In an industry as big as video games, there are many different ways to earn a living. That’s because each time a game company decides to make a new game, it creates hundreds — often thousands — of new jobs.
The most well-known are jobs in game development, employed directly by game companies. But there are many other jobs that I call “gaming ecosystem” jobs. They aren’t created by a game company — instead, they are powered by the community of passionate gamers. Ecosystem jobs include game journalists, streamers, e-sports athletes, commentators, modders, community builders, and others who earn a living advocating and supporting the game and its players.
Recently, there’s a brand new type of job in the gaming ecosystem: building gaming apps that enhance popular multiplayer games. And while it used to be difficult and require special skills, now anyone can quickly write gaming apps for games like League of Legends or Hearthstone, using a framework called Overwolf.
Today, we’re speaking with CEO Uri Marchand to learn how anyone can build and earn a living making gaming apps for popular games, using Overwolf.
What is Overwolf?
And the staff at Overwolf certainly seems laser-focused on empowering gaming ecosystem creators to build apps that are more than just a hobby. With over 30,000 creators and 12 million monthly active users, Overwolf gaming apps are a way to earn a living while building value for players. Marchand explains, “Overwolf believes creating in-game apps and mods can be a legit profession and we are committed to seeing this happen.”
Using Overwolf, you can build custom apps for a huge number of popular (and not-so-popular) games currently on the market, including League of Legends, Dota 2, PUBG, Fortnite, Hearthstone, and over 800 others.
If you love a game and have an idea to improve the gaming experience with a new app, Overwolf can help you bring your idea to life.
How can I build a gaming app with Overwolf?
Once your app is finished, Overwolf staff will work with you on a final round of quality control (in other words, finding and fixing bugs), before helping you publish your app. After that, it’s ready for the world to download and use.
But is your app truly, well, your app? Or do game apps run the risk of being “pulled down” due to copyright claims, which is a common problem for streamers and modders? As Marchand puts it, “On Overwolf, every developer owns their own IP [intellectual property] and we’ll never have any claims with regards to what they build or develop.”
What if I need funding to build an app?
If your app is small enough to begin as a hobby project, then you can probably just start building it in your free time. As its popularity grows, then you can start thinking about how to scale it up, hiring additional developers to help you build more features, faster.
That’s a good approach for a hobby project. But what if you have a big idea for a big project, and don’t have the cash to hire a development team right away?
Fortunately, Overwolf has partnered with Intel to create a $7 million fund to help creators build their dream apps on the Overwolf platform. “We’ve come across many creators with brilliant app ideas but they lacked the funding needed to get their creations off the ground,” says Marchand. “The fund grants between $10K and $150K to each approved developer, depending on their needs and the potential value of their app or mod.”
So if you have a great idea for an app that could be a game-changer for gamers, you can submit your idea for funding by going to Overwolf.com/fund.
How can I make money from my Overwolf app?
For starters, you aren’t required to earn money (“monetize”) your app — you’re welcome to share your awesome creation with gamers for free. And many creators do just that! It can feel really good to give back to a gaming community that you love and support.
But many players don’t mind paying for a good gaming app. You might even have paid for gaming apps yourself, to give you an edge or make your favorite games even more fun. As a player, a good app can be well worth the price.
So if you choose to, you can monetize your Overwolf app by charging a subscription fee or by showing ads. Even if you personally hate ads, don’t worry — ads in Overwolf apps are small, only shown during load screens when there’s nothing for players to do anyway, and never affect players during a game.
What are the chances that an app you build could earn more than just a little pizza money now and again? I asked Marchand that very question, and what he said surprised me. “The average creator can expect to earn around a few hundred dollars in the early stages. If the app is well received by the community though, the earning potential is unlimited for those creators.”
Unlimited? Now you have my attention.
In fact, since launching the creator fund, Overwolf has seen some pretty impressive success stories. Take for example Amit Tsur. He’s a “lone wolf” developer who single-handedly created the app DotaPlus, one of Overwolf’s most successful Dota 2 apps. So far, DotaPlus has over 400,000 downloads, and has earned Amit enough money to quit his job and do game app development full time.
Another example is Matt Hawkins, the CEO of Tracker Network. Matt builds stats websites and in-game apps for several games like Apex Legends, Fortnite, and others. He started by building just a single app called HaloTracker. But as it grew in popularity, he partnered with Overwolf and was able to grow from a lone-wolf developer into a full-time, 5-person company. He doesn’t share his income figures, but with 2.5 million registered users on his apps, he’s probably earning more than a little pizza money.
How common is it to earn that kind of cash? Per Marchand, it’s not at all uncommon. “The top 25% of in-game app creators on Overwolf earn over $25,000 each month and the leading creators earn over $1 million per year.”
If you’re wondering “What’s in it for them,” the answer is that like most other app stores, Overwolf keeps a percentage of your app’s revenue. Currently their take is 30%, which might seem like a lot, but it’s pretty standard for app stores like Steam, Apple, and others. Note that there have been reports of negotiating a lower share, but only for high-earning apps that are extremely popular.
Build your first gaming app today!
Of the many ways to earn a living in the game industry, some of the most interesting jobs might just be in the extended “gaming ecosystem.” Overwolf has already become one of the fastest ways to earn a living building gaming apps.
To start building your own gaming app, visit Overwolf.com and click Build an App. Where you go from there, is entirely up to you.
And whether you do it as a hobby, or as a shot at building your own business like Amit and Matt, please come back here and let me know — I’ll update this article with a link to your app!
Uri Marchand is CEO and co-founder of Overwolf. Learn more at Overwolf.com.