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Make Money Playing Video Games: 21 Jobs, Sites, and Side Hustles

Playing video games can be a great way to make extra money
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This post shows you exactly how to get paid to play computer, smartphone and video games.

Whether you’re a hard-core gamer looking to break into competitive e-sports or someone who just wants to make a few bucks playing fun games at home in your spare time, there’s something for you on this list.

And yes, all of these ideas actually work — although some of them are a lot easier to take advantage of than others.

We’ve organized the different options into categories so you can jump directly to the type of opportunity you’re looking for:

Apps and Websites That Pay You to Play Games

Most people know about survey apps that will pay you to answer questions, apps that let you get paid to search the web (in exchange for access to your search data), and couponing apps.

But answering survey questions and clipping digital coupons aren’t exactly fun activities. What if there was a more entertaining way to pass the time while making a little bit of extra cash?

It turns out there are more than a few apps that pay you to play games. Here are some of the best.

Note that the user rating data shown in the tables below was collected in April 2024. We update this post periodically throughout the year to keep these numbers fresh.

#1. Mistplay

Google Play Store RatingiOS App Store Rating
4.1/5 with 442,821 votesNo iOS version

Mistplay is an Android app where you can earn points for playing (and sometimes for testing) new mobile games.

The longer you play a game, and the more games you play, the more points you’ll earn.

You can cash in your points for various gift cards to major retailers like Amazon. .

Mistplay is a well-known, well-regarded option. Among apps that pay you to play games, it’s the top-of-the-line, thanks to its wide range of options and its reputation for paying users as promised.

Unfortunately, it does not currently offer an iPhone version; Mistplay is only available for Android devices via the Google Play Store.

Related: The best game apps that pay cash via PayPal.

#2. Rewarded Play

Google Play Store RatingiOS App Store Rating
4.3/5 with ‎200,598 votesNo iOS version

Rewarded Play allows you to earn money by playing classic games like Solitaire, Wheel of Fortune and Yahtzee. The app is essentially a game discovery platforms, where you learn about new game apps and then download them separately. 

You earn money by playing each game for a certain amount of time, or by accomplishing specific in-game tasks (which, in many cases, you’ll need to purchase in-game items to complete). 

The downside to Rewarded Play is that you can only withdraw your earnings via gift cards, though the company states that most users can hit the minimum $5 withdrawal threshold after using the app for just a couple of days.

#3. Swagbucks

Google Play Store RatingiOS App Store Rating
4.2/5 with 142,912 votes4.4/5 with 108,690 reviews

Swagbucks is one of the most comprehensive money making websites around. Members can earn free gift cards for things like answering surveys, watching videos, shopping, and playing a variety of games.

Swagbucks offers a handful of free games, but most of them only pay pennies. In the example screenshot below, the available games pay “Up to 10 SBs,” which is equivalent to 10 cents.

You won’t make much money with these free games.

The better way to make money playing games on the site is by logging into your account and navigating to the “Discover” section, where you’ll find an assortment of promotional offers.

There, you can usually find a handful of free desktop and mobile games that offer achievement bonuses.

For example, in the screenshot below you can see that the game Raid: Shadow Legends will pay you 3,000 SBs ($30 in value) for reaching certain in-game milestones.

This Swagbucks offer amounts to a $30 reward.

What’s the catch?

Game developers know that dedicated players spend the most money on in-game purchases. They’re hoping that if you play the game long enough, you’ll become invested and choose to buy items, upgrades, character skins and so on.

Hitting the designated in-game goal within the allotted timeframe is usually extremely difficult (if not impossible), so most people who download these games never unlock the bonus. Whatever money they spend in-game is profit for the game developer.

Still, this can be a legit way to make money playing games if you’re up to the challenge. Just make sure you go in with realistic expectations about the difficulty and time required.

Swagbucks ($10 Bonus)
Put cash back in your wallet

Put cash back in your wallet

Get paid to shop online, watch videos, take surveys and play games with this all-in-one rewards site. Redeem your points for gift cards and PayPal cash starting at just $3.

