The phenomenon of competitive gaming, known as eSports, has truly taken the world by storm in recent years. Its rise to mainstream culture paved the way for eSports leagues to flourish.
Today, major eSports teams have owners, franchises, endorsement deals and even large cash prizes.
In fact, there are currently billions of dollars floating around in the world of eSports. In just one year, between 2017 and 2018, investments in eSports rose from $490 million to $4.5 billion.
In addition, the rapid growth shows no signs of slowing down.
As a result, experts predict the number of jobs within eSports to grow as well. In turn, this has paved the way for eSports to enter the collegiate and high school levels.
Students can now participate in eSports leagues in school and earn degrees related to the field.
So, how much money can a player make in the world of eSports and gaming?
Are there ways to make money in gaming without being a professional? Read more for some insights on these questions.
Earnings Come from a Variety of Places in the World of Gaming
One thing that’s important to understand is that income from eSports and gaming can come from a variety of sources. Professional gamers aren’t limited to one source of revenue.
They can earn money from tournament prizes, sponsorships, livestreams and even YouTube ad revenue.
Making Money from Tournament Wins
One proven way professional gamers can earn money is through participating in eSports tournaments. Around the world, players compete in high-stakes gaming tournaments with large cash prizes.
In fact, eSports champions can win millions of dollars from a single tournament victory.
It’s worth noting, however, that cash prizes vary by game. Some games have higher payouts for winning than others.
In December 2021, USA Today ranked the top seven games with the highest total prize money in eSports.
All seven of the top titles dispersed millions of dollars across their teams. Even the lowest-ranked game, League of Legends, distributed close to $7.3 million across its players.
Prize money was divided across participating teams. The champion team EDward Gaming received $500,000 alone.
The most impressive eSports game in terms of cash prizes for 2021 was Defense of the Ancients 2 (Dota 2). Although the game’s publisher Valve only invested $1.6 million in prize money for the tournament, Dota 2’s dedicated fanbase raised around $38.4 million to increase the prize pool.
As a result, the highly competitive eSports tournament for Dota 2 netted approximately $47.2 million in total prize money.
Making Money with Sponsorships
Another great way professional gamers can earn money is through sponsorships. Just as traditional sports leagues and athletes earn money through paid sponsors, eSports is no different.
In 2020, $636.9 million of the $1.1 billion in total revenue for eSports was generated through sponsorships.
However, it’s also worth noting that sponsorship deals can be hard to come by for eSports players without a solid record.
Companies want to sponsor the teams who get the most attention, so deals are often directly related to performance. In general, eSports teams who have won major tournaments have an easier time getting sponsors than others.
The primary reason why businesses choose to sponsor eSports teams is to convert their audience into consumers. Associating a brand with an eSports team helps build the company’s credibility to its target consumers.
For that reason, eSports teams who want to attract sponsors need to understand their unique selling proposition and how to communicate that message to potential brands.
Outside of eSports, gamers who earn a large online following on YouTube or Twitch have the potential for sponsorships, as well.
Aside from having an established audience, the key to finding the right sponsor is to understand your audience. Ultimately, the best companies to partner with will target the same audience as you.
Influencer marketing on social media has grown tremendously in popularity over the last few years, and that approach transfers over to creators who specialize in gaming.
For that reason, popular YouTubers like PewDiePie and Markiplier segment a portion of their videos to discuss sponsored products.
Companies involved in the gaming industry, as well as those with a similar target audience, understand the opportunity that sponsoring popular creators provides.
Making Money Through Gaming Livestreams on Twitch
Video game livestreams also offer eSports players and other gamers a tremendous opportunity to earn revenue. Specifically, the livestreaming platform Twitch offers a number of opportunities to earn money.
Although some revenue options on Twitch cannot be realized until after gaining a large enough following, there are some fantastic ways to get started.
The key to building an income on Twitch lies in attracting an audience. Successful Twitch streamers often build their audience by first homing in on a specific niche.
To do this, it’s best to begin by streaming one specific game to attract an initial fanbase. Consistently streaming that game over time will gradually increase your following.
After you’ve gained a minimum of 50 followers, you are eligible to become a Twitch Partner and Affiliate. This opens the door to even more revenue-earning options for streamers.
The most popular form of earning money on Twitch comes in the form of paid subscriptions. Viewers have the option to support their favorite streamers through monthly subscription tiers ranging from $4.99 to $24.99.
