How Pro Gamers Make Money

It’s no secret that earning money playing video games is a dream career for many. While competitive gaming is only one of many gaming related careers available, it’s one of the most lucrative fields for many. CNBC reported that the global eSports market would be worth more than a million dollars by 2021, primarily due to the value of esports teams, celebrities, and other major investors, and the rise of business savvy eSports leagues.

With all this money going around, one has to wonder how competitive gamers get it. While it may seem as easy playing video games for a living, there is a lot of hard work and dedication that goes into it. From coming up with strategies for victory to maintaining your physical, mental, and nutritional balance, pro gamers truly earn the money they make. Here are some of the ways that they do it.

Prizes

One of the most important ways competitive gamers earn their keep is through the prize money they get from winning tournaments for various games. For example, the number one Esports game in terms of earnings is currently Dota 2, a multi-player online battle arena game. With over two thousand players and one thousand tournaments held for the game, it has raked in over 180 million dollars since its release in 2013.

Other games that have made huge profits include Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, Fortnite, and Starcraft. Together with Dota 2, all of these are currently the top five games now awarding prize money. It’s worth noting that the prize money for eSports games increases every year, so anyone looking to participate shouldn’t just go after the most popular one.

Regular Salaries

Professional gamers typically earn a regular salary as part of a team and as individuals. The salaries are decided based on skill, reputation, personal fame, and the game you play. For 2019, the median earnings for a single player are around $720.00, while the median earnings for a team gaining a tournament prize pool are $1,500.00. This might not seem like much, but the amount adds up the more tournaments you play and the more revenue you earn from other ways you can make money.

Salaries for players started being disclosed in 2015 when Ember, a North American League of Legends team, publicly revealed their players’ salaries. Currently, the highest paid player in global Esports is Italy’s Andrea Mengucci, who has earned over $250,000 as a Magic The Gathering Arena player this year. In the United States, the highest paid player is Saahil “Universe” Arora, a Dota 2 player who earned over $3 million.

Sponsors

From food to tech, there are a lot of different companies willing to pay players to use their products. Many of them make gaming hardware such as Corsair’s gaming PCs and headsets and Razer’s mobile gaming phones and controllers. Other sponsorships consist of products used by the average person including certain automobile brands and drinks.

In 2019, there have been a variety of major Esports sponsorships. In March, the Esports organization Cloud 9 partnered with the automobile company BMW, featuring various members of the organization with ads based on the tagline, “Its character that drives performance.” Another high profile partnership involved Gamestop and three different Texas-based gaming organizations: OpTic Gaming, Envy, and compLexity Gaming. 

Streaming

Lightstream has reported that 40% of Esports’ 2018 global revenue is from online streaming, with over $350 million dollars generated. Much of the streaming happens via the live-streaming video platform Twitch, but it has also been done via YouTube. Both sites have millions of users and games streamed via both sites include Fortnite, League of Leagues, and Hearthstone to name a few.

It is also worth noting that streaming works together sponsorships. For example, the Twitch streamer Pokemaine has the fifth most-watched channel on the website and is most known for her Fortnite gaming videos. In addition, she has also done promotions for brands like Mastercard, NZXT, and HYPER X.

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