How to Make Money in Video Gaming

Are you a video gaming enthusiast? Do you wonder how to make money from your love of gaming? Here are 7 options for freelancing or as a regular job.

The video game industry is burgeoning. The market is expected to pass $159.3 billion for 2020, creating a variety of ways for individuals who enjoy video gaming to make an income – either as a side hustle, through freelancing, creating and licensing original games, or by working as an employee in the gaming industry. Here are the seven ways gaming enthusiasts can make money in the video gaming industry.

1. Gaming YouTuber

Gaming YouTubers record videos of themselves playing different types of video games, depending on the preference of the YouTuber, and upload it to the platform for their viewers to watch and enjoy. You can make some money from the ad revenue but it will primarily come from sponsorships. Making money as a gaming YouTuber can be quite the daunting task.

No matter what kind of qualifications you have, you make very little money when you start out. That’s because the main way YouTubers make money from their videos is through ad revenue, and the average CPM (cost per mille, or in simpler terms, the cost per 1,000 views that an ad gets) is about $.50 to $1.00 depending on a gaming YouTube channel.

Other ways of making money as a gaming YouTuber are through getting sponsorships and selling prerolls. A preroll is a short ad at the beginning of the video where the YouTuber promotes whatever website/business that they’re working with.

YouTubers need a very big following to be able to make money this way. YouTube star MattCS explains in his video titled “How much money do Gaming YouTubers make?” that YouTubers typically charge about $5-$10 CPM for a preroll but this price can go up depending on the relationship between the YouTuber and their sponsor.

Integrations are another great way for YouTubers to make money. Integrations are the same as prerolls, except they last for about 1 to 2 minutes instead of being a maximum of about 30 seconds like prerolls. This allows YouTubers to charge double or even triple for an ad. Finally, gaming YouTubers can be sponsored in a way where they spend an entire video showing off a game or service. The prices the YouTuber charges for these videos varies depending on the service and how the YouTuber feels about promoting it to their audience.

2. Video Game Streamer

A video game streamer is someone who plays video games for several hours live for an audience who watches at home. There are multiple platforms for streamers but the most popular ones for gamers are Twitch and YouTube. Like gaming YouTubers, streamers make money based on how popular they are. For example, if Twitch streamers apply for the Twitch Affiliate program, they can make money from their viewers’ donations, which are similar to tips. Twitch also has a feature where viewers can subscribe to a streamer they like which costs them $5 but in return they get access to special features on that streamer’s broadcasts like emotes.

To make use of this feature, streamers have to be asked to join Twitch’s Partner program. That’s not an easy feat given that there are only about 27,000 Twitch Partners out of the 2.2 million streamers who use the platform. Twitch Partners get 50% of that $5 while Twitch gets the other 50% unless they are a Top Tier Twitch Partner (about 10,000 viewers or more). In that case, they get 70%. On average, expert streamers make about $3,000-$5,000 a month according to Twitch. Additionally, they can make about $250 per 100 subscribers they have from ad revenue if they are Twitch Affiliates.

Finally, like gaming YouTubers, streamers can take sponsorships where they show off a service/game to their fans for a negotiated price. According to top Twitch streamer, Disguised Toast, in his YouTube video titled “How Much MONEY Do Twitch Streamers REALLY Make? (Inside Look from a Top Streamer),” the price of these sponsorships typically ranges from $0.01 to $1 per viewer per hour that the game or service is being showcased.

3. Video Game Reviewer/Journalist

Video game reviewers focus on writing about different aspects of the games that they play. They discuss possible improvements for the game as well as praise what they believe the game did right. Prospective buyers of the game can then read the reviews and decide for themselves if they wish to purchase it. Video game reviewers and journalists make on average about $50,000-$60,000 per year if they decide to go full-time, while freelance gamer reviewers manage to earn just a little less at about $45,000 per year. According to Zip Recruiter, the national average is $49,459 per year.

4. Video Game Developer

It is many a young gamer’s dream to spend their lives creating video games. However, becoming an independent video game developer (and laying the foundation with a video game developer LLC) is difficult because of the many different skills and talents required to create a video and the cost of producing and marketing a video. The many different skills and can be costly to successfully build and market a video game. Thus, video game developers tend to either work as freelancers for bigger companies or become employees of those bigger companies.

The primary task of game developers is to turn a game concept into the actual game through coding and programming. However, many game developers are also involved with the writers and designers in developing the concepts and story for the game. According to Zip Recruiter, freelance game developers earn an average of $92,894, while employees’ earnings are a little higher at $101,644 per year.

5. Video Game Animator

Do you have a passion for art and want to take that passion into the video game industry? Game animators use their skills in art and technology to create everything from the environments where games take place to designing models making those models come alive as characters with their own movements and behavior. They need to be able to communicate properly with a team of other animators and artists to develop visual effects as well. Freelance video animators charge by the hour, the project, or the number of finished minutes of the animation. Zip Recruiter reports that freelance animators average $64,598, but there are some who make considerably more. As a paid employee, the average salary is $51,259.

6. Video Game Writer

Video game writers develop the stories of video games as well as write the dialogue between characters and construct the world that the story of the game takes place in. Being a video game writer involves lots of research as one needs to properly understand the concepts the game is about and the time period it takes place in. The entire team behind the video game can all contribute their own ideas to the game’s story, but it’s the writer’s job to put it all together into one plot. Then when the game’s production is wrapping up, it is the writer’s job to playtest the game and ensure that their work and ideas are well represented.

When it comes to being a video game writer, the primary skill you need is creative writing. However, since only big AAA games, which are heavily story-driven with a fairly large budget, actually need full-time writers, it is still incredibly handy for video game writers to have experience in game design. Having some experience in game design could help you land a job or freelance work on a smaller video game team.

As a freelancer, video game writers typically don’t make much money. Most projects advertised on Upwork are looking for writers to work for flat rates as low as $100 or less per project. But that is a way to gain experience. Video game writers who become full-time employees earn an average of $69,486 per year according to

7. Video Game Tester

Are you interested in experiencing the newest video game releases years before they’re ever released to the public? While it’s true that you get to play video games while they’re still being developed, the task of a video game tester is much more complex than that. Their job is to complete every conceivable action in every single level of the game to ensure that it works properly and that there are no bugs or glitches. It is extremely repetitive as testers must be able to repeat the actions that led to a glitch if they encounter one in order to pinpoint to the development team what exactly needs to be fixed. Video game testers also must have well-developed writing and communication skills to concisely indicate the glitches that are discovered and accurately describe them.

According to Glassdoor, on average video game testers make about $53,030 per year. Becoming a video game tester is a phenomenal way to get into the video game industry. Even if working as a video game tester isn’t your end goal, it gives you experience and allows you to make contacts in the industry, perhaps while still attending college. 

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