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Ways To Make Money From: Games, Puzzles And Quizzes

Games, Puzzles And Quizzes

HOW MANY PEOPLE own a chess set, a game of Monopoly or Trivial Persuit, or a computer game such as Sonic the Hedgehog?

These games have sold in their billions all over the world, and give and idea of the amazing sales potential that games and related products have.

There are plenty of buying and selling opportunities, from devising boards and computer games down to writing humble pub quizzes and crosswords. Here are 20 easy-to-start opportunities.

  1. Video games

It’s a common sight in busy pubs: someone piling cash into a video game machine in pursuit of computerized thrills and a possible cash win. But the real winners in the long run are the owners of the machines. By siting them in areas where they will generate good custom – busy pubs and clubs, cafes, bars and so on – each machine can generate well over $100 a week, which is split with the site owner.

The best way to get involved is by examining the trade press for a supplier which will help set you up as local operator. This require signing a contract and making and investment of around $1,000 to $2,500 per machine. Usually it will be up to you to research the best sites in which to have your machines installed.

The great thing about coin-operated games is that any profits, after giving the site owner their share, are yours. Once the machines and sites are established your main job will be emptying the cash box once a week. It is best to invest in a few machines and ensure they are places in the busiest pubs and public places check your sites carefully, as re-siting is costly. You must ensure your machines are up-to-date and in good working order, and should make any repairs quickly.

It is wise to contact the British Amusement and Catering Trade Association (BACTA) for advice before you invest. Make sure your supplier is a member of BACTA.

  1. Secondhand slot machines

Many people won’t be able to afford the initial investment necessary for a new games machine. However, a more modest profit can be made from buying and installing secondhand machines which can be purchased for less than $200.

Persuading site owners to install them may be more difficult than for a new model, but you shouldn’t have problems providing your machine is in good condition. By spreading your marketing net widely, to include places like company canteens, community and social clubs as well as pubs, you should be able to generate a good return for very little outlay.

The best sources for used and reconditioned machines are the aforementioned trade press, along with classified ad-mags such as the Exchange and Mart.

  1. Pub quizzes

Having exploded in popularity over the last decade or so, it is possible to earn a full-time income from compiling pub quizzes.

General knowledge and trivia quizzes usually have 20 or 30 questions and a tie-break at the end. Other popular subjects are pop music, entertainment, sport, and the 1950s and 60s. Try to gauge the difficulty of questions – they shouldn’t be too difficult but shouldn’t be too obvious either.

Approach the landlords of as many pubs as you can with samples of your quizzes – you can sell one quiz to many different pubs. They often get quizzes through breweries, so it is worth contacting these also. You could advertise on the Internet – customers could download your quizzes directly.

  1. Puzzle, game and quiz compilation

The market for original puzzles, games and quizzes is huge. Crosswords, word searches, quizzes of all kinds, word games, vocabulary tests, mathematical puzzles, spot the difference – these are just a few popular forms of competition that appear regularly in magazines and newspapers, who pay well to be regularly supplied with original items.

Contact the editors with suitable examples of your work. Either tailor your puzzles to match the publication (for example, send and animal-related crossword to Pet Monthly) or try ‘general’ publications like women’s magazines, puzzle magazines and Reader’s Digest.

The Writers and Artists Yearbook (published by Black) is available from bookshops and lists the editors of UK consumer publications.

  1. Quiz game shows

Radio and TV companies love quiz game shows because they are popular and relatively cheap to produce.

A quick check of the TV and radio schedules for the week will reveal an amazing number and variety of quiz games shows being broadcast. The creators of these programmes are paid a lot of money, and if the show has become successful may continue to receive payments for their initial idea.

If you have a good idea for game show format your financial rewards from contacting TV and radio stations may be huge, particularly if they show becomes one of those ‘hardy perennials’ like Have I Got News For You, Call My Bluff or My Music. If you are a quiz writer it is well worth approaching radio and TV stations to see if they require specialist questions.

  1. Devising tests

Tests- serious or lighthearted – are used for a variety of reasons. Some magazines feature IQ, creativity, suitability (such as for a job), personality and vocabulary tests, where the reader can test him / herself on a certain subject.

Common in men’s and women’s magazines are ‘fun’ tests along the lines of ‘Are you a good lover?’ or ‘How much do you know about your boy / girlfriend?’. Devising this kind of test – where a score is awarded according to which answer the reader gives requires a particular talent, and publications often buy such articles from writers.

If you are talented in this area, as well as contacting magazines you could market and employee test to companies, develop tests for business publications (an example might be ‘Would you make a good entrepreneur?’) or even market them via computer companies they could develop automated tests for a variety of purposes.

