REDWOOD CITY, Calif. — Playing video games full-time is not a viable source of income, some would say. Others believe professional players only make money from winning tournaments. These ideas are “giant misconceptions,” according to Mike Sepso, the co-founder and president of Major League Gaming and the leader in e-sports broadcasting.
“Yeah. I’m extraordinary jealous of some of our pros,” responded Sepso during GamesBeat 2013’s “The Rise of E-sports” panel, when asked whether it’s possible to make a living by playing games.
The shift in long-term sustainable games has enabled professional gamers to create successful careers within e-sports over the past few years. However, this wasn’t always the case. Caleb Fox, the head of e-sports for Wargaming America, recalls large annual shifts of top players on the pro circuit. This was especially evident for “package goods,” as Fox describes — titles such as Call of Duty, which see a new version every year.
“Imagine playing [in the NFL], and they change the rules of football every two years,” Fox said. “Or even every year, in the case of Call of Duty.”
With the rise of free-to-play titles and the philosophy of games as a service, developers are able to support games long-term. This in turn allows players to build a professional career on a game that won’t dramatically change within a couple of years but instead evolve slowly over the course of 10 or 15 years.
Making a living off playing video games doesn’t necessarily require players to win all the time, either. Much of it, as Sepso points out, comes from good marketing.
“Like other sports, the teams who are the top earners in [Major League Gaming] and the U.S. are not the ones that win all the time,” Sepso says. “They’re the ones who market themselves the best, who have the biggest Twitter followings and biggest Youtube channels.”
You don’t even have to be a professional gamer to make money playing games nowadays. With new streaming services such as Twitch, people who wish to earn a living from playing games can now achieve that. Top streamers can earn thousands, depending on their subscription base. They also get paid from ads, which run during downtime. As long a streamer is garnering enough views per ad, they will earn money.
Bottom line, playing games can actually be good for your wallet.
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