When creating a game, sound effects are an important part of the overall experience. From background music to sound effects for user interactions and in-game events, the sound design adds richness and depth to your game.
Having access to good sound effects is essential for game developers, video makers or content creators.
There are lots of free sound effects music libraries online, perfect for indie game developers from beginners to pros. However, finding reliable and high-quality free sound effects can be a challenge.
It can be hard to pick the right sound effect library for your needs with such variety to choose from, but knowing what to look for can help you find a sound effect library that can serve you well in the long run.
In this article I will cover:
- What is SFX sound in games?
- Where can I get sound effects for games?
- Where can I download sound effects for free?
- Do sound effects have copyright?
- How to use sound effects for games?
What Is SFX Sound In Games?
SFX stands for “sound effects” and refers to all types of sounds used in games such as background music, dialogues, explosions, footsteps etc., usually added during the post-production stage after recording basic dialogue/music score tracks but before going live with a completed product release.
SFX plays an important role in creating an immersive gaming experience as it helps players become more engaged with their environment while playing a video game by adding an extra layer of realism which can take a gaming experience from good to great.
Where Can I Get Sound Effects For Games?
The first step in finding the right sounds for your game is knowing where to look.
Fortunately, there are plenty of websites out there with libraries full of sound effects you can download and use in your games.
Some websites offer free downloads while others have paid options; it all depends on what you’re looking for.
Be sure to check the terms of service before downloading anything—some sites may require attribution or restrict certain uses.
Using paid-for sound effect libraries is often the better choice if your budget allows as you typically get customer service with paid-for music, therefore you will have a point of contact if you have any questions about how you can use the music.
Here are some of the best sound effects libraries right now. These are music libraries with a great selection of sound effects available.
Where Can I Download Sound Effects For Free?
If you’re looking for quality sound effects for your game but don’t want to break the bank, there are plenty of websites out there offering free downloads.
Below, I have picked my favourite places to find free sound effects for video games.
The following free sound effect libraries are my favourite because they meet the following criterion:
- Their sound effects for games are free.
- They have high-quality sounds.
- They have easy download options.
- They have clear and simple license terms.
99 Sounds describe themselves simply as “we craft sounds”. I love the straightforwardness of this.
They are an indie sound design label that has a fantastic free collection of sound effects, drums loops and VST plugins (virtual instrument plugins which can be used in music production software).
The 99 Sound Effects collection is an excellent collection of free sound effects that can be used for game development, YouTube, TV, film and a whole load of other content.
I highly rate this free sound effects pack, as it contains 99 high-quality audio files in the 24-bit WAV format.
Getting high-quality WAV files is really important if you are a game developer, as you will not have any sound issues looping WAV files, unlike MP3 files.
To read more about the right type of music file format to use for video game development I have covered this in greater depth in this article, “Game Development Music (What is the best audio file type?)“
If you are looking for classic retro game sound effects, then the free game sound effects download from GameBurp is definitely worth a listen.
For the free bundle, you get 30 free effects.
If you want more, you can opt for the 2000 Sound FX Collection, which is a paid-for package.
The audio files are supplied in high-quality WAV format (44.1kHz / 16bit) and in addition, the OGG files are included.
If you don’t use a middleware software such as FMOD or WWISE to manage your game audio, working with OGG files is a good option as you retain quality audio but at a fraction of the file size.
In addition, OGG files can be beautifully looped, unlike MP3.
I really like the GameBurp website. It is clear and concise, with a nice retro vibe. It is easy to navigate and find what you are after.
If you are looking for more general sound effects, like day-to-day sounds or very specific categories such as “town/city ambience”, this site has a large and well-catalogued collection.
There is a large collection of sounds and this sound bank is very useful if you know exactly what you want, for example, “a broom sweep”.
The sound effect has over 4500 sounds, which is immense.
To benefit from free sound effects from Free SFX, you must credit freesfx.co.uk.
Free SFX is not specific on how you do this, as long as you include their website URL in your credit.
It is worth pointing out that sound effects are provided as MP3 from SFX. High-quality WAV sounds do not appear to be included.
Do Sound Effects Have Copyright?
It’s important to keep copyright laws in mind when downloading any audio files online—especially if they will be used commercially in a game.
Most websites that offer downloadable audio files have licenses governing their use; make sure that any license agreement allows for commercial use before downloading any sound effects from their library.
Additionally, some sites may require attribution when using their audio files; be sure that this is noted somewhere within the credits of your game if necessary.
At the time of writing, licensing music for video games is much the same as licensing music for video or any other media format.
Sound effects have copyright on them, owned by the creator and the recorder of the sound effects.
Before you use sound effects in your game, you need to ensure that you have full permission from the copyright owner to use the sound effect.
When looking at sound effect suppliers online, look for the following:
- Can you use the sound effects for commercial use?
This means that if you decide to monetise your game in the future, you can do so.
- Do you need to give attribution?
Many royalty-free music sites give music away for free, in return for attribution. An attribution means you need to add credit to the music supplier in your work so they are identified as the music creators.
How To Download And Use Sound Effects For Games?
Once you’ve found the sounds you want for your game, you’ll need to know how to download and use them effectively.
Depending on the platform you’re using (e.g., PC or console), there are different steps involved in getting the audio into your game engine.
Additionally, be sure that any audio files you download are compatible with any other software programs you may be using; some formats may not work well with certain tools or platforms.
Finally, if the sound effects are royalty-free, you may need to keep track of where they came from and any other license requirements.
Once the audio files are in the necessary format, you can then add them to your game engine and assign them to specific events or commands. This will allow you to fine-tune the sound experience within your game and make it unique.
How To Check The Quality Of Game Sounds?
Because sound effects are often just short clips of audio, many creators overlook the quality of the sounds. To create an audibly good game, your sound effects must be of good quality.
Firstly, check if your sound effect supplier can give you high-quality WAV or OGG files. This means that the audio files are not compressed but more importantly, you will be able to loop these files seamlessly if you need to.
Secondly, listen to your sound effects on a high-quality studio sound system or high-quality headphones. This will allow you to hear the details in the sound effects.
Listen out for any “hiss” or “low rumble”. It can be useful to concurrently listen to your favourite music track and swap between music and the sound effect to see how the audio compares.
When comparing the background music of the game to the sound effects, ask yourself:
- Is the music and sound effects about the same volume?
- Is the music and sound effects of the same quality?
We call this critical listening in the music industry and if you are selecting music and sound effects for your game development projects; it is worth paying attention to the details of the sound to increase the overall quality of your game sound design.
Game sound effects play an important role in enhancing a player’s gaming experience by adding another level of immersion and realism into the mix. Sound effects can really add to the atmosphere of your game and make it stand out from other titles.
It is important to find a good supplier for your audio files that offer high-quality WAV or OGG files with no compression.
Additionally, be sure you read all licensing agreements before downloading any sounds so you understand how they can be used in commercial projects.
Finally, take time when comparing music tracks and sound effects in order to get the best possible result for your project’s overall sound design.
Using and playing with sound effects in game development can be great fun and has the potential to turn a good game into a great game.