Can You Make Money Playing Video Games? 5 Ways To Make Money Gaming

YouTube is one of the most popular places for making money playing video games.
Courtesy of


This guide’s purpose is to give answers to the following questions:

  • Can you make money playing video games?
  • How much do gamers make?
  • How can you make money playing video games?

Below, you will find an overview of a number of popular methods for money-making with video games along with their income-earning potential.


Can You Make Money Playing Video Games?

A range of ways to make money playing video games exists – each with its monetization options, income potential, and challenges.

The video game niche is one of the most profitable areas in the entertainment industry. In December 2020, MarketWatch reported that the video game industry was on its way to becoming a bigger moneymaker than the film industry and North American sports combined. MarketWatch added that the video game industry was expected to reach $179.7 billion in revenue in 2020 – 20% higher than in 2019.

In the 2010s, the immense success of gaming-focused YouTubers – such as PewDiePie (over 111 million subscribers as of the time of this writing) – has popularized gaming as a professional activity. Additionally, video game developers and publishers started viewing gaming YouTubers and content creators on other platforms as promotional channels for their video games.


How Much Can A Gamer Make?

Income potential from video games depends on the way an individual chooses to monetize playing games. Esports players may earn $3,000 to $5,000 per month in salaries and hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars from esports competitions, while the earnings of top Let’s Players on YouTube reach and exceed $15 million per year.


What Games Give You Real Money?

Some of the games that feature cash prizes include:

A number of platforms that pay users real money in exchange for playing games exist as well. These include Swagbucks, Mistplay, and InboxDollars.


How Can You Make Money Playing Video Games?

This section describes a number of ways to make money by playing video games. Players may choose to focus on one method or combine several of them to maximize their earnings.


Creating Video Game Content For YouTube

YouTube is one of the most popular places for making money playing video games.
Courtesy of


Gamers may create a wide range of videos for YouTube, including:

  • Let’s Plays, which are video game walkthroughs with a heavy emphasis on the player’s commentary and subjective experiences.
  • Walkthroughs and strategy guides, which are primarily aimed at providing viewers with tips, strategies, and solutions to in-game challenges.
  • Longplays, which are walkthroughs where the player aims to complete and explore a game as fully as possible.
  • Speedruns, where the player aims to complete a game in the shortest time possible with or without leveraging cheats, bugs, and exploits.

YouTube offers a number of monetization options for content creators:

  • AdSense advertisements on eligible videos.
  • Memberships through which YouTubers may provide perks to their users, such as membership badges, access to member-only chat, and others. Content creators themselves choose what benefits to offer to their paying members.
  • Super Chat & Super Stickers, which are highlighted chat messages in the chat feed during live streams.
  • YouTube Premium. YouTube distributes some of its revenue generated through the Premium subscription to creators. Content creators’ earnings depend on how much Premium members watch their content.

YouTube additionally allows content creators to feature their merchandise on their channels via the merch shelf feature.

Notably, game videos on YouTube have a much lower CPM (cost per mille) than videos in other categories, which is partially due to gaming’s popularity, according to CBR. CBR specifies that “a decent gaming content gaming channel” makes just over $0.50 per thousand views on average, while videos about pets, business, or beauty/fashion earn between $2 to $24.

YouTube’s highest-earning video game creators earn millions of dollars annually. According to Forbes, 2019’s ten highest-paid video game YouTubers were:

  1. Ninja (Tyler Blevins) – $17 million.
  2. PewDiePie (Felix Kjellberg) – $15 million.
  3. Preston (Preston Arsement) – $14 million.
  4. Markiplier (Mark Fischbach) – $14 million.
  5. Shroud (Michael Grzesiek) – $12.5 million.
  6. DanTDM (Daniel Middleton) – $12 million.
  7. VanossGaming (Evan Fong) – $11.5 million.
  8. Jacksepticeye (Sean McLoughlin) – $11 million.
  9. TimTheTatman (Timothy Betar) – $8 million.
  10. Nickmercs (Nick Kolcheff) – $6 million.

Note that these figures are pretax and may include earnings from sources other than YouTube. Forbes writes that the estimates are based on SocialBlade, TwitchTracker, Captiv8, and Pollstar.


Streaming On Twitch

Twitch is another popular platform where streamers may make money playing video games.
Courtesy of


Twitch is a live streaming platform with a focus on video games. It is a subsidiary of Amazon and a competitor of YouTube.

