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How to Make Money Playing Video Games

By Edited Sep 15, 2016 2 4

It is becoming increasingly possible to make money playing video games and in this article we will look at how. There are already many people who earn a living through gaming, for some prime examples just look to the likes of TotalBiscuit "The Cynical Brit" on YouTube and Felicia Day, the creator and star of the hit internet series "The Guild". Both of these people don't just make money through their gaming endeavours, they make good money. Sean 'Day[9]' Plott, host of the "Day[9] Daily" and a popular Starcraft 2 caster is said to make upwards of $100,000 USD a year.

These are extreme examples but even a relative nobody can start to make a few dollars in the world of gaming if they know where to apply their efforts. This isn't going to be the same old "become a video game programmer or tester" list you have already heard either, in this article I will go through some of the modern ways you can make some money in this new gamer's world.

Become a Dealer of In-Game Content

Almost any multiplayer game that has some sort of internal economy will have some sort of real-world demand for in-game content. This could be new items and clothing in Second Life or gold in World of WarCraft (WoW gold selling is actually against their ToS and is not recommended), both of which are multi-million dollar industries. In role-playing games and MMOs there are a lot of people who have the money but not the time to acquire the best gear or items for their virtual character. These people are willing to pay someone else to do it for them.

If you have some free time on your hands and are interested in getting really involved in the internal economy of one particular game then why not try acquiring gear or items to sell to other players? My advice is to look for upcoming games and not ones that are already saturated with content sellers. Diablo 3 is due in May and it will have an in-built facility for this type of trade (The Real Money Auction House), so start doing your research and get ready for an early start. If you can quickly get some of the best gear in the game you could find yourself earning a good bit of real money. Additionally, you wont be going against their terms of service since it is actually being encouraged by the manufacturer Blizzard.

Make YouTube Videos

Monetizing YouTube videos has recently become more easy than ever. Previously you had to become a YouTube partner to monetize your content, and this was not easy to do. Now anyone with an Adsense account can create content and earn money from ad impressions and clicks.

In order to monetize game content, however, you have to meet some pretty strict guidelines. You can't just record yourself playing some games and make money, that would be infringing on the rights of the game's creator. To monetize game content the "significant aspect" of your video must be your commentary. Commentary can be entertaining such as a Starcraft 2 shoutcast, instructional such as a "How to Create in Minecraft" or both such as the popular "Let's Play" format. Make sure you talk constantly, if there is a part of your video where you stop talking then edit it out. 


If you don't like the stricter guidelines of YouTube but you want to make money from other people watching you play video games then you could try streaming. TwitchTV and Own3dTV are the two major video game streaming websites and both of them will pay you if you can bring in enough viewers. Start off by drawing a crowd, if you can get a couple hundred people watching each time you stream or if you can get a good number of viewers over a certain period then you can apply for channel monetization, which will let you run commercial breaks.

Having a unique 'draw' to your stream is the key to getting viewers. You could put your effort into entertaining or educational commentary, or you could try to play the newest games right as they are released. Find some way to make it interesting and interact with your viewers.

Write About Video Games

What do you think I am doing right now? You can either make your own website or sign up for a revenue sharing website like this monetize what you write through Google Adsense, Amazon and other programs. This can also tie-in nicely with YouTube as all of your Adsense earnings go into the one account. The important thing is to pick a niche; gaming news, reviews, guides and commentary on the video game industry are all great examples. You could even combine gaming with another topic to get a specific cross-section of gamers. For example: Gaming and Personal Development.

Become a Video Game Coach

This is more popular in games with some sort of competitive scene where people put a lot of effort into getting better. StarCraft 2 is a good example, people play professional players for coaching sessions to help them with a particular aspect of the game that they are struggling with. Real-time strategy, fighting, first-person shooter, and competitive role-playing games are all god ones to look to. Of course, this path is not going to be easy. You are going to have to put a lot of time and work into becoming good yourself before you can coach other people. It may even take years before you are good enough to coach other people.

Become a Competitive Gamer

Many coaches are also competitive players. After putting a lot of time into their craft they can compete with the best of the best for a chance to win some prizes. A lot of games are starting to have tournaments with significant prize pools in line with the increasing amount of people that are watching these tournaments. You aren't going to be able to earn a living unless you are the very best so it's a good idea to combine your professional play with one of the previous methods. However, even as an amateur you could win a few dollars at small local tournaments, I once won a $60 prize at a local Stacraft 2 LAN!

Get Creative and Get Yourself Known

Once you get any sort of following the only limit on your earning potential is your creativity. Have a heap of people who look to you for advice on what games to buy? Link them to your favourite games on Amazon and earn a few dollars commission on each sale. You could even contact game developers directly and get paid to promote their new games (if you have a large following). Every time you play a game think, "is there some way I could get paid for doing what I am doing right now?"

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There is something special about earning even a single dollar doing something you loved to do anyway. If you already have a YouTube channel or stream feel free to share them below and I'll check them out. Sharing this article with your friends helps me to keep doing what I love. 


Apr 27, 2012 2:39am
Isn't the selling of gold on WoW or some other games prohibited via their TOS? I've heard of a lot of people losing their accounts because of that. However the other ways you list sound interesting. I'm just wondering if people who make Sims2/Sims3 videos (with their own stories and voice overs) could do this?
Apr 27, 2012 3:14am
Selling WoW gold is indeed against their terms of service but it is still a multi-million industry. That's why I recommend looking forward to games that encourage it like Diablo 3. I might add that into the article ;)

There is actually a pretty big market for 'Sim diaries' and if you can make yours stand out you could definitely monetize it. Having your own website and linking to new expansion packs alone would make you a few dollars.

Thanks for commenting!
May 9, 2012 11:27am
The YouTube option is really starting to pay for me! Only have a few videos up and already 10-30 cents a day. Keen to see how much I earn once I have 100 videos up!
Jul 1, 2012 11:52am
ZiggyD you have written some excellent thoughts down. I especially like your ideas around coaching which is a huge area for development. Keep up the good writing.
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