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There are two reasons to play games today: for fun or for money.
Most people play games for fun as a way to relax or pass the time. But believe it or not, some people view video games with dollar signs in their eyes — looking for ways to rake in cash or even free gift cards while playing the games they love.
Let’s take a look at how you get paid to play games.
How to Get Paid to Play Games
Here’s how to get paid to play games.
- Work as a game tester
- Start a blog
- Start a YouTube channel
- Become an esports pro
- Work as a video game coach
Swagbucks is a cash-back rewards app that can reward you with real money for doing things you love. For example, Swagbucks provides rewards for things like watching movies, browsing the internet, and even playing games like Trivia Game Show and Solitaire Cube.
Simply install a mobile game app from the Swagbucks site and start earning rewards for playing it. Once you’ve made some money, you can cash out via your PayPal account.
InboxDollars is another app that provides cash prizes and gift cards in exchange for playing games. The app connects folks with online game companies that want to attract more users and rewards participants for their efforts. You can play arcade games, casino games, and even enter cash tournaments.
Twitch is an online streaming service that’s a subsidiary of Amazon. You can create a channel on the Twitch app, stream live games or other content like music or art demonstrations, and attract followers.
If you attract enough followers and viewers, you can become a Twitch Affiliate or partner and potentially earn thousands of dollars per week. In fact, some users earn millions of dollars annually through sponsorships and promotional opportunities.
Imagine getting a lucrative contract from a game developer like Epic Games and becoming a professional Fortnite gamer. That would certainly be an amazing way to achieve financial freedom!
Of course, making a substantial amount of real money on Twitch takes talent and time. But it’s not impossible. You just have to be prepared to put in the work to get there.
Another app that pays users to play games is Mistplay.
Create an account on Mistplay, discover new games, play, and collect points, or units. The more you play, the more units you’ll collect. Then cash them in for rewards.
The Mistplay app offers rewards like Amazon gift cards, Google Play credit, Visa gift cards, and PayPal distributions, among other things.
5. Work as a game tester
Video game developers often crowdsource testing, relying on individuals like yourself to test games, find bugs, and report experiences.
Check out iGameLab to get started. This site will pay you to be a beta tester and provide game feedback.
Imagine making real money testing out some of the best games on the market. How cool would that be?
6. Start a blog
If you’re feeling ambitious and really enjoy gaming, consider starting a blog and writing video game reviews, tutorials, walkthroughs, and Q&As.
Folks who produce solid content about their favorite games and can market the blog effectively have the potential to make real money through sponsorships and advertisements. These can be obtained by approaching companies directly or through a service like Google AdSense.
7. Start a YouTube channel
Another way to make real money playing games is to start a YouTube channel and post video game content online. This is similar to Twitch, in that it involves posting a lot of content and attracting subscribers.
If you reach a certain threshold of views, the YouTube app will compensate you.
8. Become an esports pro
The esports market has skyrocketed in recent years, with more and more players getting sponsored and making a living simply by playing games.
As a disclaimer, becoming an esports pro is not easy. You have to be able to compete at gaming tournaments with the best of the best and keep up with people who are expert gamers.
Consider pursuing esports if you’re extremely talented at video games and capable of playing at the highest level there is. On top of the potential real cash prizes you can win at events, an esports career can lead to extra income from sponsorships — not to mention the swag you’ll get from game developers.
9. Work as a video game coach
Not everyone is great at video games. For some, it just doesn’t come naturally.
As such, there’s a strong opportunity at hand for those who are proficient to teach others and help them improve their game.
To find work as a video game coach, start by testing your network of friends and community members. Of course, you’ll have to demonstrate your skills and proficiency before someone will pay you to teach them how to play games.
Here’s something you can try: Ask to play games with someone, demonstrate your superiority firsthand, and then offer to share your secrets — but for a price tag.
Tips for Making Real Money Playing Games
Here are some things to keep in mind before you turn your video game hobby into a profession.
Decide if you really want to make money gaming
Spend some time thinking about whether you want to keep your gaming habit as a hobby or if you really want to turn it into a side hustle.
For some people, making real money playing games can actually be depressing because it can take the fun out of the experience. If you play video games to relax and have a good time, you might spoil your hobby by turning it into a job.
Of course, this doesn’t really apply if you simply want to make extra cash by fiddling with a game app. This is more for serious gamers who are considering starting a professional streaming channel or entering into the esports realm and playing more competitively for cash prizes and sponsorships.
Watch your health
This one is important: Watch your health when playing games. Playing games can become addictive, leading to hours upon hours of sitting down staring at a screen.
