Game development can be expensive. Expensive software, licensing fees, publishing costs, etc. will eat up your money. So, to save as much money as you can, here’s some great free software that can be useful to game developers!
There are plenty of free game engines out there, but I think the best three for most developers will be Unity, Unreal Engine, and GameMaker Studio 2. Each of these engines has their own advantages and disadvantages, but they are all very powerful, free engines. A few others that may interest people are LÖVE2D, Construct, Godot, and Lumberyard.
3D Art Programs
Doing 3D art for free can be a challenge as it may seem like all of the software required will empty your bank, but there are free programs out there! Blender is the most known one and is a very powerful 3D modelling and animation program. Sculptris is another software useful for sculpting models as if they were clay.
2D Art Programs
2D digital art is a bit easier to do for free and there are plenty of programs out there. Heck, you could even use Microsoft Paint, although I wouldn’t recommend it. What I would recommend is Paint.net, Piskel, or Gimp. Piskel is an online pixel art editor great for creating pixel art and animations. Paint.net is actually not a website as you might think, but a free art program good for photo editing, or creating assets. Gimp is another option for 2D asset creation which is known for being a very powerful free art program.
Sound Effect Design
Sound effects are often overlooked in games, but they can be essential to making your game feel great. A great tool for many games to create original sound effects is Bfxr. It’s a free program originally made for game jams that allows you to create original sound effects easily. The other option for SFX design is to record and edit your sounds in Audacity. Audacity is a free audio editing program which is excellent for recording sounds and editing them to fit your needs. It’s one of the most versatile audio programs around and it’s completely free!
One of the most difficult things to do without paying for software is music. In many cases, your best option will be to use Audacity to record and edit your music acoustically. If, however, you want to digitally create your music your options are limited. Milkytracker and Famitracker are excellent software for creating chiptunes (8-bit music), but are limited to only creating chiptunes. The FL Studio Demo will allow you to create many sounds and patterns, or even an entire song, but since it is only the demo, you cannot reload projects once you close the program. Overall, I would recommend sticking to Audacity for acoustic music, or a tracker software for chiptunes.
So as you can see, games do not always have to be expensive to produce. You could make everything you need in a full game for free with the right tools and the right mindset!