#4. Swagbucks Trivia

Google Play Store RatingiOS App Store Rating
4.3/5 with 17,723 votes4.8/5 with ‎‎33,612 reviews

Swagbucks Trivia — formerly called Swag IQ and Swagbuck Live — is a trivia game show run by a standalone app. Each weekday, there’s a live trivia game (open the app to find out what time that day’s contest starts).

During the game, a host asks 10 questions and players choose from a selection of multiple choice answers. You have 10 seconds to answer, and are playing live against other players.

If you answer all 10 questions correctly, you win the day’s cash prize. When more than one player answers all 10 questions correctly, the prize is split amongst them.

If you miss a question or don’t answer within the 10 second time limit, you’re disqualified — but you’ll still earn SBs for each correct answer. You can use those SBs to buy a second chance at the grand prize, or you can add them to your balance and redeem them for cash or gift cards.

More info: You can learn more about how the site works in our in-depth Swagbucks review, which goes into detail about the Games section, Swagbucks Trivia, and other ways to make money on the platform.

#5. InboxDollars

Google Play Store RatingiOS App Store Rating
4.2/5 with 150,879 votes4.5/5 with 196,552 reviews

InboxDollars features about 30 web-based arcade games that pay out a few cents per play.

You’ll find a few familiar titles like solitaire, as well as simple puzzle and action games like Monkey Bubble Shooter (which is a color-stacking game).

You can also join WorldWinner through the site. WorldWinner runs cash tournaments for games like spades, Wheel of Fortune and Plinko.

However, the WorldWinner promotion on InboxDollars is cash-back, not a true money-making opportunity; you’ll earn up to 2% back on every $1 spent in cash tournament entry fees. You can learn more about how this works in our Inbox Dollars review.

Like many of the other gaming sites on this list, there are several ways to earn real money with InboxDollars, including reading emails, answering surveys and watching videos.

Once you’ve reached the $15 minimum cash-out amount, you can withdraw your earnings via PayPal, gift card or a couple of other options.

#6. Bananatic

Google Play Store RatingiOS App Store Rating
No Android appNo iOS app

Bananatic is a free game platform that rewards users with “bananas” (points), which can be redeemed for free PayPal money, free Amazon gift cards, Steam games and more.

To start earning, users register with the online games they want to play that are offered on the site. Popular games include World of Tanks and Star Trek Online.

Players then complete “quests” in order to collect bananas. A quest might mean winning a certain number of rounds, or achieving a certain score.

Once a quest is completed, players must then submit a screenshot as proof. Once the screenshot is verified, any bananas earned will be sent within 48 hours.

#7. Testerup

Google Play Store RatingiOS App Store Rating
4.2/5 with 63,244 votes4.3/5 with ‎15,055 reviews

Testerup provides product testing opportunities, but the vast majority of the offers on the site are for “testing” mobile phone games. As with similar apps, you earn money by downloading games and reaching in-game milestones, like leveling up.

We’ll be honest, though: when we reviewed Testerup, our earnings were very low. We also identified other problems with the app, such as an extremely high minimum cash-out of $70.

With that in mind, it’s a legit platform and users do get paid. Just go in with realistic expectations, and understand that you’ll have to use the app for months before you have enough in your account balance to withdraw your earnings.

Pay-to-Win Gaming Apps

Pay-to-win gaming apps have been quickly growing in popularity. While each game operates a bit differently, the general idea is that you pay a small fee to join a tournament, then compete against other players for a chance to win a cash prize. 

Tournaments can last anywhere from just a few minutes (with total prize money awarded being in the tens or hundreds of dollars) to a few days (where prize money can exceed tens of thousands of dollars). 

We cover the best pay-to-win-gaming apps in a separate article, but here are some of the top choices. 

#8. Skillz

Google Play Store RatingiOS App Store Rating
No Android app3.6/5 with 494 reviews

Skillz is a tournament platform that lets gamers from all over the world compete for cash prizes. In order to compete for cash, you have to deposit funds into your Skillz account using a credit card, debit card or PayPal account.

You can enter cash tournaments, and any winnings you accumulate can be transferred to your PayPal account.

