Six ways to make money playing video games
Everyone knows there are prizes galore to be won if keen gamers decide to take up the slightly bizarre title of “professional gamer”, with competitions offering large financial rewards for the very best.
But what about if you just want to earn a bit of pocket money from your usual gaming habit without making the leap from “amateur” to “professional”?
Video games forums are awash with what are perhaps somewhat embellished tales of the financial rewards available, but there can be more than a few pennies to be made if you are shrewd.
Do not assume this is easy or some get-rich-quick checklist – if making money from casual gaming was then everyone would be doing it.
But away from the lights of video games competitions, here are six ways to turn your gaming routine into a tidy little earner.
The buying and selling of virtual goods is nothing new, but with some games operating a sort of in-game auction house, there is money to be made.
This method arguably exploded with Diablo III’s, the action role playing game in which characters choose one of five classes (Witch Doctor, Barbarian, Wizard, Monk or Demon Hunter), and are tasked with defeating Diablo, the Lord of Terror.
Sadly makers Blizzard have announced that from March 2014 both its gold and real-money auction houses will be shut down, meaning you have around four months to get stuck in.
Blizzard take $1 out of each sale, as well as another 15 per cent when you pay via PayPal, but some players have claimed they have made as much as $10,000 by harvesting and then selling gold on the auction house.
A Reddit user named WishboneTheDog included screenshots of his PayPal account as proof of his apparent $10,000 earnings.
The user writes: “I have never botted, scammed, used any of the number of exploits, or cheated in any way whatsoever.
“Before this game, I never made any money off of what I did because it was against the rules. Investing and trading in the item markets is part of how I have my fun, it wouldn’t make sense for me to cheat.”
Blizzard said they were removing Diablo III’s auction house as it “undermines Diablo’s core gameplay”.
2) Game testing
Game testing or “play testing” is where large video game companies employ video game testers, who test games in development and report any problems or glitches they discover.
Although this may sound like a perfect job, approach this money-making scheme with caution.
Websites such as The Tough Life of a Games Tester highlight that this is often not particularly well paid, and that you will not necessarily be able to play games you actually like.
All video games testers sign non-disclosure agreements, so bear this in mind – as well as some of the anonymous comments below – before embarking on a job as a “play tester”.
One tester says: “Imagine your favourite movie. Now take your favourite 30-second clip from that movie. Now watch that 30-second clip over and over again, 12 hours a day, every day for two months. When you’ve done that, tell me if what you’ve been doing is watching movies all day.”
Another complains: “They flat-out tell you that what makes a good employee is the number of bugs you find and it is this number that will determine if you are kept on or not.”
Here is one games tester (rather annoyingly) boasting about his job, but also hesitating over what he is able to say.
3) Unofficial guides or walthroughs
Consider yourself an expert? Websites like Killer Guides allows you to write an eBook which you can then sell. You can also try this on Amazon or your own site but the market on Killer Guides is much larger.
Many of the Lord of the Rings game guides – which are often more than 100 pages long, so do not be fooled into thinking it is a quick job – sell for $29.99 (around £18 or £19).
4) Let’s Play videos
Although this is probably overdone, recording videos of you playing games, putting them on YouTube and then monetising them is a possible source of video game income.
However, one thing to watch out for is that for YouTube to allow you to monetise your video, it has to have a running commentary over the entire video, not just snippets or you silently playing the game.
As YouTube’s help pages explain: “Video game content may be monetized if the associated step-by-step commentary is strictly tied to the live action being shown and provides instructional or educational value.
Videos simply showing a user playing a video game or the use of software for extended periods of time may not be accepted for monetization.”
Potential pitfalls are that there is masses of competition out there, and that individual views are not worth much at all, so you need to garner a high number of views to make it worthwhile.
User “PewDiePie”, from Sweden says he is “just a guy… who likes to laugh and make other people laugh”, who shares “gaming moments on YouTube with my bros!” More than that however, his YouTube channel has more than 16 million subscribers, and his videos are regularly viewed from than one million times. It is not clear exactly how much money he makes from the channel, however.
5) Use games as a method of training for your new career
This, admittedly, is the most far-fetched on the list, but in a tiny number of cases it is possible to make the jump from the virtual world to the real world, and make money that way.
Jann Mardenborough, 22, is one such example. The Cardiff teenager was obsessed with racing game Gran Turismo, so he decided to enter a virtual race.
After beating 90,000 virtual drivers he gained his place in the GT Academy – a competition sponsored by Nissan and Sony – he won the chance to drive with Nissan in the Dubai 24 Hour race.
Amazingly, he scored third place in his class, and has gone on to compete in the British GT Championship, the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand, and now in the European Formula Three Championship.
After making the step up from from virtual to real, Jann said: “It felt completely normal. I’d never power-steered a car before, I had only ever done it in a game. I was controlling it just with the throttle and it was completely natural to me.”
One gamer who was not so fortunate, was 25-year-old John Boileau. In 2006 he decided to apply for the job of manager at Middlesbrough, on the basis of his experience with Football Manager 2005, in which he took Nuneaton Borough to the Championship in just eight seasons.
However, club chairman Steve Gibson amusingly replied: “You were of course the oustanding candidate but we decided against your appointment.
“Quite frankly we were of the opinion your tenure with us would have been short-lived, as your undoubted talent would result in one of the big European Clubs seeking your services.”
6) Sell advanced characters
This method is perfect for games like World of Warcraft, where characters are built up with new skills, weapons, magic and other abilities as you play.
The account which sold for $10,000 on World of Warcraft in 2007 was admittedly an extremely rare occurrence. The Night Elf Rogue named Zeuzo was considered one of the most advanced characters in the entire game, out of millions of players.