This post will show you exactly how to get paid to play video games.
In fact, check out what Deloitte (one of the big four accounting firms) had to say about the growth of eSports in their 2019 Media & Entertainment outlook:
While eSports is one of the most popular segments (and one of the biggest money makers) in the gaming industry, you can also make a few bucks playing solitaire at home in your spare time.
In this post, we’ll break down ways to make money playing games into four different categories:
- 9 Best Apps That Pay You to Play Games
- 3 Websites for Making Money Playing Games Online
- Earning Money as a Competitive Gamer
- Potential Full-Time Careers In the Gaming Industry
Let’s dive in!
9 Best Apps That Pay You To Play Games
When we think of apps that pay us to do things, we often think of survey apps, apps where you can get paid to search the web, or couponing apps. But answering survey questions and clipping digital coupons aren’t exactly enthralling activities. What if there was a more entertaining way to pass the time while making a little bit of extra cash?
It turns out, there is. Most people don’t realize it, but there are more than a few apps and websites where you can get paid to play games.
Mistplay is an app available for Android devices, with an iOS version in development. You’ll earn points for playing (and sometimes for testing) new games. The longer you play a game, and the more games you play, the more points you’ll earn. You can cash in your points for a variety of different gift cards.
Swagbucks is one of the most comprehensive money making websites around. Members can earn free gift cardsfor things like answering surveys, watching videos, shopping, and even playing a variety of games.
Swagbucks offers dozens of free games, but you have to spend money to make money on this platform. In order to get paid to play games on Swagbucks, you have to make in-game purchases.
Players must deposit money into their GSN (Game Show Network) account. Then, they earn points (which are called SBs) by spending those funds on in-game purchases. For example, you’ll earn 12 SBs for each $1 you spend buying tokens to play Wheel of Fortune Slots: Vegas Edition.
Think of it as a form of cash-back shopping. While you shouldn’t spend money you wouldn’t otherwise spend, it can be a decent way to boost your Swagbucks balance and earn rewards faster if you’re a person who occasionally spends a few dollars here or there on mobile games.
A little luck is never a bad thing. And for those who can use that luck right about now, Lucktastic (known as Lucktastic Match for iOS) is a gaming app worth checking out.
Available for iOS and Android phones, Lucktastic allows you to win up to $10,000 playing digital scratch-off tickets (like the kind you get at the grocery store, just on your phone).
How it works is that each day a new set of scratch-off tickets is there for you to play. You log in, view the day’s prizes, and play for a chance to win tokens or cash, with prizes as high as $10,000.
The game is 100% free to play, and there are no in-app purchases. The “catch” is often that before you play, you have to watch a short commercial or view a banner ad.
When your account reaches $2, you can cash out via gift card. At $10, you can choose to get a paper check mailed to you.
So far, Lucktastic claims they’ve paid out over $3 million in prizes and rewards.
Swagbucks Live (Formerly Called Swag IQ)
Swagbucks Live is a trivia game show run by Swagbucks. Each weekday, there’s a live trivia game; when you open the app, you’ll find out what time the contest starts.
During the game, a host asks 10 questions and players choose from a selection of multiple choice answers. You have 10 seconds to answer, and are playing live against other players. If you answer all 10 questions correctly, you win the day’s cash prize. If more than one player answers all 10 questions correctly, the prize is split amongst them.
If you miss a question or don’t answer within the 10 second time limit, you’re disqualified — but you’ll still earn SBs for each correct answer. You can use your SBs to buy a second chance at the grand prize, or you can add them to your balance and redeem them for cash or gift cards.
InboxDollars has two options for those who want to get paid to play games. There are games you straight-up earn money for playing, and you can also join WorldWinner through InboxDollars and earn cash back when you spend money on in-game purchases (just like with Swagbucks).
For the first option, you earn progress on your InboxDollars “Scratch & Win” meter by playing simple-but-fun web games. The exact amount you can earn varies depending on how long you play and how well you do!
For the second option, you’ll earn up to 2% cash-back on every $1 spent in WorldWinner cash tournament entry fees.
Like many of the other gaming sites on this list, there are several ways to earn real money with InboxDollars, including reading emails, answering surveys and watching videos. (And you can watch ads for money, too.)
Personal finance isn’t a game, but Long Game Savings is a personal finance game in which players are rewarded for developing a regular saving habit. To participate, you have to open a savings account with LGS. The account is free, FDIC insured, and managed by partner banks.