  1. Designing computer games

Computer software companies are always on the lookout for exciting and original ideas for new games. You need to design a ‘story board’ showing the different characters, settings, moves, methods, of scoring and so on, in your computer game, which generally gives an idea of how the game will look and progress. You may be given a one-off payment for your idea if it is original enough. Alternatively you can negotiate to be paid a percentage of the total sales, which could be highly lucrative if the game becomes successful.

Software company telephone numbers and addresses can be found in the phone book.

  1. Setting up treasure hunts

People love challenges in which they can pit their intellect and ingenuity against others to win a prize which is one reason why treasure hunts are often used as fundraising events by charities, social clubs, businesses and other organizations.

People are generally given a list of clues which they have to follow in order to the first to reach the prize at the end. Devising a treasure hunt requires good knowledge of the local area and an especially keen eye for small but important details. It may take time for you to research questions and a route for the hunt, but once finished they can be sold to many different customers.

Try advertising in a local paper or, better still, contact suitable organizations directly. Charge around $30 to $50 for each treasure hunt. People will be happy to pay, because a good treasure hunt might get 100 entrants, who can each be charged between $1 and $5 to enter, leaving plenty of profit once the prize has been paid for.

Another idea is to devise treasure hunt puzzles to boost the circulation of newspapers and magazines, where the clues are hidden in earlier editions. Since each clue, advertisers and editors love these puzzles and pay decent fees for them.

  1. Lottery fortune telling systems

In the National Lottery, since each ball is equally likely to come up there is no method to statistically boost anyone’s chances of winning. There is a market, however, for predicting lottery wins based on astrology, numerology and similar topics.

If you have an interest in these areas you could set up a lottery prediction phone line, or develop and sell astrological / numerological in magazines and ‘occult’ publications.

  1. Lottery sales idea

Here’s an ingenious way of using a ‘game’ in order to sell something for far more than you would normally get for it.

Let’s say you’re trying to sell a secondhand car for $500. Instead, you buy a book of lottery tickets and sell them at $2.50 a ticket, with the winner getting the car. By selling the tickets at social occasions and / or at busy shopping centers you can soon sell enough tickets to put you in profit.

This technique can be used in all kinds of situations. Be sure to check the legal and tax implications before you proceed though.

  1. Clubs, magazines and correspondence courses

There are big opportunities in setting up games-related clubs, publications and schools.

Local games-playing circles and schools may be lucrative in some areas. You book the venue (this could be a local community hall or someone’s front room if large enough) and, for a small weekly fee, people gather each week to play their game of choice. The most suitable games are ‘upmarket’ card games such bridge, poker and blackjack, or board games such as chess, draughts, backgammon and Scrabble. People who enjoy these games often can’t find playing partners, so will jump at the chance of joining a club where they can play with fellow enthusiasts.

A local game school could work along similar lines, tutoring people in the rules and tactics of certain games. It’s up to you whether to focus on one particular game or provide a general selection. Advertise in local newspapers, shop windows and notice boards for members.

Publishing a magazine or correspondence course covering a particular game or puzzle is another idea. Enthusiasts may want to learn more about how to play / devise them, share ideas, skills and tactics, and meet up with possible playing partners. Good examples of potential mail order correspondence courses or magazines include computer games, role playing games, bridge / poker / blackjack, crossword puzzles, chess board games (perhaps covering a different game each month), and puzzles in general. Sell them by advertising in national general-interest and / or game and puzzle-related magazines.

  1. Devise a new board game

Undoubtedly one of the most lucrative opportunities in the games world is developing and marketing your own original board game. It should be reasonably simple to learn and fun to play, but must be totally different from any established games.

Once you have your idea you should obtain patents and trademarks for it – contact the Patent Office for details. The next step is manufacturing and marketing your game. This will be extremely costly, so it is important to carry out market research before this stage to establish the viability of your idea. The main way independent game manufacturer’s approach retailers is through trade fairs such a s the Olympia Toy Fair – large orders can secured this way. The trade press carries details of forthcoming fairs.

If you can’t afford the huge investment involved in independent production you could take your idea to and established manufacturer of games (Spears or Waddingtons, for example). If you’re lucky you’ll be paid for your idea. Sadly, few games are accepted in this way. Potentially more successful is submitting your game to a manufacturer through a specialist agency. They will assess your idea and pay you a commission when sold.

  1. Role playing and fantasy games

Commanding cult status among those that play them, there is a growing demand for fantasy games and related products.

Devising and original role playing game could be a good money maker. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a sword and sorcery style game – it could be a simulation of something as ‘mundane’ as running a business or shop. Alternatively you could develop role playing games based on biblical stories, being a famous pop / film star, or something even more weird and wonderful.

