Which Game Engine Is Better: Comparing Unity vs. Unreal

Which Game Engine Is Better: Comparing Unity vs. Unreal
Feb 11, 2022
8 mins read

Whether you are a freelance game developer or big studio, you must have heard or even worked with Unity or Unreal Engine. Both search engines are popular. Some might say that Unreal is more commonly used for AAA games. On the other hand, indie studios are more likely to choose Unity. Still, the question remains: how can one compare Unity vs. Unreal?

It is no secret that Unity and Unreal are the two industry giants. About 33% of respondents work with Unity, while UE has 45% of the market. The rest of the existing engines account for a very small percentage (about 10%), and some game developers report using several game engines at once.

Unity and Unreal Engine remain the most popular game engines in the world. Source: Perforce.

So, the question of choosing an engine practically stands between two options: you either use Unity or Unreal Engine. In a nutshell, their main characteristics narrow down to the following:

 

Unreal Engine Unity
Produced by Epic Games  Unity Technologies
Release year 1998 2005
Programming language C++ or JavaScript C# (Boo) or dialect JavaScript
Mostly is used for high-quality PC, mobile, and console games video games for web and desktop plugins, mobile and console gadgets
Selected features multiplayer framework, extensive animation toolset, flexible material editor, VFX & Particle Simulation animation, audio improvements (real-time mixing and mastering), 2D improvements

 

At Whimsy Games, we’ve gathered extensive experience in mobile app development and learned that each of these engines has its peculiarities. Keep reading to delve deeper into the features of these platforms and see which is better, Unreal or Unity. 

What is Unity? 

Unity is more than just an engine; it is a development environment that combines various software tools – a text editor, compiler, debugger, and so on. Unity makes creating games really simple, and its multiplatform nature allows game developers to launch their products on the most popular operating systems, like iOS, Android, and Windows. Some of the games with Unity at their core include Tyrant Unleashed, Arena of Valor, Pokemon Go, etc.

Quick Unity history facts

The engine has come a long way and is still evolving.

  • 2005 – the engine was launched for Mac OS X.
  • 2008 – iPhone appeared on the list of supported gadgets. 
  • 2010 – the third version of the engine, Unity 3.0, entered the market.
  • 2012 – Unity 4.0 was presented.
  • 2013 – The engine added Facebook SDK support.
  • 2015 – Unity 5.0 was released. 
  • 2017 – the engine rolled out its 5.6 version.
  • 2018 – machine learning tools were added.
  • 2020 – Unity Technologies announced its IPO.
  • 2021 – Unity Computer Vision Datasets became available that simplify AI training. 

The Unity3D engine does not require high technical expertise. It is based on a component-based approach, so a developer creates objects and adds various components to them. Thanks to a drag-and-drop interface and a functional graphic editor, you can draw maps and arrange objects in real-time and see how it works immediately.

In addition, there is a huge library of plugins and assets, so Unity development services are delivered much faster. You can use presets, import and export entire levels, enemy types, AI behavior, and so on. There’s no need to build the entire game from scratch if you already have such assets. Many of them are available for free to developers.

Physics of solids, ragdoll, and tissues, the Level of Detail system, collisions between objects, complex animations – these are only a few assets available. Overall, Unity allows you to create a beautiful image with little effort.

The main features of Unity

We’ll dive into the Unity features later in this article, but the main ones are as follows:

  • Access to the library with free assets and plugins.
  • Creation of objects with quick adding components to them.
  • Suitable both for AAA games and indie projects.
  • Cross-platform deployments.
  • Drag & drop interface.

What is Unreal?

Powered by Epic Games, the Unreal engine (UE) was first used for their homonymous shooter game in 1998. It was the beginning of a new era of games production that started many other projects, such as Deus Ex, Infinity Blade, Batman: Arkham City Lockdown, etc.

Quick UE history facts

From the first version to the fifth generation of the engine, it has always been used to create beautiful game worlds.

  • 1998 – the Unreal blew up the market.
  • 2002 – America Army, a multiplayer shooter, was created with UE2.
  • 2006 – Gears of Wars for Xbox was released based on UE 3. 
  • 2011 – Adobe flash player support was provided.
  • 2012 – Unreal Engine 4 was presented.
  • 2020 – the launch of UE 5, the newest version for now. 

At the moment, most games are based on UE 4, but soon the majority of new games will be released on the next-generation UE 5 version. The main advantage of Unreal is its availability and versatility. UE 4 supports two programming languages: C++ and the visual Blueprints language, where game logic is built with blocks. It looks more intuitive and simpler for those with little programming experience.

The main features of Unreal 

Here’s a shortlist of distinguishing features of this engine that we will examine further:

  • Cross-platform support.
  • VFX and particle modeling.
  • Large library of assets.
  • VFX and particle modeling.
  • Unreal Audio Engine.
  • Well-documented and maintainable engine with an active community.

Unity vs. Unreal 2022 Pricing

If you are calculating your budget on game development, pricing of Unity vs. Unreal matters. Well, we have good news for small studios: both engines have free versions with full functionality available for companies that do not reach a certain revenue threshold.

You can use all the features of Unreal Engine 4 for free if your game gets revenue of less than $3,000 per quarter. If you make good money on your game, Epic Games will charge 5% of your game’s gross revenue for using its engine.

As for Unity, there is also a free Personal plan for game enthusiasts and small companies. For larger game studios, there are two packages with different pricing.

The Plus package is suitable for businesses with revenue less than $200K in the past year. You can buy the package with a monthly or annual subscription: $35 per month or $299 for the annual subscription. 

