If you’re a passionate gamer, then trying to make money selling video games online might seem like the obvious fit. And, the attraction is easy to see. There are so many different gamers out there on computers, consoles, and the growing portable market. Gaming is booming, and it's a multi-billion dollar industry. There has to be a way that a regular person can make some extra money selling games online, right?
If you have a passion for gaming, then this could be a really fun and exciting business venture. However, games are also a tricky area with making money and the idea of making money selling them isn’t as simple as it seems. There are some potential hurdles in your way, some of which you have probably already considered. So let's take a look at how to avoid some mistakes and some ways that could really be profitable.
Ways To Sell Video Games Online
Reselling Your Own games
One of the most logical ways to sell video games online is to go through sites like Amazon and eBay. The idea here would be to list the physical games that you have at a competitive price and ship those out when you make a sale.
That is the basic process that everybody goes through to sell on those sites. However, if you want to create a successful business, then you also need to be able to source video games at a reasonable price and sell them at a profit. If you buy all those games, play them, and then sell them when you're done you're going to be losing money, not making it. The overall cost of your video game hobby will go down, but it will not be a profitable business.
Reselling Games You Bought At A Discount
Another possible option would be buying used games online or in discount stores and reselling them at a higher price. You'll need to know a bit about which games can fetch what kind of price, and also how to identify potential issues like scratched disks and pirated games.
Used games are often only worth it when a game is still in “like new” condition and is much more inexpensive than a brand new version. Even then, you may find that some customers avoid your product for fear that it isn’t legitimate. Personally, I'd rather buy a brand new game for $40 than a used one for $30. Drop the price to $10, and suddenly I'm willing to take a risk.
Finding a good supplier for video games that allows you to sell them for profit is achievable but it isn’t easy. Even if you manage this, you have to pay close attention to changes in supply and demand, as interest for individual games tends to wax and wane quickly.
There is also a major risk that online sellers of games are actually providing pirated versions. This is especially true if you find the game for a very low price or source it from somewhere like China. As such, your choices for where to find games is more limited than many other types of products. You can check the bargain bins at Gamestop or BestBuy, but if they're not selling in stores, it's likely they won't sell online either.
If you’re using Amazon to make sales, you can also take advantage of Amazon FBA, which lets you decrease some of the work involved with shipping and storage. Nevertheless, if you do this, you need to plan carefully, as you don’t want stock left in Amazon’s warehouse’s that you simply cannot sell. That can also end up costing you more money over time.
Selling New Games Via Ecommerce
One other option is to sell video games directly on your own ecommerce website. It does come with its own challenges though!
The problem of trust and reputation is significant in any field but it is particularly relevant for video games. Getting a bootleged game is a real fear for people, especially since they can buy games for a similar price from reputable, known websites. If you do go the ecommerce route, you really need to find a niche where people won't be able to get the games from anywhere else.
Selling Digital Game Downloads
This is the most exciting opportunity in my opinion, because it means less work for you to source the physical games. You can set up a website to direct people to where they can download games, and receive credit for each referral you send to the download site.
Of course, you have to find reputable places to download games, and not all sites will give pay you for referring customers to them. But this is the cheapest and fastest way to get started selling games online because you don't need stock of any product and can always keep up on the newest games, even selling games the same day they came out! A cool new option that many people don't know about yet is selling digital games on Twitch through their affiliate program.
(More on this topic later in the article)
A Few Problems With Selling Video Games…
In theory, you can make money selling just about any type of product online but some products are easier than others. The biggest advantage of video games is their passionate audience. Nevertheless, that audience is a disadvantage as well as an advantage.
In particular, you have an audience that tends to be savvy with technology. As a result, many of your potential customers are going to be very good at researching games themselves and finding the best prices.
Because of this, you may find that some people read various reviews or recommendations that you have on your site but pick somewhere else to make the purchase. This is a particularly big problem because large stores and websites will often dramatically undercut the prices of games to make a sale. So, there will probably always be some places that sell games for less than you do and also ship it for free.
An additional issue is that games are becoming increasingly digital. This has several implications.
First, digital games make it harder to sell physical copies. In many cases, people can also get digital copies for an extremely low price, especially if they wait for a good sale. Many people also prefer having digital versions of the game, as these are harder to lose.
At the same time, digital games have dramatically increased the rate of game piracy. Many people do still buy games but the practice of piracy means that most simply aren’t willing to pay full price for a game anymore. This also decreases the potential of making money with games. The pirates want the games for free. The legit gamers want their games from well known sources.
To a degree, these issues are less significant with games for systems like Xbox and PlayStation. These systems do sell some of their games digitally but often have others that are only available in a physical version. You won't come across a lot of pirated physical games in the US, although it is quite pervasive in China (I lived there for some time). But it can happen and some people sell pirated games on eBay and Amazon, often passing them off as the real thing. That practice can make customers extremely wary and they may be unwilling to buy something if it seems too good to be true.