Often, people lose entire nights and weekends because they lose track of time. If left unchecked, gaming can wreck your health.
Since that’s the case, you need to take care of yourself by pacing, taking breaks, and remembering to eat well and exercise.
Otherwise, you could wind up developing conditions that can be expensive and detrimental to your health in the long run.
Keep your day job
Once you start making real money gaming, you may fall in love with the idea and want to quit your day job to game full-time.
Before you try this, stop and think the situation through. Remember that your day job pays for things like a high-speed internet connection, food, and the roof over your head — all of which are required to play video games.
It can be very difficult to make a living playing games full-time, and you may find yourself regretting your decision if you opt to go this route.
Of course, there are exceptions. Only you can decide how to live your life and what you want to do for a living. But don’t do anything too hastily without considering all the angles.
What to do with video game earnings
It’s important to be savvy about the money that you make playing video games. Consider trying the following strategies to maximize the income you make from playing games.
Pay down debt
If you’re in debt, you’re going to want to get out of it as quickly as possible. Use the money that you bring in from video games to pay down your high-interest credit cards, student loans, auto loans, personal loans, and mortgage.
The faster that you can escape from high-interest credit card debt, the more financially sound you’ll be in the long run.
Once you’re in a position to do so, it’s a good idea to start thinking about investing. Look into starting a taxable brokerage account or retirement account — like an individual retirement account (IRA) or 401(k).
Investing can potentially stretch small video game returns into much larger payouts over time. For example, say you get paid $20 for playing a video game. Your goal should be to turn that into $100 or more over time by purchasing growth stocks or other types of investments.
It’s also critical to save as much as possible. Focus on building an emergency fund and stacking up at least six months of expenses.
The point of saving isn’t to maximize interest, as rates across the board are too low. Instead, the point is to have money on hand so that you can pay for expenses when they arise and cover yourself in an emergency situation — like when dealing with a home or auto repair or an unexpected job loss.
Other Fun Side Hustles to Explore
In addition to gaming, consider the following alternative side hustles.
Social media manager
There are tons of small businesses out there looking for social media support. Ask yourself whether working with them as a social media manager is a fit.
If it is, you might craft social posts and engage with customers throughout the day. Managing social media can be tons of fun as it involves having conversations with people and acting as the voice of the brand.
Just keep in mind that some companies can be very particular about their social media presence and may want you to adhere to specific guidelines.
If you like working with kids, consider asking around your network and seeing who needs a babysitter. This is a great way to make money hanging out. Most of the time, all you have to do is put a movie on, cook dinner, and make sure the kids don’t run amok.
Who knows? If you find some downtime, you might consider making some extra cash playing a Swagbucks game app while the kids are asleep.
People who are highly organized and efficient should consider working as a virtual assistant, organizing meetings, paying bills, and answering phones.
This is a flexible job that can introduce you to tons of exciting people. Do a good enough job, and this opportunity might translate into something much more lucrative over time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most frequently asked questions about getting paid to play games.
It largely depends on the type of gaming that you want to be doing.
For example, downloading mobile games from the App Store and Google Play can easily produce rewards. However, if you want to become a professional gamer, that takes a much different level of commitment and expertise.
Do iPhone and Android game apps count as a side hustle?
Technically any activity that brings in money on the side can be considered a side hustle.
However, if your goal is to make real money, you’re probably not going to be able to cut it by playing mobile games. You’ll most likely have to supplement this side hustle with other, higher-earning endeavors like driving for Lyft or Uber and walking dogs.
Is a gift card better than real cash rewards?
A gift card is almost never better than real money because cards are inflexible and don’t generate interest.
Unless you’re going to spend all of the money immediately, the best thing to do when getting a gift card is sell it or exchange it and then invest the proceeds.
How much do professional gamers make?
Professional gamers on platforms like Xbox and Playstation can make upwards of $5,000 or more each month.
Top earners can generate millions annually through sponsorships and other means. This requires expert gaming ability, savvy, and above-average marketing ability on social media.
The Bottom Line
Don’t expect to hit the jackpot playing video games online — unless you’re extremely talented. However, playing games can help you generate extra money and be used to supplement other side hustles.
At the end of the day, there are tons of ways to make real money online through the gaming industry, and playing video games as a streamer, tester, or teacher may be up your alley.
Just watch out for scams when downloading apps and playing on different sites, and always avoid giving out your personal information when collecting money. You’ll also want to make sure that you don’t spend too much time playing games to the point you can’t pay your bills anymore!
With the right approach, you can strike the perfect balance between making some extra money and having fun playing your favorite games. What’s not to like?