You don’t necessarily have to invent a new game you could buy and sell a range of fantasy games by mail order, getting customers by advertising in suitable publications.

  1. War games

In both model and real life from, war games remain popular with both young and old.

There are various ways you can tap into this popularity. You could produce model soldiers, battlefields and other equipment, or buy and sell these items by mail order. War game re-enactment societies exist in many towns and cities – as well as advertising in suitable publications you could target these societies by direct mail, you could make extra cash by renting out the equipment. Many people re-enact famous battles or get involved in fake conflicts by donning army regalia and replica weapons themselves and going out onto the battlefield. There is certainly money to be made from buying / selling / hiring army uniforms and replica weapons.

Also you could organize holidays and courses for people who want to play at being soldiers. The games / subjects might include pursuit, obtaining and transmitting information, defending positions, and physical objectives.

  1. Paintball

A more fun, friendly and safe version of war games, paintball has become hugely popular pastime. It has become a common form of corporate entertainment too, where companies pay per day / weekend sessions as rewards for employees, to keep clients sweet or to build them spirit.

There are two ways you could operate. The cheapest method is to purchase suitable paintballing weapons and lease some land (wooded areas and fields are ideal) to put on outdoor events. Target this service at businesses, societies and other organizations you can change fees upwards $50 per person per day.

Alternatively, many leisure companies have been successfully setting up indoor paintball warehouses, where people bay a fee and have a set time to blast as many people as possible with their paint gun.

Although far more costly them to set up, in a town or reasonable size this should generate huge interests, with evenings and weekends being particularly busy. Since you can charge $5 for a half hour session this could be a profitable venture.

Before you start mush check that your equipment is safe and that you have the right insurance cover.

  1. Executive games

One successful market is executive ‘stress relieving’ games and puzzles. You could either develop new 3-D puzzles yourself, or else buy and sell a range of executive games. Targeting companies by direct mail may prove particularly fruitful.

  1. Outdoor games

Setting up a game stall at fairs, car boot sales, markets and other outdoor events can offer a useful part (or even full) time income during the summer months. Such events normally charge stallholders only a small amount of cash, and if your stall is popular you can earn hundreds of pounds for just a few hours’ work.

Skittles, coconut shies, darts and hoopla stalls are commonplace at fairs, and the materials necessary for making them can be purchased very cheaply. A more original idea is to build a set of wooden goalposts with a wooden ‘goalie’ in the middle on springs.

Customers could pay $1 for three shots, and if they score each time they win their pound back along with a prize. Every time someone steps up to take a shot you must set the ‘goalie’ in motion. Of course, not everyone will win so you’ll still make big money, but the game is not so difficult that nobody can win, so a steady supply of customers will be guaranteed.

  1. Game-related products

Take a look at what’s hot in the games market. Could you produce or sell a related product which you have given a new angle to? With an original idea and a knowledge of what sells well you could profit from this approach.

One example is to make/sell souvenir class pieces in eye catching designs at gift shops, or personalized playing cards featuring a particular theme or even a company logo. You could put a new slant on an existing idea – developing a games compendium with a ‘strip’ theme, or a range of jigsaws with fractal designs, for example. There are all sorts of products you could invent, but take care not to breach anyone’s copyright.

  1. Games-playing conventions and holidays

Many people are so passionate about their favorite game that they will travel long distances to meet fellow aficionados, swap tips and experiences, and play the game they love. They’ll pay well for the experience why is why organizing games conventions is a good part-time earner.

Your guests may want to play the latest video games, bridge or another card game, chess, Cluedo or another popular board game, or a selection of current and classic games, if you throw in food and accommodation as part of the package you can charge well over $100 for a weekend ticket.

Instead of paying a flat fee to your chosen hotel and caterer you could arrange a deal whereby each party gets a proportion of the ticket proceeds – they may even contribute to the initial marketing costs. The best way to publicize a games convention is by advertising in games-related magazines.

  1. Games rental

A good way to keep a party swinging is by having plenty of games on hand. For this reason party hosts will pay well to hire out video arcade games, pinball machines and board games.

Used video machines can be purchased for as little as $200, and a selection of board games could be purchased for even less, You can earn this money back in just a couple of evenings – don’t forget to charge each customer a deposit.

Market your service by advertising in local newspapers, free sheets, and shop windows, or better still, link up with local caterers and party supply firms. You could also approach pubs and clubs, who may wish to hire out your games

Further Information

  • British Amusement & Catering Trade Association (BACTA): 0171 713 7144
  • Coin Slot (a supplement of World’s Fair Magazine, available weekly from newsagents): 0161 624 3687
  • Patent Office: 01633 813535
  • Games Agencies:

Cactus: 01394 275275

Games Talk: 01793 705291

Seven Towns: 0171 727 5666

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