Is Unity a Good Game Engine?
Unity is a cross-platform tool that has become the life of the party for aspiring developers. According to Unity Technologies, it is the top choice for mobile games, with 71% of them being Unity-based. Unity alone has 5 billion app downloads per month. Even those who are not interested in game development have heard about Unity. For those who care about game development, Unity is a beloved tool, and for good reason. The Unity Gaming Report 2022 indicates that the number of games made with Unity has grown by 93% over the past year. More than 230,000 developers create and manage over 750,000 games powered by Unity. Unity has also expanded its toolkit by acquiring special effects company Weta Digital (known for its work on the films Lord of the Rings and Avatar) and Ziva Dynamics, a leader in high-tech modeling and deformation, machine learning, and real-time character creation. Is Unity a good game engine? The statistics speak for themselves: Unity dominates the mobile game development market and has become the basis for sensational games like Among Us, Pokémon Go, and Disco Elysium.
Why Unity is Good for Game Development
Unity is a widely used game development engine that offers a variety of tools and assets for creating mobile and cross-platform games. It is a powerful tool with at least six pillars that make it great:
- Fast prototyping and development process compared to other engines.
- Multi-purpose built-in functionality such as editor, scripting, graphics & physics, etc.
- Both 2D and 3D game creation and interactive simulation support.
- Portability to more than 19 platforms, including VR, AR, and MR devices.
- Growing community with documentation, support, forums, asset store, etc.
- Flexible monetization opportunities for mobile devices (Unity Ads).
Unity is a gaming engine of choice for 61% of developers, and the company is constantly evolving. It provides developers with tools and assets to produce a game title quickly and of a high standard. Unity integrates easily with other software and offers high accessibility for developers of all skill levels and experience. Recently, Unity acquired Weta Digital (for their VFX tools for artists in particular) and Ziva RT (for devices that allow crafting realistic character designs). It’s fair to assume we’ll see more Unity in the future.
Unity is a versatile game engine that enables easy creation of 2D and 3D games. It is the best cross-platform option, covering modern platforms, including VR and AR. Many of the most popular games in VR, AR, 2D, and 3D were created with the help of Unity.
Its intuitive drag-and-drop interface uses a component-based approach, which makes it beginner-friendly. Unity’s visual programming tool, Bolt, makes it accessible even to non-techies. With Unity, you can produce high-quality games with AAA visuals, high-quality audio, and smooth gameplay. It offers simple workflows, a dynamic animation system, and multi-platform support. Its vast selection of pre-built assets on the marketplace makes it easy to source required assets. The user-friendly interface is customizable, making it easy to navigate for beginners and experts alike.
Unity is an engine that can create console, computer, and mobile games. The engine is compatible with iOS, Windows, Android, Linux, and macOS. Unity is also the go-to option for indie game developers. We love the engine a lot; let’s dive in to see what it can do and why so many people adore it.
Key Features for Game Development
Prefab System: With Unity, you can create reusable assets that enable fast game development. Unity’s Prefab system allows you to create complex hierarchies that are easy to maintain, configure, and update across multiple levels. A prefab asset is a template that does not necessarily need to be identical to the previously created one. You can easily create new prefab assets from the existing ones. When an object is edited, it does not break the whole chain of objects of the same type but simply modifies the current object without messing up the code. Unity’s Prefab system significantly speeds up the prototyping and overall development process.
Physics: Unity has two physics engines for 2D and 3D games, making it easier for developers to focus on the right editor without trying to find a workaround by using a single multi-purpose editor. The 2D engine is customized for 2D app development and has a higher frame rate than the 3D engine, showing approximately a 4x increase in performance. Having two separate engines allows developers to switch between them depending on the type of project.
Graphics: High-quality graphics in Unity can be achieved thanks to real-time global illumination, physically-based shaders, dynamic lights, and a solid particle control system (for water, fire, etc.) using scripting. However, most of the graphical achievements in Unity can be attributed to the Asset Store, which enables developers to sell their frameworks and plugins. Some of the most popular plugins are “Amplify Color”, “FXAA Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing,” “Time of Day,” “Relief Terrain Pack,” and “Alloy Physical Shader Framework.” Unity regularly releases new versions, and as of 2023, the latest update introduced scalable graphics that allow for more realistic cinematics and the addition of more real-life effects, such as underwater effects, local fog, or skies with dynamic lighting.
Animation: Unity is excellent at animating simple things but is mainly used for GameObjects animation and not for physical-level animations. In other words, Unity’s animation influences the gameplay, while other software like Blender is used to create complex character or object animation. However, Unity’s animation does offer several benefits, such as the ability to influence the performance and quality of the animation by directly changing animation parameters, implementing various logic to different animated parts, and using state machine animation for different states of animation like breathing, flowing, etc.
Troubleshooting: Unity has great troubleshooting and real-time editing systems, making it crucial to have a quick and responsive troubleshooting system empowered with real-time editing, which allows trimming the project according to the client’s vision and demands. Unity developers find systems and modules such as gizmos (for visual debugging), real-time editor, and the ability to extend the editor and object-component design particularly useful for their clear logic.
