How children are making money from online gaming
15 Nov, 2023
5 minute read

How children are making money from online gaming

Children and young people gaming online can monetise their hobby in a variety of ways, from live-streaming payments to play-to-earn cryptocurrency games. 

These may offer a payoff – but if your child is earning money in these ways, there can be risks too. 

Here’s what you need to know.


Harnessing in-game currencies

Many games have their own in-game currencies, such as Fortnite’s V-bucks or Roblox’s Robux. These can be used to unlock new levels or features and represent a significant amount of games’ revenue – 90% of Roblox’s revenue comes from Robux sales. 

The “exchange rate” between real and in-game currencies can be difficult for younger players to grasp, especially if their financial or numeracy skills are still developing. 

However, gamers can also harness these in-game currencies for their own financial gain.

Roblox allows users to create their own gaming worlds for other players to experience. Within this, there is scope to develop games that collect Robux.

For example, their game could require players to pay for an item in order to progress, or include a “donate” button for users to contribute if they feel they’ve enjoyed the experience. They can then “cash out”, exchanging the Robux they have collected back into real-world currency.

Roblox has said that young developers have earnt upwards of $30million on its platform. It can also help boost game development and entrepreneurial skills.


Another popular way to earn money from gaming is through live-streaming on platforms like Twitch or Discord

Those watching a Twitch stream can tip the streamer via donation buttons, or donate ‘bits’, as in-platform currency. Each ‘bit’ is worth 1.4 cents and the streamer receives one cent of each bit donated to them. The greater the bit donation, the greater the emoticons displayed on screen – and stream viewers can compete to ensure their name remains displayed as top donor. 

Discord is a platform that allows gamers to chat as they play, in groups known as servers. Similar to Twitch, server members can donate to server owners, who can withdraw the donations directly via PayPal, or set up a monthly subscription.

While it takes time and dedication to develop an engaged fan following, if their Twitch channel or Discord server becomes successful they can earn money from subscriptions and audience contributions. Twitch’s top streamers, Ninja and PewDiePie, both earned more than $20 million in 2021.

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The world of esports – competitive video gaming at a professional level – is big business, with tournaments regularly offering hundreds of thousands of pounds in prize money. 

As in traditional sports, reaching the big leagues takes time and effort, with hours of gameplay needed to develop and hone your skills. And while the world’s top players can earn hundreds of thousands per year through competition winnings and sponsorship deals, the vast majority won’t reach these dizzying heights. 

If your child is serious about getting into esports, playing in lower-level tournaments can give them valuable experience and contacts. The British Esports Association has more advice on becoming a pro gamer.

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Gaming “skins”

Skins are downloadable alterations to a game character’s appearance. They're purely aesthetic: they don't increase the character's abilities or impact on the game in any other way. 

However, as their aesthetics and quality have improved, they have become incredibly popular. Rarer or more specialised skins can be highly sought-after, though their individual value can fluctuate enormously. They can be traded in online gaming marketplaces like on the platform Steam, and purchased via online tools like PayPal and Bitcoin.  

Skins can also be used as a currency in themselves on third-party sites – especially on gambling sites, which can be seriously risky.

Some platforms only let players gamble for skins, using (and losing) them without letting you cash out for real money. However, other platforms have sprung up which let players withdraw the value to their credit or debit card or PayPal account. 

Developers and platforms have sought to distance themselves from skin gambling sites – unsurprising, given online gambling is illegal for anyone under the age of 18. 

Play-to-earn gaming

As well as monetising existing games, there are a whole new wave of online games where the entire objective is to earn money. Play-to-earn games such as Axie Infinity, where gamers can earn cryptocurrency tokens or NFTs through gameplay, are becoming increasingly popular. 

Becoming a successful crypto gamer isn’t quite as straightforward as in esports. You often have to pay a certain amount of a cryptocurrency to begin playing. For example, to play Axie Infinity, users must first purchase three “Axies”, which, at one point, cost the crypto equivalent of more than £1000. 

It’s also significantly riskier. The value of cryptocurrencies and NFTs can fluctuate enormously, meaning it’s possible to put a lot of money into a game, only to find it suddenly worthless. 

While there aren’t technically any age restrictions for crypto trading or mining, children should not be playing such games, as they may not fully understand the consequences of their gameplay, and the “real” money being spent. 

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This article was last updated on 12/05/23.


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