How Do Professional Gamers Earn Money?
Certain people will accuse you of wasting your time playing video games. But they have no idea that certain professional players live a life of luxury, but keep in mind that you have to be in that small 1% of gamers. With an audience of tens of millions spectators ready to watch the League of Legends final or some other competitive gaming event we see that unconventional esports are reaching the top. But how much do these professional players such as Shroud earn? What exactly makes up esports earning?
Salaries vary from player to player, team; and other factors such as reputation, skill and social monitoring. Unfortunately, the industry lacks transparency in this issue, which makes it difficult for players to know how much is fair compensation for their work.
In 2015, Ember, a North American League of Legends team, was the first organization to make public the salaries of its players. In his statement, the organization encouraged absolute transparency regarding the salary of professionals, since most “eSports players may be leaving aside their education for an uncertain future.” These competitive gamers also live together in gaming houses, train very intensely, and generally live like pro athletes. The midlaner Greyson Gilmer who earned $65,000 in salary with a further $27,000 in performance bonuses. Maybe they are not the biggest names in League of Legends, but it could give a good estimation what is a professional player worth today. In professional Counter-Strike (CS:GO) teams these salaries in 2019 tend to reach $100,000 per year and this is only the basic salary.
Another obvious source of income is winning competitions, which is the biggest income source of esports players. Only in the 2019 EU League of Legends (LEC) Summer playoffs for a team, this could range from €10,000 to €80,000 which would be devided by the team. The professional players of Dota had over 20 million dollars in prizes on TI, of where the winners take up to 10 million.
The huge percentage of this earning in the video game industry comes from advertising. This comes from video game publishers, other gaming companies and, increasingly, from companies that are not related to this world. Marketing specialists from various industries see esports as a way to reach a young and digital audience. For example, SteelSeries, a manufacturer of gaming peripherals and accessories, sponsors several professional teams to promote their products.
When they are not playing in front of millions of people, a large number of esports players or professional gamers are streaming to nourish their virtual community as well as to increase their income. The monthly subscription service on Twitch changed the streaming industry from the basics, since only one popular streamer is also able to reach 50,000-100,000 concurrent viewers with his/her channel. This is controversial since the biggest esports events reach only a slightly more viewer with huge production costs.
The basic idea behind Twitch incomes is that half goes directly to the professional player and half goes to Twitch (it may change with partnership favoring the streamer).
For example, professional streamer, Ninja, who specialized in Fortnite (at least he plays with it in 2019), has earned 9 million dollars thanks to his “only” streaming career. Streaming on Twitch and other similar services also allows professional gamers to interact with their fans, which also further expands their influence.
The number of professional players in this industry is, of course, modest. The only thing we know esports will continue to grow at the speed with which they have grown this decade, there will be dozens of players who earn more than $1 million a year!