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How an everyday guy makes $500,000 a year playing Fortnite

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Hint: through blood, sweat, and tears

In context: Esports is a booming industry and there’s lots of money to be made. Nick Overton seems just a run of the mill 27-year-old guy from Iowa, but under the humble smile is a dangerous Fortnite player known as ‘Immarksman’ who works for the professional esports team Counter Logic Gaming. With them, he is already making between $300,000 and $500,000 a year, and he doesn’t even consider himself elite.

An average day for Nick: wake up around 9 am, discuss business with the team and get to work on a YouTube video. Finish the YouTube video by 3 pm, and then get ready to stream from 5 pm to 10 pm. Playing video games for hours every day might sound like slacking off for some, but when you take it seriously and analyse every match, the working week becomes brutal. "I don’t go out with friends ever," Nick says. "I'm streaming every day."

If there’s an update to Fortnite, the day is even longer: he gets up at 3 am and immediately begins work on making a new video about the update. “It helps get my channel name out there more,” he says it’s a necessity to focus on staying current.

Nick received his first gaming console, a Nintendo 64 when he was just six. “It might have been, at the time, his biggest regret,” Nick said when referring to his father after he’d given Nick the system. One day, when he got home from school, he discovered that his father has sold his Xbox to end Nick's gaming addiction. “I freaked out. I was so mad at him.” He didn’t play video games for two years.

Once he was 14, he simply got a job and brought an Xbox himself. His father was very unimpressed.

“The best advice he gave me is, if you’re going to do this, you need to find a way to make money from it.”

Having moved out from his mother's basement he can reveal that he “never thought” he was going to make any money. “I literally only did it because I liked to do it."

He recently discussed how he sustains his income with Des Moines Register and Yahoo Finance: “Most people are used to working a job, getting a paycheck,” Nick said. “Simple. With live streaming and YouTube, it’s much more complex.” Most YouTube gamers will be partnered with a Multi-Channel Network (MCN) that act as their agents and tell them what to do to make their money.

According to Nick, and MCN will say, “‘We have, you know, 10,000 creators that get this many views per month.’ And YouTube says, ‘All right, we’ll find ads for them.’ They take a percentage of that advertisement… They give a percentage to the network, and the network pays you a percentage based on your contract.”

Twitch works pretty differently: “On Twitch, a lot of the revenue that you make is usually through the people watching you. People will tip you $2, or $3, or they subscribe, similar to like an old-fashioned magazine subscription…

“Twitch charges them for the subscription, $5 a month on average. The creator of the streamer gets a percentage of that. Twitch gets a percentage of that. And, in return, they get access to some extra benefits in the stream, and they also get some extra benefits sometimes from the streamer themselves. They might have like a day where they play with fans.”

While getting paid a fortune to play video games all day is crazy enough, Nick says one of the weirdest parts is when people recognize him in public. “I’ve had fans stop me and take pictures at Target, or … I might see somebody and do an autograph or a picture.” He’s even had fans show up to his front door before. “It’s a little bit awkward because most people don’t expect a video game player at a local restaurant. Like, ‘Is that guy famous?’ No, I just play video games.”

These days, playing video games can make you just as much a celebrity as playing soccer for your country or performing for the president.

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