Fundamentals and Concepts

How to Make Money Playing Video Games

I grew up on video games. I went through many stages of life thinking about what I wanted to do when I grew up, and that also included the elusive Astronaut job (which I quickly turned down after I found out that they drink their own pee (figuratively)). There was one thing that was constant though: I always wanted to make my job around video games. Well, my thought progress about jobs had always revolved around getting cool experiences.

Cool Experiences = something to talk about or to share

I went through thinking I could become an artist, a graphics designer, a programmer, a developer, a software engineer, a journalist… Lots of jobs to go through. My parents scoffed at the prospect of gaming as a career. But with the advent of the internet, I can now make video games an actual career.

Not sure what I mean? Let’s start by pressing A to the next topic.

Understanding Income

Wages, income, revenue streams are all words describing how someone can earn money. It can be simply be divided into two categories: passive and active.

Active income is the constant effort made to create something to bring you money. A very good example is our 9-5 job. You are constantly working in exchange for cash. You earn either a wage, or a salary depending on the work you do. This can be on a contract-by-contract basis, where you earn money for a task you complete. Or you can come in every day, work X amount of hours and you get paid by the hour. Both of these will outline how much you earn on your contract to your job.

Passive income requires an initial time or money investment. While it is popular, understand the fact that nothing can come to you for free, you need either one or the other or even both before you it can bring you consistent revenue. There’s even revenue streams that can even earn you money while you sleep! But again, you need blood, sweat and tears before you see something in return.

Before we start though, I must warn you that this requires a lot of hard work and investment. If this doesn’t turn well for you, you must always have a plan B. Don’t simply quit your job today just because you said you want to be a full-time YouTuber. If you are going to quit your job to fully commit to it, I highly suggest you have at least enough money in your bank to live off for a year or two.

Now let’s see how we can turn our favorite hobby into a side-hustle! (And eventually, our work!)

Active Streams

These streams require constant work. There are several ways of doing this.

Creating Art/Music/Story

Now I know these are all different methods, but no matter your discipline you follow, it is important to see that your favorite hobby actually helps you build your skills! I’m not talking just about improving your craft (writing skills, certain drawing techniques, new tech to make your jobs easier, etc.), you must be inspired and be up to date with the latest trends! A game can be inspiring by how the music sets the tone for a particular scene, or The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker’s cel-shading style has inspired a number of games with similar style. Chris Rockwood, from Hi-Rez Studios, states how important it is to keep up to date to a game’s development stage to see where you can contribute. Instead of playing mindlessly on your game, sit down and admire all the details, it can inspire you! Also, network with your fellow creators, they can get you a foot into the industry. But until then, you have to settle doing freelance jobs, networking on social media and getting your name out there before landing a job with your passion.


Streaming, believe it or not, is a full-time job. If you want to earn money playing games live to a watching audience, you have to dedicate the time to do so. Surprisingly enough, those subscription numbers on Twitch by themselves are not enough to keep a streamer fed and happy. They also network a lot to garner those views and to get sponsorship from companies who love video games as much as you do who want some screen time with you. The good news is, it is pretty easy to get into streaming; you need a computer to output to your stream, internet and a game to play. Unfortunately, because of that, streaming is very saturated. You need to do something else to stand out or you won’t see a following.

Video Game Development

There are stages in the development of a video game, but most of the time it requires a lot of people to develop a game of all disciplines. Programmers and designers are needed to take a concept to reality. Marketers are needed to advertise and sell the game. These are all 9-5 jobs here and there are many positions in a company you can fill. It is highly recommended that you play games for not just product quality, but to keep up with the latest trends and to understand how your consumers react as well as testing the grounds for new niches for your game. Think of if this way; you are creating something for your customers to take. It’s just that this time you decided to follow your dream instead of deciding to be stuck in a rut.

