Can you make a video game for free?

Whether you can make a video game for free is a sensible question to ask if you lack the funds to create a game. Or, are considering your options to see if you can make a video or indie game for free.

Sadly, the answer is more nuanced than you may realise. There is a whole host of factors that may influence whether a video game can be made for free.

You can make a video game for free, without needing to spend any additional sum of money to do so. There are game platforms, programs, assets, and engines that allow you to make games for free. In theory, you do not need to spend any money to get started with making video games.

Platforms such as Unreal Engine, Unity, and Scratch allow you to make games for free.

However, platforms such as Unity Software will allow you to make video games for free while your earn under a certain payment threshold. As long as your turnover is under £100,000, as an individual developer – you may use their software for free. With Unity, you can create both 2D and 3D games for free with no initial start-up cost.

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As with all things that require time and expertise to create, there are caveats to making video games for free. And free, may not always mean free for the long term.

Can you make a video game for free – what to expect

It should also be noted that although you can make a video game for free. You may not be able to create the standard game created by large studios. These companies invest £1000s and £10,000s into talent, expertise, and resources into creating video games. They have large budgets and game funds.

These companies that create your AAA standard games invest a lot in people and skills. Video games can be difficult to create and take a long time to develop – especially at the AAA standard you see today. Making great games can be an expensive endeavor.

But, making indie games or small games need not cost anything.

Making video games for free as a student or hobbyist

Can you make a video game for free as a student or hobbyist? You may be pleased to know that you can make a video game for free as a student. Or, to word it differently – use game-making software for free.

Programs such as Unity, Unreal, Scratch, and Godot – allow you to make video games for free. You do not need to spend on expensive licenses to get started with making video games. You may also be interested to read what software you may need to start making games. Or, best beginner assets in Unity.

Ways you can make a video game for free

There are numerous ways in which you can make a video game for free. For example, you can look at using a free game engine, using free game assets, looking for free tutorials online, and searching for free game art and models.

Here are some further tips on ways you can make a game for free.

Methods of making a video game for free

  • Use a free game engine to start developing your game. Unity or Unreal are both free game engines ( examples ). There is a wide range of powerful game engines on the market which you can use for free to make your video game.
  • Use free assets. If you want to make a free game you will need to use free assets and models to populate your game, or you can train yourself how to make your own game assets and models. This is free financially, but it will cost you time and expertise. You will also need to check that the assets and models are compatible with the engine you use.
  • Find free sound effects and files. There are various platforms and libraries online in which you can download and use free sound effects.
  • Watch free tutorials online. One of the biggest hurdles you will find with developing your game is actually making the game work. I would recommend immersing yourself in as many tutorials to create the types of games you like. A common place in which you will find plenty of free game development tutorials is YouTube.
  • Search for free models. There are numerous websites and libraries out there in which you can download and use models completely for free for your indie game. An example is, the Unity asset store has plenty of free models you can use, or you can have a look at the website . Turbosquid also comes with a range of free 3D models.

Managing expectations when making your video game for free

Knowing that you can make video games for free, it should be noted that you will need to manage your own expectations.

Don’t expect a masterpiece.

Making indie computer games is hard! Learning how to code can be hard – unless you use no-code engines. As is the time and skill to draw and sculpt a half-decent video game.

You may make a mini-game in no time at all with 0 budget. But it can be a very time-consuming process. Making a video game for free doesn’t mean necessarily making it efficiently.

Can you make a video game for free – the hidden cost

How many video game developers and designers get caught out by hidden costs or indirect costs? This is especially true when trying to make a video game for free. For example, laptops and computers are not free for most people. You can use software such as Unity and Unreal.

While I know that Unity is free to use, you can spend money on books and courses. I have personally spent money on assets too.

Time is another cost. Many developers and designers don’t consider time as part of an expense. You can create a game with little monetary expense it is true. But other costs may be billed elsewhere in your project. Where you save money in the short term could stop you from completing a project or extending the development time by 4 months.

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