- Affiliate marketing
- Brand partnerships and sponsorships
- Viewer support and donations
- Merchandise and product sales
Typical advertising income for video game channels may be $3-5 for every 1,000 views. With a popular channel, that can add up fast!
Another common monetization strategy on YouTube is to make product recommendations, and use your affiliate link in the description. That way, you’ll earn a commission when anyone buys through your link.
7. Stream on Twitch
Twitch has become one of the most popular sites for gaming across the globe. It’s the go-to site for video gamers to earn money streaming their gameplay.
As your following grows, you’ll start to earn subscription and donation revenue. Top streamers make 6- and even 7-figures a year!
Twitch works best if you’re either very good at a certain game, and/or very entertaining to follow. Remember, you’re competing your followers’ for limited attention, so the content needs to be really compelling.
And similar to YouTube, as you gain trust and build a relationship with your audience you can monetize with donations, merch, brand deals, and more.
8. Crypto Gaming
The rise of cryptocurrency and NFTs have opened up another revenue stream for video gamers.
For example, in Axie Infinity, gamers raise, trade, and battle NFT pets known as Axies. As you level up, your characters become more and more valuable — and can be bought and sold.
The in-game currency, Axie Infinity Shards, can then be bought or sold on exchanges like Coinbase.
Crypto gaming is definitely an area to keep an eye on.
9. Create Video Game Guides
Years ago, a friend of mine was making thousands of dollars a month selling a Minecraft guide on Amazon. He’d self-published the book, had no audience, but people searching “Minecraft” on Amazon found it and bought it.
Video game guides or tutorials can show others how to complete tricky levels or improve their gameplay. It’s another way to convert your expertise into cash.
After you’ve created the guides, you can post them on your social media, upload them to YouTube, or sell the whole bundle as an online course.
This isn’t a video game example, but may still be relevant. Kat Norton created TikTok tutorials on how to use Excel better. Those went viral, and she ended up putting together an in-depth training program on Excel and other Microsoft products. (And turned those into a wildly profitable business!)
Could you do the same for your favorite game?
10. Sell Merchandise
As a gamer, you you know that a love of video games can be part of your identity. That’s why game-themed or game-inspired merch can be such a hit.
If you have some design skills, take a look at sites like Etsy and Redbubble to see what’s selling. You may not be allowed to use licensed characters in your design, but you can get creative to sell other products gamers would love.
Thanks to print on demand technology, you don’t have to carry any inventory or deal with shipping. Simply upload your designs, set your prices, and the platforms take care of the rest.
Another angle would be to partner with popular streamers to make merch for their fans. Do they have a particular inside joke or catchphrase that would make a fun shirt? Reach out with your design samples and see if they’d be open to splitting revenue with you.
11. Build Your Own Video Game or App
How cool would it be to have your own popular game on the App Store? If you don’t have coding or game design experience, you can learn from top-rated courses like this one.
Developers earn a 70% royalty on any sales of the app or in-app purchases. For a popular game, that can turn into a serious income stream.
Sometimes the biggest hits are the simplest. Take Wordle for example, where you have 6 chances to guess a 5-letter word. Creator Josh Wardle sold it to The New York Times just a few months after starting it for more than $1 million!
Should the proposal be a hit, you can use your own gaming skills to develop the game you have always wanted to play.
12. Be a Video Game Developer
Your skills as a gamer can also be used behind the scenes as a video game developer. Becoming part of the video game industry itself can be a lucrative career choice and a video game developer is an in-demand skill.
In this role, you’ll be responsible for turning game ideas into reality through code and collaboration. Plus, per ZipRecruiter, game developers earn an average of $100,000 a year.
13. Teach Video Game Design
If you already have some experience in how video games are made, you could turn around and teach others. Instructors can make money teaching video game design techniques and basic coding vocabulary and concepts.
If you like working with kids, take a look at Outschool. Here you’ll create an engaging class for future game designers and developers.
If your content is better for adults, you might create a pre-recorded class for Udemy or Skillshare. For every student who joins, you’ll earn a small royalty, with top instructors earning thousands of dollars a month.
14. Be a Professional Gamer
Do you have the skills to go pro? There are video game tournaments across the globe, often with serious prize money on the line.
Choose a game you know you’re great at, look for some local or online tournaments to get experience, and keep leveling up.
While elite-level gamers earn millions of dollars, the majority are just scraping by. This is similar to professional sports or acting, where the average income is quite low, but the pursuit of getting paid to do what you love is a huge draw.
15. Become an E-Sports Star
ESports — short for electronic sports — is a form of competition where you can earn prizes by playing video games.
The typical format involves professional players that compete against each other individually or as part of a team in a multiplayer contest. The increasing popularity of esports has a lot to do with how streaming has developed in the last decade or so.
As more gamers want to see competitions featuring their favorite games, more game developers have started competitions to showcase their games and provide funding for those tournaments.
Typically, the games that are involved in competitions are first-person shooters, multiplayer online battle arenas, battle royale, fighting, real-time strategy, and sports.
If you excel in competition and need to push the boundaries in a particular game or format then there are several e-sport franchises to choose from. These include Dota, Counter-Strike, League of Legends, Valorant, Overwatch, Super Smash Bros., StarCraft, and Street Fighter.
Huge tournaments like the League of Legends World Championship and Intel Extreme Masters attract a big audience and even bigger paydays for the winners.
Getting Paid to Pay Video Games: Final Thoughts
You can turn your love of video games into a money-making hobby. There are opportunities to get paid:
- and more
Which option is right for you depends on your unique skills, interests, and goals. But one thing is certain: the days of your parents telling you that playing video games is a waste of time are over!
Frequently Asked Questions
Once you establish a following for your video game playing, consider contacting sponsors directly. Focus on specific brands you’re already a customer of that you know your audience will love. Impress them with the popularity and quality of your content on YouTube or Twitch.
How Much Do Customer Service Representatives Make When Working For Video Game Companies?
Typically, a customer service representative for a video game company will make between $13.50 to $20 an hour.
Customer support and customer service are essential factors for any company. If you know your way around a certain game, you can help customers and deliver support via an in-game chat function. You may want to consider an internship first if you want to go on this career path.