Or, if you’re not so keen in being in a large game studio (more on that later), you can verge off on your own and become an independent developer. You are creating all aspects of the game. Story, setting, levels, interaction, music, and even art are all parts of your creation! This will take a ton of time, money and elbow grease to see your creation come to fruition. Then right after that, you also have to work to get your game out there for someone to see your game and even play it. Fortunately there are a lot of avenues for this, which includes the Google Play Store and iTunes Store for mobile developers and more famously, Steam for PC developers.

Video Game Tester

I didn’t know about this before, but there are development teams looking for testers all the time. They want you to play certain sequences over and over and in different ways so that they can see that their games work. Having a background in programming helps, but it isn’t really necessary. You are hired to play games and provide feedback for developers to follow up on so that they can deliver the best product possible.

Video Game Journalism

As a journalist, you cover the latest in video gaming. You also put out reviews for parts, accessories, and even games themselves. There’s also news coverage on aspects of the gaming communities, opinionated editorials and even news on development of games. One has to start networking in order to get the foot in the door. You also have to build up your portfolio as a writer, which includes freelance writing to other outlets.

A night of competitive gaming
Are you prepared for nights like this?

Professional Gaming

Do you want to compete with the best of the best a game has to offer? Better get really good. Professional gaming is on the rise with people tuning into world tournaments and leagues like League of Legends World Championships and Evolution Championship series (Or EVO, which is the world’s largest fighting game tournament). These people are the best of the best and they are often looking for the next fight. Of course, they are also sponsored by companies that come to these events too. Expect a lifestyle similar to that of a professional athlete; spend many hours getting good at a game.

Passive Streams

These are targeted towards creating valuable content such that lasts over a long time people will still come to view it. If people come to view it, there is potential in creating revenue. This requires a lot of time and money initially before you see any return from it.


Blogging can be about anything! Even on the topics we have mentioned earlier. It is frankly easy to get in but hard to keep consistent. To start you need a hosting service (which does cost money if you want a better chance of being found and more control over your website) and dedication. It takes a while to get going, but creating content that others can read and find value will net you a business. This can then work on affiliate marketing to promote goods that you like to others and get a commission on it, or put advertisements about stuff that you like to have people click and you get paid for it.

YouTube Videos

Just like blogging, you can create videos on YouTube about anything! It can be a boon because a lot of people are visual learners. They like to see things and they click when they are interested. Just like blogging, you can sell through affiliate marketing or paid advertisements (Thanks to YouTube’s monetization method). However, be wary that you also need to be consistent in your uploads as well. Google’s algorithms want to keep checking that you are relevant and fresh and thus you need to consistently put up content for the search bots to keep finding you.

Creating Guides

People are consistently looking for guides for about anything. This includes getting good at your particular game. This can turn this into an eBook or a series of blog posts. Amazon provides an easy outlet to publish your eBook if you’re looking to get started. Either way, this can lead into a venture where you can actively help others by coaching.

The Mindset of Success

As I have mentioned before, it is important to have the right mindset. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and even an initial investment in both time and money before you can reach a point you can be happy. It is the process of getting good that is the most rewarding. The journey is the most rewarding part, but hey the perks at the end isn’t so bad either!

It is most important that you have a plan before you try. Knowledge is power and it is key to success. It is also important to have something to fall back on when things get out of hand. Plan to be consistent; reaching success is a marathon, not a race. And finally my best advice to you is to get started; nothing won’t change unless you do something about it.

It isn't waiting for you!
It isn’t waiting for you!

Have You Considered Gaming to be a Career?

What do you guys think? Do you think it’s still worth scoffing about? Share your comments below!

12 thoughts on “How to Make Money Playing Video Games

  1. I had never considered gaming to be an income stream but after reading this article I can see a direction that I bet a lot of people have never heard of.Just like anything else in a similar category I think for the most part this can be considered a side hustle.  You sure have listed a lot of options.Thank you for taking the time to make us aware that this kind of income exists.Dale

    1. Yeah, it’s just recently this has become a thing! Anything can become a side hustle if someone can figure out how or the means of doing so. I know a lot of YouTubers have been getting a killing just by making content based on their favorite games. 

