Video Game Videos And Making Money; It's a Scam

After getting another round of "JOIN OUR NETWORK! MAKE TONS OF MONEY!" the shine wears off...

I've done a gaming show for the last few years now--every other week, only missing a few shows due to very, very bad illnesses.  I put a hell of a lot of work into the shows with no real promise of payoff, but it's fun for me so I keep it up. The show has a very small fan base, and I'm very happy they still enjoy what I do after all this time. But without doing things like giveaways (aka "bribery"), creating controversy where it doesn't exist, or picking fights against other internet reviewers, it's hard to get noticed.

Because of this, I'm continually baffled when I get offers from various "networks" within YouTube. I'm baffled because my show is so small that it's not even a blip on the radar for gamers, let alone YouTube. Most of the offers are from "gaming" networks, and none of them are people or channels I've heard of before. They all promise that I'll be making money hand-over-fist if I just sign a contract with them and get all my viewers to click on links they provide and I put in ads they provide...

and it seems to me that almost all of them are, well, scams.

I'll admit, I know nothing about business and how to make money-making videos. Ramen is a food staple in my diet (if you can call it a "diet"). So when I get these messages, and it's important to mention it's plural, I admit that it peaks my interest. However, when I see the same thing over and over, and they're all from people who won't tell me anything about what they do, it makes me skeptical. Then again, I'm a jaded bastard for a reason. When the letter opens with "Dear WOWTFshow," it's obvious they haven't seen any content on my channel at all.

So this latest message, and I'm not giving them any press that they don't deserve, sounds great on the surface. The scheme is I would produce videos that "you're already making", and I encourage people to buy the games I'm playing in the video it through a third-party. I give them a link, it routes them to this third-party, I get a WHOLE 'MURICAN DOLLAR per person who starts playing the game through this third-party! Then you look at the site, and see the restrictions.

It's only certain games, in certain countries, and not all games give a whole dollar. Some are 40 cents per person. So this means that for a small channel like me, every person who subscribes to and watches my videos needs to play the game through this service and I might be able to get a McMeal of the dollar menu, assuming that the game I'm playing is on their list.  And they're not.

Any time people flash money in front of me and hide how I would get it, it screams "SCAM"

It seems to me that it's a scam. Any time people flash money in front of me and hide how I would get it, it screams "SCAM". When I dug a little deeper, I saw that I would never make the minimum payout in any timely fashion. Translation, I bust my hump making shows and giving this company a free ride on my hard work, and they'd simply be collecting the information from my viewers to resell.

Either that or they make money from game maker "X", and then incentivize their talent to push that game on their fans. In that case, I'd love to go into "payola" but that's ancient history and NOBODY would fall for that! Oh, wait, gamers buy into overhyped games all the time... nevermind.

Contract work

But I see dozens of gamers get sucked into contracts that will not make them any direct money. The model of moneymaking requires that viewers do specific things like click links or watch ads, and people just don't do it. Ad blockers exist for a reason and I know I go directly to a source for information rather than through a third party.  I didn't get DCUO or Rift from Steam, you know. And I know I'm not alone.

Let's be real here. There are only a few gamers who will ever make money creating videos about games. Most of those spots are already taken and there aren't many, if any, vacancies. Out of them, only one or two can make a living from making videos about games. Ironically, the ones who make a living from it make "lets play" shows that take next to no effort, and the people making shows that take weeks to create get bubkis for revenue. (grumblemutterpewdiepiegrumblemutter)

So when small channels get this "$40 CPM! LOADS OF MONEY! YOU DON'T NEED TO DO ANYTHING BUT SIGN IN!" message, they hop on it with the hopes that they'll become the next "Angry Arcade Game Geek". Unless you have thousands of viewers, it won't make you any money. And if you have thousands of viewers, you don't need this company to make money on your videos. But companies like this need you, because you'll never get paid because you'll never meet the minimums.  They, essentially, keep the money and you do all the work.

You can't get blood from a stone

I'll end with a personal note or two. First off, if you're making gaming videos trying to make money, you'll be sadly disappointed.  There isn't any money to be made out here, unless you've already been established.  Second, if you sign a contract you'll find yourself, at best, locked into something not beneficial, at worst you'll find your show no longer belongs to you. Third, if you still think you've got what it takes, good luck to you. Breaking into a market with established names is a Sisyphean task at best.  But don't ever rush into a contract.  If I've learned anything in life, it's that recruiters make all sorts of promises to get you to sign on the dotted line.  Promises aren't legally enforceable--contracts are.  Just be wary if you're a small time gaming show, that's all I'm saying.

One final note. If you're a viewer who likes someone’s show, you can support them directly. Not money wise, although it's pretty nice of you to think of it. Pass it along. Share a video on social media. Leave a comment and "like" the video. All of these things DO help, believe it or not. And who knows? They might get that lucky break and get into a site or get a partnership from YouTube. Selfishly speaking, that'd be nice. I could use new glasses.

Featured Contributor

I'm a gamer. I'm a reality junkie. I'm a cynic. I'm a dinosaur. I'm a writer. I'm so much more than a paragraph can say. You want more? Ok. I started a video game show on the internet some time ago. See, I've played video games since Intellivision and Atari 2600 and PONG back in the day. Retro-gaming doesn't really fire me up as much as seeing how the community ticks. And after seeing way too many "I'm too young to have played this game when it first came out but it MAKES ME SO ANGRY" reviewers who would happily eviscerate my childhood for lulz... yeah I tossed my hat into the ring. the quickly scooped it back up, I'm told I have a bald spot that needs...more »

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Published Oct. 4th 2013

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