Of all the niches that video streaming platforms like YouTube have either created or allowed to flourish, few can boast as much unprecedented growth as gaming.
Twitch may be the first name that comes to mind when you think about making gaming video content, but it is only very recently that YouTube began to compete with Twitch in the live streaming arena directly.
Even before that, YouTube acted as an excellent complementary platform for Twitch streamers to put highlight videos out on. Now, of course, YouTube is making moves of their own in the streaming world, which only increases the number of ways you can make money with gaming content on the platform.
The truth is, there are many ways to make money as a gaming YouTuber. Sponsorship, affiliate marketing, live stream super chats, superstickers, YouTube premieres, donations and directly selling services like direct gaming advice or multiplayer games where you join their fireteam in a co-op game – and even a few ways to make money on YouTube with gaming content if you aren’t a gamer.
This post will cover more than just video ideas for gaming content. There are some interesting legal question marks over this niche that deserve mention.
So keep reading as we explore how to make money on YouTube as a gamer.
Affiliate marketing is one of the most powerful tools for any budding YouTuber or Twitch gamer looking to make money online but it an be full of jargon. That is why I wrote a deep dive into affiliate marketing for beginners to help you wade through all the confusing words and get you on the path to making money online fast – without any need to buy silly expensive courses.
Gaming Content and Monetisation
If you intend to make Let’s Play style videos, there is a question of rights ownership that may affect your ability to make money from your content. YouTube has its own policy on software and video game content, which essentially boil down to it being fine to monetise as long as there is commentary and instructional value that is associate with the video.
All of that is a wordy way of saying you can’t just have an hour of video game footage playing while you talk about something unrelated to the game, or don’t talk at all.
You won’t be prevented from making this kind of content, of course, but YouTube may demonetise it, which will put a major roadblock in your efforts to make money as a YouTube gamer.
The other thing to note in the legal realm of YouTube gaming is the policies of the companies behind the games themselves. Though they have since eased up on their draconian approach to gaming content, Nintendo has been an example of this for some time.
This is because they would routinely claim videos of their games through YouTube’s Content ID system, claiming the revenue those videos made.
Since then, Nintendo has adopted a more fan-friendly approach, instead issuing a set of guidelines that state more or less what YouTube’s own policies state—that you have to add commentary or creative input to the content. If you want to just upload straight video of Nintendo games, you have to do it using Nintendo’s own tools.
That being said, it is worth noting that Nintendo chose to soften their stance on this after negative feedback, but there is no legal impetus for them to do so, and nothing to stop them from going back to a more hostile approach in the future.
Of course, there are more than just the Nintendos, Sonys, and Microsofts of the world.
The Internet has fostered a vibrant independent game development scene, and many of the developers and publishers in that scene are more than happy to let YouTubers make content using their games as it brings more exposure to their product.
An excellent example of this can be found at Devolver Digital, a small game development studio who actively encourage people to make content using their games, and even have a page on their site where you can enter your channel name to get written permission.
Choosing Which Games to Make Content Around
Once you’ve made peace with the various legal hurdles surrounding intellectual property, there is the small matter of what kind of content you intend to make.
There are plenty of different types of gaming video you can make, and we’re going to list a lot of them shortly, including examples of each.
As with any attempt to create regular content—especially if you intend to make money from it, one of the best things you can do is play to your strengths. It will not only produce better content, but it will also make your life more comfortable since it is always less work to do something you are good at than it is to do something you struggle with.
As an example, let’s consider a personality-based YouTube gaming channel. This is a channel where the YouTuber themself is what draws the views because the subscribers like to watch that person specifically. With a channel like this, the YouTuber could theoretically play anything they wanted, and the views would still roll in.
But by playing to their strengths, they can make better content and attract more views than just those diehard fans who will tune in for anything.
Two examples we have picked out are PewDiePie and DrDisRespect. Both of these YouTubers are incredibly popular, and could probably make a video of them eating a sandwich and still get millions of views. Despite this, they have clear strengths in the video game niche.
For PewDiePie’s part, he greatly enhanced his popularity by playing horror games. It was his comical reactions to jump scares and tense moments that pushed his channel into the upper echelons of YouTube during his early days of making videos, something that he would not have been able to reproduce with a different genre of game.
This stage of PewDiePie’s YouTube career is an excellent example of playing to your strengths, as PewDiePie started out making video game commentaries, but it wasn’t until he started making horror game videos that his channel really took off.
