Audio Suggestions For Games

Acquiring Sound for your Game

Free audio is, surprisingly, one of the hardest things to find on the Internet. If you were working in a real game development environment, though, you would probably have a team of talented people working on both the background music and sound effects for your game. Most of the people who are just trying to learn how to make a game, though, do not have this kind of specialized team. However, you probably really would like music in your game anyway.

So how do you go about getting music and sound effects to put into your game? Well, the best solution is to find someone who can do it for you for free. But that is probably not going to happen. If you have a small budget, you still might be able to pay someone to do it.

Also, if you have a small budget, you can probably buy some royalty-free music online. Just try doing a Google search for "royalty-free music" and you should find some things that you are looking for. With royalty-free music, you can usually just pay a one-time fee (often somewhere from $50 - $100 per piece), and you can use it in any way that you want, for as long as you want.

With music, you generally have to pay to be able to use and redistribute it. But there are a few exceptions. One exception that I have found to be quite nice is Kevin MacLeod's music over at He has offered his music for use in just about anything, for free, as long as you give him credit for his music. (It's released under the Creative Commons License.) He also lists a couple of other places like his, but I only recently discovered that, and I haven't had time to really see what the other sites are like. At any rate, that could get you started, and you'll probably be able to find something that is satisfactory for your needs.

Sound effects are quite a bit simpler to find on the web (and to record yourself!). There are a number of sites offering free sound effects that you could use in your game. One, in particular, that I've found to be useful is The site is designed for people making Flash games, but it works pretty well for XNA games too.

If you know of any other good sites with music or sound effects, please let me know about them in the Comments section at the bottom of the page.

Other Suggestions

Here are a few other suggestions that you might want to consider:

  • Use sound in your game. It adds a lot to the game. Don't just ignore it.
  • For sound effects, exaggerate! For the sound effect for a gun, don't use a recording of a gunshot, use a recording of a missile launcher.
  • Don't even think about putting music in your game that you don't hold the copyright for, or don't have permission to use if you are publishing your game to the world. You will get caught.
  • Pay close attention to the volume of the sound in your game. For example, you don't want it to be too quiet, force the players to crank up the volume to hear it, only to have them blasted out when they exit the game and go back to something else that has the volume set at a normal level.
  • Allow the player to turn off sounds in your game. They may actually be listening to their own music, and may not want to hear what you've put in.
  • Use the features in XNA to allow your sound effects to vary. If the same sound effect is played, without variation, it will almost always become annoying quickly.

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