With the endless popularity of gaming — the industry is projected to hit nearly $385 billion in revenue in 2023 — and the rise of streaming platforms like Twitch, it is absolutely possible to make a living by way of video games.
There are also a number of excellent ways to make extra cash on the side without making it your full-time gig. Here are 12 of the best side hustles for video game lovers.
Feedback is a critical part of video game development. The experts who actually make the games we all enjoy need people to find bugs and help improve titles before they make their way to the public.
As a game tester, your job is to check out unreleased games and provide feedback on gameplay, graphics, and a whole boatload of other aspects.
Paid game tester gigs can be pursued either as a freelancer or through QA companies. Just bear in mind that it requires you to be meticulous and document all of your findings.
Coach other players
If you've got the chops to dominate in video games and can teach others, you can offer game coaching services for a tidy fee.
Plenty of players are willing to pay for coaching to improve their skills, both those wanting to get into esports and those just wanting to beat their friends and level up in their favorite games.
You can offer coaching services through online platforms, social media, or even set up your own coaching website.
Create content about gaming
Writing may always be a valuable skill. Marry it with your gaming skills and you’ve got a good starting position to create content that can range from articles to podcasts to videos about your favorite hobby.
Many outlets are on the prowl for article pitches about the video game industry. You could also strike out on your own with a YouTube channel or a podcast and monetize it through advertising, sponsorships, or donations from your fans.
Esports have real earning potential
Competitive gaming, otherwise known as esports, has recently exploded in popularity. The best professional players can rake in millions of dollars in prize money.
It takes serious skill, of course, but if you love the thrill of competition, you can seek out esports tournaments and earn money from cash prizes, sponsorships, and endorsements — if you win.
Lots of popular games have official leagues. Others have community-driven tournaments.
Find an audience through streaming
One of the most popular ways to make money on the side of gaming is to stream.
Platforms like Twitch and YouTube let you stream gameplay live and earn money through ad revenue, donations, and subscriptions from viewers.
If you're skilled at a particular game, you can attract a loyal fanbase and monetize your streams through these channels. Having an engaging personality is a definite plus.
Art and design
Artistically inclined video game fans can put their skills to use by creating art and developing designs to use in the development of titles.
Developers always need character designs, concept art, and game assets they can plug into their digital worlds. And they’re willing to pay for high-quality work that enhances their games.
If you’ve got a killer portfolio, you can offer your services as a freelance artist or work on a project basis.
Make money with video game merchandising
Creating and selling game-related merchandise falls more on the business-savvy side of gigs, but it still requires plenty of creativity.
You can design and sell t-shirts, posters, stickers, and other goodies featuring your favorite titles or characters. Gamers like to show off the titles dearest to them — sometimes by literally wearing that love on their sleeve.
Merchandising lets you tap into this market by creating unique and appealing products. Just don’t run afoul of copyright law.
Organize gaming events and tournaments
Video game events and tournaments can’t exist if there’s nobody around to organize and promote them. So if you’ve got the skills and like planning, you can organize your own tournaments and make some dough through entry fees or sponsorships.
Hosting can happen online or offline, just make sure you’ve got the tech angle covered. Invite players to compete, charge entry fees, and with the right planning and promotion, you can attract a sizable crowd.
Review gaming equipment
People who stream video games for a living need to invest a significant chunk of change into their gaming setups. Just like anyone else trying to make sure they’re buying the right gear, reading reviews is a necessary component of that.
You can make money by reviewing and recommending equipment that runs the gamut from cameras and chairs to microphones and video capture cards.
Review gigs can also mean earning commissions through affiliate links and marketing by promoting products if you’re a trusted source.
Trade and sell games
Despite our best efforts, almost all of us have clutter — and sometimes there are gems buried with the clutter that is worth a pretty penny.
If you’ve got a collection of old or rare video games, you can make money selling or trading them. There is a market for vintage or hard-to-find games and collectors are willing to pay a premium.
For example, a 1985 copy of the original Super Mario Bros. sold for a whopping $2 million in 2021! Check out sites like eBay or Etsy to sell your old games or trade them with other collectors for a nice profit.
Translate and localize games
Video games are a global phenomenon, which means there’s a demand for people who can translate titles into a variety of languages and localize games for different regions.
If you’re multilingual, you can offer your services to game developers or localization agencies. They’ll need people to translate the dialogue, manuals, subtitles, and basically, every form of text that appears in a video game.
Video game cosplay can make you money
Wild but true: Playing make-believe in real life can earn you some scratch.
Cosplay — shortened from costume play — is a popular hobby where fans dress up as their favorite game characters and hit up events or conventions, where there’s almost always a costume contest.
If you’re good at crafting clothes and accessories like iconic gaming gadgets, you can sell them to other cosplayers or fans. You can also offer your skills for conventions, or get hired to play a character for promotional events.
The video game industry is an entertainment titan and its size is staggering. While films took a financial bath during the pandemic, the video game industry proved to be far sturdier.
The industry remains an excellent option for career-seekers, freelancers, and hustlers alike. It doesn’t matter if your preference is mobile phone offerings, consoles, streaming PC games over Twitch, or just about anything else.
Whether you need to earn passive income or find a new full-time job, there's probably a gig in the gaming world that aligns with your talents and can earn you money doing what you love.