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Unity vs Unreal Engine: Which Game Engine to Choose in 2023?

1217 Views | 2 min | Published On: February 16, 2023 Last Updated: August 21, 2023
Unity vs Unreal Engine

Video gaming is a huge market with worth in trillions. Each day, several game titles are released for mobiles, PCs, tablets, gaming consoles, and other platforms. It is a lucrative business model, which when executed right can earn you millions (or even billions) of dollars as well as a gigantic user community for your (product) video game.

There are several things that go into developing a video game. The most important tool for developing a video game is the gaming engine or game engine. It is a suite of tools that facilitates the creation of video games.

There are a galore of game engines available with different configurations to match video game development requirements for different platforms, but the duo that stands out among the group are Unity and Unreal Engine.

In this blog post, we will understand what a game engine is, compare Unreal Engine with Unity, and let you know which one to choose for developing your next video game.

What is a Game Engine?

A game engine is a tool or suite for building video games for different platforms. It comes with relevant libraries and support programs for doing so.

Video Game Engine Architecture

There are a galore of gaming engines available and although they have different architectures, the basic idea is the same. Game development is a long and intricate process with multiple stages, ranging from planning and pre-production to launch and promotion.

What is Unity?

Unity is a popular game engine that has been the force behind several famous video games. Developed by Unity Technologies, the game engine was released at the 2005 WWDC as a Mac OS X game engine.

The popular indie PC game Norco that headlined video gaming in 2022 is developed using Unity. The game engine is among the leading options to develop AR and VR video games. It is loved by independent developers and hobbyists.

Although Unity is capable of developing video games for many platforms, it is the go-to option for mobile game development. That’s because of two reasons. For one, it is easier to develop 2D games with Unity and secondly, it eases the process of scaling down video games for running on low-end hardware.

What is Unreal Engine?

Unreal Engine is a leading game engine that is developed by Epic Games. It made its debut with the 1998 FPS game Unreal. It has been the source of power behind several popular video games, including Dragon Quest XII: The Flames of Fate, Fortnite, and Tekken 7.

Unreal Engine receives much love from AAA game developers due to its advanced graphics capabilities and support for a multitude of gaming platforms. Both Unreal Engine and Unity allow developers to further expand their capabilities by means of plugins.

Unity vs Unreal Engine: Which Game Engine Should You Choose?

Both Unity and Unreal Engine are the foremost choices when it comes to video game development. Each one of them has a dedicated community and a long list of chart-topping video game titles under its belt.

However, there are certain scenarios where one is better than the other. To understand that, let’s compare the two on the basis of various parameters. So, let us begin:

1.The Basics

Unreal Engine was launched in 1998 by Epic Games while Unity saw the light of day in 2005. Unity is developed by Unity Technologies.

Unlike Unreal Engine, which is a pseudo-open-source software since its source code is available as a reference for developers, Unity is a closed-source game development tool. Unity is developed using C# and C++. On the other hand, Unreal Engine is developed in C++ only.

2.Programming Languages

Unity leverages C# for the main Unity editor and plugins. It also uses Bolt and Prefab, which are its proprietary programming languages.

Dissimilar to Unity, Unreal uses C++ as its primary programming language. It also uses its proprietary video scripting language Blueprint to build a video game. As Unity is developed in C#, the game engine makes it easy for beginners to get started with it.

3.Graphics

Unreal comes with advanced graphics features. These are a material editor, global illumination, post-processing, physically-based rendering, and volumetric lights.

Unity vs Unreal Engine: Graphics Comparison

Unity has good graphics but they are not as advanced (and awesome) as Unreal. Moreover, the volumetric lights feature in Unity is available as an optional feature via a plugin.

4.Pricing

Unity has three pricing plans:

  • Unity Personal – This plan of the gaming engine is free to use for earning up to $100k a year with the addition of a “Made in Unity” splash screen.
  • Unity Plus – Opting for this plan costs $40 a month. It allows earning up to $200k/year and provides perks such as integration with collaboration tools and splash screen customization.
  • Unity Pro – It costs $150 per month. This Unity pricing plan has no yearly revenue limit. It gets you all the features of Unity Plus with the inclusion of a high-end art asset pack and 3 extra seats.

In addition to these three plans, Unity Student Plan is also available. It makes Unity free for students enrolled at accredited educational institutions.

Unlike Unity, Unreal Engine has a simple no-tier pricing plan. It is free to use but for monetizing the games, the developer needs to pay 5% for video game titles that earn more than $1 million. The first $1 million, however, remains royalty-free.

5.Supported Platforms

Unity is intended for all three of the popular desktop operating systems, namely Linux, macOS, and Windows. The same holds true for Unreal. Although both game engines facilitate cross-platform integration, Unity offers more integrations than Unreal Engine.

Both platforms provide support for Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, PlayStation, SteamOS, Windows, and Xbox. While Unity allows game development for WebGL, Unreal facilitates HTML5 game development.

Unity enables developers to code a video game for Android TV, HoloLens, Nintendo Switch, Samsung Smart TV, Tizen, and Web Player.

6.2D vs 3D

One of the most important points to consider when choosing between Unreal Engine and Unity is the type of graphics that you require. Unity is the better choice for 2D game development as it has a simple UI and well-developed 2D tools.

