Wednesday, November 05, 2014

It Always Looks Easier Then It Is - Making Money By Playing Games

Earn $10,000 a month playing video games. Find out how!

I love how these articles play this up. Gaming is the new "it" job, or rather streaming your game play. It's been going on for years, but only recently has it become noticed by the mainstream public with the sale of Twitch to Amazon. People can play video games and make money from their home? How do I sign up!

I never jumped into this craze because I didn't understand the appeal until recently. The more dressed up Rooster Teeth variation titled Let's Play is my speed. I prefer the edited versions, because they are easier/quicker to consume, and allow for more content to be shown in the shorter time frame. Instead of watching 5 different screens in Minecraft, they are combined into one, streamlined video, edited in a fashion that makes it feel like the viewer isn't missing out on the action. The general gaming through Twitch and YouTube as a live stream never caught my attention. Sometimes it's too long, too boring, or too quiet.

During my Extra Life run, I found myself struggling with things to talk about with the audience. I felt there was too much downtime of me not speaking that people were probably tuning out. While I do talk to games as I play (yes, I really do and yes, I do not expect responses back), after an hour, I didn't know what else to say. My commentary felt flat. I can't imagine watching a full speed run of something like Skyrim or Ghosts & Goblins and expect it to hold my attention. There is only so much the player can say before it becomes repetitive. In small chunks, not a problem. For the pro-gamers, I bet it's a beating.

Gaming really isn't for the faint of heart, and if you want to make a business out of it, you have to fully dedicate yourself to it. There are multiple outlets to get your games online - however most people are doing it for free. That's one thing those articles fail to mention: everyone can do it. You have to come up with a gimmick or a catch that will make people tune in. You're probably going to start out doing it for free and there is 0 guarantee that your channel (YouTube or other) will gain popularity to make it into a lucrative job. For the handful of people that are making this into a career, there are 10 times as many who can't get off the ground floor.

They also fail to mention that it isn't just about playing a game and uploading the video. The quality of the video matters. The quality of the audio matters, both for the game and yourself. How often you post matters. Once every 3 days will keep you present in people's minds versus once a month. Your equipment for recording needs to be top-notch or people won't watch. They want to see the game and hear you - clearly.

You also have to advertise the crap out of yourself. Social media is everything and anything in today's world. If you expect to keep your fans and gain new followers, you have to be consistently present on advertising yourself. In essence, you become your own brand and your social media needs to reflect this. You need to post daily on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, etc. You need to be on top of messages and respond to comments. You need to be actively engaged in the community that is watching and sharing your videos.

And you get to do all of this for no payment until you become big enough that YouTube's Ad Share starts kicking in. You have to be aware of how YouTube and Twitch's ad system can net you money. You need to learn marketing and be active in your role. It's not something that happens overnight - you have to be about you, yourself, and your business 24/7. Most people won't see a penny from advertising until their videos hit 30,000+ and then it's a few cents here and there.

This entire post was meant to poke fun at the articles that talk about how gaming is an easy way to make money. Just like any job in life, you need to work at it to gain success. The YouTube and Twitch personalities on top right now are constantly focused on how to maintain and strengthen their revenue. Gaming is still fun and hopefully they enjoy it, but they can't look at it as an extra-curricular activity. It's work. Just ask game testers. It's brutal.

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