Once your account is set up, you’ll decide on a savings plan that dictates how much you’ll transfer into savings ($5 minimum) and how often (weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly). The more money you save, the more “coins” you earn. Those coins can be used to play games on the platform; some games reward you with more coins, and with others you can win cash that’s added to your savings account.
It’s important to note that you keep 100% of the money you deposit. You’re not buying coins to play games; rather, LGS is paying you in coins, on top of a 0.1% interest rate.
Bananatic rewards users for playing games with “bananas” (points), which can be redeemed for free PayPal money, Amazon gift cards, Steam games, and more. To start earning, users register with the online games they want to play that are offered on the site (popular games include World of Tanks and Star Trek Online).
Players then complete “quests” in order to collect bananas. (A quest might mean winning a certain number of rounds, or achieving a certain score.) Once a quest is completed, players must then submit a screenshot as proof. Once your screenshot is verified, your bananas will be sent within 48 hours.
The site also offers other ways to earn bananas, including testing apps, shopping, and watching ads.
Many of the games on Brain Battle are puzzle games or brain-teaser challenges. Playing games earns tickets for drawings, through which you can win cash rewards. The more tickets you collect, the better your odds of winning the grand prize. If you win, you’ll receive your cash prize via PayPal.
WorldWinner offers some free games, but if you want to get paid to play games you’ll have to pay to enter competitions. The minimum deposit is $10. You can enter tournaments and play against other gamers on the site.
For each game, you can see how many people you’re playing against, the amount of the prize money, and how much it costs to enter. If you win the game, the prize money will be added to your WorldWinner account balance.
Your earnings can be cashed out through PayPal, a prepaid debit card, or a check.
3 Websites For Making Money Playing Games Online
Apps that pay you to play games are a good way to pass a few minutes of downtime and earn free gift cards, but if you’re a more serious gamer who still wants to get paid to play games, these sites may be more your style.
Skillz is a tournament site that lets players compete against other gamers from all over the world for cash prizes. In order to compete for cash, you’ll need to make a deposit into your Skillz account using a credit or debit card, or your PayPal account information.
You can enter cash tournaments, and any winnings you accumulate can be transferred to your PayPal account.
As you can play GSN Cash Games through some of the apps we listed above, you already know a bit about how to get paid to play games on this site. You pay to enter the cash games, so you must deposit at least $5 into your GSN account.
You’ll compete against other players for cash prizes. Before you choose a game, you’ll be able to see how many players you’ll be pitted against, how much the cash prize is, and how much it costs to enter.
Any prize money you win will be credited to your GSN account, which you can then cash out via PayPal, prepaid credit card, or check.
Pogo offers free and paid games. When you join Club Pogo for $6.99 a month, you’ll have access to tournament competitions and several dozen member-exclusive games.
Players don’t earn cash directly, but instead are entered into a daily sweepstakes for a jackpot that can be worth up to $500.
Earning Money As A Competitive Gamer
This section is not for those of us who just like to kill time playing Candy Crush or showing off our vocabulary on Words With Friends. Earning money as a competitive gamer is the equivalent of being a professional athlete. Professional gamers can earn up to $200 a day in prize money, but people will also pay to watch you play.
Live Streaming On Twitch
If you want to become a paid game player, Twitch is one of the easiest and most realistic ways. There are a few ways you can make money live streaming yourself playing games on Twitch. One way is by adding a donation button to your channel, similar to Patreon donations for podcasters.
Viewers can tip players with an online currency called Bits, which are earned by watching ads (they can also be purchased). If viewers want to tip you, they type “cheerxx” into the chat window, replacing “xx” with the number of Bits they wish to tip. 100 bits is equivalent to $1.40.
Twitch viewers can subscribe to your channel just like YouTube viewers can subscribe to content creator channels. Once you have at least 500 subscribers, you can apply to become a Twitch Partner. If approved as a Partner, you’ll earn about $2.50 per month for each new subscriber. Again, like YouTube, you can also earn ad revenue on your channel.
As you can imagine, making money on Twitch isn’t only about your skills as a gamer but also how engaging and entertaining the audience finds you.
Competitive Gamer At Live Events (Esports)
Becoming a competitive gamer and competing at live events is for the elite gamers. These people have coaches, attend camps, and sometimes “train” for up to 16 hours a day.
