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Choosing the Right Engine: Factors Influencing Game Development Studios

As the mobile game market continues to expand and gain popularity, downloads are reaching record highs thanks to many active users. The industry is estimated to generate an astonishing $98.74 billion globally by the end of 2024.

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From the various possibilities accessible, choosing the right game engine is a crucial step in game production. Video game managers and developers must carefully select the most suitable development tools. Let's explore what game engines are, which are most widely used, and which are optimal for your team.

What is a Game Engine? Understanding the Core of Gaming Technology

A game engine, or gaming engine, is a software development program or environment primarily designed for creating video games. Its utility has expanded beyond gaming. It can be used in media and entertainment, such as:
  • virtual effects;
  • visualization;
  • collaboration and various other purposes.

Each rendering engine used in developing early video games was created specifically for that particular game. Video game engines changed over time, moving from proprietary, in-house engines to today's generally accessible commercially built engines. Nowadays, game creators use commercially produced game engines to create new games or expand old games to new platforms, which helps to streamline and expedite game development. This skill is in great demand among game creators.

What Does a Game Engine Do?

Video game engines come with various visual development tools and reusable software components. These tools are bundled together in an integrated development environment, making game creation faster and easier. Developers aim to predict creators' needs by providing complete software packages, which include:
  • graphics;
  • sound;
  • physics;
  • AI functions, etc.

These game engines are often referred to as "middleware." Similar to businesses, they offer a reusable and adaptable software platform with all the components required to begin creating games. In the very competitive video game industry, this helps lower costs, complexity, and time to market.

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Source: https://unity.com/de/solutions/mobile-game-development

Game engines also provide platform abstraction, allowing games to run on various platforms without significant code changes. They're often built with a component-based architecture, meaning swapping out or adding specific parts to customize them is easy. Some engines even offer a set of separate components that developers can mix and match to build their own custom engines, giving them a lot of freedom in creating their games.

Despite being called "game engines," they're often used for other interactive applications with real-time graphics, such as:
  • marketing demos;
  • architectural visualizations;
  • training simulations.

This flexibility makes them valuable beyond just game development.

Components of a Game Engine

Video game engines must install certain features to build games correctly and guarantee smooth development.

Input Handling

This includes gadgets that will record the player's movements so that the game can be played. Game engines must facilitate the use of input devices such as joysticks, gamepads, and mice.

There are two ways the game engine processes input:
  1. Input events: The computer triggers a custom code when it recognizes the player's actions.
  2. Input polling: this method logs positional data, including a controller's tilt.

Graphics Rendering

A graphics engine, often called the rendering engine, renders the game's graphics in 2D or 3D. To properly sell the immersion of the game graphics, a gaming engine can deliver many artistic features, including:
  • bump maps;
  • lighting effects;
  • shadows;
  • blending animation.

The visuals of a game are essential to its overall aesthetic

Physics Simulation

The physics engine simulates physical interactions within the game world. This includes:
  • velocity;
  • acceleration;
  • fluidity;
  • projectile motion.

This is significant since the movement would seem weird and unnatural without the physics gaming engines offer.

Audio Management

As the name suggests, the sound engine controls a game's sound. The technology used by the game engine includes audio files in the code that are triggered by particular actions taken during gameplay.

Scripting and Logic

This component implements game logic using scripting languages or visual scripting tools. This includes controlling character behavior, managing game state, handling game events, and scripting AI behavior.

Asset Management

The game engine organizes and manages game assets such as models, textures, animations, audio files, and scripts. This includes efficiently importing, storing, and accessing assets during development and runtime.

Optimization and Performance

Mentioned component optimizes game performance by:
  • managing system resources;
  • implementing rendering techniques like culling and LOD (Level of Detail);
  • providing debugging and profiling tools to identify and resolve bottlenecks.


Networking in games allows players to engage in multiplayer experiences by facilitating communication, synchronizing the game's progress, and incorporating features like matchmaking, peer-to-peer connections, and client-server setups.

Cross-Platform Support

With minor modifications to its codebase, this component enables games to run on various platforms, including PCs, consoles, mobile devices, and VR/AR. Compatibility testing and platform abstraction are necessary to ensure consistent performance across multiple devices.

