Top 5 Mobile Game Engines: Pros and Cons

The mobile game industry is growing substantially. According to Statista, mobile games revenue in the U.S. reached a record 41.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2022. Mordor Intelligence states that “The Mobile Gaming Market is expected to register a CAGR of 12.5% during the forecast period, 2022 – 2027.” Game brands are striving to attract more players to lead the market and boost their revenues. Hence, certain trends occur:  

  • More ad investments to improve game monetization;  
  • Game development cost reduction (e.g., applying CTR, click-through-rate testing, to evaluate whether the game will retain users);  
  • GameTech is deeply utilized to manage more efficient game lifecycle.  

In this article, we’ll delve into GameTech, which encompasses a set of software, tools, and services that simplify mobile game development, reduce development costs, and ease the process of game design. We’ll explore the top five mobile game engines, analyze their pros and cons, specific features, and the development issues they are most helpful with. With the use of these powerful tools, developers can create fun, engaging, and profitable games that will keep players coming back for more. 

Tools of the Trade: Creating a Hit Mobile Game 

Creating a successful mobile game can be a challenging endeavor, but with the right game development engine, you can achieve your goals with ease. In this blog, we will explore the top five game development engines for mobile games that can help you create high-quality games that engage and entertain your players.  

Unity is a popular engine that simplifies collaborative teamwork and enables developers to create amazing 2D and 3D features. It has been used to develop world-famous games like Angry Birds 2 and Pokémon Go. Other engines like Buildbox and Unreal Engine also offer features that make game development easier, such as adding new characters and challenges with ease. 

Angry Birds and Pokemon

According to research by the SERC educational platform, a successful game should have: 

  • A fun balance of realism  
  • An Engaging storyline  
  • Immediate useful rewards  
  • Continuous challenges to motivate players to keep playing 
  • Ability for players to make their own choices 

These characteristics can be easily achieved by using cross-platform game development engines.  

Unity: A Popular Choice 

Logic Simplified, a global technology provider, calculated Unity 3D engine is used in 47% of primary game development cases. Moreover, it’s treated like an “all-in-one” game development platform combining reasonable pricing models and useful development options. Unity is a favorite of many mobile game developers because it simplifies the process of creating amazing 2D and 3D features, and it allows for easy collaboration among team members. 

Unity is a professional-level video game engine. Hackingtons, a programming school for kids, endorses Unity because it is neither too complex nor too simple. They describe it as an “outstanding balance of expert options and easy usage”. Here are the pros of this engine:  

  • It is one of the fastest engines.  
  • It supports about 27 platforms.  
  • The engine provides high-quality video and audio effects to make capturing the game experience.  
  • The user has access to clear guides on how to compose a game.  
  • Debugging is smooth and easy.  

Unity’s free version is available alongside the more extended options Pro, Plus, or Enterprise edition. 

Unity is a powerful cross-platform engine that allows our teams to work and iterate quickly. Easy to start and hard to master, Unity is fun to use across developers of various skill-sets. Multi-platform development, the rapid evolution of the engine, development support, and a huge community make Unity the engine of choice when we work on mobile game titles. 

Oleksii Isaiev,
Head of Gaming Delivery at Innovecs

One of the best features of Unity is its extensive asset store. It provides a wide variety of resources, including sound effects, 3D models, and animations, making it easy to add a unique and immersive touch to your game. Additionally, Unity offers excellent performance and high compatibility with most mobile devices. 

Despite its many positive features, some developers describe Unity as a product that is “easy to learn, hard to master”. The sheer size of Unity can sometimes cause performance issues and it demands high process speed to function well on a PC. Unity may not be suitable for all projects, particularly when it comes to UI development, since its UI solutions are less automated and robust. 

When striving for code clarity and architecture it can become a challenge with Unity if a developer does not have enough coding expertise. It takes some time to create perfect architecture because many design patterns and plugins are needed. Unity provides excellent features but may not be the only engine needed for high-level projects.

Unreal Engine: Stunning Graphics 

Unreal Engine is like the Swiss Army knife of game development. It’s versatile, powerful, and loaded with all sorts of features that make creating beautiful, engaging games a breeze. One of the major advantages of Unreal Engine is its open-source and free software, which means that developers can access the engine’s source code and make modifications to suit their needs. This is particularly beneficial for indie game developers who are looking to reduce development costs. 

Unreal Engine Mobile Game Development Platfrom

Unity is a powerful cross-platform engine that allows our teams to work and iterate quickly. Easy to start and hard to master, Unity is fun to use across developers of various skillsets. Multi-platform development, the rapid evolution of the engine, development support, and a huge community make Unity the engine of choice when we work on mobile game titles.

Oleksii Isaiev, Head of Gaming Delivery at Innovecs

One of the standout features of Unreal Engine is its ability to create stunningly realistic graphics. With its advanced rendering capabilities, you can create games with rich and immersive environments. It also supports a wide range of platforms, including mobile devices, making it an ideal choice for mobile game optimization. 

