About Making Money from Minecraft
One common misunderstanding I see among the gamer community is assuming that only the owners and developers of a game actually profit from the game. And true they probably make the ‘lions share’ and that is right, but they’re certainly not the only ones.
Looking at Minecraft, consider the following people:
- Owners of websites such as the Minecraft wiki, forums and various Minecraft news sites.
- Game server host companies, who rent out monthly slots for Minecraft servers.
And going even further out than that
- People who create guides (like the one you’re reading) for games (such as Minecraft).
- YouTube and YouTube users who get revenue share from their videos.
- Paid scripters (this is a small category – but they do exist).
- The ‘Minecraft ripoffs’ or variations who get attention for ‘being like Minecraft’
So it’s more than just Notch and Mojang making money from the existence of Minecraft. And the fun part is – you can get in on this list. Now we’re not talking about starting up a website or a guide, we’re not talking about competing with Minecraft.
There’s probably thousands of ways to make money from Minecraft – maybe you’ve even thought of one yourself but I’m going to show you a few basic ideas that can get you started, and earn a little extra cash on the side.
Now before I get into this, I want to make it clear that we’re not talking day job replacing kind of money. You’re not going to make your millions from Minecraft, but I have seen some surprisingly large figures float around and all I can say is – there are a lot of people playing Minecraft, and some of them have deep pockets.
The first method of making money from Minecraft is probably one of the more obvious. If you’ve seen multiplayer Minecraft servers (which I’m assuming you have) you’ll have seen that most of them accept donations.
Now the misconception over donations is that they’re only spent on server hosting. What a lot of people don’t realise is that server staff, especially on the better servers, put a lot of time into running their server. Some servers distribute some of the donations between other staff members, some use them purely for the server hosting and others take at least part of it for themselves.
And that’s ok.
Servers do take a lot of work to manage properly and you’re providing a service to your players making your server available for them to play on. As long as you’re keeping the server online for them to play on and doing the best you can to keep it a good quality server then I don’t see a problem in those donations supporting the staff putting time in behind keeping the server running, just make it clear what the donations are used for.
It would be immoral to setup a server, take the donations and shut them down again. Not only that, you’d probably just end up with all the donations being disputed on Paypal which might very well lead to your account being closed. But if you provide a good quality server then you’ll find your players are often eager to donate to keep you working on the server.
Now this is not to say that donations are always easy to get. It can depend on several factors such as what perks you’re offering for donations (if any) and what kind of server you run. I usually find that PvP servers, or harder more competitive servers attract a more mature player base who will donate for perks to have an ‘edge’ over other players.
Comparing the donation for a creative build server compared to a PvP server is usually no contest, but that’s not to say that creative servers don’t get donations, they just get less.
Free Server Donations
The one thing I do want to show you is a great little method you can use to get donation money without your players having to actually pay a penny. This is great because you will get a lot of players that want to donate to the server but can’t afford to or are too young to – this is a great alternative and you’ll be one of very few servers doing it. In fact I don’t remember seeing any other server other than my own using this method.
It basically involves CPA (Cost Per Action). Marketing companies want to collect details to market to and they’re get people to fill out surveys to get that information. For every person you get to complete a survey – you get money. It ranges largely from $0.50 – $10 a survey depending on which survey they do and what country the player is from. It takes them a few minutes to do and it’s easy for you to setup. You’ll get paid monthly through Paypal, check or direct deposit.
There’s two ways you can do this, the first way is to just offer them a choice of items per survey or get them to fill out multiple surveys until they make enough for a standard donation. I tend to offer both and give them a choice of what they’d like to do. This shouldn’t replace your standard donation setup, but it does work as a great aside and earns you some extra donations you wouldn’t otherwise get.
So let’s get you started!
First of all you’re going to need a website. It doesn’t need to be paid one; you can use a Webs.com or even Blogger site if you want. Some game server hosts even give out websites but it’s down to you how you want to do that.
Make a page on that site marked ‘surveys’ or ‘free donations’. On that page you’re going to put on a contact script. Now I’m not going to walk you through this since it should be pretty easy – if you’re not a technical person then you’re going to need someone who is to help you with the server anyway so you could ask them to help you with this. If you’re really pushed for this you can always ask on a forum.
