Does Being a Gamer Actually Pay?

A picture of two pro gamers in a live stream.

 

Getting paid to stream while you sit on your ass and play video games almost seems too good to be true.

Is gaming a get-rich-quick scheme?

Not really.

Can you supplement your income by doing it?

Quite possibly.

Will you make enough money to support yourself?

Uh, maybe. It depends on your skill, charisma, and oh yeah—luck.

Sounds an awful lot like you’re making a Fallout character, but then again if you’re starting out streaming for an audience, you often are building a character to some degree.

Pro Gaming Tournament Prizes

Gaming tournament prize pools in the 2020s can be well into the millions. But there’s not much room for sharing that money at the top.

In the 2019 Fortnite World Cup Finals, while the 16 year old in first place walked away with $3 million, places 11 - 50 “only” walked away with $100,000. The point is, an estimated 40 million people competed.

How good are your skills?

Alternative Income Streams

Anyone who’s tried gaming professionally has found out pretty quickly that unless they’re literally one of the top 50 players on the planet for a (popular) game, they really can’t rely on prize money from tournaments. Smart gamers find alternative income sources to create as much money (and fame) as possible.

Even if someone could consistently come in first place at every gaming competition—what happens when that game inevitably loses popularity?

Unless it’s Starcraft 1—hell, there are still Brood War tournaments today and it came out well before some of the players were born.

Can You / Will You Make Money Streaming?

Fortunately, gamers are nothing if not resourceful (especially RTS gamers—get it? Resources? Anyway.)

Often a professional eSports athlete’s earnings from gaming competitions are nothing compared to the money they make from other income sources like Twitch streaming and sponsorships. (Some people can make a nice income streaming on other services like YouTube, but Twitch still dominates in the gaming world.)

Going back to “charisma,” people who can be charismatic while they’re getting their head blown off by a sniper instead of just grunting or yelling obscenities (unless you’re doing an Angry Video Game Nerd type character) will attract their initial audience the fastest.

If you’re a totally boring person, you better be amazingly skilled to make up for it, or at least wearing cat ears. Your viewers need to have some reason to watch your stream instead of the 8.5 million other streamers on Twitch alone.

You’d think the numbers are stacked against you, but the good news is there are even more people watching gaming streams.

So just like any other form of working for yourself, even if you’re not making nearly $7 million a year like Johan Sundstein (aka N0tail), you can still carve out a nice little lucrative niche if you play your cards—or your guns—right.

A picture of a gaming competition.

Will a Company Want to Sponsor You?

You can tell that eSports are being taken more seriously by the amount of money non-gaming companies are now willing to drop on them—providing six figure incomes for some players, or million dollar sponsorship deals.

Being sponsored/paid to game is definitely a possibility once you pass a certain threshold of popularity, and it’s a solid goal to strive for. But making money through Twitch streaming is much more feasible as a short term, more easily attainable goal.

Even for the biggest celebs in the professional gaming world, streaming regularly continues to be more and more of a necessity.

10 years ago, it’d be rare for a company to feel comfortable doing that, but just like with social media “influencers,” they’ve now realized how lucrative these investments in marketing can be.

That’s great for all the needy big corporations out there (seriously, if you can, throw Google a few bucks and help those kids out over there). But how much will you make?

Seriously, How Much Can You Really Make Gaming?

Let’s look at some real world numbers.

According to CreditDonkey: the typical "expert" streamer makes between $3,000 - $5,000 per month by playing 40 hours per week. Average streamers can expect to make roughly $250 in ad revenue per 100 subscribers... or $3.50 per 1,000 views—to start earning money on Twitch, you need roughly 500 regular viewers.

"Small" streamers on Twitch with 50 - 100 subscribers can earn around $500 a month. The "real money" comes in when you have enough viewers to make money off ad revenue and subscriptions.

From watching a lot of Twitch streams myself, I suspect that those figures are factoring in the “tips” people often throw at gamers left and right when they’re enjoying the stream. Or they just want the gamer to read their message or acknowledge them.

Eventually, a pro tip for getting more tips is to ignore the chat completely and only acknowledge the NPCs when they send a tip your way.

Conclusion

How else can you be a better streamer? Well… getting better at gaming is probably a good place to start. (And if you’re not skilled, you should at least be entertaining.)

Few people would try to deny that caffeine benefits your speed, focus, endurance, and response time when you’re gaming. And the ones who would are probably idiots, or the kind of people who use aimbots in TF2 (unless you do that, then I’m not talking about you—you’re awesome).

Drinking highly caffeinated coffee stimulates the nervous system, providing a temporary overall energy boost—kind of like a stimpack except, you know, it exists.

Besides your fingers and thumbs, your mental performance and cognitive functions can also receive a temporary boost. Thus helping you dominate your competition that much easier.

If you want to take your gaming to the next level—literally—check out Black Insomnia, the world’s strongest coffee with 4x the caffeine.

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