Making a Living Gaming: An All Too Frequent Question Answered


It’s weird seeing so many people interested in the financial situations of Pro Players or people that make videos on YouTube or my specific financial situation.  The question in itself, teeters on the “none of your business” side of  life and I feel like the majority of people that have figured it out aren’t going to tell you anything about their personal lives.  I feel like I have demystified the process about as much as I can, yet it seems like people continue to ask the same general question. This was a question from John Mackin on our Facebook Page.  His question was in reference to my Sensitivity Video which I shot and edited in a couple hours.  The gameplay was just stockpiled footage that I have sitting on hard drive space.


One question that i dont understand why people haven’t asked is seeing as GoW was taken off the circuit, how do you have enough money to live and make these videos? I know its usually rude to ask about finances, but your obviously still going strong if your gaming this hard.


I answered his question through the zYn Gaming Admin account, but will provide an in depth answer for anyone else that might be wondering.  First let me be clear, I am not Walshy, Tsquared, Ogre 2, Hastr0 or any of the other Major League Gaming Pro players that have managed to build or create a living solely from playing a game.  Nor do I know the financial state of those players, so even my assumptions may be wrong about their finances strictly from “gaming.”  There is no guide to follow that says, “if you play games and post videos that you will make money. ”  There is no guide that guarantees if you play 10 hours a day and then go play StarCraft 2 at a Major League Gaming event that you will beat everyone else and magically land a major sponsorship deal.  The reality of the world dictates that there are very few situations in life where you receive instant gratification or instant satisfaction for something you want.  You typically have to fail, try again, fail, try again, fail some more and then maybe you understand what doesn’t work and fix it enough that everything starts to make sense.


Video Production on YouTube

I looked at the formula for YouTube Partners, specifically those that made reviews.  I studied the process for a long time by subscribing to the site’s major video reviewers.  I looked at what they did, how they did things, and asked myself,  “how can I make that formula work for me?”  Three months later after my channel went from 700 something subscribers to a little over 1000 subscribers; I received confirmation that I was a YouTube Partner and that my account passed cut.  Less than a year later, my channel grew from 1000 subscribers to 5000 subscribers and I’m now a Machinima Respawn Director.  There are still people like Freddie Wong, whose channel grew from a couple tens of thousands to over 1 million subscribers in the same amount of time.  I don’t have all the answers, but I know that hard work and dedication to figuring out the process continue to improve the quality of my work across all fronts — not just YouTube.


MLG Pros & Making Money

As far as “Professional” gaming goes, there are so many different contributing factors that you have to consider before you ask someone, “How much can you make from Major League Gaming?”  Or my favorite, “How much does Major League Gaming pay you to play games?”  Again, Gears of War was a drop in the bucket for my total paycheck.  Just take a look at our total earning for 2009 if you think I’m joking.  If you know about me, you know I love competition and the thrill of competing against people equally as good or better than myself.  I have never competed in any gaming event with the sole intention of making oodles and oodles of money.  I understand sports marketing from college sports, I understand business, and I understand the implications of what major “gaming” figures represent to companies looking to push a product.


Just like any other traditional sports athlete, mega-star athletes make the majority of their money from endorsements.  The odd thing about gaming, even the leagues are struggling to generate enough income for the actual players to make decent money simply playing in their leagues — without the assistance of a $100,000 endorsement check from Intel for pumping their latest processor.  The players without major endorsements, if there even is such a thing yet in gaming, aren’t even making that much money.   Things are progressing at a rate too slow to measure and not worth the time to really understand or question.  I don’t know how much money you can make, but I know there are companies putting more of their money into the personalities that build the leagues.


Maintaining An Actual Job is Important

I have and continue to build myself and the AmazYn team to a point where finances are supplemented (key word) to my main source of income.  I currently work for the gaming studio Edge of Reality.  Prior to Edge, I worked at eBash Video Gaming Center for roughly 2 1/2 years and managed one of their LAN Centers.    And before working at eBash, I was in college at the University of Cincinnati on a Football scholarship and studied Digital Business (essentially e-commerce and marketing).   All the while I maintained an active role in Major League Gaming and was fortunate enough to have teammates dedicated to participating in Major League Gaming events.


