It wasn’t long ago that we looked at gaming exclusively as a hobby. We played games just for fun, and that was that. While this may still be the case for the vast majority of gamers though, the nature of the hobby has shifted over time. Now, people who are particularly skilled at or interested in gaming are beginning to treat it more like a job.
This isn’t a trend that’s exclusive to some elite inner circle of famous professional gamers, either. There is enough money floating around in gaming these days that droves of people are exploring the option of entering the arena as a profession. According to a report on CBS News, there are even colleges that are now offering degree programs in eSports, effectively allowing students to work gaming into their university education.
How Gamers Profit Off Their Prowess
But how do people actually end up making profits off of their gaming prowess? The truth is there are a lot of possibilities, and there will only be more moving forward. For the most part, though, four options stand out.
1. Professional eSports
Professional eSports competition is what most people think of first concerning the question of how gamers can earn a profit these days. And while this can be a tough environment to break into, there are a lot of opportunities. Games like Dota 2, League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Fortnite, and more have amassed massive communities of professional and semi-professional teams and players.
As of now, most of the real money — the kind one can turn into legitimate income — is concentrated toward the top. But for those gamers proficient in these or a few other games, the possibility of a professional career is there.
2. Sponsorships & Licensed Material
Sponsorships and licensed materials are really only just beginning to emerge among modern professional gamers. But this is another route to profits that have already proven to be fruitful among a previous generation of professional gamers. There’s a conversation to be had about the poker pros of the 2000s really ushering in the notion of making a career in online gaming, and a number of them made fortunes in the millions.
That said, a Poker.org list of the highest earners from online poker’s heyday reveals that in some cases, marketing and side businesses made these players as much money as the actual game of poker. Sponsorships from major poker platforms and licensed side projects (like Daniel Negreanu’s PC poker game) helped them to rake in money, and modern online gamers can in some cases explore similar options.
Streaming is another avenue that’s opened up particularly in the last few years for gamers seeking profits. For those who establish themselves as competitive players or even enjoyable personalities within the gaming world, there are numerous ways to make money through streaming. These include generating ad revenue, spreading the word about merchandise or sponsored content, or in some cases even selling subscriptions to viewers.
Naturally, it takes time (and sustained success) for games to get to the point at which streaming is a serious option. But a ScreenRant piece on top game streamers reveals that the best of them can now make well over $10 million in a single year.
4. Account Sales
For lack of a better way to put it, this is a less official option. But some gamers have also found that they can make money by selling accounts for certain games. Particularly in the mobile arena, there are a lot of RPG, fighting, and adventure-style games in which one can only truly be competitive by putting in long hours and heavy investment.
In some cases, gamers who have taken the time to build up strong accounts (for example, collecting top fighters in an RPG) will actually sell or auction off said accounts for cash. It’s by no means a guaranteed or steady source of income, and those exploring this option should be mindful they’re not violating games’ terms of service. But it is one more way in which some gamers have been able to make money.
All of these have become legitimate options for modern gamers, and it’s likely that the era of professional gaming is only just beginning.