Thursday, March 7, 2013

Making Money Playing Video Games

So you play a lot of  video games and you want to know how you can make money doing it?  Well beyond going to school to learn to specialize in getting into the gaming industry itself or being a professional gamer, maybe that's a little beyond your current situation at the moment.  I want to emphasize what you read here isn't going to change your life overnight.  It's not going to bandage the hole in your pocket and is meant mostly to guide you with some supplemental income just for doing something you already do (play video games). In other words, don't quit your day job.  Also age requirement for some of the methods below require you to be of legal age which is usually 18+ depending on your country.


Youtube is one of the most well known ways to play video games and make money but to be honest it's not that easy. Once you apply for an Adsense account you are one step closer to monetizing your videos.  Youtube is very strict in what you can monetize and many game companies are putting up copyright claims on video game footage so most of the time you have to get permission or find something in the video game's license agreement or terms of use that doesn't say you can't make videos.  A good way to avoid this is that you really need to have a goal in mind as raw gameplay videos aren't going to earn you anything because they will usually get rejected for monetization.  So by goal I am referring to the type of content you want to present to the viewer.  For example you could do a review of a game or another example would be to make a comprehensive strategy guide for a particular boss fight in a game that you have played.  As long as you are somewhat informational and educating the viewer then it should be easier to convince youtube that the video game footage is being used under "fair use" copyright laws.

Youtube isn't going to make you instant cash because someone with 0 subscribers will find it hard to get views on their videos.  So you need to build an audience which will take time and you need to label and tag your videos very well so that search engines can find your video.  You can also post a few interesting gameplay videos which you don't monetize but can bring your channel to their attention and from those more popular videos you can link annotations to your other videos which you are trying to monetize.

So to start off capturing and encoding video game footage for Youtube you'll need to get a few programs and maybe some external equipment to make decent video game videos.  So below is a basic list of what you'll need, i'll list mostly free programs that you can start off with but if you do get serious consider investing in some of the better paid programs.  Console game capture requires investing in a capture device such as a capture card or external video capture box. While PC game capture requires more of a higher performance desktop which can handle the stress of real time encoding while playing a game at the same time.  Video editing also requires an investment to make higher quality videos but it's possible to use free programs to make an enjoyable video.

PC Game Capture
-free- Open Broadcaster - MSI Afterburner - Razer Game Booster
-paid- Fraps - DXtory - Bandicam - Xsplit

Console / Capture Device - Elgato Game Capture HD - AVerMedia Live Gamer HD - Hauppauge HD PVR 2 Gaming Edition

Video Editing Programs
-free- Windows Movie Maker - Avidemux - Microsoft Expression Encoder 4(some options locked under pay-wall) - EZvid
-paid- Adobe Premiere Elements 11 - Sony Movie Studio Platinum Suite 12 - Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 - Vegas Pro 12

Microphone / Headset
You can use basically whatever you want but I personally use a Blue Yeti USB Microphone because I enjoy the quality of the sound it records.

Live Streaming

Beyond Youtube you can also try your hand at live streaming which has been gaining a larger audience the past few years on sites like and Ustream.   The biggest hurdle jumping into live streaming is mostly dependent on the speed of your connection.  I'd say a good minimum upstream you would need to have is about 2-Mbps as this will give you a good bit-rate for 720p+ and give you enough bandwidth if you happen to be playing a game that requires internet access.

On a site like Twitch you can start streaming whenever you want but you won't earn any ad revenue until you get partnered or get very lucky with donations.  Donations are  probably the only way to earn money while live streaming without a partnership and you basically do that by adding a Paypal or Chip-In link on your personal page.  There are also subscriptions available for the more popular channels where you'll split each subscriber with Twitch but this requires you to be very well known.  There aren't any specifics on what you need to do to get partnered on Twitch but you need a sufficient amount of followers and viewers.  I can bluntly say that gaining an audience live streaming is very personality driven and although being very skilled at playing games can net you some viewers people usually stick around because they like what the person brings them in terms of entertainment value.  It's also a pretty good idea to specialize in a particular game as people tend to get comfortable watching their favorite games being played.  As of this writing League of Legends and other MOBAs are some of the biggest live streaming communities at the moment yet there are many different personalities from pro gamers to casual gamers who seem to do well for themselves.

As for what you need to start live streaming is somewhat similar to what you need to capture game footage.  You need broadcasting software like Xsplit and Open Broadcaster and a capture device if you are streaming console footage.   Also it helps to have a microphone and a webcam if you really want to be interactive with your viewers.

Other Methods

While I outlined only a few methods you could try by using video it's definitely not the only way.  You can always write about your experiences, make a blog, do some freelance journalism, fan art, quality assurance game testing and other things that don't require a major investment.  Though i would say my experience in any of those fields are fairly limited so I won't try to give you advice on how to approach these ventures.  I wish you luck as even my own experience with making money playing video games has been a pretty long journey as well but if you have a lot more ambition you can certainly make a name for yourself.

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