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Integration with External Tools

Developers can easily collaborate across different software tools by connecting with external applications like 3D modeling, animation, and audio editing software. This makes it smoother to create assets and manage workflows.

AI Functions

In game engines, AI functions take charge of game mechanics and the behavior of non-player characters (NPCs), enabling them to act independently, strategize their movements, and engage in combat. While certain engines adjust difficulty levels in response to player performance, others utilize machine learning to enhance NPC behavior over time. Integrating AI in game engines enhances gameplay by creating more lifelike and adaptive NPC actions.

All components play a crucial role in video game development, contributing to its visual appeal, realism, interactivity, and overall user experience.

Exploring Game Engine Options

With many different types of game engines available, each with its features, choosing the right one can be overwhelming. Here, we'll examine the top ten game engines.


Famous for its versatility, Unity helps game developers create complex 2D and 3D games with its robust physics engine and shader capabilities. It appeals to a wide range of developers, from indie studios producing titles like "Hollow Knight" to major hits such as "Pokémon GO." With its robust scripting API and effective rendering system, Unity remains a preferred platform for game creation.

Unreal Engine

Epic Games' Unreal Engine stands out with its advanced:
  • rendering pipeline;
  • dynamic lighting system;
  • scalable architecture.

Unreal Engine is highly trusted by AAA studios globally for its ability to craft visually breathtaking environments, thanks to its high-quality graphics and real-time ray tracing. Legendary games like "Fortnite," "Gears of War," and "BioShock Infinite" demonstrate the exceptional capabilities of Unreal Engine in the gaming industry.

Godot Engine

Godot Engine, driven by open-source collaboration, offers a lightweight yet robust framework ideal for games featuring advanced physics and dynamic lighting effects. Renowned for its efficient memory handling and modular structure, Godot has powered titles such as "Hyper Light Drifter" and "Heartbeat."


CryEngine, renowned for its visual prowess, sets a high standard with cutting-edge rendering techniques like real-time global illumination and volumetric fog. Games like "Crysis," "Ryse: Son of Rome," and "Star Citizen" exemplify CryEngine's ability to deliver stunning graphics and immersive gameplay experiences.

Godot Engine

Godot Engine, driven by open-source collaboration, offers a lightweight yet robust framework ideal for games featuring advanced physics and dynamic lighting effects. Renowned for its efficient memory handling and modular structure, Godot has powered titles such as "Hyper Light Drifter" and "Heartbeat."

GameMaker Studio

GameMaker Studio provides a robust game development environment through its user-friendly drag-and-drop interface and powerful scripting language. Its efficient sprite batching and collision detection algorithms simplify graphic handling and interactions, making it ideal for effortlessly creating hit titles like "Undertale," "Hotline Miami," and "Hyper Light Drifter."


Construct provides a game development method without requiring coding, which is helpful for developers who prefer visual programming. Its event-driven structure and support for plugins allow for quick testing and improvements during game creation. This flexibility makes it a good choice for developing games like "Hollow Knight: Silksong" and "198X."


Phaser is a tool that helps web developers create games quickly and with great quality in web browsers. It utilizes effective technology to generate visuals quickly and smoothly and supports WebGL. Phaser is a top option for browser-based games like "Idle Miner Tycoon" and "GeoGuessr," which depend on fluid gameplay and interactivity because of its modular design, which makes it simple for developers to alter and increase its capabilities.

Amazon Lumberyard

Amazon Lumberyard integrates with Amazon Web Services (AWS), providing scalable multiplayer networking and cloud computing capabilities. This integration helps to handle large numbers of players and create dynamic content for online games.

Lumberyard utilizes advanced networking protocols and server infrastructure to ensure smooth gameplay experiences. Games like "New World" and "Crucible" demonstrate Lumberyard's capability to deliver massive online experiences with high player counts.

RPG Maker

RPG Maker provides everything needed to create RPGs, including a system where events drive the game's progression and a wide selection of assets to use. Its tile-based map editors and sprite animations make it easy for developers to design immersive worlds and characters.

