Video games have changed quite significantly over the past several years. During the good old days, kids simply played games like Mario Brothers to have fun with their friends. Over time, they could develop expertise in specific games. But, there wasn’t a clear way to monetize this skillset.
Recently, this dynamic has changed quite dramatically. Now, gamers are able to showcase their skills on a global stage. Competitive gamers like Ninja earn millions of dollars annually
and have been able to build strong brands that have opened up additional opportunities for sponsorships and partnerships across the entire industry.
One of the biggest changes beyond the improvement in the quality of games is the ecosystem around gaming. With advances in technology, streaming now enables gamers to not only play games online but it also enables them to broadcast their play to anyone who has an internet connection.
For those who are able to build an engaging experience for their audience and simultaneously play games at a high level, they can utilize Amazon’s Twitch or Microsoft’s Mixer to build a community that will pay to watch them play.
Although it can be quite challenging to build an audience of millions, Ninja and others have proven that this new ecosystem has amazing potential.
For those who may not have a magic personality to engage millions of followers while simultaneously competing at a high level, there are other opportunities to monetize their skill set.
Video game developers have begun hosting tournaments with huge cash prizes to those who finish in the top 10. These tournaments are often hosted in large venues and have the look/feel of a technologically advanced sporting event. Epic Games recently committed $100 million dollar prize pool for their tournaments
These tournaments are a way for game developers to showcase the skills of top players (halo effect) and illustrate what developing players can do to improve their expertise levels.
While most people will never play games at the highest level professionally, competitive gaming can no longer be ignored as a path for those who have the work ethic to continually improve their skills.
Digital advertising for desktop, console and mobile gaming is going to continue to increase. Video game developers are always looking for opportunities to grow the number of users in new and different ways. As the market for video games has become more fragmented and specialized, producing hit titles can make or break the annual financials for a game maker.
As a result, companies are looking for new and different ways to engage with prospective players. If you are able to prove that you can aggregate a group of potential players in a way that is unique and will convince them to play new games, you can receive sponsorship from video game makers. This is no different than how content providers get advertisers to purchase ads from them. The ability to aggregate an audience in a way that makes it easy to engage is an advertiser’s dream.
The most traditional yet most difficult way to make money with video games is to produce a great game. When you think about popular games that have millions and millions of users, this can become a very profitable enterprise.
As the number of potential players continues to grow, there are still many niches that have yet to be explored. Those who understand the technical and psychological aspects of gaming will be well positioned to develop games that are played by millions.
To be successful will require a technical foundation in the events, actions and graphic design that are fundamental to great games. And then, it will require figuring out how to get an initial group to play the game and collecting user feedback to improve the game experience.
Similar to other areas, people are always looking for ways to curate a higher quality experience. For someone who has developed knowledge and expertise in gaming especially what makes a good game, there is an opportunity both from a player and game maker standpoint.
If you can help new and experienced players make sense of all the games that come out on an annual basis by connecting them with the right game based on the criteria they consider important, that has created value.
Similarly, if you are known as someone who has a highly respected opinion with gamers, game makers will begin to send you early releases of new titles to get your feedback. You can charge a consulting rate for the time you spend playing the game and providing your opinion on what is working well and what is not working well.
On par with a competitive gamer, there will not be many reviewers who are able to rise to this level of respect within the industry. But, for those that are, there could be hosting opportunities at gaming tournaments and interviews with leading gamers to further build your brand and reputation.
While video games were initially a way to connect with others locally, the reality is that this is a growing industry that is generating millions and millions of dollars. Given this monetization potential, there is a large and growing opportunities for those with unique talents to utilize their skills in ways that may not have been possible even 10 years ago.
Although everyone will not rise to the elite level necessary to earn competitive compensation, the reality is that we must recognize that this is now an option for those who are passionate about video games and we should encourage those who may have the potential to get out there and see if they can earn a living.