Is Selling music and SFX on the Game Asset Store a Profitable Business?
Hi everyone, we would like to share our experience in selling our audio asset on game asset stores since Feb 2016. Unity Asset Store was the first game asset store we started, followed by GameDev Market, Scirra, and lastly Unreal Engine Marketplace in May 2016. Right now we have twenty-four assets in the game asset stores!
In this blog, we are just going to cover the four main game asset stores:
- Unity Asset Store (UAS)
- Unreal Engine Marketplace (UEM)
- GameDev Market (GDM)
- Scirra (SCI)
We tried selling our game audio assets on other game asset stores as well, but the revenue wasn’t significant. GameDev.market, Game Asset Market, GamePro Market made no sales at all in a year. GameGorillaz and Corona Marketplace had two to three sales each in one and a half year. We already removed our asset from all these game asset stores since the start of the year as we decided to focus on the four leading game asset stores.
For each of the game asset store, we will go into detail of how easy it is to upload your files, how much maintenance needed for your assets, how much exposure your assets get, payment details – minimum amount to withdraw, whether there are additional fees for submission.
We hope to answer the question that many people ask: Can this be a profitable business? And we hope to give you the insight to know if this business is for you.
[ Store List in order of their Revenue: Highest to Lowest ]
1. Unity Asset Store (Highest Revenue)
– Free to create an account to upload your assets
– No additional PayPal fees when UAS sends you the payment
– No minimum amount to withdraw, withdraws monthly
[Update* 1st Feb 2019: You can choose your minimum amount either by Bank/PayPal/Wire! (Wire payments are made every 3 months, min $250)]
– UAS takes 30% commission
UAS wins hands down in terms of revenue, and they are great in other aspects as well – No additional fees, easy to upload your assets, easy to make changes to your asset, has excellent search function and exposure.
From February 2016 to date (Jan 2018), our revenue managed to hit a five-figure sum which is more than twice the amount of UEM’s revenue. Sales have been steadily increasing month after month by just adding new assets to the store every 1 – 2 months. We did not do any marketing nor did we conduct any giveaways on any forum or advertise our assets on any social media platform. We hardly run any personal sale on UAS, maybe just 1 – 3 times yearly on 20-30% discount. We prefer to participate in Unity’s Sale as they work the best for us.
Sale Events on UAS helps boost revenue considerably! The first sale we participated in was in Apr 2017 – The first Mega Sale that took place over two weeks in 2 waves. It was the first sale where all publisher gets to participate. In the past, only a selected few get to participate in the sale. But now, the mega sale is open to all publishers, giving your assets good exposure.
The mega sale on UAS only gives you a maximum discount of 30% off your assets which I think is great because it forces you to not go off the wall with your deductions, unlike in UEM, which I will touch on later. Personally, I feel that giving too much discount on your assets is not favorable – your work may appear to be of lower value if it sold at a low price. Update: Now you can choose the discount percentage of up to 80% discount for each asset.
One of the biggest revenue boosters on UAS is getting featured on ‘On Sale This Week’ where seven selected assets are on 50% off for a week. We were very blessed to have our ‘RPG Magic SFX Pack’ featured on ‘On Sale This Week’ in Oct 2017. It had the best revenue within a short period than any other mega sale event we ever participated.
I like how UAS has the option to add tags to your asset. Search is easy, fast and compact (old game asset store) where you can quickly browse through many assets at a time. I still prefer the old game asset store to the new, or maybe I’m too used to it. One thing I don’t like about the new game asset store is because of the audio/video previews for your asset pop outs in a new tab. You can’t listen to music and read the asset’s description at the same time.
Another thing to note, you need to use the Unity Game Engine to upload your assets. Thankfully if you are selling audio assets and there’s no programming or scripting in your assets, there is no need to continually check to see if your asset work with the newest Unity version. We haven’t updated our unity engine since we started in February 2016 and we haven’t received complains regarding our asset having problems with the newer versions of unity. The only issue we have are problems with importing our assets into their unity projects.
*Note* Customer needs Unity to download the files – many customers who purchased our assets didn’t know that! We had to refund some customers as they could not use unity to download the files. UAS’s invoice number allows the seller to check the customer’s purchase and if the customer has downloaded the asset.
UAS now takes 3-15 days (*as of March 2019) for new assets to be accepted/reviewed. Waiting time is likely to dependant on how much assets are uploading assets at the time. However, if making small changes to an asset like changing the art or description is usually fast, it should take less than five days.
