How Do Professionals Make Money Playing Video Games?

It was always a childhood dream, for anyone who had ever played a gaming console, to grow up and get paid to play. Yet for a long time it seemed like the job market just would not allow it.

The only viable option available a couple of decades ago might have been a game developer or tester, but nowadays it’s not uncommon to hear tales of teenage superstars scooping million dollar prizes. There are actually many ways to make money playing video games. This is the 21st century after all.

The first method of making money can be achieved by anyone who has the right kind of game, and the sheer willpower and gumption to see it through: farming in-game items and gold. That’s right, all of that WoW gold can be sold for real gold that you can use to buy a real sandwich. Games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offense even encourage it, and Diablo III has an in-game auction for this.

The only problem with farming items and gold, is that it takes a very long time and reaps a pretty minimal reward. You would need millions of WoW gold to walk away with any substantial money. This isn’t really the territory of true professional gamers, but rather of game enthusiasts that want to make a little on the side.

A more lucrative market exists for gamers who decide to record their gaming sessions, and make them public using YouTube or Twitch. A simple ‘Let’s Play…’ video can accumulate thousands of views, and eventually views lead to advertising deals and sponsorships, which leads to money. And the money isn’t half bad. Take the case of well known YouTube gamer PewDiePie, who has amassed tens of millions of subscribers and views and makes millions of dollars playing video games.

Of course, the most serious gaming professionals are the high-level players in eSports, a growing industry which now pays out extreme multi-million dollar prizes to its participants. eSports is exciting because, technically, anyone can get involved. You just have to be good enough to compete and beat the millions of other gaming enthusiasts from around the world who are looking to do the same.

There are literally thousands of eSports games that have paid prize pool tournaments, but there are a handful in particular that have gained traction as the biggest names in the industry. DOtA 2 in particular captures the limelight with over $100 million given away to winners so far.

DOtA 2 is a sequel to Defense of the Ancients, the community-modification for Warcraft III. The game sees two teams of five players choose a hero from 113 playable characters, each of which has their own attributes and unique abilities. This makes for immense strategic flexibility as capable teams undergo epic battles as they aim to destroy their enemies’ ‘Ancient’ structure.

The International Tournament of 2015 had a prize pool of $18.4 million, with winning team Evil Geniuses taking home $6 million. To put this in perspective, major DOtA events now offer more prize money than the SuperBowl and Golf Masters; it really is big business!

Other notable eSports games include League of Legends, Counter Strike: Global Offense, and Starcraft II, each of which has given away tens of millions of dollars in prizes.

Before the eSports revolution, there was online poker, which remains a popular game that professionals play to make money at a number of different levels: from the sit and go grinder who makes a living wage, to the pros who win life-changing pots or tournaments. There are sites that have long been a go-to arena for strategic minds, and players often rake in millions in huge tournaments, or even in quick five minute sessions.

The rise of eGaming and eSports has opened up a new avenue for people who are serious about making a living with video games, and for those who can’t make it to the arena competitions there are many methods to turn a hobby into an income. We didn’t think the day would come, but video gaming is now a viable career option. Just practice long and hard before you think about quitting your day job.

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