There has never been a better time in history to make money playing video games, but there are two clear paths that offer vastly different experiences and require different skills.
I’m of course talking about esports vs streaming. If it is money you’re after, then you’ll probably be wondering – which one makes you richer?
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In this article, I compare the financial benefits for different tiers of success both as an esports player and a streamer.
Beginner Streamer Versus Pro-Am Player
Let’s first start at the very bottom. This is where everybody has to begin. If you want to make any considerable income from esports or streaming, you’ll have to fight your way up from here just like everybody else.
Unsurprisingly, the financial incentive for newcomers to esports and streaming is almost non-existent. There are some slight differences between the two, so here’s how they compare anyway.
Streaming As A Beginner – How Much You’ll Earn
As a beginner streamer, you will earn almost nothing. Trying to pull together more than just a few viewers at once could take months, and you’ll need dedication before you even get a sub button on platforms like Twitch.
You may have the chance to get donations here and there, but the chances available at the beginning are very small.
Playing Esports As a Beginner – How Much You’ll Earn
Playing esports as a beginner looks a little more promising, but not by much. Firstly, you’ll actually need to be good at the game you’re playing at, and secondly, you’ll need a team to practice with if it isn’t a solo game.
If you have both of these things, you’re already one huge step ahead of most players. You’ll be able to enter online tournaments with prize pools and scout the local area for esports tournaments.
It will depend on your region, but you have the chance to pull in a few hundred per month from winning or placing high in events.
This will only really apply if you are playing a popular esports title like Overwatch, CSGO, or League of Legends.
Finally, in these games, the prize money will be split between you and your team so you’ll be taking home very little every month as you attempt to compete.
Intermediate Streamer Versus Low Tier Pro Player
Whether you are streaming or playing competitively, this tier of your career will only be reached if you put in a lot of time, effort, and get a little bit lucky.
Many people put in all of their heart and soul and never make it to this point. It’s a risk for sure, but the pay off can be great if it is something you genuinely love doing.
How Much You’ll Make As An Intermediate Streamer
At this point, you should have been streaming for 1-2 years. You will have a subscribe button and you will be averaging 100-200 viewers.
To get to this point, you would probably need to stream regularly at least 16 hours per week for the past year or two with relatively little financial incentive.
With your growing user base, however, you may finally be pulling in a few hundred up to a thousand dollars per month. It won’t be enough to live on but it should be a supplemental side income.
How Much You’ll Make As A Low Tier Esports Player
As an esports player, this will be the point where you’ve played enough to be picked up by a more recognizable team, or you’ll have enough experience in your current team to be visiting international events.
Unless you are very, very lucky, you won’t be salaried yet, so you’ll have to work extra hard to get good placements. If you win events, you may be lucky enough to pull in a few thousand per year, minus any travel expenses.
Not much, obviously, but the important part here is that you are getting your name out there. If you play well at this point, salaried teams may headhunt you.
Popular Streamer Vs Professional Esports Player
Take all of the effort, sweat, and diehard dedication it took to get to the intermediate level and multiply it by 100.
That’s how much effort you’ll need to get to this next stage. More importantly, you’ll need to be even luckier. As an esports player, it’ll come down to hoping the right people see you play and as a streamer, it’ll come down to the right people seeing your stream.
How Much You’ll Make As A Popular Twitch Streamer
It’s hard to gauge to say how long it would take to get to this point, but if you’re pulling in 500 to 1,000 viewers per stream and you stream anywhere from 20 to 40 hours per week, you should be able to pull in a few thousand per month. This is where you’ll finally be able to make a living off of streaming.
Your income will be primarily from subscribers and donations, so consider that some months may be shakier than others.
How Much You Can Make As A Pro Esports Player
At this point, your only true hope to make it big is to be headhunted by a salaried team. The amount you get paid will depend on the team you join, but it could be anywhere up to a few thousand per month.
You’ll still be on a lower tier team in comparison to the top teams in the world, but you’ll have made a name for yourself.
To get to this point, you will need to be very, very good at the game you play and incredibly good with networking with others in your community.
What’s Next? – Top Streamer Earnings Vs Esports Earnings
If you ever make it to the last tier, the good news is that it’s probably up from there. Keep practicing and competing at a high level, or keep streaming regular hours and you will continue to grow and make money.
Eventually, the pay gap will become clear. Streaming will be the best opportunity for the earners at the top due to personal brand deals, tens of thousands in revenue per month from subscribers, and even more from donations.
The top esports players often get paid up to $20,000 per month as a salary, plus prize pool money, but it will not compare to the hundreds of thousands streamers are able to pull in through brand deals.
Many streamers make millions in a year whilst most top-tier esports players are lucky to make that in their entire career.
Is Esports Or Streaming Worth Pursuing?
Ultimately, both esports and streaming can be very lucrative, but you have to be very good at what you do, enjoy it with an unbeatable passion, and be dedicated to it for years. Even then, it’ll somewhat come down to luck.
Both avenues are still very risky ventures, but it is important to put energy into your passion. If you love playing competitively or love streaming, the best thing you can do is fit it around work or school. If you truly love it enough, you’ll make time for it.