With the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, workers nationwide are losing jobs as non-essential businesses close their doors. Faced with the urgent need for income, some unemployed are turning to an unexpected endeavor: Video game coaching. While platforms that give gamers coaching from experts around the world aren’t new, the vocation has come into the spotlight as many look for ways to earn income from home.
Video Game Coaching Platforms
Gamers seeking their own Mr. Miyagi have a few ways of finding the help they need. One popular avenue is the prominent freelancing platform Fiverr. Used by freelancers in a number of fields, Fiverr allows service providers to advertise hourly rates and connect with employers. The platform largely operates in fields like graphic design and copywriting. Game coaching, however, is a growing market. Fiverr recently said video game coaching sessions rose 43% in March compared to February, per CNN.
Other platforms make video game coaching their entire focus. As on Fiverr, coaches on platforms like Gamer Sensei and GamerCoach can charge players by the hour for online coaching and critiquing of their gameplay.
Meanwhile, popular platform ProGuides (PG) has a token-based system where “PG points” can be purchased and used to hire coaches at different hourly rates. ProGuides also offers “courses” taught by coaches, which can be accessed via an annual subscription.
A Pandemic-Proof Option
Once a side-gig for gaming enthusiasts, video game coaching has emerged as a godsend to some who have lost their main jobs in the COVID-19 crisis. Twenty-one-year-old Tyler Cunningham, who worked as a pharmacist in Sacramento before the pandemic, told CNN he’s been able to replace his income by making his side gig as a game coach his main job.
“COVID has definitely brought in more customers,” Cunningham said. “As more competitive and casual players are stuck inside without skilled opponents to practice against, online coaching has become a very popular response to that problem.”
Concert violinist Trevor Andrews, who offers his coaching services as “Cuteface Killah” on Fiverr, told CNN he charges $25 an hour, $60 for three hours. “If I’m being honest, I should charge more,” he said. “But it’s a hard thing to argue people who do want to buy those things a lot of the time. It’s a perceived value.”
A Growing Demand For Coaching
The market appears to be finding customers in unexpected demographics. Michael Northrop, a 42-year-old healthcare professional from North Carolina, told CNN he initially scoffed at the idea of paying for video game coaching, until he purchased sessions.
Though skeptical at first, Northrop came to see the value of the service when his buddies started asking him to join their game session. “My friends are school teachers, photographers,” he said. “They’re texting me, ‘hey, you want to jump in Starcraft or Warcraft?’ Once the kids are in bed, we’ll maybe pick a night and play from eight to 10.” Northrop told the outlet he spent about $100 on lessons for the video game Overwatch.
“Video game coaching already existed, of course, but the current pandemic has created the right conditions that facilitate it becoming more widespread,” Joost van Druenen, founder of video game investment firm New Breukelen, told CNN. “If everyone you know plays ‘Super Smash Bros,’ you’re going to want to learn how to play, too. Spending a few hours with a coach to show you the ropes makes sense.”