Developers can use these tools to design complex gameplay mechanics and exciting stories featured in games like "To the Moon" and "Lisa: The Painful RPG." Game creators can now animate their RPG ideas using RPG Maker even without sophisticated programming knowledge.

Frostbite Engine

The Frostbite Engine is a powerful tool used to create popular games such as "Battlefield," "Star Wars Battlefront," and "FIFA." This engine offers exceptional visuals and immersive gameplay experiences through its real-time rendering and dynamic weather systems. Game developers use Frostbite to craft realistic and engaging worlds that captivate audiences.

Now that you've seen the options, the next step is to decide which best suits your project. The following section will discuss the key factors you should consider when making this decision.

How to Choose a Game Engine: Things to Consider

Choosing a good game engine is crucial in game development, shaping the game's capabilities, limitations, and overall trajectory. Several factors come into play when making this decision:
  1. Project Requirements: The engine choice should be guided by the project's type and size. For instance, a simple 2D mobile game would require different engine capabilities than a more complex 3D console game.
  2. Platform Compatibility: To ensure smooth development and deployment, it’s crucial to choose an engine that supports the target platform, whether it's mobile, console, or PC.
  3. Budget Constraints: Game engines vary significantly in cost, ranging from free options to those requiring revenue sharing or subscription fees. It's important to consider budget constraints to maintain financial sustainability during development.
  4. Developer Skill Level: While some engines offer accessible entry points for beginners, others have steep learning curves and are better suited for seasoned specialists. Efficient development requires matching the team's expertise level with the engine's complexity. Furthermore, there are differences in the availability of game developers. For example, Unreal Engine and Unity have big user communities, which facilitate the search for qualified experts and resources for these tools.

You can select a game engine that best suits your project goals and resources by carefully considering these aspects.

Pros and Cons of Popular Engines for Game Development and Prototyping

Starting game development requires a solid prototype. Each engine has its strengths and weaknesses. Let's explore the factors game studios should consider when choosing between Unreal Engine, Unity, Godot, Construct, and GameMaker for prototyping.

Unreal Engine Game Development

Unreal Engine is a powerhouse in the gaming world, known for its stunning graphics and lifelike visuals. It's a go-to choice for developers, offering a wealth of assets, tools, and plugins, including models, textures, animations, and audio assets.

Unreal Engine (powered by Epic Games) also supports indie game development. Initiatives such as this one were created to ensure that projects using Unreal Engine can be completed and released successfully by independent developers or small teams who may not have large budgets at their disposal. Through the Epic MegaGrants program, they provide financial support to projects using Unreal Engine, helping indie developers turn their ideas into reality.

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Unreal Engine stands out with its advanced graphics capabilities, particularly in 3D rendering and lighting. It’s important to note that it can also handle 2D rendering if needed. Thanks to its robust physics engine and support for both C++ and Blueprints, Unreal Engine prototyping is a preferred choice for projects prioritizing high-fidelity graphics.

Notable games created with Unreal Engine include "Fortnite," the "Gears of War" series, "BioShock Infinite," the "Batman: Arkham" series, and "Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice."

  1. Stunning Prototypes: Unreal Engine offers impressive graphics, allowing studios to create eye-catching prototypes.
  2. Realistic Physics: It provides accurate physics simulation for lifelike game mechanics.
  3. Visual Scripting: Unreal Engine's visual scripting helps non-programmers quickly test ideas.

  1. Relatively Hard to Master: Unreal Engine can be challenging for beginners to grasp.
  2. Needs High-End Hardware: Powerful computers are required for smooth operation.

Unity Engine Game Development

Unity has all the tools you need for game development. It includes a powerful engine, asset store, cloud service, and monetization tool. Unity Asset Store is a vast marketplace where developers can find different assets to improve their projects, such as models, scripts, shaders, plugins, etc.

With Unity being widely used on PCs, consoles, mobile devices, AR/VR, and the web, it has become very versatile for developers who want to target multiple platforms. In addition, they have programs like Unity for Humanity that actively support indie developers while providing resourceful tutorials so anyone can quickly learn how to use this software.

