9 ways to make money from playing games
Looking for fun and easy ways to make money? It doesn't get much better than getting paid to play games.
Making money from playing video games is up there as one of the best ways to earn extra cash in your spare time.
Our ideas range from quick ways to make an income from home, to full-time career options. And you don't necessarily need to be a pro gamer to earn money, either (although if you are, some of these tips will apply to you!).
Whatever you're looking for, you're sure to find a money-making idea that suits you.
In this guide, we're not referring to games that rely on luck, yet require you to spend money for the chance to win cash prizes. Games like that are forms of gambling and can lead you to lose money, so they're not ones we'd recommend.
How to get paid to play video games
These are the best ways to make money by playing games:
Play games to earn money on Swagbucks
The more tasks you complete on there, the more SB points you earn. These points can then be redeemed as free gift cards or PayPal money. We explain more about how it works in our Swagbucks review.
There's a wide range of games to choose from.
As we mentioned earlier, we'd advise against playing games that require you to spend money for the chance to win rewards, such as casino or bingo games. However, there are games on Swagbucks that you don't need to pay anything to play.
Check the conditions of how to win SB before playing each game. You might find you need to download an app, reach a certain level and/or progress through the game within a particular timeframe.
There are some free online games that you don't need to download, but it's worth noting that you might not necessarily receive SB every time you play them.
The good news is, if you're a new user and join Swagbucks via the link below, you can get a sign-up bonus.
Become a Twitch streamer
Twitch is a video-streaming site that's heavily focused on video games.
As a Twitch streamer, there's the potential for you to make money by filming yourself playing games.
This won't be for everyone. But, if it appeals to you, it can be a good way to make some extra money in your spare time.
To gain subscribers, you'll need to regularly post fresh and engaging content. If the videos just feature you sitting in silence in front of a video game, this is unlikely to keep a viewer's attention – let alone encourage them to pay to watch your streams.
If you're keen to give it a go, there are loads of ways to make money on the platform. A few examples are receiving bits (Twitch's virtual currency), joining the Twitch Affiliate and Partner programmes and doing affiliate marketing.
The amount streamers earn varies. Although it's possible to get rich if you become one of the leading Twitch creators, not everyone will make huge amounts of money from their streams.
We explain all of this and more in our full guide to making money on Twitch.
Work as a video games tutor
Keen to share your video games expertise with others (and get paid for it)? You could work as a gaming tutor.
As tutoring is flexible work, it should fit easily around your uni timetable.
When deciding on the games to focus on teaching, think about which ones tend to be played in major competitions. This could help you stand out to aspiring pro gamers.
Or maybe you're hoping to become a pro gamer yourself? In which case, see the next tip.
Compete in gaming tournaments to win cash prizes
To win money as a pro esports gamer, you'll need to be at the top of your game (pun intended). And in some competitions, the cash prizes can be pretty huge.
As an example, Dota 2 had a cumulative prize pool of $32.85 million (around £27 million) in 2022 according to Statista.
However, remember that the biggest tournaments will be incredibly competitive. Even if you put a lot of time into preparing for the events, there's still no guarantee you'll take home any prize money.
You might also find there are entry costs for video game tournaments. So, if you're looking for a reliable source of income as a student, a part-time job would be a safer bet.
Having said that though, if you're fortunate enough to get an esports scholarship, this could cover the costs of competing.
Apply for an esports scholarship
Esports scholarships are pretty unusual, but it is possible to get them.
For example, the University of Roehampton offers £2,000 per year to some talented student gamers through their esports scholarships.
They've also introduced the Women in Esports scholarship, which aims to help more women get into the gaming industry. You can find out more on the University of Roehampton's website.
Not all universities offer esports scholarships, so if you're already at uni, you might struggle to find one. But, if you're applying for uni and are keen to pursue a career in esports, this could be something to look out for when choosing which university to go to.
Work as a games tester
Getting paid to play games for a living sounds like a dream. But, for those who work as games testers, this is actually their reality.
When companies develop games, they hire games testers for quality assurance. This job can involve playing games to assess them for things like usability and functionality, and to find bugs that need to be fixed.
You could be testing games on a range of platforms, such as on a games console, mobile, tablet or desktop. And, after testing the games, you'd likely need to present your findings in a report.
To find games testing jobs, it will help if you have a degree in a relevant subject, such as games programming.
It's also possible to do it on a freelance basis via sites like Fiverr.
Make money as a gamer on social media
If you love video games and social media, you can combine these two interests to earn money as a gaming influencer.
This line of work isn't for everyone. For starters, you'd need to be comfortable with sharing content on social media regularly and be skilled at building an audience of online followers.
However, it's a similar principle to making money on Twitch (which we explained more about earlier). If you do like the idea of sharing your gaming experiences with others, this is something to look into.
Making money on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube are all good options for anyone keen to share content about video games online. You could share tips about games or post funny videos that gamers will relate to (or a combination of both).
To get started, check out other gaming influencers on each social media platform for ideas about what style of content works best.
And, for tips on how to monetise your content, see our guide to making money from social media.
Write video game reviews for money
Working as a video games journalist is a brilliant way to combine skills in gaming and writing, and make money from your hobby.
It's possible to make money as a gaming journalist both on a freelance basis and full-time.
But, it's unfortunately not always easy to earn money from writing reviews – especially when you're first starting out.
It's a good idea to start a video games blog. Here, you can review your favourite games and share your thoughts on the latest industry news and events. Then, once you've gained a readership, you can monetise the blog.
Having a blog will help if you're pitching article ideas to magazines and newspapers, or applying for journalism jobs. It will show your capabilities as a writer, as well as your genuine interest in gaming.
For more tips on how to get paid to write reviews, read our guide to making money from writing.
Design video games
Ever dreamed of designing your own game? If you've got an idea for a game, along with the technical skills to create a website or app, this can be an amazing way to earn money. Not to mention, it would look very impressive on your CV.
Admittedly, this tip isn't technically about making money from playing games. But, in order to design a successful and well-formatted game, it will massively help if you're already an experienced gamer.
It will take some time to actually build the game. Once you have, though, you can start making money from it. A few examples of how to earn money from your game include charging people to buy it, offering in-app purchases and including ads.
Think about what monetisation technique would work best for your game. If you're unsure, compare similar games on the market and think about how much they cost to play (if anything) and whether they feature ads.
We know of plenty more easy ways to make money...