You can use something as basic as an email contact form and you’ll get email alerts when your players complete a survey. Nice and simple to setup, you just need to watch your email.
Basically you want a form on the page which lets your players enter their in game name and select what item they want for example. Now there might be an automated way to do this, but we couldn’t find a way to do it that wasn’t open to abuse (which would mean people cheating the system to get a lot of free items without doing surveys). So the best way to do it is to use something like this and check the email to see what player completed a survey, check to see if the survey was done and if so you give them the reward. Now you have the page with the form for the player name and the reward they want (for example) you need to get the survey blocker over this. One of the best to use for this is CPALEAD which you can join for free.
You don’t need a website to sign up – just tick the ‘I don’t have a website’ button and in the box provided tell them you run a games server and will give digital rewards in exchange for surveys. You shouldn’t have any problem getting accepted pretty quickly. Create your widget and then select ‘virtual currency’ and it’ll lead you through making the banner. It’ll take a moment or two and once you’re done you’ll have a code like this:
Don’t use that code – it’s just an example. You need to use your own if you actually want to get paid for the surveys. Now copy and paste that code onto the same page as your form and save.
Now when you load that page the banner should come up, and you can’t enter a player name until you fill out a survey. If you have any problems with this (which you shouldn’t) you get in touch with their support and they’ll help you.
Now all you have to do is tell your players they can do a survey a day to get a diamond for example. What you actually give out is down to you and your server but it’s a great way to make some extra cash from donations.
We did an entire section on how to run a proper server which covers how to build a successful server so we won’t go into all of that again. But if you want to make some money from playing Minecraft while having some good fun at the same time, consider starting up a server.
YouTube and Streaming Videos
Another section we’ve mentioned is how to become well known in the Minecraft community. This is done largely through YouTube but there’s more to it than just recording yourself for the sake of it.
If you didn’t already know, YouTube shows advertising one some (if not most) of its videos. You’ll likely have seen some of the inlaid ones (the video ads that play before the video itself) as well as the standard banners to the sides of the videos.
What you might not know, is that if your YouTube account starts to get some traffic YouTube will actually offer you a chance to join up with them and profit from your YouTube videos. You don’t need to worry about the ads or anything; Google will pretty much take care of that for you. All you need to do is keep getting views, and that’s easy to do if you’re following the section from earlier. The more views you get, the more you’ll make from each video. On top of that your subscriber list will grow which means each video will make more and more each time.
As well as advertising you could mention Minecraft products like t-shirts or eBooks inside your video itself or within the description of the video. Most will give you some kind of commission per sale. For example you can sign up with Amazon Associates and sell Minecraft stuff through Amazon and get a cut of the profit.
Once you’re well established and have a popular let’s play you could take it a little further. You can, for example, make a video about your server and get a lot of easy players (and possible donations) there. You could contact other servers and offer to do a video on their server for a small fee.
One possibility is to stream live events. Justin.tv for example is used by StarCraft 2 players to stream their games live and they’re given the option to show ads to their viewers which they can do once every half hour. They make a small profit each time they show the ad and the more viewers they have, the more they get.
It’s in beta just now but if you have enough followers (which you can get with some work and following the guide) you could promote your live stream for the following week and you’d probably get a spot easily enough to show your ads. Once you start getting a following you might be surprised how many people will sit and watch you play Minecraft if you’re entertaining enough. You could even setup a website for your videos and promote this website in your videos. On there you can sell Minecraft related items such as Minecraft t-shirts on Amazon or guides such as this one. Basically, there’s a lot you can do.
There’s probably hundreds if not thousands of ways to make money on Minecraft. Basically you look for what people want and, if you can teach them, you can charge them for it. Now you’re armed with the tools you need to make a server or let’s play popular – you could contact the owners of servers or let’s play and offer to get them more fans and players – for a fee.
You could setup people’s servers or (if you know how to do so) offer personalised mod coding. Heck if you’re really out there you could offer server setup and mod coding even if you can’t do the code (and pay someone else less to do the plugin for you).
A lot of servers don’t know how to properly promote themselves and have little traffic. Server owners are generally prepared to pay to get this traffic (since they are paying for the server after all) and know you know how to get a lot of players on there – you could even offer this service. Basically there’s a lot you can do to earn some extra money, but don’t let it become a job – Minecraft is supposed to be fun. Remember that!