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How Amateur Gamers Are Making Extra Money During the Pandemic

There is real money to be made doing virtual battle.

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Even non-gamers by this point are well aware that millions of dollars can be made in professional esports. But aside from those headline-making tournament purses, there are several other avenues that amateur gamers are taking during the pandemic to put a little extra money in their pockets.

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"We can see that employment has been disrupted across age groups but there's real interest and urgency in to supplement current income with younger audiences and many are interested in doing it through gaming," says Tom Fairey, CEO of Stakester, a mobile-based competition platform where players compete in esports and sports for prizes including money. "The 18-35 age group appears to be the sweet spot for combined interest in developing a side hustle along with the need to generate extra income. The pandemic has absolutely put gaming front and center and people from casual players to brands to VCs are taking notice."

Fairey broke down how gamers both established and new to the game are pulling in bucks.

What kind of monetization opportunities are there for gamers?

Pre-Covid-19, esports was already taking off with huge payouts for elite gamers and stadiums full of fans cheering them on to glory. While the spectacle may be on hold while the world deals with the pandemic, the desire is not and we're seeing a boost in how much time people spend playing. In fact, 78% have increased their hours under lockdown, according to a recent study from Stakester. Some of that group include people who are gaming as a legitimate side hustle either because they can't do their jobs or to make up for a fall in wages and is made possible by peer-to-peer competition platforms. This is actually a really exciting trend because it means gamers from casual to hard-core enthusiasts can get a slice of the millions up for grabs traditionally only accessible to the best of the best. We're also starting to see peer-to-peer competition move into sports, to support the wagers lots of people were already making from frat-house beer pong tournaments to head-to-head CrossFit throwdowns.

Related: How to Be Nice While You Kill Everyone Around You in Pro Gaming

Can you break down the average amounts that players at different levels can hope to make?

This really varies by skill, format and hours played. Wagers can range from $5 to $10,000 but most are under $100. Last year the top prize for a professional tournament was $3M and was for Fortnite. Outside of the pro circuit, purses are much smaller but millions of players are competing every month for extra cash, and we've seen high-skill players take home $1,600+ a month sometimes pocketing over $20,000 annually.

Who are some of the highest-paid gamers and how much are they making?

Last year, professional esports groups hosted over 4,000 tournaments, paying out over $211M to winning participants. A Dota 2 tournament set records with a $34M purse in 2019 and in fact, 37 of the top 40 highest-earning gamers have all come from the Dota 2 circuit. Tournaments are funded differently. Some of the purses are crowdfunded, such as in the case of Fornite. Others come from the developers themselves. For example, Valve provides half the purse for Dota 2 and ticket sales when events are in person.

Related: How to Become a Successful Gaming Entrepreneur

What are the first steps of turning your gaming hobby into a side hustle?

Turning your hobby into a hustle is super easy, just sign up and start playing! Most platforms, including Stakester, have skill-matching functions to ensure a fair and fun competition so you can back yourself with confidence.

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