Popular Skillz Games include:

  • Blackout Bingo. Pay a 60 cent entry fee to compete in bingo tournaments with potential cash prizes of up to $755.
  • Solitaire Cube. Pay a 60 cent entry fee to compete in solitaire tournaments, where the faster you get through your deck, the more points you’re awarded. Potential cash prizes of up to $200.

Check out our Solitaire Cube review and Blackout Bingo review for more details on each platform.

#9. WorldWinner

Google Play Store RatingiOS App Store Rating
No Android app4.6/5 with ‎36,579 reviews

WorldWinner offers some free games, but it’s primarily a paid app. That means if you want to earn money by playing games on the platform, you’ll have to pay to enter tournaments.

For each tournament, you can see how many people you’re playing against, the amount of the prize money, and how much it costs to enter. If you win the tournament, the prize money will be added to your WorldWinner account balance.

Your earnings can be cashed out through PayPal, a prepaid debit card, or via check.

If you decide to play on WorldWinner, sign-up through InboxDollars, as you’ll earn up to 2% cash-back on your tournament entry fees.

Just keep in mind: this pay-for-play model essentially makes this an online casino rather than a way to earn real cash.

#10. GSN Casino

Google Play Store RatingiOS App Store Rating
Multiple appsMultiple Apps

As with WorldWinner, GSN Casino is a suite of paid online casino apps that allows you to compete against other players for cash prizes.

Before you choose a game, you can see how many players you’ll be pitted against, how much the cash prize is, and how much it costs to enter.

Any prize money is credited to your GSN account, which you can then cash-out via PayPal, prepaid credit card, or check.

Note that there are multiple apps available: a dedicated app for slots, one for Wheel of Fortune, one for casino games and others.

Get Cryptocurrency for Playing Games

The games listed below are a few of the most popular titles in a new class of video games that reward users for playing with cryptocurrency. In most cases, these games are built around the idea of non-fungible tokens — unique digital items secured by the blockchain that hold value and can be sold for USD or traded for cryptocurrency like Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Often, one of the best ways to make money in these games (including in Axie Infinity and Decentraland, which are mentioned below) is by investing in digital real estate — plots of land in virtual worlds that have been soaring in value.

#11. Axie Infinity

A blockchain-based, Pokemon inspired game where players hatch and raise creatures (called Axies) that do battle with each other. Axies (and other in-game assets) can be sold for a cryptocurrency called SLP, which players can convert into Ehtereum. Players can also earn SLP through battling and by completing in-game tasks. This Medium article offers a quick overview on the game and how it works.

Below is a screenshot that shows the in-game Axie marketplace, although it’s worth noting that users also buy and sell Axies on many other platforms.

Axie Infinity Marketplace
The in-game marketplace of the crypto-based game Axie Infinity.

#12. Decentraland

A virtual world (similar to Second Life) where players can buy land, build structures, explore and chat with others. The game runs on a cryptocurrency called MANA, which can be sold or exchanged for other cryptos. Since the game was launched in 2017, the MANA-USD exchange rate has gone from about 3 cents to about 93 cents. And as of January 2022, the total market value of all MANA in existence was more than $3.8 billion USD — nearly twice what it was just one year earlier.

The screenshot below shows a city created inside Decentraland.

A scene from inside Decentraland.

#13. The Sandbox

Similar to Decentraland, The Sandbox is an open-world land development game where players create tradable in-game structures and assets backed by the blockchain. Within the game itself, players create different “experiences,” which allow others to interact with the world they’ve built.

The Sandbox game map. Each square represents a parcel of land; larger squares are multiple parcels that have been combined into “estates.”

#14. My Crypto Heroes

A Japanese, Ethereum-based RPG (fully translated into English) in which players gain EXP to level up their characters (farmers, warriors, creators and traders — which all have different strengths and purposes in the game). Each character is actually a non-fungible token (NFT), so the more a player levels them up, the more valuable they may become. Players can collect in-game assets (like rare items) which are also NFTs and can be sold or exchanged for other cryptos.

Here’s a breakdown of the different character classes:

MCH Character Classes
The different character types in My Crypto Heroes.

More Options

  • Sorare: A fantasy soccer game in which players collect digital trading cards and then assemble them into “squads” to compete against each other, winning more cards (which can be traded or sold) in the process.
  • Check out this website for a list all the major blockchain-based video games in a sortable table.

