Top 15 Mobile Game Engines, Tools and Development Software
In 2021 only, the global video game industry generated $37 and $53.5 billion from PC and mobile gaming respectively. Mobile gaming is gaining momentum: from big to small, people play games on their smartphones either to have fun or to learn something new. The rising popularity of PC and mobile games launched a surge for creating a perfect game engine for mobile.
There are code-reliant game-making platforms, “drag-and-drop” mobile game engines, and the ones that offer two approaches. So picking just one tool out of an abundance of game engines for mobile development and development software can be quite time-consuming.
If you feel like you could use some help, keep reading and learn about the top 15 game development platforms and game engines for mobile in 2022.
Unity for Cross-Platform Development
Unity is one of the most popular mobile game development tools in the world devised by Unity Technologies. Around 1.5 million mobile developers use Unity every month. It’s gained recognition thanks to the robust library of documentation, tutorials, guides, and other types of learning materials.
It’s popular among both beginners and advanced programmers and widely adopted by tech companies that provide Unity development services. Unity is a brilliant game engine for mobile games both 2D and 3D that allows to involve an entire tech team into the programming process. In addition, you can purchase assets directly from the Unity store as well as import them from Blender or Maya.
Unreal Engine for Quick Prototyping and Iterating
A creation of Epic Games’ technology, Unreal Engine is the best game development platform with physics and destruction systems and real-time technology. The engine was constructed to enable quick prototyping and iteration and implementation of photorealistic features. Granted direct access to C++ code, creators of spectacular games, especially third- and first-person shooters, can experience more flexibility than using any other mobile development engine.
The artist-friendly Blueprint visual scripting helps create interactive content without writing a single line of code. At the same time, when necessary, programmers can access the entire C++ source code of the Unreal Engine or download their code from GitHub. The Unreal Engine’s MetaHuman Creator is another specialty that allows creators to construct digital humans of supreme quality in minutes. In addition to all that goodness, Unreal Engine, the best game engine for mobile games, also gives free access to 160 hours of online learning content and offers instructor-led training.
Godot for Instant Running on Mobile Devices
Godot is the best platform for game development for building 2D and 3D animation games. It’s admired for the live editing feature that can be instantly run on mobile devices as well as for the visual editor with context-sensitive UI. The engine has a friendly content creation pipeline where animators, artists, level designers, and the rest of the involved specialists can collaborate freely.
Creators enjoy using a friendly file system that works seamlessly with Git, Subversion, Mercurial, and other version control systems. Moreover, Godot prides itself on supporting a wide range of programming languages such as GDScript Python-like scripting language, C#, C++, visual scripting, and others.
Game Maker with “Drag-and-Drop” Constructor
Game Maker Studio 2 is a creation of Yoyo Games. This high-end 2D mobile game engine was devised for creators with no coding skills. Since the engine requires zero native programming, it runs on the drag-and-drop principle that allows creators to visualize concepts of games as well as create fully-fledged games.
Just like other point-and-click engines, Game Maker is criticized for limiting creators’ freedom. In order to receive more flexibility, users are offered to purchase Professional or Master Collection versions. Nonetheless, non-programmers admire the engine for its speed, user-friendliness, and perfectly streamlined codeless app development features.
Solar2D for Simplified User Experience for Non-Coders
Solar2D is a cross-platform game engine written in lightweight Lua Scripting Language. The platform was built by Corona Labs to simplify iterating and user experience for non-programmers. The game engine runs on open-source code available under the MIT license.
Creators admire Solar2D for its wide range of free plugins such as media, analytics, and in-app advertisement. In addition, there also are third-party stores like Solar2D Plugins and Solar2D Marketplace that can satisfy any need. Even when plugins and marketplaces are helpless, creators can call any native API or library including C, C++, Objective-C, or Java by using Solar2D Native.
Starling Framework for Cross-Platform Game Development
Starling Framework is a free open-source cross-platform game engine developed by Gamua. The framework enables the creation of hardware-accelerated applications in ActionScript3 which means that it fully mimics Flash’s display list architecture on GPU.
Primarily used for 2D game art & development, Starling Framework can also be used for any graphical application. One of the prominent features of this mobile game development software is that it’s lightweight and extremely easy to use. Framework creators paid special attention to writing code that is easy to read, understand, and extend.
The promising framework has recently earned recognition from Embraced by Adobe™ powered by CommunityAdobe that plans to tightly integrate Starling into its set of tools. All Starlight-based apps can be deployed on iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS alike.
CryEngine for Creating 1st Person Shooters
CryEngine, Crytek’s brainchild, has earned the fame of the best alternative to Unreal Engine for developing first-person shooters with strategic elements. And what makes CryEngine a real star are its visual strength and a variety of out-of-the-box tools that enable a fast iteration process. On top of that, game programmers can enjoy a ‘what you see is what you play’ system that substantially shortens the development process.
Alike Unreal Engine, CryEngine allows for high-fidelity visuals required in the development of photorealistic games. It also offers a range of tools to construct open-world environments containing large amounts of vegetation. The major advantage of using CryEngine is that programmers have freedom of customization and flexibility guaranteed by direct access to the engine and its editor source codes.
