Next-gen titles are $70, the best Steam Deck is $649, and you still can’t get an RTX 3080 for under a grand.
It’s expensive to be a gamer these days.
Therefore, if you’re smart, you might be thinking of ways you can turn your gaming hobby into cash. Your mind might’ve first jumped to streaming, but you know it’s hard out there for a new streamer.
So how can you make money gaming? Keep reading.
1. Become a gaming coach
Multiplayer has exploded in popularity lately – and where there’s competition, there’s a demand for coaching.
If you’re especially good at a particular game and have video proof to back up your claims, you can offer up one-on-one coaching on platforms like Upwork and Fiverr.
Coach kamilkamiskl on Fiverr, for example, charges $50 per 90-minute session to watch your Valorant stream and critique your gameplay. His services are clearly popular, as he has 389 reviews and 17 orders currently in his queue.
Coach chris_alph, also on Fiverr, specializes in fighting games like Tekken 7 and Street Fighter, and charges $20 per 1-hour session. Judging by his 15 reviews, he’s already secured a handful of satisfied, paying clients.
So although you technically wouldn’t be playing these games, coaching other players up to your skill level can be both financially and intrinsically rewarding. $20 to $35 an hour is a solid hourly rate in the gaming world, too.
2. Try YouTube Gaming and Facebook Gaming
Most gaming journalists agree: Twitch is still king in 2021.
The massively popular platform continues to be the mecca of video game streaming, attracting nearly 1.2 billion visits from streamers, viewers, and lucrative sponsors last month alone, according to SimilarWeb metrics.
But Twitch’s overwhelming popularity has made it extremely difficult for new streamers to attain followers and eke out a living. According to Consulting.com, you’ll need at least 500 regular viewers to start making money on Twitch, and after the platform takes their 50% cut, your take-home can be as little as $0.01 per viewer per hour.
By contrast, Twitch’s competitors may have fewer viewers – but they also have less competition.
According to data compiled by Streamlabs, YouTube Gaming and Facebook Gaming have fewer hours watched – this should come as no surprise.
However, they also have significantly fewer unique channels. For example, YouTube Gaming may only account for 22.5% of all streaming hours viewed, but the platform has less than a tenth of the unique channels of Twitch.
So if you’re looking to earn cash from streaming content, you may want to consider starting on a platform that has a much better streamer-to-viewer ratio.
3. Become a QA/game tester
Imagine being an astronaut, cop, or Supreme Court justice asking your seven-year-old what they want to be when they grow up, and they say:
“A video game tester!”
True, countless Millennials and Gen Zers wanted to be video game testers when we were kids, and today, making that a reality is probably easier than you think. Easier than becoming a Supreme Court justice, at least.
By definition, as a video game QA contractor, you’ll be playing broken games and helping devs fix them.
You can find part-time or short-term video game testing work on sites like Upwork, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn. Gig site Upwork even has a whole page dedicated to video game testing jobs:
Most video game QA gigs are remote and only require a high school degree and fluency in English – so if you’re reading this, you’re probably qualified to be a pro video game tester.
Video game testing gigs can pay around $8 to $20 per hour, and thankfully, most of the gigs posted on Upwork, LinkedIn, et al. will show you the expected earnings upfront.
4. Complete GameFAQs Bounties
If you already enjoy writing walkthroughs of games, GameFAQs may pay you for your work.
Like any hub city in an open-world RPG, video game walkthrough site GameFAQs has its own bonafide bounty board. Instead of beheading the local bandit chieftain, however, GameFAQs will compensate you to write walkthroughs of new games.
The “bounty” for being the first to write a comprehensive game guide can range anywhere from $200 for a 10-hour game like Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart to $750 for a 100-hour game like Persona 5.
If you’re nervous that another guide-writer will claim the bounty before you, you can actually apply for a “lock” on the bounty to be granted exclusive rights.
As long as you make decent progress on the guide, GameFAQs will honor your lock.
Considering it may take you 30-50 hours to write a guide for a 10-hour game, $200 may not be worth it. But if you’re already playing the hell out of Story of Seasons and walking other players through it, you might as well document your tips for cash!
5. Try games that pay you to play
Have you ever heard of those sites that will pay you to play simple games and take surveys?
They sound fishy, but some of them are totally legit. MU30 has covered them extensively.
Swagbucks is the most legit of them all, cultivating a following of 20 million regular users and offering multiple ways to farm a trickle of cash. You can earn around $3 to $4 an hour by watching videos, taking surveys, and playing simple arcade games like slots, Plinko, and Scrabble.
BigBrain is a trivia app with cash prizes and 20 live events every day. Launched by a former Who Wants To Be A Millionaire contestant who won $100,000, BigBrain seeks to fill the void left by HQ Trivia, which went bust in 2020.
6. Become a gaming journalist
Are you both a gamer and a writer? If so, you might enjoy full- or part-time work as a game journalist!
According to ZipRecruiter, game journalists make an average annual salary of around $50k or $23.78 an hour. The good folks at IGN obviously make more than that, and someone just starting out may have to accept less.
But once you sink your teeth in and start building a reputation with multiple clients, you can make good money covering industry news, reviews, and the occasional op-ed/rant!
Another benefit to becoming a video game journalist is that you may start getting free review codes of the newest games, complimentary swag from publishers, and even invites to exclusive industry events and reveals.
7. Save before you earn
Hey, saving is the same as earning, right? If you’re spending less gaming, you’re putting cash back in your pocket.
I’m pretty passionate about frugal gaming, so here are five of my top tips:
- Sign up for first-party rewards programs. Microsoft Rewards, and Nintendo Rewards can offer you up to 5% cash back on the games you’re already buying.
- Buy game codes on third-party sites. Sites like eBay and CDKeys.com will sell you region-free codes for digital downloads at 10% to 60% off MSRP, even at launch.
- Never buy a new game. $70+ for a next-gen title is ludicrous, and you should never have to pay it. Wait two weeks for a used copy to pop up on Facebook Marketplace for $50.
- Buy titles you’re not sure about through GameStop Pre-owned. Not sure if you’ll like a game enough to commit to a full purchase? GameStop lets you return preowned games within seven days.
- Subscribe to gaming deal subreddits. Check out r/PS4Deals, r/GreatXboxDeals, and r/NintendoSwitchDeals for a steady stream of deals and discounts that you might’ve otherwise missed.
The more popular gaming becomes, the more paying jobs it produces. From streaming on Facebook to contract writing to part-time QA testing, there are plenty of opportunities out there for gamers looking to subsidize their spending.