The online gaming industry is booming. With the gaming industry itself thriving (it was reportedly responsible for US$81.5 billion in revenue in 2014), the online aspect has blossomed in recent years, moving from an enjoyable hobby for teenagers to a sub-industry full of teams, businesses and lucrative pay days.
And as was discussed here on Pakwired.com recently, people genuinely are making a full time income – and much more – from gaming. We explained how Pakistan’s Sumail Hasan made US$200,000 in one month, and was on track to take part of a larger multi-million dollar pot. All at the age of 15.
(NB – at the time of writing this piece, it’s just been announced that Sumail did actually go on to win in the tournament, and as part of his team, scooped US$6.6 million).
But how easy is it to actually make a fortune – or even just a living – playing video games? Can anyone do it?
An industry open to all
In theory, everyone can earn money from online gaming. It’s like with various other professions – have the right equipment and train for long enough and you’ll eventually get picked up by a team or a sponsor, receive a monthly salary and go on to travel the world playing in hugely profitable competitions.
But also like other professions, if you want to make real money, you have to be the best of the best; willing to invest considerable amounts of time to playing – Sumail, for example, started playing his chosen game when he was just 7 years old.
That doesn’t mean you have to start early, however, as there are plenty of professional gamers in their 30s and 40s, and Chris Bond is the oldest listed online gamer (with regard to the highest earners), taking home a total of US$50,000 to date.
Income streams are varied
What is important to note is that whilst a lot of the bigger teams will provide a monthly salary and a piece of the larger competition winnings, salaries and competitions are only two of the ways you can earn within the online gaming industry.
For instance, there are plenty of people who make a very respectable amount of money from uploading videos of them playing to the likes of Youtube.
Take Toby Turner as a prime example. Having uploaded hundreds upon hundreds of videos to his YouTube channel, he reportedly makes US$4.2 million annually – and this largely comes about from revenue generated on the adverts displayed on his videos.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
Well in theory, it is – but you can’t get around the fact you need all of the necessary equipment, the highest spec consoles, systems and internet connections – and time! – to even get started, let alone begin to compete with the leaders in the industry already.
As an additional income stream, with the online gaming industry growing massively in popularity in recent years, you now also find companies willing to sponsor you. So, whether you’re at an industry competition wearing a sponsor’s baseball cap or hoody, or you’re making it clear on your videos who is sponsoring them, you may not be looking at the millions of dollars from a sponsorship deal at the moment, but you shouldn’t be surprised if a single sponsorship covers what most people earn in a year.
When you write this down, it’s easy to think “How hard can this be?”. You just chose a game, play online and then begin to earn money however which way you choose.
But the reality is, as you’ll no doubt have guessed, it’s not as simple as that. The industry is not one consisting of just a few hundred gamers from around the world, but instead there are hundreds of thousands of gamers all trying to earn money from doing what they love. As such, there’s huge competition.
Can anyone begin playing a game and get on the journey to becoming a professional, wealthy player? Yep, there’s no question about that. Will it take more blood, sweat and tears than you could ever imagine to even get anywhere near the highest standard? Without a doubt.
I play games online, but I’m no where near the standard needed to play even semi-professionally. The stigma of the industry is slowly lifting, and people are beginning to realise it genuinely takes a lot of drive and determination to succeed – and if you have this and are willing to invest, you could soon find yourself on the journey to becoming a professional, and financially secure, gamer.