Finally, games wane in popularity fairly quickly. There are a few notable exceptions to this rule (like Skyrim and Final Fantasy VII) but you’ll typically find that the sales for a game drop fairly quickly. This can majorly impact your sales and make it harder to turn a successful profit.
Using Affiliate Marketing to Sell NEW games (and other gaming stuff)
An alternative way to sell games online is to use affiliate marketing. With this approach, you don’t have to worry about buying, listing or shipping games yourself. Instead, your focus is just on promoting them. You are a middle man, linking buyers to the sources, and you make a commission.
To do this, you sign up for a video game affiliate program and use links with affiliate code in them so you receive credit for the sale. If someone makes a purchase through one of those links, then you earn some money. This is a very cool system because if you write an article with an affiliate link, you could have thousands of people daily clicking that link and buying stuff. A tiny $1 earnings could turn into a full time business with enough traffic.
Typically, affiliate marketers rely on a website as a tool to help them make money. You make a site, write your opinion, reviews, news, and other information about a part of gaming you're passionate about. With a website, you have the chance to develop a reputation over time and you can even become an authority on your topic. Here are some gaming website ideas:
- DOTA 2 competitive strategies
- retro gaming
- console repair
- gamer headphones
- how to build your own gamer man cave
- open world game reviews
- zombie game reviews
- racing game immersion gear (pedals, steering wheels, rumble seat)
- easter eggs
- RPG strategies and reviews
- etc etc
You are the gamer here – what is most interesting about the hobby to you? What makes you love it so much? There are about a million other people online that feel exactly the same way as you and are interested in reading your opinion. Seriously. Every single blogger out there is just a dude or a chick with an opinion. The only difference between you and them is that they have a website and you don't.
So, step one to making money with video games online? Get a website.
At the same time, you’re also building a business that you’re in complete control of. So, you won’t suddenly find your account shut down for a random reason. In contrast, sites like Amazon and eBay can (and do) close the accounts of members and there is often little that you can do to get your account back.
In fact, you can be an affiliate for multiple companies at the same time and change companies as you see fit. Doing so helps you to be sure that the site ends up the way that you want it to and puts your income potential firmly in your own hands. You don't have to hold allegiance to any one gaming company or franchise. You are commander in chief and CEO.
Potentially Branching Away From Games
If you are going to try to sell video games online then affiliate marketing is your best bet. This approach does have fewer risks than other methods and gets around some of the disadvantages of selling video games.
Nevertheless, I would only ever recommend selling video games through affiliate marketing if you’re going to focus on games that aren’t for the computer. For example, you could potentially sell games for Xbox or PlayStation through Amazon’s affiliate program, as people do still need to buy the physical versions of most games.
For that matter, you can even extend the topic further and promote various accessories and even consoles. But, selling video games for the PC is a different story.
In particular, most PC gamers tend to purchase their games from sites like Steam, which offer massive libraries of games. Furthermore, those sites frequently offer deep discounts which you simply couldn’t compete with. I remember back in the day when I'd buy the big boxes with the CDs, but those days are in the past.
The only real way to be successful selling video games in this way would be if you could be an affiliate for Steam (they currently don't offer an affiliate program) or some of the smaller platforms. Man of them don’t offer affiliate programs, but there are a few! I did some initial research to help you guys out.
Note About Amazon: Amazon is one of the most trusted online shopping portals in the world, so you can definitely leverage the Amazon affiliate program to make money selling digital downloads as well as physical products like gaming gear and fan gear!
There are more, but before you get started, just think about all the potential things you could promote other than just games. Think about everything you've bought related to gaming: t-shirts, coffee mugs, toys, custom controllers, headsets, speakers, TVs, posters, limited edition items…the list goes on. Affiliate marketing means that you have the potential to earn money from just about any type of product you can imagine, as long as you can find an affiliate program.
For example, you could build a site on a specific game or series and promote merchandise that has come out for it, while also offering guides and videos. This would be especially powerful for games with a large and passionate audience, including MMOs. Take World of Warcraft as an example, there are lots of different related products on Amazon and the same is true for many other games.
You could also go in an entirely different direction and build a site about a hobby or a specific type of product, rather than video games. If audio is important to you, there's potential to make money talking about speakers, headsets, and webcams. That really is the beauty of affiliate marketing – you can pick basically any direction and run with it. Pretty much every angle will have some potential for income, it’s just that some areas are more powerful than others. Here's a whole page of other potential ideas for your business related to gaming in general.
Creating Your Success Story
To really be successful with affiliate marketing, you need to have the willingness to research and to learn. The case of video games is a good example of this. It's very easy to say “I love playing games”, but to make it into a business you gotta take it beyond that. A business is about helping people, so the best way to start is to finish this sentence:
I want to help people _____
If you can start your business on the right foot, by aiming to help people enjoy one aspect of gaming as much as you do, then you are bound to be successful and profitable.