If you are just getting started with game development, or perhaps the Unity game engine, you may be wondering about how to find free assets that you can use for testing purposes. Or, perhaps you are wanting to build a commercial game and you are curious about whether the free assets can be used commercially or not. We will look into how to find free assets, whether they are good to use, and how you might be able to use them in your project.
So, does Unity have free assets? Yes, Unity does have thousands of free assets available on the Unity Asset Store. Some were developed by Unity themselves, but most are developed by other artists and developers.
Let’s dive a little deeper and find out how we can use some of these assets to our advantage on a game development project.
How Do You Find Free Assets for Unity?
- Go to the Unity Asset Store.
- Click on a category you are looking for. Example, 3D environment assets or 2D characters.
- Immediately the store will show you some of the most popular assets. Click on the “Price” button near “Sort By”.
- Click on “Free Assets”.
You now have all of the free assets available in that category visible.
Unity Standard Assets
If you are looking for assets developed by Unity specifically, these are called the “Standard Assets”. They have been around for quite some time.
I use them fairly heavily for testing purposes. The Standard Assets contain a simple First Person Character Controller, a few materials I can drag onto objects to make them stand out instead of the white default material, and some Camera scripts that you can use to create Third Person.
Some of these assets have been deprecated because there are better, perhaps even easier to use, assets available now. As an example, I never use the Third Person Character script from the Standard Assets because Cinemachine does most of the camera work for you and looks good.
I highly recommend that before you dive into using Standard Assets for production that you look at a few tutorials on how to accomplish whatever it is you are hoping to accomplish. The great part about Unity is that there are a lot of resources out there. You can pretty well find out how to do anything you would like to do on YouTube or Unity’s forums.
Third Party Free Assets for Unity
There are some really good assets that I like to use for different projects in the classroom. A couple that I use pretty heavily are the Fantasy Forest Pack and the Modular First Person Character Controller. I have switched to this modular controller recently after a tutorial I watched and found it to be better than the controller from Standard Assets.
Here is a short little demo of the Modular First Person Character Controller in action:
Are Unity’s Free Assets Good?
Good is pretty subjective, isn’t it? Honestly, the free assets are sufficient to build a basic game. They are a great start if you want to build something a bit more custom feeling.
I usually like to use some of the free assets as a start, perhaps to get a feel for what my game is. There are some really good paid assets that might give you a bit more flexibility in terms of making it custom. As an example, you could modify the Modular First Person Character Controller, or you could upgrade a bit to something like the Ultimate FPS asset which gives a developer a lot more customizing options.
That being said, if I was to start a game with a first person character controller, I would not hesitate to start it out with the free modular asset. It may be a great option on a budget.
The vast majority of people consider the Standard Assets that were developed by Unity to be deprecated. They have a couple of minor errors you will need to fix and they are no longer supported by Unity. You will likely find better alternatives that are free.
Can You Build a Commercial Game With Free Assets?
I wrote an entire article based on the topic of whether unity assets can and should be used in commercial games.
In a cliff note version, I do believe that you can use more free Unity assets within a commercial game as long as you credit the author.
There are some huge advantages to going the free route in terms of speeding up the development of your game and finding quality work for some areas that you may feel weak. As an example, you can find a lot of animal assets and maybe even character assets, two of the most time consuming and difficult modeling tasks in my opinion.
I would highly recommend that you evaluate the agreement of the developer. In some instances, it may not be permitted to use commercially. When in doubt, you may consider contacting the developer or artist of the asset to ensure that you can use it. Generally asking will go a long ways with someone who has put their work out for public use and download.
Why Would People Give Away Assets For Free?
There are a lot of artists and developers that simply want to be credited for their work. Many just love creating cool work and want others to use it.
A lot of the free assets are given away just so that the artists can be credited for the work. They want to be able to say “My work was featured on ______ game”. Which would be really cool for a lot of people!
In addition, it’s a great way for people to build their resume and portfolio. Someone wanting to get into this industry often has to have a little bit of experience. This is an easy way to contribute to projects that may go commercially.
Lastly, it may be a great opportunity for artists to build a name for themselves. There are a few popular asset packs out there that are given completely for free. What they will do is provide a small pack for free, then provide a larger pack for a small price. You can see that this is a strategy that JustCreate and other artists use.
There is nothing wrong with using Unity assets to get started on a project. As a game developer make sure to credit the sources. This is particularly the case if you are working on a commercial project. There are a lot of great free resources out there, you should never shy away from them if they can help you develop a game faster.