4 Ways to Make Money Playing Video Games

Most people spend money to play video games. A small segment of the population actually does things the other way around: They make money by playing video games. If you’ve ever wondered how you could turn your gaming hobby into a paying gig, you’ve come to the right place. Here are four ways you can make money playing video games.

1. Streaming

Video game streaming celebrity Pewdiepie speaks into a microphone.
YouTube streamer PewDiePie | Source: YouTube

Thanks to the advent of video streaming sites like Twitch and YouTube Gaming, some lucky (and smart and talented) people are raking in cash by broadcasting their video game play sessions on the internet. It’s a good job if you can get it.

How to do it: Turning streaming into a lucrative business is a bit more complicated than it might sound at first blush. After all, building up a sizable audience willing to watch — and, ideally, pay for — your content is no trivial task.

First you need the gear. While PlayStation 4 and Xbox One let you stream games over Twitch using their built-in apps, most pro streamers use a game capture box and a PC to do the heavy lifting. And once you have your gear, you’ll also need to be charismatic and entertaining if you want people to keep coming back to watch you. Once you have that down, you’ll want to start streaming on a regular schedule so viewers know when they can tune in to catch you. Oh, and having a background in business won’t hurt, either, since once you have an audience you’ll probably want to work on partnerships and promotions.

For a detailed look at all aspects of how to stream, check out this article from Tom’s Guide.

2. eSports

Street Fighter V star Ryu holding up his fists in a defensive stance.
Source: Capcom

If you’re exceptionally skilled at certain games that are big in the competitive multiplayer scene, you can make money by competing in tournaments. Games like Dota 2, CounterStrike: Global Offensive, and Street Fighter V are all popular eSports games with tournaments that offer millions of dollars in prize money to the best players. You can find a list of eSports games, with information about their tournaments and prizes, here.

How to do it: This is one of the tougher ways to get paid to play video games because it’s all based on how skilled you are at the games in question. To get started, you’ll have to get good a game and start competing in tournaments. You can win money all by yourself in solo games, but for team-based games you’ll have to join up with a team. Many eSports players also earn money from sponsorships by companies like Red Bull and Adidas.

3. QA testing

video game controller
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Every major game developer has a team of quality assurance testers on staff to play games at various stages of development and comment on them. The thing is, QA testers don’t play games like normal customers do. They’re looking for bugs, so they have to spend lots of time in each section trying to “break” the game. Then they file reports based on their experiences.

How to do it: Look at job board postings at major development companies like Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Nintendo, and any other company that makes games you like. The downsides of QA testing are that you’ll almost certainly have to live near the studio to be a QA tester, and it’s an entry level job that doesn’t pay much.

4. Writing

Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway definitely would’ve written about video games if he’d been born later. | Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

If you have a talent for the written word, you can get a job writing about video games. Of all the jobs on this list, writing about games involves the least amount of time spent actually playing games. You’re being paid to produce words rather than to put time into video games. People who write about games spend much more time doing research, interviews, reporting, email, and actual writing than they do playing games.

Still, playing games is an essential part of most video game writing gigs, so if you enjoy shaping words into sentences and paragraphs, it’s a great way to get paid for doing two things you love. Also, writing about games means you’ll get many games for free, usually before they’re released to the public.

How to do it: If you want to get started writing about video games, the best thing to do is to start writing, period. You’ll need writing skills before anyone will pay you money to write about video games (or anything else, for that matter). Start a blog or start contributing to blogs on big gaming sites. Once you’ve written a few articles that prove you can write and you know what you’re talking about, start pitching story ideas to editors at gaming sites, using your blog posts as clips. If they’re accepted, you’re on your way to a job writing about video games.

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