Many developers have praised Unreal for its ease of use and powerful capabilities. As one forum member on the Unreal Engine Forum put it, “Since I have learned UE4, I cannot help but analyze games developed, shipped, and optimized with this amazing engine.” This is a testament to the engine’s popularity and effectiveness in the game development industry. 

Compared to Unity, Unreal Engine offers an attractive pricing model with a 5% royalty charge only when gross revenue exceeds $1 million. This makes it a convenient option for beginners who are just starting out in game development and are looking to minimize costs. Overall, Unreal Engine is a top choice for developers who want to create high-quality mobile games with stunning graphics and immersive environments. 

Godot Engine: Helpful Community 

Godot Engine is a versatile open-source game engine that enables developers to create 2D and 3D games for desktop, mobile, and web platforms. With a user-friendly interface, it is suitable for both experienced developers and beginners. 

Godot Engine supports multiple programming languages, including C#, C++, and Python. Developers can create games for a variety of popular platforms such as Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android. The engine comes with built-in tools such as a physics engine, a 3D editor, and a visual scripting system, making it easy to create complex games. Additionally, it supports a range of file formats, simplifying the process of importing assets from external sources. 

As an open-source engine, Godot enables developers to customize the engine to meet their specific needs. It has an active community that provides ample support and resources, including tutorials and forums. Overall, Godot Engine is a feature-rich, versatile, and easy-to-use game engine for mobile game developers. 

BuildBox: Simple Code-free Creation 

Buildbox is a game engine that has gained a reputation as one of the best Android game maker environments. As Capterra describes, it is “a drag and drop game engine that anyone can use to create professional-looking games.” With its ease of use, Buildbox has become a popular choice for game developers looking to create successful mobile games quickly. 

What sets Buildbox apart is its ability to combine speedy development processes with enough tools to create hit game art. This platform is often discussed when it comes to the most downloadable game creation. Color Switch, for instance, has been downloaded about 75 million times, and its creation took less than a week using Buildbox. 

The software allows for the creation of 2D games, and it has a simple and intuitive user interface that makes it easy for anyone to start developing games. Buildbox provides a variety of assets and tools to help developers create games quickly, including drag-and-drop controls and game templates. These features allow game developers to create games even if they don’t have any coding experience. 

Furthermore, Buildbox has a variety of features to help game developers make money from their games. The software integrates with popular ad networks like AdMob and Chartboost, allowing developers to monetize their games through in-game ads. Additionally, Buildbox offers analytics tools to help developers track the performance of their games and make data-driven decisions to optimize their revenue. 

buildbox advice

SpriteKit: Engine for iOS 

SpriteKit is a 2D game engine developed by Apple that simplifies the game development process. With support for physics simulation, particle effects, and animations, SpriteKit enables developers to create visually stunning and engaging 2D games for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and tvOS platforms. 

SpriteKit is integrated with Apple’s programming language, Swift, which offers advanced features and modern syntax for efficient game development. This integration also supports Xcode, Apple’s integrated development environment, allowing developers to debug and test their games seamlessly. 

The game engine supports popular game development features such as collision detection, particle effects, and physics simulation. SpriteKit also includes animation tools such as skeletal animations and texture atlases, making it easy to create realistic and smooth animations. 

SpriteKit is a versatile and powerful 2D game engine that offers a wide range of features and tools for game development. With its integration with Swift and Xcode, developers can create high-performance, visually appealing, and entertaining games for Apple’s platforms. 

Here is an example of a SpriteKit game hierarchy: 

SpriteKit game hierarchy

Mobile Games Engines Comparative Analyses

To create a successful mobile game, choosing the right game engine is crucial. Each engine has its own set of pros and cons, and it’s essential to consider what works best for your team’s skill level and project needs.  

Here’s a quick comparison of the top mobile game engines: 

  • Buildbox is best for those that would rather not use coding and prefer an intuitive UI.  
  • SpriteKit offers a straightforward platform for Apple-based game development.  
  • Unity has excellent pricing and features and is best for small teams with advanced skills.  
  • Unreal is popular in mobile game development if graphic quality is extremely important.  
  • Godot is an open-source engine with a supportive online community available.  

Check out the chart below for more details.   

At Innovecs, we use native SDK and Unity 3D for mobile game development on both iOS and Android platforms. With these technologies, we perform full-cycle game development, follow-up game development, and game testing to ensure a smooth and successful game development process. 

Bottom Line

Mobile game development is a fast-growing market. Mobile devices are becoming more advanced every year and industries and people all over the world are turning to them for business and entertainment.  

Mobile game developers should be aware of the technical characteristics of the platform, smartphones’ graphic capacities, and market gameplay trends. Game development engines come in handy to ease the process of game design and facilitate quick turnaround. They offer audio and visual effects, methods of object display, animation pieces, in-app monetization options, and even the possibility to test the game before the release.  

Game engines may provide ready-made, unified solutions to develop hit games quickly, but none of them are perfect. Sometimes, to create your unique vision, it is wise to outsource to an advanced professional team that can deliver high-end development and art. 


Jordan Dyer,
Gaming Writer
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