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How Do I Start Using Unity for Free? An In-Depth Guide for Beginners

Hey there! So you want to start using Unity to build amazing games but don‘t want to spend any money? Not a problem! In this guide, I‘ll provide everything you need to know to get up and running with Unity‘s Personal edition for free.

The Unity Personal edition gives you full access to the same powerful tools real game studios use. You can build 2D and 3D games and experiences for over 25 platforms, all without paying a dime. Read on to get started!

Overview – What Exactly is Unity?

For those new to game development, Unity is a cross-platform game engine used to create 2D and 3D games, simulations, and other interactive 3D, augmented reality, and virtual reality experiences.

Originally released in 2005, Unity has grown to become the most popular game engine in the world with over 5 million registered developers. Today, ~50% of all mobile games are made with Unity according to Unity themselves.

Some of the major capabilities and benefits of Unity include:

  • Intuitive visual editor that‘s easy to get started with
  • Support for both 2D and 3D game development
  • Rapid prototyping, iteration and rebust prefab system
  • State-of-the-art graphics, physics, audio, and animation
  • Powerful lighting, materials and visual scripting tools
  • Build once, publish anywhere to over 25 platforms
  • Access to a massive asset store with tools, 3D models, and systems
  • Great for solo developers and studios of all sizes

Popular games built with Unity include Cuphead, Pokemon Go, Ori and the Blind Forest, Hitman Sniper, and Call of Duty Mobile.

So in summary, Unity provides professional tools for building high-quality games with top-tier graphics quickly and efficiently. And again, it‘s completely free to start using Unity for your own projects!

Getting Unity – Personal vs Pro Editions

There are two main options when deciding to use Unity:

Unity Personal is completely free for individual creators and small studios earning less than $100k in revenue. The Personal edition has all the core features needed to develop production-quality games.

Unity Pro starts at $185/month and adds more specialized tools for larger professional studios like cloud collaboration, automation and customizing the editor.

For people just looking to learn game development or work on your own projects, Unity Personal has everything you need and zero royalties or transaction fees. Simply download the free software and start creating!

Over 90% of games on the Apple App Store were made with Unity Personal edition according to Unity‘s data. Even big hits like Monument Valley, Beat Saber, and Undertale were originally built with the free Personal license.

Step-by-Step Guide to Downloading and Installing Unity Personal

Getting up and running with Unity Personal takes just a few minutes:

  1. Go to and click the big blue Download button.

  2. On the next page, make sure Unity Personal edition is selected.

  3. Enter your email address and agree to Unity‘s Terms of Service.

  4. Unity will immediately begin downloading the installer – about 2 GB on Windows.

  5. Once finished, run the Unity installer and follow the steps to install it on your computer.

  6. After Unity finishes installing (give it 5-10 minutes), it will automatically launch the editor. You now have access to the full, unrestricted Unity editor for free! 🎉

And that‘s it – you can now use Unity Personal to build as many games and apps as you want for any platform. The only catch is you can‘t have more than $100k in trailing 12-month revenues.

Next up, let‘s cover how to actually start learning and using Unity as a beginner…

Learning the Basics as a Beginner

Just starting out with Unity and game development in general? No problem! Unity makes it easy to learn with tons of great built-in learning resources.

Here are the best ways to start picking up Unity as a beginner:

  • Unity Learn – Interactive courses that teach you step-by-step. Covers concepts like Unity fundamentals, coding, animation, and more.

  • The Manual – Comprehensive written documentation covering every part of Unity.

  • YouTube – Countless high-quality video tutorials submitted by the Unity community.

  • Hands-on Project-based Learning – Import example Unity projects and pull them apart to see how they work under the hood.

  • The Unity Forums – Ask questions and get help from fellow Unity users. Extremely active community.

With Unity Learn, you can become comfortable with the Unity editor and build your first game prototype in just a week or two! And remember, no prior coding or game dev experience is required.

Some core concepts I recommend focusing on first:

  • The Unity editor – learning your way around the interface
  • GameObjects, components, and building out a scene
  • Basic C# programming – writing scripts to create gameplay behaviors
  • Importing assets – adding artwork, 3D models, animations, etc.
  • Fundamentals like player control, physics, UI, sound, and lighting

By combining the resources above and applying them hands-on to your own projects, you‘ll quickly gain skills and confidence with Unity.

Developing and Monetizing Your Games with Unity Personal

A major benefit of Unity Personal is you can use it to develop commercial games and make money without any royalties.

