16 Ways to Make Real Money Playing Video Games & eSports in 2022

Updated: Jan 19

In the early 2000s, earning a living from gaming was considered a dream. The gaming industry had restricted monetization opportunities, not merely for players but also game publishers and developers.

Furthermore, the eSports industry was in its infancy, and competitive gaming was barely known outside a core group of very engaged fans and players.

Things have since changed, and eSports has increasingly grown in popularity, with multi-million dollar tournaments held across the globe. It isn't just limited to competitive gaming either. There's been a dramatic increase in the number of people who've made lucrative careers through live-streaming video game content on popular websites such as YouTube and Twitch.

If you're looking to generate an income from your favorite pastime, here are some great avenues to consider.

16 Ways to Make Money Through Gaming

1. Quality Assurance Tester

Ultimately, video games are the outcome of computer programming - getting a computer to render graphics correctly, animate characters, allow players to communicate, carry out complex AI operations - the list is endless.

To accomplish this, game design studios require testers to play their pre-release games and offer a comprehensive review of the various key metrics of their product.

That's where a quality assurance tester comes in.

Developers and designers need to understand users' sentiments about an upgraded version of a popular game or a new game and not merely whether some technical issues exist. Video game companies depend on external testing panels for game exploration, especially during late-phase development but before the game's public launch.

In an era of digital launches and widespread social media discussion, these testers can help detect and fix issues that would otherwise result in a botched launch, which in turn could be catastrophic for sales figures and the game studio's reputation.

Quality testers don't merely play a game through to the highest possible level. Instead, they play different builds and designs numerous times to determine the most addictive and satisfying gameplay loops and how well specific systems integrate.

When testers have nothing significant to report, then the game is ready for launch.

Remember that most QA tester roles are contract-based, so this is not an option if you are looking for stable employment or to get rich quickly. Nonetheless, payment ranges between $10 and $15 hourly, which is better than the average minimum-wage job - and certainly more fun.

2. Creating Gaming Tutorials

You can generate money by offering tutorials on how to play video games. Your streaming site or YouTube channel will earn money from visitors that click on it. Most newbies to a game enjoy reading guides, particularly for competitive multi-player games.

In the past, experts wrote gaming guides and tutorials in the form of blogs or ebooks. However, most modern tutorial-makers prefer using YouTube. While this initially took precedence because of the freedom video editing gave creators, it also profoundly resonated with an audience thanks to the advent of live-streamed Q&A sessions, quick tips & tricks through Youtube Shorts, and the relatively hassle-free earning methods.

Ebooks generally work best for older, niche games such as World of Warcraft but have largely been phased out as the industry becomes much more digital. On the other hand, video content creators can benefit through Youtube's ad monetization plans or opt for external patronage through websites such as Patreon.

Getting Started

Anybody can write a guide. But, to generate any money from this approach, you'll have to develop guides for popular video games first by choosing a niche or genre, then playing through the game while recording footage, and recording voiceovers while editing your footage.

The best and most popular game guide channels cover popular titles, make brief yet effective content, inject personality and valuable information into their scripts, and upload new content regularly.

However, the more popular a game is, the stiffer the competition. To distinguish your guides, you'll have to provide more insight, which implies more investment in terms of time to set yourself up as an expert.

Furthermore, you'll need to have strong writing and editing skills - depending on the game's complexity. You'll also have to understand how to explain several overlapping concepts in a reasonable time frame, or your channel's growth will soon plateau.

The best way to understand which content to work on is to establish a particular niche - let's say you enjoy strategy games such as those created by Paradox Studios. You can then interact with other players on the forums to find common beginner issues, make a list of potential tutorial videos, and then write your general script.

In games where multi-players exist, aim for leveling guides, gold guides, raid guides, or newbie tips. For single-player guides, you'll probably be more successful with focused guides on topics such as earning a particular trophy or pulling off a 'challenge run.'

3. Game Tester

The most fundamental distinction between a quality assurance tester and a game tester is that the former deals with a product that's already met a particular quality level as desired by developers.

On the other hand, a game tester focuses primarily on troubleshooting programming errors rather than the entire gameplay experience. Often, new generations of games come with brand new video game engines - while these do offer ever-increasing levels of graphical fidelity, AI customization, and more, they also introduce several systems that may conflict during gameplay scenarios.

As a tester, your role is to execute these scenarios, test new ideas that the programming teams come up with, and report any bugs or errors that you find in the software.

Nowadays, it isn't too hard to become a tester. However, it can be mind-numbing. Playing to break games deliberately can become boring quickly, particularly if you need to continuously check the same places or stages after each revision.

If you have a knack for programming, it might be exciting, but if you're constantly looking for novelty in your video game experiences, you might find it too much of a challenge.

Unlike a quality assurance tester, you aren't playing a mostly-finished product - you're helping programmers find out where they've made mistakes.

The pay isn't too high either, and unless you can secure an internal position with a large game development company, it's not always going to be easy. Most of the available in-house testing positions are for mobile games - which may not be your end goal.

Getting Started

To land a role as an internal tester at a company, you'll need to browse job boards, research organizations for open positions and send applications while hoping for the best. When it comes to on-demand playtesting, consider services such as beta testing.

4. Become a Professional Gamer

These days, professional gamers compete worldwide and win millions at events sponsored by the likes of Intel Extreme Masters and the Major League Gaming (MLG) circuit.

MLG has arenas across the country where live streaming of professional gaming takes place. Furthermore, it has communities and scouts on the internet to discover untapped players - many of whom were dedicated streamers and community favorites. At the same time, some were relatively obscure names that catapulted to fame during open tournaments.

The best thing to do to become a professional is to choose a game that you genuinely enjoy and regularly practice in competitive formats. From there, work on building your reputation as a skilled player as well as a team player before you can start participating in eSports.