And it can pay off. Prizes at big events — watched by thousands in an arena and millions more online — can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The best-known gamers are sometimes signed to professional teams, and earn extra money through sponsorships with companies.
Competitive gamers at this level typically concentrate on a single game (League of Legends and Overwatch are two of the biggest). They may start out playing on Twitch or YouTube, working to build an audience and a reputation within the industry in hopes of being invited to tournaments, joining a well-known team, and attracting potential sponsors.
XY Gaming lets you compete against other players who have been matched with your skill level. There are no web-based games; rather you play games you already own on your gaming consoles, such as Xbox and Playstation, or computer. You connect them to XY Gaming and challenge fellow players.
Different games have different player bases and payout levels, but you can earn real cash or other rewards when you play and win tournaments for the most popular titles, like League of Legends and Starcraft. There are free tournaments, 50/50 tournaments (where the players who finish in the top 50% are rewarded), and Double Up tournaments that require an entry fee (with winners earning double the entry fee).
Potential Full-Time Careers In The Gaming Industry
Sure you can get paid to play video games in your spare time, but the income isn’t exactly steady. But “real” jobs that pay weekly are out there in the video game field. They don’t all involve strictly playing video games, but many of them are full-time and can be done from home. And if you work from home, you can use tax write-offs to get free internet!
Become A Game Developer
If you’re a coder, an artist, or can compose music, you can create and sell video game assets including models, music, modules, and sound effects.
Sometimes, you can also create in-game assets for existing games which can be exchanged for real life cash. One example is Linden Labs’ virtual world Second Life, which has its own (massive) internal economy. Users can create in-game content, like clothes or gadgets for their avatars, and then sell those in-game assets for Linden Dollars, which are the game’s virtual currency. There’s a set (floating) exchange rate for Linden Dollars to USD, and many venues for exchanging back and forth between the two.
Second Life players can also earn Linden Dollars by taking on virtual jobs within the world. One of the most popular is buying and selling virtual real estate.
Build A Media Brand
As we’ve seen, professional gamers are a thing and they have fans just like professional athletes, musicians, and actors. And as we discussed, it’s not all about your skill as a gamer. You can build a brand around a blog that reviews games, gaming consoles, reports on gaming tournaments, and reveals game secrets.
Plenty of money making websites that teach people how to do things. Start a YouTube channel teaching other people how to make money playing video games. YouTube channels can be monetized much the same way Twitch channels can be.
Of course, video games are a crowded field when it comes to blogging and Youtube. You can make money online doing it, but you’re going to find yourself competing with some well-established heavy hitters in the industry. Instead, pick a niche — a popular game, a particular console, or a certain brand you review. You’ll appeal to a smaller audience but you’ll have less competition, and that will enable you to stand out more quickly.
Building a media brand can take time, but some of your content has the potential to become a source of passive income. Putting in a lot of time and work up front can pay off on the back end.
Finding A Video Game Job
Like any industry, video games have spawned dozens of types of jobs. Gamer is just one job; there are designers, coders, artists, event planners, marketing people, game testers and customer support reps.
If you’re looking to get into gaming, networking is important (as it is for all careers). Become active in online gaming communities, contribute to blogs and forums, attend gamer-related meetups, conferences, conventions and live gaming events.
If you have no experience, start a blog, a Twitch stream, or a YouTube channel so that you have somewhere to send the people you meet. The gaming industry is huge, but like with any industry, it’s small at the same time. If you attend events, you’ll see the same people often, so it’s important to insert yourself into the industry rather than waiting to be invited in. Just like the prom, if you want to go, ask rather than waiting to be asked.
FlexJobs is also a great resource for finding work-from-home video game jobs. As you can imagine, since gaming industry jobs are so desirable, there are a lot of scams posing as legit opportunities. That’s especially true when it comes to remote jobs, as it’s a lot easier to pull off a scam when your only interaction with the victim is online.
FlexJobs screens its postings to make sure that the jobs (most of which offer remote positions) are legitimate, so you don’t have to worry about falling prey to a scam artist.
The one catch with FlexJobs is that while you can browse listings for free, you do have to be a paid member to view the details and apply. The cost isn’t too bad at $14.99 per month, and you can cancel at any time. My recommendation is to scan the listings, and only sign up if you find something that looks like it might be a good fit.