Earning Money as a Competitive Gamer

This section is not for those who just like to kill time playing Candy Crush or showing off their vocabulary on Words With Friends.

Earning money as a competitive gamer is the equivalent of being a professional athlete. Professional gamers can earn substantial prize money, but people will also pay to watch you play.

In fact, the consulting firm Deloitte noted that e-sports have grown to a $1.3 billion industry.

There are many ways to make money playing games competitively, from competing in tournaments to brand sponsorships to streaming. Here are a few of the best options.

#15. Become a Twitch Streamer

If you want to become a paid game player, Twitch — which is a video streaming service owned by Amazon and aimed at gamers — is one of the most realistic options.

There are a few ways you can make money live streaming yourself playing games on Twitch. One way is by adding a donation button to your channel, similar to Patreon donations for podcasters.

Viewers can tip players with an online currency called Bits, which are earned by watching ads (they can also be purchased). If viewers want to tip you, they type “cheerxx” into the chat window, replacing “xx” with the number of Bits they wish to tip.

Twitch viewers can subscribe to your channel just like YouTube viewers can subscribe to content creator channels. Once you have at least 500 subscribers, you can apply to become a Twitch Partner. If approved as a Partner, you’ll earn about $2.50 per month for each new subscriber. Again, like YouTube, you can also earn ad revenue on your channel.

As you can imagine, making money on Twitch isn’t only about your skills as a gamer but also how engaging and entertaining the audience finds you.

Many gamers also stream on YouTube and/or run their own blog, where they make money from advertising.

Learn more about how to make money as a blogger.

#16. Compete in E-Sports Tournaments

Becoming a competitive gamer and competing at live events is for elite gamers. These people often have coaches, attend camps, and sometimes “train” for up to 16 hours a day.

And it can pay off. Prizes at big events — watched by thousands in an arena and millions more online — can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more).

eSports Arena
The scene from a recent e-sports competition.

The best-known gamers are sometimes signed to professional teams and earn extra money through sponsorships with companies.

Competitive gamers at this level typically concentrate on a single game (League of Legends and Overwatch are two of the biggest). They may start out streaming on Twitch or YouTube, working to build an audience and a reputation within the industry in hopes of being invited to tournaments, joining a well-known team, and attracting potential sponsors.

If you’re interested, don’t limit your thinking to just videos games. There’s a vibrant scene for competitive card games like Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering, too. These are games that pay real money, with prizes that can be worth tens of thousands of dollars.

#17. Compete in Casual Tournaments

If your skills are not quite up to competitive e-sports levels, you can participate in cash tournaments that typically include a more casual group of players.

XY Gaming lets you compete against other players who have been matched with your skill level. There are no web-based games on XY; you play games you already own on your gaming consoles, such as Xbox, Playstation or computer. You connect those consoles to XY Gaming and challenge fellow players.

Different games have different player bases and payout levels, but you can earn real cash or other rewards when you play and win tournaments for the most popular titles, like League of Legends and Starcraft.

There are free tournaments, 50/50 tournaments (where the players who finish in the top 50% are rewarded), and Double Up tournaments that require an entry fee (with winners earning double the entry fee).

Other gaming tournament platforms include Gamer Saloon and Game Champions.

#18. Be a Video Game Coach

If you’re an expert gamer but don’t have the time or interest to compete for money, consider using your knowledge to teach other gamers who are looking to improve their skill.

A number of platforms have emerged that connect game coaches with players for training sessions, including Gamer Sensei (aimed at e-sports players) and Outschool (an online learning platform with a dedicated gaming category that caters to more casual players).

Some of the services you may provide as a game coach include:

  • Replay analysis, where you review a recorded gaming session and provide feedback and tips to help your student improve.
  • One-on-one coaching, where you meet with a player in a live session to go over different aspects of the game.
  • Situational training, where you actually play the game with your student and help them improve at things like situational awareness, resource management and communication.

The specifics vary with each site, but as a rule, you’ll work as an independent contractor and pay the platform a commission based on your earnings.

