Doing what you love and earn your living from it is key when trying to decide a career path. Don’t listen to people telling you that you need to select a perhaps less fulfilling job, only because it allows you to earn a good salary. Even if what you love is playing video games, you can still make a living by pursuing your passion. It is hard work, yet it is certainly possible. Below, you will find some of the many potential ways to help you make this dream a reality.
Live streaming is when you stream your gameplay, mainly through YouTube, in real-time. That way, everybody can see what you are doing and get into the game mood with you. Since game streaming is quite saturated already you need to find a way to set yourself apart so someone will want to watch you over other well-established streams. To achieve that, you must to be able to provide something unique (i.e. humor or play a game that nobody else plays). The goal is to build a large, loyal audience that you can monetize with subscriptions and donations.
Most gamers start their live streams with platforms such as Beam and Hitbox. However, if you want to make any real money, you need to move beyond such small platforms and aim high. Right now, Twitch is the biggest platform that can help you get thing rolling (though, YouTube Gaming is fast approaching too).
At first, chances are you won’t break 10 viewers for several months. You may also need a few months before you reach your first 100 viewers. But, with consistent work and determination, you will get the audience you need. Besides, there are many ways to boost your traffic online.
But, first of all, you need to make sure you are playing the right games. Here are some questions you should ask yourself to determine that:
- Does the game have an active community (i.e. forum, Steam community page, etc.)?
- Are you extremely competitive at it (i.e. blaze through a game at amazing speed run)? Are you good enough to win tournaments?
- Is the game different for every player (i.e. Grand Theft Auto V, which has lots of optional content)?
- Does it have high stakes? If a player loses, does he lose a whole lot more than just another soul? For example, at Dark Souls II, you lose souls, character advancement, and the game’s universal currency for shopping.
To Get Started: To need a decent computer, some streaming software, and a decent personality. Twitch streaming software you could use:
For PC gaming, you could consider Open Broadcaster Software (free). Finally, for console gaming, you can capture your gameplay using either external game capture boxes (i.e. Roxio) or internal game capture boxes through your next-generation game console (i.e. PlayStation 4 or Xbox One) that provides Twitch TV support.
Guides are particularly sought by newbies, especially those that love reading about PvP (player-versus-player) games. There are lots of ways to work on guides. For example, you could upload video guides to YouTube, create a website and write guides (you can monetize both with ads), or publish eBooks and earn money through sales.
To be able to stand out from the pack, you need to offer more insight than other guide-writing gamers. This means you should invest a lot of time into a game so you can establish yourself as an expert. Plus, you must have good writing skills, as well as great formatting skills if you need to get an EBook out. There are a ton or writing tips and applications you could use, plus, you can always hire a freelance professional (i.e. copywriter) to work for you.
To Get Started: Find a game that is hot right now and try to identify the players’ pain points. Figure out ways to overcome these problems and teach others what you have learned. For PvP games, go for mechanics and character guides while in MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games), raid guides, as well as leveling and gold guides attract the most attention.
You can work for an established website and write reviews, news, and interviews for a specific industry, genre, or game (work on a paid-per-article basis) or create your own journalism website that you can monetize with Patreon subscriptions and ads. Arm yourself with patience as you will probably need to work on pennies at first (if you will be writing for an existing website) until you hone your skills and establish a robust portfolio. Then, you can certainly make serious cash as a games journalist.
Online resources about journalism to consider:
To Get Started: Send in applications to games sites (avoid too popular ones at first) with some writing samples they could have a look at. If you have no samples to provide, you may want to consider writing for free for smaller websites first until you get some portfolio built. The more experienced you become, the more successfully you can negotiate pay per piece.
Games go through several phases of development. When, usually, in beta mode, developers ask for players (aka playtesters) to test their games so they (the developers) can make some final adjustments/corrections before completing the game. Your role would be to test whatever the developer wants you to test (from finding bugs to documenting issues). It is quite easy to become a beta game tester these days, and pay is a tad better than minimum wage. It should be noted that although the majority of testing positions are for mobile games, you can also find an internal position at a game development company.
To Get Started: Look into services such as ErliBird, MyAppAware, BetaFamily, and PlaytestCloud. Now, if you want to become an internal tester at a company instead, do some research and browse job boards for open positions. When you find a role you see fit, send in an application.
Competitive Gaming (aka eSports)
Esports (competitive gaming) is growing at lightspeed. There are leagues, players, game developers, and teams that are pulling in many millions in annual revenue. Admittedly, PvP games and tournaments with great prizes go hand-in-hand. Esports organizations are always on the look out for competitive games.
It is not just the ones that turn up to the tournament to see expert players do their thing while trying to win the big prize; it is also the thousands if not millions that also watch these events online (see the LOL 2013 Finals whose prize was $1m in cash and the upcoming League Of Legends All-Star Event).
To make big money, you either need to be one of those that make the game or one of those running the leagues (or one of those pulling the game-play strings – the player). If accepted, you may earn a livable salary. Plus, you can also benefit from additional income (through live streaming).
MOBAs (Multi Player Online Battle Arenas), such as LOL, Dota 2, and Heroes of the Storm are team games you could consider. They have obsessive fan bases (LOL alone has more than 67 million players per month) and extremely difficult curves. Among the most important games is also CS:GO (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive), a first-person shooter worth taking into account. Of course, there are several other things you can do and make a comfortable living from esports, such as:
- Running a League
Running a league is not an easy task, nor something you can get over with in a couple of hours. It is a lot of fun, though. The idea behind running a successful (and revenue-generating) league is to find a game that can topple LOL and create the best team of players. Getting sponsorships is also a great deal that brings in cash. To do that, you need to find the best players out there to impress with their extraordinary skills. Putting tournaments together is equally critical. One of the tools that can help you organize your next tournament is Battlefly; a management platform that allows you to use a single, simplified interface to organize tournaments, no matter the location of type of game.
- Playing Games
As a player, you can earn quite a bit, especially if you impress sponsors, and, of course, win tournaments. Indicatively, the average salary for an esports player is, at least, $50,000. This demands lots of hours of training every day and paying close attention to your mental and physical health so you can make it at the top level.
Casting is a role that can help you sustain yourself with a competitive salary (average annual salary of $30,000 and up to $100,000, depending on which games you excel in). As esports is an increasingly profitable business, commentators will be needed in excess to make sense of what is going on, on the game map, while interacting with the fans at the same time. In esports, your social media presence is also important (you get instant feedback from your audience). An esports company that develops casting talents is Perfect Alliance.
- Virtual Reality Copywriter
Many key people involved in esports predict that Virtual Reality is highly likely to become the next big source of income in esports. Creating and customizing competitive VR-related content is believed to become the drive force of the new stream of income. So, if you are good with words and love the idea of becoming involved in an industry that can change the way people watch any type of spectator sport, feel free to start sharpening your writing skills and throwing yourself in the virtual stadium to feel the alternative reality and write all about it.
To Get Started: Find a PvP game with heavy interest from esports organizations and lots of tournaments, and practice as much as you can. The better you become at playing a game, the more your chances to earn more than a satisfactory or just-okay salary. The goal is to get your name out there so, once you get better network with other professional gamers.
Remember, playing games as a career takes gaming into another level where, many times, the job aspect outweighs the fun. Nevertheless, you can still find enjoyment in what you do and make a living through playing your favorite games.