Similar to YouTube, Twitch offers several monetization options to streamers through its Partnership Program:

  • Channel subscriptions. Twitch Partner content creators can earn revenue by accepting paid subscriptions from their viewers (ranging from $4.99 to $24.99 per month).
  • Bits. Bits are a virtual currency that viewers may buy and donate (“Cheer”) to content creators. Content creators receive 1 cent per Bit donated to them.
  • Advertisements. Partners may enable advertisements for their content for additional income.

According to Dot Esports, the top ten highest-paid Twitch streamers in 2020 were:

  1. XQc – $1,984,000.
  2. Nickmercs – $1,737,535.
  3. Ibai – $1,373,605.
  4. Odablock – $1,298,619.
  5. TimTheTatman – $1,210,739.
  6. AuronPlay – $1,209,556.
  7. TheRealKnossi – $1,068,310.
  8. HasanAbi – $1,062,826.
  9. RonnieRadke – $971,978.
  10. Castro_1021 – $966,387.

The estimates are based on subscription statistics from TwitchTracker and donation statistics from TwitchStats.


Becoming An Esports Gamer

Total prize pools of a number of esports titles.
Courtesy of


Esports (also electronic sports) allows players and teams of players to engage in video games professionally. Popular esports games include Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Fortnite, and League of Legends.

The popularity of esports has started quickly increasing in the early 2010s with the rise of streaming platforms like Twitch, according to The Verge. According to a Forbes report, the viewership of esports tournaments went from the hundreds to hundreds of the thousands in 2012.

In March 2021, Newzoo estimated that esports would grow to $1.084 billion in revenues in 2021, with $833.6 million coming from media rights and sponsorships. The global live streaming audience was expected to hit 728.8 million.

According to Dot Esports, prize pools in esports can be in the tens of millions. In June 2021, Dot Esports listed the top ten highest prize pools in esports:

  1. The International 9 – $34.3 million.
  2. The 2019 Fortnite World Cup Finals – $30.4 million.
  3. The 2018 League of Legends World Championship – $6.4 million.
  4. The 2020 Call of Duty League Championship – $4.6 million.
  5. The 2020 Honor of Kings World Champion Cup – $4.6 million.
  6. The 2019 PUBG Global Championship – $4 million.
  7. Fortnite Fall Skirmish Series – Clubs Standings – $4 million.
  8. Overwatch League 2019 – Playoffs – $3.5 million.
  9. The Dota 2 Asia Championship – $3 million.
  10. The Dota 2 Valve Majors – $3 million.

The highest-paid players in the esports industry include Johan “N0tail” Sundstein (Dota 2), Jesse “JerAx” Vainikka (Dota 2), and chess grandmaster Sven Magnus Carlsen (Chess24). The earnings of the top esports players range from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, according to a 2021 esportsbets report.


Making Money Playing Online Games With Cash Prizes

Axie Infinity.
Axie Infinity is one example of an online game that allows players to make money. Courtesy of


Several online-based games offer cash prizes to their players.

A prominent example is blockchain-based games, such as Axie Infinity. Axie Infinity has become particularly popular in developing countries – particularly in the Philippines where it has allowed many to escape poverty.

In games like Axie Infinity, players may earn money by selling in-game assets, trading rate items, and participating in tournaments.

A range of non-blockchain-based games exists as well, including Paytm First Games, Qureka, My11Circle, and Such games are typically centered around card games, esports, and tournaments.

Note that games with monetary prizes may require a certain initial investment, whether in the form of bets (in card games like poker) or in the form of requirements to purchase in-game assets to start playing (Axie Infinity).


Becoming A Video Game Journalist

Video game journalism is a form of journalism that focuses on video games. Among other things, video game journalism incorporates:

  • Video game reviews.
  • Announcements.
  • Coverage of game events and updates.
  • Coverage of industry news.

A distinguishing feature of video game journalism is that it involves not only gaming but also:

  • Communication with game developers for research purposes.
  • Attending conventions to provide coverage of events.
  • Pitching of article ideas to editors.
  • Writing and collaboration with editors to finalize articles before publishing.
Here's how much money US video game journalists make.
Courtesy of


According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary of a video game journalist in the United States was approximately $50,000 as of late July 2021. 1% of video game journalists earn close to $130,000, while over 70% earn less than $50,000.



To find out more about moneymaking opportunities with video games, visit popular online video & streaming platforms such as YouTube and Twitch. Additionally, review games that offer cash prizes.

Note that professional video gamers often combine sources of revenue to maximize their earnings. As an example, many esports Twitch streamers are present on YouTube and have sponsorship agreements with major game developers or publishers.





Related Posts:

Making Money With Axie Infinity

How To Make Money With Roblox

Money-Making Guide For Substack