You maintain full ownership of any games created with Unity Personal. Once published, you keep 100% of sales revenue after any app store fees – no revenue share is taken by Unity.

This allows solo developers and small studios to profit from their work. Here are some popular ways to monetize Unity games:

  • Selling paid games on app stores like Google Play and the Apple App Store
  • In-app purchases for virtual goods and currencies
  • Showing advertisements via ad networks like Google AdMob
  • Early access games and crowdfunding campaigns
  • Sponsorships and affiliate marketing once you build an audience

And again, there are zero royalties or fees on revenue earned up to $100k. At that point, you would want to upgrade to Unity Pro (more details below).

To publish on app stores, you simply build your game in Unity and then export it for your desired platform. Unity supports exporting for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, consoles, and over 25 platforms in total.

Some top-grossing mobile games built entirely with Unity Personal include Monument Valley ($14M revenue), Masha and the Bear: Cheerful Games ($13M), and Make it Rain! ($12M).

When Should You Upgrade from Unity Personal to Unity Pro?

Upgrading to Unity Pro likely makes sense in certain situations:

  • Once your revenue exceeds $100k in a trailing 12-month period
  • To unlock team collaboration features like cloud builds and code merging
  • If you want to customize and extend the editor with plugins
  • For optimizing high-end 3D graphics and huge MMOs
  • If you need features not available in Personal like Xbox and PS4 export

However, many developers happily work in Unity Personal their whole careers and find it has everything they need.

The Unity Pro subscription currently starts at $185/month when billed annually. You can also pay monthly but the price works out higher overall.

Some key features unlocked by Unity Pro include:

  • Cloud hosting for team collaboration
  • Customizability and extensibility of the editor
  • Additional publishing platforms like Xbox One and PS4
  • Optimized rendering and graphics tools
  • Access to source code

For solo developers and small teams, Unity Personal has more than enough power and capability to build great games. But once revenue and team sizes scale up, moving to Unity Pro makes sense.

FAQs – Your Most Common Unity Questions Answered

Here I‘ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions from readers like you about getting started with Unity:

How much programming do I need to know to use Unity?

Unity does require some programming knowledge, typically using C# for scripting gameplay behaviors. But the coding needed isn‘t too advanced, and you can learn as you go. I recommend taking a C# tutorial if you have no previous experience.

Can I make 3D games with Unity Personal?

Absolutely! 3D games are fully supported in the free Personal edition. Unity has powerful 3D rendering, physics, animations, lighting and more built-in.

What are some good starter projects to try in Unity?

A few solid beginner game examples are a simple 2D platformer, a top down shooter, a tower defense game, and a basic 3D maze. Start small to grasp the fundamentals.

Can I use custom 3D models and art assets in Unity Personal?

Yes. You have full access to import any artwork, 3D models, textures, music, sound effects in your Personal projects royalty-free.

What programming language is best to use in Unity?

C# is generally the preferred language for scripting in Unity. But Unity does support other languages like JavaScript, Boo, and Unity‘s visual scripting tool Unitybolt. I recommend sticking with C#.

Do I need any special hardware to run Unity?

A decent gaming PC or modern laptop should be sufficient to run Unity smoothly. Unity is well-optimized and can run on fairly modest systems. Just make sure you have at least 8GB RAM.

And those are some of the most common questions about starting with Unity Personal! Let‘s wrap up with some key takeaways.

Summary and Next Steps

The key points from this guide:

  • Unity Personal is 100% free and has every tool needed to develop real commercial games
  • Download the installer from the Unity website and get setup in minutes
  • Start learning as a beginner through Unity Learn tutorials and documentation
  • Develop and publish your games to multiple platforms and stores
  • Monetize via paid games, in-app purchases, ads, and other options
  • Upgrade to Unity Pro once you surpass $100k in revenue

Unity does have a learning curve, but beginners can get up to speed with some dedicated effort. Follow the Unity Learn pathway, and you‘ll be prototyping game ideas in no time.

From there, the possibilities are truly endless. If learning and using Unity excites you, dive in and start bringing your game ideas to life! Just stay focused, keep practicing, and have fun in the process.

With Unity Personal‘s free access and multiplatform exporting, you have everything needed to start your game dev journey. I hope this guide gave you a comprehensive overview of getting started with Unity for yourself.

Now it‘s time to put that knowledge into action! Remember to start small, learn by doing, and don‘t be afraid to ask questions in the forums.

I wish you the absolute best on your game development quest ahead. And if you end up creating the next hit game with Unity Personal, be sure to let me know!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.