The Unity Pro subscription targets businesses that have earned more than $200K in the past year. It includes some extra features like priority support and source code access. This subscription is further available in three packages:

  1. A 2-year prepaid package for $2,850;
  2. A 1-year prepaid package for $1,500;
  3. Monthly subscription for $125.

Plus, there are separate charges for creating games in Android or iOS. 

Basically, if you are a small indie studio or individual, both options will be free. But if you are working on a full-fledged game with complex characters and graphics, Unity with its fixed pricing may be a better option than Unreal that will keep an eye on your revenue from the game sales. 

Unreal vs. Unity Scripting

We’ll keep it short while comparing Unity vs. Unreal performance. As mentioned before, Unreal Engine 4 uses C++ and the visual language Blueprints. The latter will require a lot less programming skills from you. Meanwhile, Unity is based on JavaScript or C#. 

If you are already familiar with these programming languages, Unity will obviously be easier for you. In the end of the day, your choice should depend on your personal preferences of a coding language. 

Graphical Quality

When we compare Unity Engine vs. Unreal Engine in terms of image quality, we have to admit that Unreal is way ahead of Unity. Unreal empowers you to create the most realistic objects in 2D or 3D with minimal effort. Working with Unity takes a lot of time to get your assets to look the same way. And still, the quality will be slightly lower. So, the answer to the question “Is Unreal Engine better than Unity?” will be yes, if we speak about graphics solely.

On the other hand, Unity 3D has announced a release of its version 5, which will have about the same as Unreal capabilities. In the near future, there will be actually no difference between the two engines in terms of graphics quality.

Unreal Engine vs. Unity Asset Store

Both game engines have their asset stores. They are designed for users to get ready-made 3D models of objects, textures, environments, characters, and even sounds. 

But if we compare Unity vs. Unreal in terms of the number of available assets, Unity is definitely in the lead. While UE features about 16K of assets, you can choose from over 65K of assets on Unity. You will find everything there, from various animations to improvements for artificial intelligence and even a framework for creating RPGs. 

Industry Presence

When deciding which engine is better, Unreal Engine or Unity, you definitely want to learn about their use cases. Both engines can create all kinds of modern video games but have their peculiarities. 

Unity is a basic platform for mobile projects and indie studios. The choice is obvious if you’re working on your first game or focusing on mobile games

In the world of AAA titles, Unreal Engine is more popular. If you’re working on a video game with hundreds of detailed levels, top graphics, and complex physics of solids, Unreal Engine will be well-suited for your needs. 

Also, you should keep in mind that Unity developers don’t own their games, except for some educational projects. On the flip side, Epic Games present their titles regularly, appearing to be extremely popular. 

Community

Another point to consider is the community size and activity. Small studios and individual game enthusiasts might find it essential since a large community will provide more expert advice or solutions to a particular problem. It is also crucial to have access to well-maintained documentation and educational materials. 

Unreal Engine boasts a 7 million community of developers besides expert subreddits, forums, videos, and more. Unity has about 2.7 billion people in its user base (developers + users) and even hosts an annual game conference for the developers. UE stands out for its tutorials.

Asset stores are equally rich in both game engines. The marketplaces offer a number of free & paid ready-made textures, objects, 3D models, sounds, and other elements. So you should not face difficulties with the speed of the project implementation and will not have to design every object and environment from scratch.

Plus, both engines have great resources for beginner developers: online lessons, tutorials, and documentation. Some of the lessons are paid, but there are also many free options. Thanks to these materials, even a novice with no experience can quickly develop a Unity or Unreal Engine game.

So, which engine will be right for you?

Summing up our comparison of Unreal vs. Unity 2022, there is no clear winner. Both search engines target different sets of audience and serve different needs.

Opt for Unity if you:

  • are an indie developer or work in a small company with limited processing requirements;
  • create mobile games with simple game mechanics, like puzzles, shooters, and 2D graphics;
  • prefer to pay a fixed price or nothing at all of your revenue is less than $200K;
  • have little experience in programming or it’s going to be your first game,

Choose Unreal Engine if you:

  • are working on the next big title project (especially for consoles or PC);
  • require complex-level design with many objects and high graphics requirements
  • seek an easy-to-customize solution with access to the source code.

The engine is the core of any game, and the speed of the project implementation and its overall success largely depends on your choice. But you can make it easier with a reliable partner specializing in game development. The expert team of Whimsy Games has successfully created dozens of games for different platforms and is ready to implement your project from A to Z and choose the right engine based on the tasks set and your budget.

Feel free to contact us to get an estimate!

FAQ

What is easier to learn: Unity or Unreal Engine?

The choice depends on your tech background. Unity runs on C# and, thus, is easier to learn, not to mention the tons of tutorials that cover every nuance of using the engine and are easy for beginners to understand. If you are familiar with C++ or JavaScript, you will go into the matter with the Unreal Engine faster.

Can I use Unreal Engine assets in Unity?

In general, the answer is yes, but you may need to subscribe to access some of the assets. The basic rules of use mean that you can use any assets NOT created by Epic Games. Anyway, read the fine print carefully and get ready for hours of fun exporting and converting assets since it’s not an easy task.

If I've never made a video game before, how should I select between Unity and Unreal?

If you don’t have any programming experience, it will be easier for you to understand the C# that Unity uses. This language is similar to C++ but simpler, especially for beginners. In addition, Unity is more suited for mobile game development services, and if you are also working on a mobile game, most likely, you will need Unity.

Denys Kliuch
CEO

I'm a CEO and a Co-Founder of Whimsy Games. Before that, I advanced my expertise in engineering, management, traffic marketing, and analytics working for large game development studios with a $1M+ monthly income. With a clear vision of how game development should work, I run Whimsy Games, being responsible for the marketing and sales of our products and services.