It’s a well-known scenario that most kids and quite a few adults have envisaged more than once. You’re sitting in your cyber gaming chair, one hand on the mouse and the other WASD-ing relentlessly. Headphones on, tension boiling over, your PayPal account brimming with cash as you knock the daylight out of that shooter game. Is this just another dream of yours? Can you really – and how to make money playing video games?
Honestly – yes and no. As irritating as these ambiguous answers are, there’s no other way to put it. You can make money indulging in your favorite activity, but only if you surrender a lion’s share of the indulgence, and embrace it as work. This article will present five of the most realistic ways to make a living out of this passion.
Before we proceed with the tips, here’s a word of “warning”. This article won’t consider gaming tournaments, primarily because most of them boil down to mere luck. However good you are, you may get kicked off before even making it to top 10,000 players. The field is just so competitive that it’s almost ridiculous to place your hopes there, however passionate you are about gaming.
1. QA Testing – Gaming or Not?
Yep, you got it right: the very title of this job position drains out the fun from playing games. QA stands for “Quality Assurance”, which pretty much explains the gist.
Here’s what your responsibilities may involve: playing the same level over and over. Forget about getting super involved in the storyline. Your task is to identify and locate various bugs, so that the developers may fix them in code. And that’s not an easy nor a particularly fun assignment! Especially because most of those games will probably never really make it out.
So, the job of a QA tester is for detail oriented and extremely patient people – not strictly for video game aficionados. Are you still enthusiastic about it? If yes, go ahead and start combing the job boards. You’ll see that such openings are pretty frequent, even if most of them start with ungenerously paid internships.
- If you manage to get past the internship, it could eventually qualify for a good, old-school, full-time job. (Mortgage, here I come!)
- There are lots of openings and it’s not insanely difficult to get in.
- It isn’t the best paid job. In most cases, it only slightly exceeds the minimum wage. So, you should chase it only if you need the coin ASAP and you’re running out of options.
- Hunting for bugs and glitches day in and day out can get a bit dreary and monotonous.
2. Beta Testing – a Wee Bit More “Gamey”
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Cheer up. Beta testing is way more fun than QA testing. When a new game reaches this phase, it will already have passed the QA testing stage. That’s where the beta testers enter – and their job is to try and adopt a real user’s perspective. They can even assess how fun the game is.
For example, if a game has multiple scenarios, you will have to try them all and figure out if everything works as it should.
The only problem is, you will need some kind of portfolio to show your gaming experience before even applying for this position. Nobody will hire you based on your proud self-evaluation that you played Fallout before it was cool.
However, you can go around that obstacle by volunteering. For example, Betabound occasionally offers such opportunities – and you can register on many such portals to maximize your chances of getting chosen. You can also join the PlayTestCloud and BetaTesting communities, where they will pay peanuts, but still pay.
When you manage to enumerate at least a few beta testing projects, you will be able to contact gaming companies directly and pitch your offer to them. But don’t get your hopes too high – too few companies will consider paying for this. I could act naive and explain it with the fact that they need enthusiastic testers who genuinely care about the game and not just about the money. But the painful truth is, companies love free work.
And you might wanna follow the Gamedev subreddit. There are many relevant posts, as well as honest testimonials of your fellow beta testers.
- It’s fun! Most of the time, you will get to actually enjoy your favorite activity.
- Landing an actual paid gig as a beta tester is difficult.
3. Become a Game Streamer
In recent years, many a young gamer has grown up harboring a single hope in their minds: to become the new PewDiePie. If you don’t know who that is, hop on over to YouTube and check out his channel. The guy currently has over 100 million subscribers and 20 billion views. Love him or hate him, he’s done most of it by streaming his own gameplay!
He certainly didn’t invent the genre of Let’s Play videos – that is, video walkthroughs made by users, with loads of personalized, humorous comments. But he certainly made it widely popular and acknowledged, influencing the Generation Z population immensely.
The investment for such a project is next to zero if you’re already a gamer. All you need is a decent camera and a powerful computer – but I’m guessing you already own those. You don’t even have to pay for software – there are free options such as OBS Studio.
Plus, you don’t have to rely on YouTube exclusively. You can and should try Twitch – a dedicated game streaming platform.
But here’s the catch. The market is already heavily saturated with kids trying to get rich by game streaming. It means you have to try very hard – or offer something unique to your audience, which is getting trickier by the minute. Forget about being a nerdy gamer who’s sitting in her room, delving through the game’s labyrinth at your own pace, enjoying every minute and every nook you can find. This is about entertaining your public as much as actual playing – or maybe more so.
- You can really enjoy it if you’re a people person. Remember, it includes a lot of communicating with your audience, responding to messages, multitasking.
- It isn’t very expensive to start.
- It’s very hard to build a following.
4. Write Game Reviews
This job requires one skill other than playing video games – and that’s, obviously, writing.
So, get ready to level up your writing. Start a gaming blog in WordPress as a sandbox where you can play around until you learn the ropes. As with almost any other option from this list, you need to make a portfolio – and what better way to do it than on your own blog? When choosing topics, try to tap into the newest releases, as well as indie games that aren’t very popular. Get in touch and interview game developers, writers, as well as all sorts of artsy people who are into gaming.
Once you’ve turned your blog into a respectable collection of game reviews, there are two things you can do.
If you have a growing audience, you can start monetizing with AdSense.
Or, if you don’t feel like messing with widgets, plugins and analytics, you can start pitching to various gaming sites. Millions of people are doing just that – reaching out and applying in the hope that someone will accept them as contributors. But unlike most of them, you will have some “meat” to offer – and that’s your online portfolio.
However you do it, always keep in mind that this is a long term game. Months or even years may not be enough for you to make it. But then again, every success story is paved with tons of hard work.
- Gaming journalism can be your life-long profession if you do it right. Until recently, the gaming craze was in and around YouTube. Today, it’s mainly about Twitch. Tomorrow, who knows? Writing, on the other hand, will always remain a solid content medium – especially good writing.
- It can take years of free work to become a well established game journalist.
5. Keep It Low-Profile – Stick With GPT Platforms
For those of you who are not familiar with the term, GPT stands for Get-Paid-To. Those are sites that will pay you for all sorts of easy activities – taking online surveys, participating in focus groups, mystery shopping, and yes – playing games.
That being said, you shouldn’t hope to get rich with this option. In most cases, they will pay you mere pennies per task. Which is totally understandable when you take into account how short and easy those tasks are.
Here’s a list of the most reliable GPT platforms. Note, however, that none of them are exclusively catering to the gaming industry! In fact, playing games is a pretty rare assignment on these hodgepodge platforms. But if you’re generally fond of various no-brainer activities, you could give one (or all) of these a try.
- These little gigs are easy to come by.
- Little to no gaming experience is required – keep in mind that this way of making money is NOT good for passionate gamers.
- You will earn peanuts – or even nothing at all. We’ve written a lot about online surveys – well, this is similar in terms that you can’t really hope for more than some easy supplemental income.
- Beware of scam! Many of these platforms are clickbaity, no-good frauds who will try to trick you into giving them your sensitive info – especially, if possible, your credit card number.
Final Thoughts on How to Make Money Playing Video Games
Scroll up this article and down again, and you’ll realize that there’s one constant. All the options except the last one will involve a lot of work and commitment.
Alas, you can’t convert your enthusiasm into money with a single click of your mouse. You won’t even be able to extract mere pennies from it if you aren’t insanely diligent, to the point of stubbornness.
So, if you do opt for any of these options, get ready for months and years of grinding. And be sure to not let your passion drown in the process. After all, that’s why you started it in the first place!