The 20 Most Lucrative Games You Can Play Professionally
1. Dota 2: $28 Million-plus Awarded in Prize Money
The amount of money being won in Dota 2 is astonishing. In just two short years the game has become a cash-generating machine. The top players, such as Jonathan Berg featured above, frequently bring home upwards of $1 million dollars with their teams.
2. League of Legends: Nearly $20 Million Awarded in Prize Money
After Dota, League of Legends is the next eSports heavy hitter, seeing an explosion of tournament payouts recently. The 2014 LoL World Championships had one of the largest prize pools in history: $2.3 million!
3. StarCraft II: $15 Million Awarded in Prize Money
StarCraft II quickly surpassed even the formidably successful original StarCraft in competitive earnings. This year's StarCraft II World Championship Series, hosted by Blizzard, has a $1.6 million prize pool.
4. Counter-Strike: $10 Million Awarded in Prize Money
Counter-Strike in its original state may be an older game, but it still brings in money at tournaments to this day. CSGO is close at its heels, though, so there are many indications it will quickly overtake its immensely popular predecessor
5. StarCraft: Brood War: $6 Million-plus Awarded in Prize Money
Thanks to South Korea's continued interest in the game's legacy players, Brood War continues to remain relevant. Competitions have largely moved onto SonicTV Starleague, with nearly $50,000 still awarded each year.
6. Call of Duty: More Than $4 Million Awarded Across the Franchise
Call of Duty's a tricky prospect due to its annual updates. Typically, the most recent game rules the day for payouts, like this year's $1 million in prizes for Advanced Warfare at the Call of Duty Championships. It definitely pays to play Call of Duty, and it always pays to play the latest version.
7. The Halo Series: $4 Million-plus Awarded Across the Franchise
Like Call of Duty, all the Halo games remain popular for tournaments, with the biggest cash prizes typically going to the most recent releases. If you want to make some money, focus on Halo 4, and Halo 5 when it's released this year as well.
8. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive: Almost $4 Million Awarded in Prize Money
Counter-Strike: GO just came out in 2012, but its pro players have already collected a significant amount of money at competitions worldwide, like the DreamHack Tournament featured here, with a $250,000 community-funded prize pool. (Image by Adela Sznajder)
9. Warcraft III: Over $3.5 Million Awarded in Prizes
Another older title that has had surprising longevity in the competitive scene. Most of the money still being made these days is in Asian tournaments, such as the World Cyber Games pictured above.
10. SMITE: $3 Million Awarded in Prizes
The online deity battler SMITE has become a worldwide sensation. The SMITE World Championship in Atlanta, Georgia, saw teams from Europe and China fighting for $2.5 million.
11. World of Warcraft: Almost $2 Million Awarded in Prize Money
A lot of serious dough has been won from World of Warcraft Arena tournaments. Team Bleached Bones, the winners of BlizzCon's World of Warcraft Arena Championship 2014, snagged $120,000.
12. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft: $1.3 Million Awarded in Prize Money
The digital Warcraft card game Hearthstone has had massive popularity at tournaments too. Pro player Firebat (featured above) just took home $100,000 from the Hearthstone World Championships at BlizzCon 2014.
13. World of Tanks: $1.2 Million Awarded in Prize Money
The online shooter World of Tanks has experienced gigantic success in the European competitive scene, with hundreds of thousands of dollars circulating in contests annually.
14. CrossFire: $800,000 Awarded in Prize Money
CrossFire's a tactical first-person shooter that dominates South Korea and China. Most of the serious prizes have been won in the World Cyber Arena, which recently paid out $187,335 for a tournament in October of 2014.
15. FIFA: $600,000 Awarded Across the Franchise
FIFA used to make some serious cash for pros when Virgin Gaming held its huge EA Sports Challenges. Virgin recently transformed into World Gaming, but as long as EA keeps making quality FIFA games, you can expect the competitive scene to continue.
16. Madden NFL: $500,000-plus Awarded Across the Franchise
Another victim of Virgin Gaming's transformation, competitive Madden at this point is definitely more of a speculative proposition. A lot of money flows through the franchise, however, and as competitive gaming continues to grow, you can bet on more tournaments in the future.
17. Heroes of Newerth: $500,000-plus Awarded in Prize Money
This online battle arena game faithfully follows the path set out by Defense of the Ancients, and it's seen some of its enormous success as well. The prize pool for this year's HoN Tour World Finals in Thailand climbed to over $185,000.
18. Super Smash Bros. Melee: Nearly $400,000 Awarded in Prize Money
While there are competitions for newer versions of Smash, Melee will always reign as the king of the tournament scene. Melee features in a large number of tournaments with small prizes, so you'll want to focus on Apex and MLG for bigger payouts.
19. Street Fighter IV: More Than $250,000 Awarded in Prize Money
Street Fighter IV may have singlehandedly revived fighting games for a broad audience. While recent tournaments have focused on Ultra Street Fighter IV, expect Street Fighter V to rise in the competitive scene when it releases later this year.
20. Team Fortress 2: More Than $150,000 Awarded in Prize Money
Valve's team-based shooter has been a heavy in the tournament scene, with the ESEA's competitions showing the most life recently. But in all honesty, you could generate even bigger sums by trading rare hats for the game on the black market.