In the case of DrDisRespect, as his name suggests, his gimmick is being disrespectful. Now, while he could be disrespectful while playing a casual, friendly game like Animal Crossing, it wouldn’t have quite the same impact as it does while playing competitive multiplayer shooters. DrDisRespect, for all his gimmicks, is a very good gamer and has plenty of opportunities to boast during his playthroughs.
There may be a bit of trial and error in finding your strengths, but it is a worthy goal to achieve, especially when you are just starting out.
Who knows, maybe PewDiePie would have just been another successful YouTuber with a few million followers had he not started making horror game videos, rather than the most successful individual YouTuber in the history of the platform.
Different Types of Gaming Content
Before you can play to your strengths, you need to know what kind of content there is a market for. Of course, it’s worth noting that there will always be rewards for those who can think outside of the box and be successful because of it.
What we are about to list are established types of gaming content with proven popularity. We are not saying these are the only options if you want to make gaming content.
Unfortunately, if you want to blaze new trails, you will be on your own on that journey. After all, it wouldn’t be trailblazing if there was a post like this one telling you how to do it!
These are the kinds of videos that companies like Nintendo won’t allow you to monetise, so you will have to think carefully about what games you intend to make your videos around if you choose this path.
With a platform as big as YouTube, there is an audience for just about everything, including watching games being played. Sometimes it is merely a desire to watch the narrative in some of the more cinematic games, other times it is a gamer wanting to see parts of the game they missed but are not prepared to play the game again. With enormous open-world games like Fallout 4 and Grand Theft Auto V, it is easy to miss a lot of the content available to you. It can even be people who can’t play a particular game for one reason or another but still want to see it.
If you choose this style of gaming video, you will want to make sure you are offering something to the viewer. If you are showing the cinematics, don’t have 3 hours of regular gameplay in between.
Gameplay With Commentary
You may have seen these videos labelled as Let’s Play videos in the past. These videos involve the YouTuber playing through a game while talking about it. Videos like this will often have the YouTuber’s face in the video so the viewers can see their reactions.
This is by far the most popular kind of gaming content on YouTube, and both of the above examples of PewDiePie and DrDisRespect fall into this category.
If you are a particularly talented gamer, there is a whole niche around the ability to complete video games as quickly as possible. There is no limitation in terms of the game, with everything from retro platformers to huge open-world role-playing games being completed in ludicrously short spaces of time.
One example of this kind of channel can be found in GarishGoblin, who may not have that many subscribers, but has been able to amass millions of views with various speedruns in the Halo franchise.
Comedy gaming videos can come in several forms. One of the more famous examples is Red Vs Blue, a series on the Rooster Teeth Animation channel that features comedy sketches acted out using the Halo video game franchise.
Another example is SovietWomble, who creates highlight videos from his streams, often with humorous edits and effects to enhance the final product.
These types of videos are considerably more work in terms of editing when compared to something like a commentary video. On the other hand, they require less skill at actual gaming, which makes them an excellent option for people who enjoy gaming but aren’t necessarily that good at it.
Update videos could take the form of a general roundup of gaming news; however, that would be a competitive niche to enter, and one that would contain several media outlets. Success may be more attainable with a model like that employed by the YouTuber, ShadowFrax.
ShadowFrax makes videos detailing the latest updates surrounding the game, Rust, an open-world multiplayer survival game that is continually getting new content and updates from the developers. T
here are hundreds of popular games in active development, and finding one that you like and focusing your content on that could be an excellent way to create gaming content.
How to Make Games
This option is a little less attainable for your average YouTuber, but if you have the ability, making videos on how to make certain popular games may be a good option, as demonstrated by small YouTuber, b3agz, whose videos on how to make Minecraft and 7 Days to Die have amassed hundreds of thousands of views despite only having a few thousand subscribers.
Of course, you don’t necessarily need to create full step-by-step tutorials in the way that b3agz does; you could make videos analysing game mechanics, or talking about the methods behind certain aspects of the game. There has never been a better time to be providing resources for game developers, with game development being more popular now than at any point in its history.
How to Make Money on YouTube as a Gamer Conclusions
Ultimately, the key to making money on YouTube as a gamer—or as anything else, for that matter—is to make good content that people want to watch.
Granted, you must navigate the hurdles we mentioned above regarding intellectual property rights, but once you have done that, the first thing you should be focussing on is your content.
If you make good content, your chances of succeeding on YouTube—and making money as a result of that success—will be significantly improved. And, while we can’t guarantee a good video will make you money, we can say with confidence that a lousy video won’t make you money.
Or, perhaps more accurately, it could make you money, but it will be a short term thing that could damage your earning potential in the long run, as your channel will get a reputation for poor content, both in the eyes of the viewers and of YouTube itself.