From Call of Duty to Overwatch to Fortnite to Counter-Strike, the world of gaming is more than just an online subculture now—for some people, in fact, it’s actually become a lucrative source of income. Professional gamers, who compete in eSport tournaments or achieve fame on platforms such as YouTube and Twitch, could earn millions of dollars at the peak of their careers. The eSports industry overall grossed a revenue of $1.5 billion in 2017, reports USA Today, and this number is projected to reach more than $2 billion in 2021.
Moreover, USA Today continues, the winners of eSport competitions have been known to collect $5-, $10- or even $24-million rewards which are then divided between members of the champion league. In addition, the 10 most popular game streamers and creators on Twitch earned a collective $23 million in 2018, based on data from last year’s TwitchCon in San Jose, California. So what catapults some of these professional gamers to extraordinary levels of wealth and success? Here is a breakdown of the trends in gaming as an occupation and how career gamers have monetized this hobby.
Who Is Most Inclined to Pursue Gaming as a Career?
Because many of those in the Millennial generation are considered digital natives—people who were exposed to the internet early in life—it stands to reason, the majority of gamers who pursue this career ambition are Millennials. In a recent survey from the website Chumba Casino, 63% of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 “express a desire to turn their favorite pastime into a job.”
The survey also found that gamers older than 35 are more of hobbyists than aspiring professionals, with just 44% interested in this as a vocation. It also seems that men have an increased likelihood of pursuing this over women. 64% of male gamers indicate they want to monetize, as opposed to their female counterparts at 53%. These results imply this career has both gender and generational nuances, but this does not mean only 18- to 34-year-old men have a chance to be successful in the gaming industry.
How Can You Earn Money as a Professional Gamer?
To reach the tournament level of eSports requires “many hours of practice, immense skill and fast fingers,” notes an article in the BBC. There is a reason the monetary prizes in these competitions are so enormous—because the expertise among contestants is remarkably advanced. As the BBC continues, “The average person completes about 100 actions per minute during a game, but professionals average between 350 and 500.” If you can attain this height of proficiency, then join a competitive league and enter a tournament, but here are some other, more accessible ways to monetize this pursuit too.
Become a Twitch Partner
If you are a Twitch creator who actively streams content, and is working to increase your audience on the platform, then you could meet the criteria to be a Twitch Partner. This means you can charge other Twitch users to subscribe to your channel on a tier of $4.99, $9.99 or $24.99. In addition, you can also earn a portion of the revenue when users purchase “Bits,” a virtual currency that enables them to “Cheer” on your efforts. The third monetary benefit of this Twitch Partnership is you can share in a percentage of the revenue from advertisements that are shown on your channel.
Obtain Brand Sponsorships
Influencer marketing has become a popular source of income on various websites or social media outlets, and the gaming industry is no exception. As your audience of viewers broadens—or you cultivate a niche following—a business could take notice of this and capitalize on your influence to promote their brand. Conversely, when endorsing their product, you earn a revenue commission from the business’s sales when people use your affiliate links or discount codes to make a purchase. Many brands also cover the expenses for you to enter an eSport tournament.
Work as a Game Developer
Outside the realm of earning money to participate in games, you can build a career out of game creation too. If you are proficient in software engineering, computer science, coding and programming, or a similar arena, then you could seek a job in the game development industry. The role of this position is to design, create and optimize the audiovisual qualities, operating systems, narrative features and mechanic functionalities of a game. Since this job is trendy and in-demand, Glassdoor estimates the annual median salary of a game developer to be around $101,932 as of 2019.