The gaming industry is earning some players serious cash.

For “Gears of War” and “Apex Legends” player Jvonn Williams, he has racked in over six figures.

Turning A Hobby Into A Career

Williams tells AfroTech exclusively, he never imagined the hobby — which he started at the age of 10 — would turn into a full-blown career. Initially, his vision only went as far as creating content until he became more acquainted with lan gaming events, where people can compete for a prize pool of thousands or more.

It was when Williams turned 16 that he participated in his first event, GameBattles. The cross-platform online esports service allows participants to compete in cash prize tournaments and ladders with over $10 million in prizes awarded, per the company’s website.

“I got within the Top 5 within my first-ever time grinding the game,” Williams explained. “So, that prep got my name up there, and I was known as being an elite player, and just out of nowhere I had to prove myself ’cause at that point you’re just known for being an online player and not known for ever actually competing in a legit setting, which is the lan events. And I formed a team of other players I found on that same game or platform, and in our first-ever event together, we went pro. Placed top 12.”

Williams has earned over $123,000 from playing in “Gears of War” tournaments, data shows. Williams claims his prize earnings within the last two years alone have reached nearly $200,000. This achievement follows almost 12 years of dedication, which he says led him to become the top player in the world for “Gears of War.”

Winning Over $100K In Prize Earnings

Furthermore, Williams’ positioning in the gaming industry has opened up more doors to monetize outside of tournament earnings. He racked in additional earnings from his own content.

“When you become the No. 1 in the world, you bring so much traffic to yourself that you start making money from other ways, you don’t only make money from playing in those prize tournaments,” he said. “You make money from just your name, your brand. Nobody could ever fire you from that content. There is a lot of longevity in that.”

At 22, Williams is grateful for his current success. Yet, if he had his time over again, he would have monetized his content from the beginning.

“I was so focused in on just being a competitive player that when you do choose to monetize, you kind of do sacrifice a little bit of your grinding time being a hard lock than player,” Williams explained. “You’re either maybe watching film or things that make you more organized as a competitive player versus things that build your brand that are way more recreational.”

He added, “Honestly, looking back at it, ’cause I still am like young in this industry, I would definitely make way more content and monetize myself from literally beginning to end of my ‘Gears’ journey, 100%.”

Support From Esports Organizations

While monetizing early on would have provided the gamer additional support, he did receive backing from PURE Gaming, an American esports organization, a few months after his first event. Williams earned a monthly salary ranging between $1,500 and $2,000 per month, he says.

“That’s without any type of prize pool, without any type of monetization,” Williams explained. “That’s just literally I wanted to sit there and just play the game competitively. It was like a minimum wage job at that point. Which is what I would say is when you are that low tier. It’s better to monetize yourself and grow as much as you can in the content world because that can never be taken away from you, and that can grow to like literally anything.”

By the age of 19, Williams attached his name to Rise. The Black-owned esports organization paid him a comfortably monthly salary. However, Williams could not disclose the exact earnings with AfroTech.

“I was pretty set. I was able to be comfortable and put in my full time without really feeling pressure in my actual life,” he told AfroTech.

Currently, Williams is stepping down from his throne at “Gears of War” to take on a new challenge. He is now looking to compete in “Apex Legends,” a battle royale-hero shooter game created by Respawn Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts.

In the future, Williams hopes to transition to become a full-time creator as he doesn’t want to put all his eggs in one basket.

“I personally feel like competing at a professional level isn’t gonna last forever,” he expressed. “So yes, my ultimate goal is a 100% to be a full-time content creator. If I can end up being there, I feel like I did everything right at that point.”