Unreal Engine is developed for traditional graphics-laden first-person shooter games like Fortnite and Unreal Tournament. Therefore, you must go for Unreal Engine if you require a visually stunning 3D video game.

Unity vs Unreal Engine: A Comparison Table

Unreal Engine vs Unity
Parameter Unity Unreal Engine
Developer Unity Technologies Epic Games
First appearance 2005 1998
Source code as a reference No Yes
Ideal for PC games Console games
Developed in C# and C++ C++
Popular games Alto’s Adventure, Among Us, Norco, and Pokémon Go Borderlands 3, Fortnite, Street Fighter 5, Tekken 7, Unreal, and Unreal Tournament
Languages used Bolt, C#, and Prefab C++ and Blueprint
Supported platforms Android, Android TV, HoloLens, iOS, macOS, Linux, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, Samsung Smart TV, SteamOS, Tizen, WebGL, Web Player, Windows, and Xbox Android, HTML5, iOS, Linux, macOS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, SteamOS, Windows, and Xbox
Pricing
  • Personal
  • Plus
  • Pro
  • Free
  • 5% commission for titles accumulating more than $1 million gross revenue
Graphics support Full 2D and 3D Full 3D but limited 2D
Social media presence Instagram – 272k
GitHub – 22,803 public repositories and 4.2k followers
Twitter – 473.5k
LinkedIn – 558k
Instagram – 951k
GitHub – 350 public repositories and 13k followers
Twitter – 561.5k
LinkedIn (as Epic Games) – 579k
Targeted userbase Independent developers and hobbyists Independent developers and AAA game developers

Unreal vs Unity: Which One to Choose?

It depends. Both Unity and Unreal Engine are leading technologies used widely for developing hundreds of thousands of video games. However, there are certain scenarios where one is better than the other.

Choose Unreal when you need to:

  • Add high-quality visuals to your video game.
  • Develop a first-person shooter game.

Develop with Unity when:

  • Making a 2D game for mobile devices.
  • You are new to video game development or coding.
  • Targeting many platforms.
  • You want to develop a VR game.

Other Great Video Game Engines

Other than Unity and Unreal Engine, there are several game engines that can be used for developing a video game for different platforms. Let’s take a brief look at some of the best game engines so far:

Popular Game Engines
  • Amazon Lumberyard – It is a free cross-platform video game engine based on CryEngine. Released in 2016, Lumberyard forms the basis of Open 3D Engine, released in 2021, which is another free 3D game engine distributed under the Apache 2.0 License.
  • Autodesk Maya – Popularly known by the mononym Maya, it is a 3D computer graphics application. It was originally developed by Alias Systems Corporation but is now developed and maintained by Autodesk, Inc. It is a popular tool not only for video game development but also for crafting assets for interactive 3D applications, animation films, and visual effects.
  • Blender – Programmed using C, C++, and Python, Blender is a freely available open-source software for developing 3D graphics for animated films, interactive 3D apps, and 3D-printed models in addition to video games. It is available for Linux, macOS, and Windows.
  • CryEngine – Developed by Crytek, CryEngine is a game engine that came into the limelight after the launch of the popular FPS game Far Cry. It follows a royalty model for commercial use. It was released in May of 2002.
  • Havok – It is the gaming engine behind many popular video games like the Dark Souls series, Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and the Bioshock series. It was acquired by Microsoft.
  • Pygame – Great option for Python developers. It is not a game engine, albeit a set of Python modules for coding video games using the Python programming language.

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Conclusion

Video gaming, ever since its inception, hasn’t slowed down. Advancements in technologies like immersion, AI, and blockchain had further expanded its horizons.

Video gaming is a sprawling industry that offers numerous opportunities to businesses to develop a game that is loved by everyone. Both Unity and Unreal Engine are leading options to build a video game.

Underline all your requirements and objectives to pick the most suitable option between Unreal and Unity to get started. We hope that this Unity vs Unreal Engine blog will help you to make it easy to pick among the two leading video game development options.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

Q 1.What is a game engine?

A gaming engine or game engine is a tool for developing video games. Different game engines allow developers to code video games for different platforms that include the PC, the web, gaming consoles, and mobile devices.

Q 2.What are the most popular game engines?

Autodesk Maya, BabylonJS, Blender, CryEngine, GameMaker, GoDot, Lumberyard, Panda3D, Unity, and Unreal Engine are some of the leading gaming engines.

Q 3.Which is better Unity or Unreal?

Both Unity and Unreal Engine are popular choices for game engines. Each one of them has some advantages (and limitations) over the other.

Q 4.How do you develop a video game?

You need to first think of a video game idea, including the plot, characters, and genre, and then choose a game engine to code and design the video game. Next, you need to decide the platforms that you are going to build your video game for.

Q 5.What is an indie video game?

An indie video game is a game that is developed by an independent developer or a small team of developers and published by a non-major game developer.

Q 6.Which is better for VR Unity or Unreal?

Unity is ideal for developing VR video games, especially for mobile. Although Unreal has added features to enhance the realism of 3D geometry and lighting in UE5, VR optimization is yet a long way to go.

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