As streamers gain more subscribers, the amount of money they can earn through these monthly pledges can potentially snowball.
Although Twitch themselves collects half the revenue from subscriptions, the monthly income and limitless earning potential remains highly attractive to streamers.
Another popular monetization option on Twitch is using bits. Bits are animated GIFs that viewers can purchase to visually display support during a livestream.
Although Twitch Partners and Affiliates only earn 1 cent per bit used in their channel’s chat, the revenue can quickly add up for streamers with a large audience.
One reason people purchase bits is to receive verbal recognition from their favorite streamers, so it’s always best to personally thank anyone who sends a bit.
Donations are another way viewers like to support their favorite streamers. Unlike subscriptions and bits, however, Twitch doesn’t feature any built-in options to accept donations. Therefore, streamers who take donations often use third-party services like PayPal.
One benefit to receiving donations is that Twitch doesn’t claim any of the money. However, the downside is that Twitch also doesn’t provide any form of protection for donations either.
As a result, some people have donated large sums of money only to file a dispute afterward. Since PayPal allows 180 days for people to file disputes on payments, it’s recommended for streamers to wait the full amount of time before spending any donation money.
Another way gamers can make money on Twitch is through advertisements. Twitch Partners have the options to air video ads on their channel either before or during livestreams. However, since Twitch only pays an average of $2 for every 1,000 views, streamers often only use ad revenue on the platform as a means to supplement their additional income sources.
Making Money Through YouTube
Apart from Twitch, YouTube is also a great platform for gamers to make money. Although YouTube does allow livestreams, its primary focus is on premade videos.
Because of that, building a following as a gaming channel on YouTube goes well beyond the games you play.
The largest factor that draws in viewers on YouTube is personality and entertainment value. Some of the largest gamers on YouTube compliment their gameplay with skilled video editing and humorous commentary.
As long as you let your personality shine through your videos, even non-professional gamers can gain a strong following on YouTube.
The most prominent YouTube success story is PewDiePie. Currently respected by his fans as the most popular creator on the platform, PewDiePie humbly began his career by posting clips of himself playing games.
Unlike other ways gamers can make money, PewDiePie proves that success on YouTube doesn’t always relate to skill. His fans can testify that PewDiePie didn’t earn his fame through being good at video games.
Instead, it was his charming and humorous personality that got him attention. As his popularity grew, so did his income. By 2019, his estimated net worth was between $14.5 million and $30 million.
Although PewDiePie’s net earnings don’t reflect the average YouTuber, the potential for gamers to earn money on the platform is very real.
One of the most common ways YouTubers can make money is through ad revenue. To run advertisements on your gaming videos, you must first join the YouTube Partnership Program.
To become a YouTube Partner, your channel must gain a minimum of 1,000 subscribers and accumulate a watch-time of at least 4,000 hours.
Once you meet the requirements and become a Partner, you can then earn income through advertisements played during videos. In addition, the lifespan for videos on YouTube is far greater than that of Twitch livestreams.
Therefore, your videos can accumulate ad revenue for years after you upload them.
Apart from ad revenue, there are other ways gamers can make money on YouTube. One popular approach that falls outside of the YouTube Partnership Program is setting up a Patreon account.
Many YouTubers attract paid subscribers to their Patreon by posting exclusive videos to that platform that cannot be seen on YouTube.
Another option gamers have to make money on YouTube is affiliate marketing. Like sponsorships, affiliate marketing involves partnering with a company to promote its brand in your videos.
However, providing popular YouTubers with affiliate links offers less risk to the companies.
How Much Money can eSports Players and Gamers Make?
The amount of money eSports players and gamers can make depends on a number of factors. One factor is whether they choose to play on a professional eSports team or if they prefer to stream games personally.
Naturally, professional eSports players typically earn more than other gamers.
The average yearly income for professional eSports players is estimated to be around $74,000.
For elite eSports players, the figure dramatically increases. In fact, as of January 2021, the highest paid eSports player Nick Kolcheff earned $6 million
Another factor that can change the earning potential for gamers is the number of income sources they utilize.
For instance, a gamer who both streams on Twitch and posts regular content to YouTube will likely earn more than someone who only uses one of the platforms.
However, no matter what route they choose, there are opportunities to make thousands of dollars each year through gaming.
If you or your child dreams of making money through eSports and gaming, hopefully the insights shared above answer some of your burning questions.
Do you have any other ideas about making money in the eSports and gaming industry?
As always, share your thoughts down in the comments section!