There is no secret sauce or some type of illustrious plan that makes it easy for me to produce videos and have an active role in gaming.  My schedule allows me to do so because I am in front of a computer screen for much too long and I have the necessary equipment to be active around the web.  There are players that have more recognition in Major League Gaming as “Former” Gears of War Pro Players that have a better track record than myself, but do not take the time of day to pursue anything beyond competing or perhaps are more interested in working, finishing school, or whatever is most important for their life circumstances.  Jumping cold turkey and expecting to make money in Professional Gaming is a long shot.  You’d enjoy the games and the concept of competitive gaming taking the approach of competing to have fun versus competing to pay the bills.


Quick Fix Facts:

  • I currently work for the Game Studio Edge of Reality (Main source of income)
  • I am a Machinima Respawn Director and YouTube Partner (Paid for Content + Google Adsense)
  • I work a typical 9 – 5 job and I’m free on weekends (Time to play games)
  • I create content on my blog (Google Adsense, Amazon Associates, etc)
  • I maintain a relationship with Developers, Hardware Manufacturers, and Industry figures in the Gaming Scene (Building Industry Relationships)



Hopefully it’s apparent, based on my job history, that I had an active role in maintaining a close relationship to the video game industry.  It’s easy to stay active as a player, blog about gaming, or create videos because of having a flexible schedule.  As far as the video creating videos, I detailed a pretty long article on “How to Become a YouTube Partner,” that provides the necessary information and illustrates how I got involved with that side of gaming.  Undoubtedly there will be more questions, but now at least I can give someone a link and say, “this is what I do.”  I hope that helps the inquisitive minds of the world.  I would like to deter all further questions regarding Pro Players and their Financial situations to @MLG_Sundance @MLGTsquared or @Walshy304.


I only know what I know.

coded by nessus

  • SStrafe

    What do you have to do and do you earn a lot from Edge, if you don’t mind me asking? :)

    • K.L. Smith

      I think I’ve detailed enough =)

  • The Mr. Obscure

    I would consider myself one of your “unpaid” critics, making sure you stay earth bound in your en-devour to become somewhat of an icon for the people. I tend to voice my idealistic notions on your topics and perspectives but this time I’ll just sit back and applaud you. In an industry (competitive gaming) that spends its time coddling uncivilized and immature individuals who were/are coddled by their parents, you remove yourself from said equation of stupidity. In a way, so to speak, you lay out the ground work of how this is a passion of yours but it comes at the cost of hard work and responsible actions, is a job well done. You don’t owe any of us anything, your diligence and “lead by example” mentality will continue to separate you from the crowd of mouth-pieces and the cro-magnon ways of your peers.

    Anyways, I guess I can split time as a believer and a critic….right?

    Good job.

    • K.L. Smith

       Wow man I really appreciate that! I am out to make it so that people truly understand how to get involved in gaming.  Lots of younger players have this misconception about how things work and no one is coming out and saying, “this is really how it is.”  

      I welcome and appreciate all differences in opinion, so believe me when I say being a believer and a critic is a great way at keeping me earth bound.  I really do appreciate a comment like this so thank you for taking the time to respond.

  • Chenstrap

    Can i ask how you got the job at the game studio? Was it through your education/degree, being a pro/ex pro player, or a combination of both? 

    • K.L. Smith

      It was a combination of job history, gaming experience, and education.  I also relocated to a city that has quite a number of gaming studios. 

  • UpRoaR!

     I hope for the best for ya zYn, you guys deserved to get paid like the pros from halo, lets hope that gears 3 gets pick up,good luck to zyn in the future :)


  • MrEternity1

     Pretty good article like usual. Freshmen year in high school I thought I could make a ton of money by becoming a pro gamer and that’s all I wanted to do. I wasted so much time on it, and eventually figured out that it wasn’t worth it. As you said in your article only the top players make any kind of money in these leagues. Meaning that the average player makes small amounts of money or no money at all from time to time. The conclusion being there isn’t a big enough market for this yet. I’m glad I understand this now and stopped that ridiculous goal. Though if MLG picks up GoW3 I will attend an event just for fun.

    • K.L. Smith

      Yeah one of the biggest things with playing competitively while in school is time management.  It takes a lot of time to have a significant impact.  One of my goals and I’ve told this to Sundance, is to educate people, especially players that are younger (like you were your Freshman year), about how little money their is in professional gaming.  

      You really have to love playing versus trying to make a quick buck.  Too many younger players think it’s a glamorous, money-filled  to be a “Pro,” when in reality you can make more money working a part-time job for the 90% of the players in the leagues or focusing on school.