Are you a student interested in creating video games? Ever dream of building the next hit indie game series like Cuphead or Untitled Goose Game? Well Unity Student offers you the chance to start that journey using the same tools as professional game studios – 100% free!
In this detailed guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know as a student getting started with real game development using Unity.
Here’s what we’ll discuss:
- What makes Unity an extremely popular choice
- Key differences between Personal and Pro versions
- Introducing the amazing Unity Student program
- Step-by-step guide to getting your Student license
- Tips from experts on using Unity most effectively
- Your options for monetizing student projects
- How Unity compares to engines like Unreal
- Answers to frequently asked questions
- And more!
Let’s start by looking at why millions of developers love creating games with Unity.
Why Unity Has Become So Popular for Game Development
Since launching in 2005, Unity has quickly become one of the world’s leading game engines. As of 2022, over 71% of the top 1,000 mobile games are made with Unity!
There are several key reasons for Unity’s rise in popularity:
Easy to learn. Unity uses C# programming which is relatively beginner-friendly compared to languages like C++ used by Unreal. This helps lower the barrier to entry.
2D friendliness. Unity has great built-in 2D development tools. This helped it become the engine-of-choice for the 2D and indie game revolution of the 2010s.
Cross-platform publishing. You can publish to over 25 platforms including mobile, console, desktop, VR and more. Massive reach!
Asset store. The asset store provides pre-made 3D models, environments, animations, visual effects, scripts and more to accelerate development.
Scalability. Unity can create simple mobile games or giant MMOs like Pokemon Go. There are projects of all scopes.
Constant innovation. New versions add features like real-time ray tracing and tools to optimize monetization.
Huge community. Because it’s so popular, there are tons of tutorials, docs, courses, and developers to learn from.
These advantages have made Unity a flexible, accessible engine capable of creating a wide range of impressive 2D and 3D games. And student developers get access to all these benefits too!
But before we get into the student program, let’s look at what key features you get in the full Pro version compared to the free Personal edition.
Unity Personal vs Pro – Key Feature Comparison
Unity comes in a few different editions. Here is an overview of the core capabilities included in Personal (free) vs Pro ($1,800/yr):
Some of the key advantages of Unity Pro include:
- More platforms – Publish to consoles, VR/AR, TVs
- Performance – Lighting, navigation features
- Workflow – Asset bundle compression
- Graphics – Post-processing, visual effect graphs
- Dark theme – Better on eyes during long dev sessions
- Multiplayer – Tools for making online games
Overall Pro provides more advanced features optimized for developers shipping commercial games.
Next let’s look at how students can get all these benefits totally free.
Introducing Unity Student – Pro Tools for Free
Unity offers a special program called Unity Student that provides the full Pro engine and tools for free to students.
With a Student license you get:
- Complete access to Unity Pro features
- Ability to publish to any platform
- Multiplayer tools for collaboration
- Dark theme for UI customization
- Options to customize/remove splash screen
- Access to full source code
The only limitations are:
- Made with Unity Student watermark
- No ability to sell engine extensions
But for most student developers those restrictions aren’t an issue. Overall Unity Student provides immense value matching the pro tools serious game studios use!
Getting Started – How to Obtain Your Unity Student License
Getting an activated Unity Student license takes just a few minutes:
Step 1) Go to Unity Student signup page
Step 2) Login with your Unity account or create a new one
Step 3) Fill out the eligibility verification form:
- Confirm your school
- Enter student email address
- Agree to Unity terms of service
Step 4) Review your details and submit the completed form
Step 5) If approved, activate a 1 year Student license
Step 6) Download the Unity editor to start creating!
The verification process aims to confirm you’re an actively enrolled student. You may need to provide enrollment proof based on your academic email domain.
If you have any issues getting verified, you can contact Unity support for assistance.
Now that you’ve unlocked these awesome Pro tools, let’s look at tips for using them effectively.