      Anything is possible if you put your mind to it!

  2. Just like every other kids in the block, I have also spent the childhood days playing video games but now I realised this hobby can be monetize. Even though I know about video channels on YouTube where people monetize their gaming skills through video uploads. I’ve never heard about the video game journalism.

    I’m also picking up interest in the video game blog, where one can have a review page on various latest videos. Thank you for providing us with this, good job

    1. It’s weird, but journalism in video games is starting to gain mainstream, but it has been around for a while! It’s been present since back in the 90s when magazine subscriptions were a thing! PCMag and Maximum PC still cover video games, but their sections aren’t as deep considering their niche. The most prominent one that I remember was Nintendo Power, but with the internet that is no longer really necessary.

  3. You have provided a very deep look into the world of gaming from the angle of how you can monetize it. Many people will scoff when they hear someone say “Do you know you can make money off playing video games?” but not as many as a few years ago.

    This has been the case for a while, and mostly through the more traditional means such as working in a gaming development company or selling their products. Earning through streaming, blogging, or playing in competitive tournaments are more recent developments. But they all can earn money for you if you choose to be serious about your approach.

    The angle you take if you are serious is to look at an article like this, get some ideas, drill down deeper on what is required for each of the methods, then plan your approach, from general terms right down to the tasks required to progress and measure success.

    I appreciate this post and will refer some of the people that have asked this question here so they can get a good background on what is available, and what is required for each method. Most certainly you have shown that it is possible, and indeed, there are many examples out there these days of people that are making tons of money with playing video games!  

    1. I find that no matter what your passion is, if you really want it you will find a way to get to it. I never thought it was possible until I decided to take my gaming a bit more serious.

      It’s always best to approach with a plan (even though I’m not a good planner myself) but it takes a lot of time and research and then the actual work to make it work. The first hard step is to start, then the second is to consistently do it.

      I do appreciate you sharing! More people should realize it’s quite possible to follow your dream, but it’s up to the user! It’s better to work hard, but do it smartly. 😉

  4. I must say this concept of getting paid to play video games like you said was once scoffed at much like being into affiliate marketing. At one point it was almost a crazy concept. I say almost because like all crazy concepts they have now become a reality for the average joe or jane. Did you know you can even get schooling on how to make a living with video games? Crazy right? Now you mentioned video game journalist and blogging ,would you be able to combine those two into a passive income stream and if so how would you get started?

    1. Yes, you can combine journalism and blogging! In fact, many people are starting new blogs every day with that very subject! Even though you won’t get the hot off the press deets like Kotaku would because you’re small time, it’s always best to be on top of the news and put your spin on it. Follow high profile journalists, start networking with others, watch videos as they pop, follow high profile social media like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.

      Like in affiliate marketing, you just need to find your niche in the video gaming industry and own it! I wish you the best success! o7

  5. Guides are literally the only way I can find myself stumbling upon IGN these days. Not reviews, not news stories; just comprehensive “wiki” guides assembled by their audience. Compare to the modest ASCII GameFAQs guides of yesteryear where one would be written by a single dude.

    Someone doing the latter could at least reasonably ask for donations, but “wiki culture” collectivizes everything to the point where there’s no real feeling of ownership, and an individual is going to have a rough time competing with that on a scale as broad as entire walkthroughs. But you mentioned “getting good” as opposed to just beating something, and if you’re really really good that could indeed be something only you could do! (But being really really good is its own level of hard.)

    1. Indeed, those days are long over now. I have seen some top tier players being able to monetize their skills as coaches for anyone who wants to get as good as they are. There was a guy on YouTube who touted himself as an Overwatch coach (while not being in the Top 500) but was able to guide some players to reach their goal of entering the Top 500. In fact, I joined a network once where he was teaching other people how to play the Auction House in Guild Wars 2 and get their expensive swords.

      It is indeed still entirely possible to still monetize writing guides.

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