Phaser for Building Small-Scale Games
Phaser is an open-source and free mobile game development tool. It’s generally recognized as a decent option for building small-scale games. Instead of running robust and heavy CryEngine or Unreal Engine, programmers address Phaser. Phaser is the best mobile game engine when it comes to doing pet projects, developing indie games, or running game development marathons.
MonoGame for Deep Customization
MonoGame is a highly-customizable game development Microsoft XNA 4 framework that provides high-class multi-platform support. This framework was built specifically for one target audience — programmers who appreciate using custom-built tools. It’s often perceived as a set of convenient C# libraries rather than a game engine because it provides way more creative freedom than an average engine does.
MonoGame is an open-source C# framework that supports all .Net languages. The major advantage of this framework is its flexibility: it grants programmers more autonomy by allowing them to build their own engines that perfectly match their needs.
Haxe for Unique Cross-Platform Development Experience
Primarily used for game development, Haxe can also be applied for programming desktop, mobile, and web apps as well as command-line and cross-platform APIs. Among the early adopters of Haxe, there are Disney, Hasbro, BBC, Toyota, Prezi, and even Coca-Cola.
Haxe uses its own package manager Hexlib which offers a great number of libraries. Unlike other popular game engines, Haxe has no graphical user interface which means that if a programmer is fluent in a certain integrated development environment, they don’t need to switch.
Marmalade for Simplified 2D and 3D Animation
Marmalade software development kit is a product of Marmalade Technologies Limited, former Ideaworks3D Ltd, and one of the top picks for 2D and 3D game development. The game development software is written in C++ and its modules are coded in Lua, Objective-C, and HTML5.
Programmers can use either OpenGL ES API or Marmalade SDK layer to access graphics rendering capabilities. In addition, Marmalade SDK allows creators to use 3D models and animation through exporter Autodesk 3DS Max and Autodesk Maya plug-ins.
Amazon Lumberyard for AAA Class Games
Lumberyard is an open-source cross-platform Open 3D Engine (O3DE) powered by Amazon Web Services. Despite its humble community, the Lumberyard engine has been listed among the most promising tools for developing AAA games. And high-fidelity 3D graphics is only one good reason to use it.
Written in C++ and Lua, the engine supports such ecosystems as PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive. One of the prominent features of O3DE is that it provides access to an AWS Integration Gem with its analytics, multiplayer scaling, cloud storage, and real-time data sources. In the game development sphere, O3DE is admired for flexibility and modularity. Programmers can easily add integrations or swap out subsystems to add just as many features as necessary to their simulations and games.
Clickteam Fusion 2.5 for Script-Free Game Development
Fusion 2.5 is a Clickteam mobile game engine that enables script-free development of games and interactive software through an advanced event system. The engine has a built-in graphic editor and offers a wide range of extension objects to accommodate challenges in building 2D games.
If programmers can’t find a stock object, they can either address the built-in extension manager or use the SDK, build their own object, and sell it to other Fusion 2.5 programmers. The game engine boasts of a strong developer community, extensive documentation, and a learning materials library.
Defold Game Engine for Modular Game Creation
Defold Game Engine is one of the top game development platforms praised for its intuitive UI. A robust component-based system of the engine enables maximum modularity and performance and is suitable for building 2D and 3D games. Defold Game Engine was built as a 3D engine with special attention to the latest tools for 2D creation. Moreover, it has an advanced animation system for scripts and visual components.
One of the engine’s specialties is that it’s artist-friendly. Designers can use a built-in editor to add layers, characters, scenes, user interface, and bosses. A creator can intuitively navigate through the engine using basic building blocks to generate complex behavior. Language-wise, the engine supports Lua which can be used for writing game logic. It also offers an effortless integration with external tools such as Tiled, Atom, and Spine.
AppGameKit as Indie Developers’ Favorite
AppGameKit 2.0 is a creation of TheGameCreators. Loved by beginners, indie developers, and programmers who create games in their leisure time, the game engine supports AGK BASIC or C++, and XCode.
The active community praises the engine for the well-documented functions with examples and exercises which makes it an easy-to-learn technology for beginners in game development. For instance, the Tutorial PDF includes a detailed introduction to 3D game art & development and includes integrated references to the most important use cases and each functionality.
Drag & Drop vs Code-Reliant: What’s Worth Your Investment?
Every game engine targets a specific audience, but we see a strong inclination towards no-code game development tools. They score high in accessibility, involvement of multidisciplinary teams, and speed of construction.
Still, drag & drop engines currently offer a limiting set of integrations and require additional involvement of programmers. So to build an app, functions of which cannot be implemented through the pre-built blocks, creators need to collaborate with game programmers anyway. And that’s where Whimsy Games can help you.
If you are feeling lost and lonely in your game development journey, Whimsy team can help you build mobile (iOS & Android) and Unity games into life. We have rich experience in creating 2D and 3D games with flawless performance on PC, console, mobile, and web. Have an idea? Let’s work together!