Once a customer made a purchase, it reflects immediately on the ‘Sales’ tab. 🙂
2. Unreal Engine Marketplace
– Free to create an account to upload your assets
– No additional PayPal fees when UEM sends you the payment
– Minimum of USD$100 minimum to withdraw – money gets transferred to your PayPal automatically if the amount exceeds $100
– UEM takes 30% commission [Important UPDATE – Great news! As of 12 July 2018, UEM takes only 12% commission, and that applies to ALL previous transaction dating back to the store’s 2014 launch! Read it more here]
When we first started in May 2016, sales were doing great. Every time we released a new asset, there would be at least a few sales within the first few days. The sales exceeded that of UAS in the first six months when UEM still curated the release date of new assets. New asset releases were featured in groups every two weeks or so. At the end of the month, UEM provides a page that summarises all the newly released assets. The waiting time of approximately one month once you submit your asset.
Now, all publishers can release their new assets within 3 – 4 days after submitting. That makes new asset releases not that special anymore. Every day you can see up to ten new assets on UEM! New asset quickly gets drowned and gets less exposure.
It is not easy to search through the marketplace at the moment. There are no options to add tags to your asset. (Update: You can add tags to your asset now!) Take time to think about the title name as it is the key to get customers to find your asset.
On the bright side, it is effortless to make changes to your assets’ description, art and project file now. From 2016 to early 2017, you had to email UAS to even make changes to the description of your asset and the changes may take up to 2 weeks! Now you can easily edit your asset’s detail in your seller portal and make changes immediately!
We get fewer sales from UEM now, but we still make some sales every month. It does not increase steadily like in UAS. However, sale events run by UEM are usually awesome, especially Cyber Monday Sale!
We feel that their sale percentage is way too high; it’s between 20-90%. Many publishers put their asset on sale at 80-90%! We don’t believe in giving too much discount. It may give the customer the tendency only to purchase your asset during sale period since it can get cheap. Offering too much discount might harm your sales in the long run. The highest percentage we go for is 50%, only for Cyber Monday. Other than that, a 30% discount is the maximum for us.
We do run some small sales (10-20% off) from time to time to give our assets exposure on the marketplace under ‘On Sale’. It helps to boost a bit of sale but not much, to be honest, and sometimes there is no sale at all. Sales number are updated by UEM once a day at 8 am (GMT+8) so check it once a day. 🙂
On UEM, we can’t verify invoices like in UAS. There is nowhere to review details of the purchase or if the customer has downloaded the assets. Usually, we have to ask for a screenshot of the invoice to confirm purchase when customers have trouble importing our assets into their project and have requested for our audio files.
Submitting your audio assets on Unreal Engine can be troublesome because you need to provide your assets as an unreal engine project file. You are required to follow their folder structure, naming conventions and instructions carefully.
You have to rename your audio files in Unreal Engine with WAV_FILENAME for the original files and create Cues of the files and rename CUE_FILENAME for the cues. That takes time as we haven’t figure out a way to quickly rename the cues; we are no experts using the unreal engine. It will be a nightmare to rename the Cues one by one if you are selling lots of SFX. If you know of a way to quickly rename all the files, please let us know by commenting below! Thanks!
Unreal engine releases a new version of their engine at a fast pace. UEM recommends that you update your asset project files to the latest version. You have to download the latest engine, load your project file with the assets with the most recent version and submit them again. If you are selling audio assets, there is no need to update your assets so often, but we received requests to update our assets to the latest version as it makes importing audio assets into Unreal Engine easier.
Also, the new requirement on the Unreal game asset store requires you to upload three screenshots, on top of the essential art – even though you are just selling music. We often get ‘refunds’ as well because of some fraud issue so don’t count your sales too quickly, wait a day or two before counting them.
3. GameDev Market
– Free to create an account to upload your assets
– PayPal additional charges when GDM transfers your earnings to your PayPal account (4-5% of your total revenues! The smaller the amount, the higher the percentage)
– Minimum USD$50 to withdraw (We try to wait till our earnings hit $250+ before we withdraw and the additional fee on PayPal is about 4.1%)
– GDM takes 30% commission
Assets do get featured in the email from time to time in emails. GDM hardly run any sale events, but sales have been pretty well. The highest revenue so far in a month on GDM was $200+ during a sale event last year November.
