It’s no secret that Steam takes in tons of money from gamers every year. I should know; I’m one of them! But far fewer people know that it’s also possible to make money on Steam at the same time as playing. Even better, it usually takes no more effort than playing your favorite games like you already do.
Why Make Money On Steam, Anyway?
In a nutshell, Steam is a videogame digital distribution platform that was originally launched in 2003. While it was designed as a way for the parent company, Valve, to distribute updates to their own games, it quickly broadened its horizons to become a videogame marketplace and distribution hub similar to Xbox Live. These days, it allows people to play together, make accounts, and much more.
Because of its design, you can make money on Steam either through passively playing games and reaping digital benefits or by building your own game and selling it on the platform. Passive income is one of the best ways to boost your spending cash. If you’re already going to be spending plenty of time on Steam playing your favorite games, you might as well be making some money while you do it, right?
Passive income is one of the best ways to take advantage of the Internet and the marketplace already built into Steam’s interface.
Making Money As A Steam Developer
The first and most time-intensive way to make money on Steam is to be a game developer yourself and publish games using the Steam platform. Steam lets any licensed user distribute their original PC game via Steam Direct – think of this as their publishing platform.
If you make a game and it becomes successful, you can potentially make tons of money. One of the best examples I can think of is Stardew Valley, and in the game that was created and finalized by Eric Barone. Talk about talent! He published the game on Steam and became a millionaire. Keep in mind, of course, that this took several years of hard-core work and lots of dedication.
That’s the trade-off. Building your own game, debugging it, and marketing it so that people will even see it on the Steam listings is a tremendous investment of your own time and energy. It’s also an investment in money in most cases! Chances are you won’t be able to build your own game by yourself and will need to hire artists or coders.
Even if you finish your game, Steam will take 30% of the selling price as commission. They’ll also take a $100 deposit to list your game on their Steam platform in the first place.
So, in summary: you can build your own game and potentially make it rich, but it’s much more active than the passive income streams I’ll talk about below.
Making Money As A Gamer On Steam/Passive Income
Building your own game from scratch sounds tiring, but there are other methods of making money on Steam.
The Steam Wallet
Before we get started, let’s explain the Steam Wallet. Without getting too technical, this is a digital wallet kind of like your PayPal wallet that lets you add funds directly to your Steam account. You can purchase games with the funds there instead of using your debit or credit card. You can also sometimes use the Wallet to make in-game purchases.
Steam uses things called “trading cards” that are virtual variations of the real-world thing (think baseball cards). These have unique artwork, usually made by the game creator, and are handed out by playing a game, performing specific tasks, or are sometimes awarded randomly. This naturally makes some cards much rarer than others. As with anything rare, some people are willing to pay high prices for premium items.
You can take a look at any of the Steam trading cards you have in your profile, then start buying and selling them like you would with a regular deck of cards. It’s a good idea to buy cards for low at first, monitor the marketplace and sell them when they become more valuable. Some of the most valuable cards are ones you can only achieve for doing hard in-game activities, but others are just rare because of a low drop rate.
Either way, you can make passive income by earning trading cards playing your favorite games, then selling them after the fact.
Foil cards are particularly good things to look out for. These are some of the rarest cards in the Steam marketplace, so they naturally drive the highest prices. Keep an eye on marketplace charts and see if you have any foil cards in your wallet before selling them.
Steam also awards you with various items straight into your Steam wallet. These are like digital trading cards but are represented by different icons like chests, keys, or other trinkets that might be related to the game in which you earned them.
Just like with the cards, you can sell these items and convert the currency into real cash that goes into your Steam wallet.
It’s a particularly good idea to hold onto any pre-release items you might have from a game you purchased on launch. If you still have these, you can potentially sell them for a really high price; people will go crazy for unique items that aren’t available anymore, especially if they weren’t around to take advantage.
Some games, like CS: GO and PUBG, provide the player with crates that contain cosmetics. These can be extremely valuable on the marketplace, so consider selling your crates if you don’t particularly care about skins for your characters in these games. This can be especially lucrative if you play these games all the time, as the drop rates aren’t too bad.
Steam Wallet Codes
The last way to earn money on Steam is to do small tasks for third-party websites like GrabPoints, PrizeRebel, and eBonus.gg. All of these sites will have you do tasks like answer surveys or watch videos in exchange for digital points. These points can then be converted into Steam wallet codes, which you can then translate into real money for your wallet or sell to someone else.
So, Can You Make Money On Steam?
Ultimately, earning money through Steam is a great strategy if you’re already going to be spending lots of time on a platform this summer (and in quarantine). While it’s unlikely that most of the above strategies will make anybody particularly rich, there’s nothing wrong with getting a little side cash while you’re already having fun.
If Steam has piqued your interest, you may also enjoy our article on how to make money playing video games. Start making money while you have fun!