How to Make Money Playing Video Games for Free

The gaming industry has been on the rise for several years now, with revenues forecast to reach nearly $US150 billion worldwide by next year.

The majority of gamers play for free, attracted to online platforms such as Steam where gaming is totally free. Nevertheless, there are tons of ways to make money from gaming without having to spend a dime.

While many gamers set up campers next to their monitor, streaming services such as Twitch allow gamers to make money by broadcasting their gameplay. Alternatively, gamers can take advantage of tools such as Game Capture Cards to record and upload gameplay to YouTube or Twitter for future monetisation.

Monetising User Generated Content

YouTube creators are able to make money from user-generated content, or UGC, due to the platform’s ad-revenue model. In the past, most digital content was funded through affiliate marketing or sale of virtual goods, but with the rise of UGC, platforms like YouTube are pivoting to a new monetisation strategy.

YouTube creators can turn their subscribers into a pool of potential customers, and gain much more control over how their content is viewed and shared. One example of this is Twitch streamers playing Fortnite who have thousands of people watching their streams every day.

Since gamers are often already inclined to use YouTube and Twitch to promote games, streamers can harness this audience for monetisation, with many opting to use TikTok as well. These are all very popular platforms with billions of monthly active users. And what’s more, all of these platforms offer creators the ability to earn money passively through affiliate marketing, something that wasn’t previously possible.

UGC monetisation isn’t a new concept. Popular YouTube reviewers, such as Tim Heidrich and Megan Jayne Crabbe, have been reviewing games and getting paid to do so for years. These reviewers, however, had to rely on sponsorships and adverts to fund their content.

Monetising Online Communities

While playing a game is often considered to be a fun activity, it’s also heavily dependent on the community that surrounds it. One example of this is Steam, where gamers can discuss games, share their opinions, and connect with other gamers.

Since the majority of Steam users play for free, game developers have the ability to directly interact with prospective customers, and gain much more support and feedback than they would from other platforms. Additionally, Steam introduced a number of innovative monetisation models, including microtransactions, that allowed them to fund the construction of new games, and keep the lights on.

A similar situation exists on Reddit, where users can leave comments on posts, ask questions, or just discuss the latest news. All of this can be used to direct potential customers to a brand or website, or just to encourage them to engage with content.

The ability to directly interact with potential customers, and encourage them to make a purchase, is proving to be an effective method of monetisation for e-commerce websites, where gamers can directly interact with the products they are browsing. Thanks to tools such as webcams, and virtual headsets, digital creators can now essentially “meet” the product they are promoting.

It’s a brave new world when you’re able to make money from games without having to spend a penny on them. While many in the gaming industry will argue that this is simply a matter of time before playing a game becomes yet another revenue source, the advent of user-generated content and social media has changed all that.

Whether you’re a gamer looking to make a few extra bucks, or a content creator looking to make a living, the options for monetising content are endless. And with the right planning and research, even those who play for free can gain financial benefits from gaming.