Many of us dreamed of playing for a living when we were younger, but did you know those childhood aspirations could actually become a reality?
You may be surprised to know that there are many people earning a living by playing video games, and you can join them.
Whether you’re looking for a side gig to make a little extra money in your spare time, or if you want to replace your full-time income, here are just some of the great ways that you can get paid to play video games.
→ Related reading: 150+ Side Hustle Ideas to Make Money in Your Spare Time
How to Make Money Playing Video Games
Mistplay is a mobile app (for Android) that has been around for a couple of years. The platform offers a loyalty program for gamers to earn rewards that can be redeemed. As you play, you’ll earn points that can be accumulated for prizes, including a Steam Credit or a Visa Card.
You can choose games from a provided list, browse for offers, and even chat with other players and earn rewards for completing tasks, including downloading, testing, and playing games. So, the longer that you play, the more points you will accumulate.
One attractive feature of Mistplay is that it is completely free. There are no costs involved at all from downloading the app through to redeeming your rewards. So, the only “cost” of using Mistplay is the time you spend playing the games.
There are different periods of play for different games, ranging from two to five minutes. Additionally, there are different requirements you need to accomplish to receive points. While you’re not going to get rich with this app, Mistplay can be a great side gig, and it’s very fast and easy to get started.
2. Swagbucks ($10 signup bonus)
The Swagbucks reward and loyalty program allows you to collect points (they call them “Swagbucks”) in different ways, including playing games. The platform is straightforward and easy to use.
In addition to earning points for playing games, you can accumulate points for shopping online, claiming cashback, watching videos, and taking surveys. Additionally, Swagbucks offers a $5 welcome bonus to all new users when they sign up. Once you have accumulated sufficient SBs, you can redeem them for gift cards or a PayPal payment.
You can earn SBs for playing some of your favorite games, including Trivial Pursuit, Solitaire, Bingo, Wheel of Fortune, Deal or No Deal, and Tetris. Although there is not a massive choice of games and you don’t earn lots of points, playing games can increase your SB totals, particularly if you use the platform for shopping and taking surveys.
3. Start a YouTube Channel
Another way that you can earn cash playing your favorite games is to start a YouTube channel. Although it is possible to earn with a podcast or blog, YouTube is the most visual platform. If you’re into gaming, you’re likely to be aware of the biggest YouTube gaming channels. PewDiePie has 100 million subscribers and estimated earnings of $9 million a year, just from YouTube advertising, since 2010, when he started his channel as a basic video game commentary.
Starting a YouTube channel is a long-term strategy, and it can take time to build up your subscriber count and advertising earnings. However, there are some things that you can do to increase your following, including:
- Add effects to make videos more engaging
- Record popular games
- Create entertaining commentary
- Teach people about playing better with tutorials, guides, and commentaries of why you make particular decisions.
- Review new games to help people decide if it is worth buying
- Live stream games
- Record game playthroughs commenting on the story
The majority of your YouTube channel income will come from advertisements and sponsorships. However, to qualify as a YouTube partner, you need to have more than 1,000 subscribers and have more than 4,000 watch hours throughout the last 12 months. If you meet these requirements, you will need to apply, and once approved, you can display ads on your content to make money. Once you start gaining traction, you could start earning big money from sponsorships.
For more direction, please see How I Make a Full-Time on YouTube at 24.
4. Write and Sell Game Guides
If you have a talent for writing, you can put your game playing expertise to good use by writing and selling game guides. There are lots of people out there who will pay to learn how to beat that tricky level or accumulate extra gold, particularly for multiplayer PvP games.
Once you’ve written your guides, you can publish them as ebooks to earn revenue through sales. The tricky part is standing out from the crowd. The most popular games tend to be the most highly competitive, so you’ll need to set yourself apart, offering more insight, and establishing yourself as an expert.
To get started, you will need to explore a popular game to find out where players typically have trouble. You should learn the details of the problems, and how they can be overcome, so you can teach other players.
5. Stream Your Gameplay
In addition to YouTube, there are other streaming platforms that can allow you to make money playing games. Twitch is a popular platform with the top ten Twitch streamers making over $23 million combined in 2018. Of course, this is not typical for most streamers, as the average streamer earns $10,000+ a year, which is still a decent side gig that could build into a great income stream.
To start earning on Twitch, you need to be a Twitch Partner. The requirements for this include 500 minutes+ of broadcasting, at least seven broadcast days, and an average of at least three concurrent viewers, all in the last 30 days. You also need to have at least 50 followers. So, it will take some time to build up your account to qualify. However, once you’re a Twitch partner, you can earn money by displaying ads and receiving money from your subscribers. Additionally, if you establish a high profile, you may even be approached for a sponsorship from a gaming company.