What Games Can Be Developed with Unity?
Unity is a versatile game engine used to develop games for any genre. From casual mobile games to large-scale open worlds, Unity offers endless possibilities. However, the success of a game depends on the development team’s skills, budget, and requirements.
Unity covers almost all known genres, including first-person shooters, action-adventure, action roguelike, quests, puzzles, card games, arcade, sports simulators, city-building simulators, sandbox, RPG (role-playing game), RTS (real-time strategy), and more. Unity also supports the latest trends in gaming, including the creation of NFT games.
Unity is popular for mobile game development due to its cross-platform capabilities. The engine allows developers to deploy their games to different operating systems and devices without rewriting the code for each platform. This is a huge benefit for mobile game developers. Unity also provides a wide variety of tools for efficient mobile development while maintaining high-quality graphics on mobile devices.
Unity is also capable of developing AAA games, which are the blockbusters of the gaming industry. While the majority of AAA games use proprietary, custom-built engines, Unity is still a viable option for AAA game development. Games like Cuphead, Cities: Skylines, and Genshin Impact are proof of this.
One of the main challenges of using Unity for AAA game development is the difficulty of efficiently working with the technology on a large team. However, Unity has addressed this issue through additive loading, which allows teams to split the level up in ways that fit a standard workflow.
Unity Pros and Cons
What Are the Advantages of Unity?
Best Cross-Platform Features
Unity is a popular game development engine that has numerous advantages for game developers. One of its key advantages is its cross-platform compatibility, with support for over 25 platforms, including smartphones, consoles, PCs, web, and AR/VR. Unity allows developers to port their games easily and provides graphics rendering using other engines such as Adobe, Direct 3D, and OpenGL.
Rich Unity Asset Store
The Unity Asset Store offers a vast collection of ready-made assets such as models, animations, instructions, and tutorials that developers can use or modify after purchase.
Simple and Intuitive Interface
Another advantage of Unity allows visual scripting and combining nodes to create login and scripts without writing code. This feature makes Unity suitable for people with little or no programming skills. Additionally, Unity offers flexible pricing options that include a free package for individuals and small businesses earning less than $100,000 annually.
>Unity works using C#, which is an easy-to-learn language that allows engineers to use any IDE such as MonoDevelop, Notepad, Raider, or Visual Studio Code. Unity’s compatibility with .NET platforms ensures that games can run on multiple hardware configurations.
Physics, Graphics, and Animation
Unity provides a lot of tools that are useful for building and testing a game’s physics, graphics, and 2D/3D scenes. The engine integrates with object-oriented 2D and 3D engines like Box2D and Nvidia PhysX to ensure that objects behave correctly when impacted by gravity and collisions. It also has Scriptable Render Pipeline, High-Definition Rendering, and Universal Render Pipelines that help customize render loops via C# scripts.
Unity prefab system allows developers to store and reuse pre-existing game objects. These prefabs retain all their configurations, values, and child components and can be used across multiple devices and scenes. This makes it easy to maintain consistency in the game’s aesthetics and streamline teamwork. For example, the main character’s appearance or NPCs can be changed across different scenes simultaneously, or the actions of different components can be altered. The prefab system makes it easy to edit and update the game environment, such as flowers, trees, lamps, etc.
Active Community and Lots of Guides
The Unity Developer Community is the largest among other game engines, and beginners can easily find answers to their questions on forums, feedback threads, platforms, and other sources. A huge number of training materials, including YouTube videos, open-access GitHub projects, and lessons provided by Unity itself, make the process of learning Unity simple and smooth. Additionally, the ability to find answers to questions at any time significantly speeds up mastering the engine.
What Are the Disadvantages of Unity?
Unity Plus, Pro, or Enterprise licenses are available for more advanced features or for those who earn more than $100,000 per year. Only Unity Enterprise users have access to the source code.
Unity is resource-intensive, and complex games require powerful equipment. Workarounds can be costly and time-consuming.
Unity Asset Store Limitations
The Unity asset catalog may not provide the best assets, and compatibility issues can arise. Unreal better serves high-poly 3D assets
Large Size and Slowness
Large, complex scenes can negatively affect game performance, requiring optimization or the removal of some elements.
Difficulties With External Plugins
Unity lacks integration with external services and libraries, making it challenging to share functionality between projects and add third-party physics to the engine.
Using Modules in Unity
Unity cannot cover all platform-specific features, and developers may need to know native languages to connect the engine to modules.
Bad Code Practices
Unity enables some bad coding practices, which can be avoided by knowing its pitfalls, such as tracking memory leaks.
So, Should You Use Unity?
Unity is an excellent game engine. It was built primarily for creating mobile games, making it perfect for them. However, Unity is also great for creating indie games, AR applications for exhibitions, and large-scale multiplayer games like Genshin Impact.
Whether or not Unity is the best game engine for your project depends on how well its functionality aligns with your ideas. That said, the Unity game engine is known for its exceptional performance in creating a wide range of products.
If you’re convinced that Unity is the right choice for your project, we’re the perfect match for you. Contact us to find a reliable and experienced partner for Unity development.