Expert Tips on Making the Most of Your Unity Student License
Once you have Unity Student activated, how do you go from blank scene to finished game?
Here are some top tips from expert developers for learning and succeeding with Unity as a student:
“Follow online tutorials to learn the basics – Unity has tons of great free courses.”
“Start small and focus on simple gameplay ideas you can build up over time.”
“Dissect open source Unity games to understand how different components work together.”
“Use free assets from the store so you can focus on programming not art.”
“Participate in game jams to set time limits and finish small motivated projects.”
“Script and prototype game ideas quickly without needing perfect assets.”
“Use source control like Git to ensure your project is backed up.”
“Ask questions on forums when stuck – the Unity community is very helpful.”
By following this advice, you’ll be on your way to gaining valuable experience that translates to real game development skills.
Monetizing Your Student Games – Publishing & Revenue Options
A great benefit of Unity Student is you retain full control over publishing and monetizing your games however you choose.
Unlike the Personal edition with its $100k revenue cap, there are no limits on earnings with Student.
Here are some options for generating revenue from your Unity Student projects:
Advertisements – Show ads using Unity monetization tools and earn revenue share
In-app purchases – Sell virtual items, powerups, levels within your game
Paid downloads – Charge upfront on game stores like Itch.io and Steam
Physical merchandise – Sell t-shirts, figurines, plushies, posters related to your game IP
Crowdfunding – Use sites like Kickstarter to fund development
Most student developers find showing ads to be the easiest method to generate some income from small projects. And you can implement ad monetization in your Unity games with minimal effort.
But ultimately you have the flexibility to choose whichever publishing approach makes sense for the type of game you create. Unity Student empowers you as a developer.
How Does Unity Compare to Other Game Engines?
When deciding which game engine to use as a beginner, you may consider how Unity stacks up against other options like Unreal and Godot.
Here is a quick comparison of the key strengths of each:
- Relatively easy to learn coding with C#
- Great 2D support makes it very versatile
- Huge asset store speeds up game creation
- Established tutorials and documentation
- Powerful graphics capabilities
- Better for high-end 3D games
- Uses C++ which has a steeper learning curve
- 100% free and open source
- Lightweight editor that’s fast and responsive
- Unique GDScript language optimized for games
Overall as a student starting out, Unity likely makes the most sense thanks to the combination of ease-of-use and power.
The large community also makes it easier to find solutions when you get stuck. With Unity Student you get access to the same tools professionals use.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some common questions students have about Unity Student:
Are there any catches or hidden fees?
Nope! Unity Student is completely free and gives you access to the full Pro engine features without any obligations.
Can I publish on consoles like Nintendo Switch?
Absolutely, one of the best parts of Unity Student is you can publish to any platform even consoles.
Do I need to know how to code?
Unity does require some programming knowledge, usually C#. But beginners can start with visual scripting to learn.
Can I use it commercially long-term?
Unity Student licenses expire after 1 year, so you would need a Pro subscription eventually for commercial use.
What happens after I graduate?
Once you graduate, you can no longer renew Student licenses but can purchase a Pro subscription to continue using Unity.
Are there any course requirements?
Nope, any enrolled college or university student of any major qualifies for Unity Student.
What are the system requirements?
Unity supports Windows, Mac, and Linux. Check their website for recommended and minimum specs. Any modern laptop or desktop should suffice.
Final Thoughts – An Incredible Opportunity for Student Developers
Between the full suite of Pro tools, tons of learning resources, and ability to publish real commercial games, Unity Student offers an incredible opportunity.
It’s everything a beginner needs to start acquiring the skills and experience to succeed as an indie game developer. All at no cost.
So whether your goal is just exploring a hobby or someday releasing the next big hit game, Unity Student has you covered.
Sign up for a license today and start bringing your game ideas to life! We can’t wait to see what amazing worlds you build.
Good luck on your Unity game dev journey! Let your imagination run wild.