6. Become a Game Tester
Game developers pay testers to try games in a real player environment. As a game tester, you’ll be paid to make suggestions to improve the game and spot any bugs. In the US, the national average pay for a video game tester is an impressive $67,813, well above the average salary across every industry.
However, you need to bear in mind that getting paid to test games involves a lot more than just sitting on your couch. For example, you may need to perform matrix testing. This involves playing every character versus every character one match at a time to determine how they match up. In a game like Mortal Combat, this adds up to more than 8,000 matches!
You’ll be expected to test all aspects of the game to find any glitches or bugs, taking meticulous notes. This means that this job is best suited to methodical, analytical people who enjoy playing games.
7. Start a Game Review Blog
Like starting a YouTube channel or Twitch account, you will need to put in a lot of initial work before you start to get paid, but a good game review blog can be a great side gig that could develop into a full-time income.
There are lots of strategies, but the basic principle of creating a successful blog is that you need to stand out with unique content. You could aim to break industry news faster, cover the more obscure gaming topics, or even have a fun writing style that will draw in readers.
Whichever approach you choose, you need to offer your potential readers great value and ideally take a new perspective on gaming. So, whether you want to focus on a specific area like retro gaming or MMOs, or cover the whole modern gaming scope, you could create a unique blog that draws gaming enthusiasts from around the world.
8. Compete at Tournaments
Unless you’re highly talented, competing in tournaments may not provide a consistent income source, but it could net you serious cash. Tournaments are common for PvPs with the more popular games attracting larger prize pools. If you have the skills to join an organization, you may be able to generate a salary through sponsorships and winnings. Many competitive gamers also use live streaming as an additional income source.
Unfortunately, not everyone can earn an income at tournaments. Even world-class players can get knocked out early and end up leaving with no winnings. Additionally, if you do win a little cash, it may not cover the costs of flights and hotels. So, if you’re not consistently at the top of the leaderboard, you’re not likely to be able to live off your winnings.
You also need to be wary of scams if you want to get into competitive gaming. There are con artists who prey on naive potential gamers, and even team positions may offer a “salary” below minimum wage.
9. Get Sponsored
As we’ve touched on above, sponsorship is one of the most lucrative ways to earn money playing video games. Companies offer monetary incentives to gain access to the audience of your YouTube account, blog, or Twitch account. Sponsorship deals can vary from endorsing one of their products through to running ads that promote products or services. Sponsorship compensation can vary, so you need to be careful about the companies you choose to work with. You should only choose companies that align with your personal preferences and ethics. You could easily compromise your credibility if you accept any sponsorships that come your way.
There are platforms that can connect gaming influencers with sponsors, or you can approach companies directly. Many companies have press departments that allow you to pitch for sponsorship. However, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate that you have sufficient audience numbers to warrant the promotion. So, you will need to build up your platform before you’re likely to see any sponsorship deals.
Bananatic is a website created for casual and competitive gamers. You can trade the in-game currency of bananas for a variety of prizes. You can also build your status in the community with badges and experience points.
Bananatic is set up to walk you through the setup process and choosing games to play. This allows you to see how it works straight off the bat. You can even receive a 100 banana bonus for registering and completing the account set up.
There are several ways to earn bananas, including game quests, adverts, downloading apps, connecting through social media, and shopping with Bananatic partners. There is also a Bananatic lottery, where you can make bets to take part in the giveaways for various prizes. Depending on the prize level, you may need to wait until there are enough members in the draw, so it can start.
There is an impressive list of over 300 games on Bananatic, and all the games provide 100 bananas and 100 XP. However, some games do have age restrictions. The redemption rate is 2,500 bananas is roughly $5, and you can cash out for gift cards, merchandise, steam wallet, or PayPal payments.
11. Farming Gold
Finally, if you’re still struggling to break into earning cash by playing games, you could consider farming gold. Many MMOs have in-game currency that is farmable. Many gamers don’t want to spend time completing tasks to earn gold and would rather pay real-world cash for gaming currency.
This is one of the lowest-paying and most time-consuming ways to earn cash playing video games. There are operators in China who work all day farming gold for only 16 RBM, which is the equivalent of $2.34 an hour. So, while it is possible to earn money gold farming, it should be considered your last resort.
Gaming can be a great way to escape reality and a way to earn a little extra cash. However, if you want to transform it into a potential career, you will need to think carefully about the route you wish to take. As we’ve discussed here, there are some great ways to earn money playing video games that are well worth exploring.