Learn more: Read CNBC’s story about Natesha Amber, who makes $3,000+ per month coaching Apex Legends players, and check out this overview guide from StreamScheme for tips on getting started.

Careers in the Gaming Industry

Sure you can get paid to play video games if you have elite skills, but the income isn’t exactly steady — and most people aren’t that talented.

Fortunately, “real” jobs in the video game field are out there. They don’t all involve strictly playing video games, but many of them are full-time and can be done from home.

#19. Design Assets for Games

If you’re a coder, an artist or can compose music, you can create and sell video game assets including backgrounds, character models, music and sound effects.

Some places you can sell game assets include Envato Marketplace, GameDev Market, Unity Asset Store, and Unreal Engine Marketplace.

Sometimes, you can also create in-game assets for existing games which can be exchanged for real-life cash.

One example is Linden Labs’ virtual world Second Life, which has its own (massive) internal economy. Users can create in-game content, like clothes or gadgets for their avatars, and then sell those in-game assets for Linden Dollars, which are the game’s virtual currency. There’s a set (floating) exchange rate for Linden Dollars to USD, and many venues for exchanging back and forth between the two.

Second Life players can also earn Linden Dollars by taking on virtual jobs within the world. One of the most popular is buying and selling virtual real estate.

#20. Build a Media Brand

As we’ve seen, professional gamers are a thing and they have fans just like professional athletes, musicians, and actors.

And as we discussed, it’s not all about your skill as a gamer. You can build a brand around a blog that reviews games and gaming consoles, reports on gaming tournaments, and reveals game secrets.

Of course, gaming is a crowded field when it comes to blogging and streaming. You can make money online doing it, but you’re going to find yourself competing with some well-established heavy hitters in the industry.

Instead, pick a niche — a popular game, a particular console, or a certain brand you review. You’ll appeal to a smaller audience but you’ll have less competition, and that will enable you to stand out more quickly.

Building a media brand can take time, but some of your content has the potential to become a source of passive income. Putting in a lot of time and work upfront can pay off on the back end.

#21. Find A Video Game Job

Like any industry, video games have spawned dozens of types of jobs. Gamer is just one job; there are designers, coders, artists, event planners, marketing people, game testers and customer support reps.

If you’re looking to get hired by a game company, networking is important (as it is for all careers). Become active in online gaming communities, contribute to blogs and forums, and attend gamer-related meetups, conferences, conventions and live gaming events.

If you have no experience, start a blog, a Twitch stream, or a YouTube channel so that you have somewhere to send the people you meet. The gaming industry is huge, but like with any industry, it’s small at the same time.

If you attend events, you’ll see the same people often, so it’s important to insert yourself into the industry rather than waiting to be invited in. Just like the prom, if you want to go, ask rather than waiting to be asked.

FlexJobs is also a great resource for finding work-from-home video game jobs. We recently did a test search and found over 300 listings, including positions like game tester, community manager and quality assurance specialist.

As you can imagine, since gaming industry jobs are so desirable, there are a lot of scams posing as legit opportunities. That’s especially true when it comes to remote jobs, as it’s a lot easier to pull off a scam when your only interaction with the victim is online.

FlexJobs screens its postings to make sure that the jobs (most of which offer remote positions) are legitimate, so you don’t have to worry about falling prey to a scam artist. 

More info: Read our in-depth FlexJobs review to learn about the site.

How to Get Paid to Play Games: Final Thoughts

The possibilities to have a legit online job within the gaming industry have never been better. And depending on which option you choose — and how hard you’re willing to work — you can make some real money by doing so.

On the other hand, not everyone is looking for a career path. In that case, there are plenty of ways to make money playing games that allow you to earn a little bit of extra income via your iPhone or Android device in your spare time.

Read next: The best ways to make money from home.

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R.J. Weiss
R.J. Weiss, founder of The Ways To Wealth, has been a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ since 2010. Holding a B.A. in finance and having completed the CFP® certification curriculum at The American College, R.J. combines formal education with a deep commitment to providing unbiased financial insights. Recognized as a trusted authority in the financial realm, his expertise is highlighted in major publications like Business Insider, New York Times, and Forbes.

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