During recent years it’s become easier to play video games for a living thanks to a growing eSports industry. While 10 years ago you'd have a hard time making a good salary playing games, nowadays there are thousands of people who have made it big using a mouse and keyboard.
Today, we're going to look at seven of the most lucrative video games you can play. Whether you're interested in spending time in a game that could make you some side income, or curious what games people are talking about when they say they play video games professionally for a living, we have you covered.
Total Prize Pool: Over $7 million
Top Earnings Player: Andrew "Andinster" Woodward - $317,000
Smite may be a lesser known game, but don’t let that fool you. Each of the top 10 players have made over $200,000 from prizes alone, let alone income from their salaries and sponsorships.
Smite stands out as a game that allows you to play a variety of well-known gods and goddesses. If that sounds fun, consider that it's free-to-play, meaning you can play without having to cough up any money.
Smite’s tournaments have admittedly had dwindling prize pools. If you aren’t already a deeply invested player, that might be a deal breaker. But don't worry, we have six more games for you to choose from.
6. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Total Prize Pool: Over $9 million
Top Earnings Player: Pavel “Pavel” Beltiukov - $295,000
Look, digital card games aren’t for everyone. Not only are they random as hell, but there’s a lack of gameplay feedback that can make them monotonous to play.
But for gamers who are into card games, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is king of the jungle. With a healthy audience of people on Twitch and plenty of online tournaments, it’s a comfortable game to spend all your waking hours playing. Good luck learning about all 1,600 cards, though.
Check Out: A Look at Hearthstone's History
Hearthstone has had great support from Blizzard over the years, with expansion packs being released multiple times per year. If you need something for the long haul, this is a good pick.
5. Heroes of the Storm
Total Prize Pool: Over $9 million
Top Earnings Player: Lee “merryday” Tae Jun - $172,000
If you’re going to spend a lot of time playing an action RTS, you might want to head to League of Legends or Dota 2 since they’re a lot more popular. However, Heroes of the Storm has some unique qualities that make it worth playing.
For example, the game has a greater emphasis on teamwork when compared to its MOBA competitors which prevents a single player from dominating the game. Because of this, if you’re the kind of player that enjoys teamwork (or just hates the pressure of having to lead a game), this is a solid choice.
Heroes of the Storm features a cast of characters all derived from Blizzard's games, including Thrall from Warcraft, Kerrigan from StarCraft, and even the Overwatch cast. If you enjoy any of these games, then it's worth checking out.
4. StarCraft II
Total Prize Pool: Over $23 million
Top Earnings Player: Jang “MC” Min Chul - $506,000
Unlike all other games on this list, StarCraft II is a game played alone in a one versus one environment. Because of this, players that are able to do well are able to collect full prize purses and enjoy a lot of success.
The unfortunate side of this is that all players are self-dependent. In other words, if you’re having an off day at a tournament, you’re out of luck.
3. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Total Prize Pool: Over $38 million
Top Earnings Player: Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo - $580,000
While most of the games on this list are strategy games, Counter-Strike stands out as a premium option for first-person shooter fans looking to make a living with their precise digital aim.
Counter-Strike is best known for its hip-shooting gameplay that emphasizes headshots. Once you get a feel for how challenging it is to land a good hit, it's exciting to watch pro players go at it with quick trigger fingers.
Also Read: This is What Counter-Strike Is About
Recent eSports tournaments for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive have had $1 million prize pools that have pushed the top players from comfortable living to being able to pay for nice cars and expensive champagne.
2. League of Legends
Total Prize Pool: Over $43 million
Top Earnings Player: Lee “Faker” Sang Hyeok - $1 million
Formerly the top game on this list, League of Legends has remained a high profile game for nearly a decade. Considered the pioneer in modern eSports, it brings in millions of viewers per day on livestreams alone where endless memes are posted.
League of Legends has a lot of characters to learn, which by itself turns a lot of new players off. On the plus side, it gives you something to read about while waiting in line at the DMV.
1. Dota 2
Total Prize Pool: Over $126 million
Top Earnings Player: Kuro “KuroKy” Takhasomi - $3.3 million
It doesn’t get any bigger than Dota 2. With $24 million eSports prize pools and a healthy community, there’s no better game to spend your time mastering.
All of the top 50 players are millionaires. While it isn’t easy to get to that level, it's probably worth trying.
The game is so big, in-fact, that some players blame the lack of a Half-Life 3 release on Valve being content with the money it makes from Dota 2 microtransactions. That might sound crazy, but just look at the latest game announced by Valve… a Dota 2 card game.