Assets are easy to upload and gets accepted quickly, usually less than two weeks. Changing your asset details is easy. Newly released assets do get the spotlight on the front page of GDM. You can add tags to your asset, and the search function is good. Great for customers who only need the audio files. They don’t need to use any game engine to download the files. GDM is still great even though they have less traffic as compared to UAS and UEM.
We participated in one of GDM’s market RPG Humble Bundle sale in Nov 2018, and the revenue was great!
– USD$25 to create a seller account
– SCI takes 30% commission
– On top of 30%, there are additional fees from credit card payments
– Minimum of £25 to withdraw your earnings and you need to wait up to 60 days for payment to be cleared by SCI before withdrawing
– PayPal additional charges when SCI transfers your profits to your PayPal account (4-5% of your total revenues! The smaller the amount, the larger the percentage)
We do have some sales here, and we feel that it is worth it to pay the $25 fee if you are going to upload a lot of assets. To date, our total revenue from the store is about USD$700 which isn’t a lot, but to us, it is still something.
Uploading your assets, similar to GDM is straightforward. Submission takes less than 12 hours. However, SCI requires a lot of art for your assets, about five images in their various banner or logo sizes for one asset. At SCI, you can set your personal sale and create your own asset bundle which is pretty cool. We realized the sale we set on our asset does not increase sale at all, so we stopped setting sale. Bundles are useful, and we had a few bundle sales on SCI where it was about 40% off ten assets. Currently, we stopped uploading assets on the store and may remove them altogether in the future.
Game Asset Store a Profitable Business?
We would say YES, but it takes time and patience. It took two months to see the first sale on UAS and GDM. We see it as a viable business! If being able to create game music is what you love, that’s a big bonus! For close to two years, we were working on this business part-time, but now we are working on it full-time.
We do see a lot of potential in this although it has only been two years since we started it. The revenue has been increasing every year and doing better than imagined.
This business is a marathon and not a sprint. If you want to earn money fast, this business is not for you. As of now, our revenue per month is at least four figure from all the different stores. You should consider focusing on getting custom work if that amount is not enough for you.
- Just getting started? We highly recommend Unity Asset Store and GameDev Market! Unreal Engine Marketplace would be good as well.
- *Important* to have good art assets for your music even though you are just selling music! Many game asset stores emphasize this point as well, and we strongly agree! Using stock art is your best friend! You can purchase them from as low as $5, and it’s a good investment to use instead of spending time making your art. We tried it, and it’s way faster to use stock art, and they do look better. We often purchase stock art from Creative Market and Shuttlestock; we highly recommend these two websites.
- Focus on creating a useful game asset and your asset will promote itself. We did nothing for marketing, but sales have been increasing month after month. Focus on creating music/SFX that is lacking in the game asset store instead of re-creating the same genre of music that is already popular in the stores. It is hard to compete with publishers that are currently already popular in the stores.
- Work on a music genre that you personally like as well; it gives you the motivation to work on them! We work on assets that we believe are in demand on the game asset store as well as music genres we like. Have a balance between the two.
- Put a reasonable price on your asset and don’t set it too low, especially if you want to make a living out of it! Set competitive prices and do your research to compare with other publishers’ prices. Experiment on the prices, see what works best for you! Be confident in your assets; customers will be willing to buy what they need!
- Be patient! It takes time for customers to find and discover your assets. It took us close to five months to start seeing more sales.
- On a side note, SFX seems to sell better than music. Our RPG magic is our best seller on all the game asset stores although we only released it in March 2017. If you are selling SFX, consider selling them on ASoundEffects (30% commission) and Sonniss (40% commission) too! Sales are high on these two websites!
- We have big game companies purchasing our royalty-free music/SFX for their games which was quite surprising to us as we thought bigger game companies would get custom music and SFX. So actually royalty-free assets are useful in both small and big scale games! (Also mentioned in our “Custom Music vs Royalty-free Music: Which should you go for?” blog post)
If you know of any other nice game asset store out there, do write it in the comment box below! If there are more questions you would like to ask us, do comment down below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
More About US
A two-man team from Singapore runs W.O.W Sound! Right now we are also selling our game audio assets on our E-commerce website to cater to licenses outside of games. Feel free to visit our website and our blog for more game audio assets, articles and game audio tips!
We hope all this information helped you in some way!
WOW Sound Team