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Games such as Monument Valley, Angry Birds 2, Pokemon Go!, and Hearthstone were created using Unity, among others too numerous to mention here! Let’s not forget about Subway Surfers or Crossy Road; these are just a few examples of what can be done when using Unity as your game development platform.

  1. Prototyping on Many Platforms: Unity game prototype is available for various devices.
  2. Lots of Assets: Its asset store offers a wide range of ready-to-use assets.
  3. Easy for Beginners: Unity's interface is simple, making it beginner-friendly.

  1. Unfit to Project with High-Fidelity Visuals: Unity's performance can suffer with complex prototypes.
  2. Complicated Licensing: Unity has adopted a somewhat confusing monetization over the last several months, which makes it hard to predict expenses.

Godot Engine for Prototyping

Godot Engine stands out for its simplicity, adaptability, and user-friendly interface, making it a favored option among indie developers and enthusiasts. It utilizes GDScript, a scripting language akin to Python, which is renowned for its simplicity and is especially beneficial for newcomers to programming.

Godot Engine is free and open-source; therefore, developers do not need to pay royalties or subscription fees. This policy makes the tool more available to people of different occupations and lives. Godot community supports developers by sharing resources, forums, Discord channels, and conference attendance.
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Source: https://github.com/godotengine/godot

With Godot Engine, you've got games like "Celeste," "Hollow Knight: Silksong," "Into the Breach," "Katana ZERO," "Baba Is You," "Stardew Valley," and "Slay the Spire."

  1. Quick Setup: Godot is lightweight, making installation fast.
  2. Supportive Community: Its open-source community provides plenty of help and resources.
  3. Flexible: Godot's scripting and design allow for versatile prototyping.

  1. Fewer Extras: It needs some features and assets compared to established engines.
  2. Still Developing: Being newer, Godot might have some growing pains.

Construct and GameMaker

Construct provides a fast game prototyping and development environment. Its main features are an intuitive drag-and-drop interface and visual programming. This comes with many templates, behaviors, and plugins that can be used across different types of games, such as platforms or puzzles.

Construct is widely used by hobbyists, teachers, and indie developers. Consumers can quickly prototype their ideas using Construct or even easily make a complete game, and they do not require any prior coding experience.

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Some examples of what has been made with Construct include “Hyper Light Drifter,” “A Short Hike,” “Dusk,” “Dicey Dungeons,” Night in the Woods,” West of Loathing,” and ”Oxenfree.”

GameMaker Studio utilizes GML (GameMaker Language), a built-in scripting language that works alongside an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface for creating games of varying complexities. This platform also offers multiple useful tools during game creation, such as a sprite editor, animation editor, physics simulation audio management, and platform-specific exports.

As shown by its wide range of applications, spanning Hotline Miami to Hyper Light Drifter or Undertale, GameMaker Studio as game engine development has proven itself capable of meeting the requirements for success among various indie titles coming out lately; this further demonstrates just how flexible this software can be when it comes to different genres.

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GameMaker Studio powered games like "Undertale," "Spelunky," "Risk of Rain 2," "Nuclear Throne," "Downwell," "Hotline Miami," and "Undertale 2."

  1. Easy to Use: Both engines offer simple drag-and-drop interfaces.
  2. 2D Focus: They specialize in 2D games, which are perfect for quick prototyping.
  3. Active Community: Vibrant communities offer support and inspiration.

  1. Limited 3D: They're not suitable for complex 3D prototypes.
  2. Somewhat Basic List of Features: Advanced prototypes may be more complicated to create due to simplicity.

In the landscape of engine game development, choosing the right one is crucial for studios, especially during prototyping. Unreal Engine and Unity offer advanced graphics and features, while Godot, Construct, and GameMaker are simpler. Knowing each engine's strengths and weaknesses helps studios make better decisions for successful game projects.

Selecting the best game development engine is an essential task in game creation. Remember that experience is the best teacher. Try new things, make adjustments, and relish the process of developing your game concept. Argentics is a good choice if you want professional advice on game creation. We specialize in selecting the optimal engine and tools for your project, ensuring smooth development from start to finish.

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