Meet Unity − the life of the cross-platform party, the best friend of aspiring developers, and the top tool for mobile games (71% of them are Unity-based according to Unity Technologies). There are 5 billion Unity app downloads per month alone. Even those who do not care about game development have heard about Unity. And those who do care about game development adore Unity. And not without reason.
The Unity Gaming Report 2023 says that the number of games made with Unity has grown by 93% over the past year – 230,000+ developers create and manage 750,000+ games powered by Unity. Moreover, Unity has significantly expanded its toolkit through the acquisition of 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.
But is everything really so perfect and cloudless? Is Unity really the best game engine or are there certain caveats? Let’s take a closer look.
What is the Unity Engine?
|First edition||Programming language||Platforms||License||Latest version|
|June 8, 2005||C#, C++ (runtime)||Windows, macOS, Linux, PS, Xbox, Android, iOS …||Proprietary||2022.1.15 (September 1, 2022)|
Unity is the world’s leading cross-platform development environment that provides a comprehensive set of software solutions to create real-time interactive 2D and 3D content.
Created in 2005 by the American company Unity Technologies, the Unity game engine allows you to create applications that run on more than 25 different platforms: PCs, consoles, smartphones, and others.
When discussing the best game engine, it’s important to consider accessibility for all levels of developers and users. Unity is one of the few game engines that provides a great foundation for user experience.
If we were to compile a list of the best game engines for beginners, Unity would indeed be at the top of the list.
Unity consists of 3 main parts:
- A game engine that allows you to create, test, and play 3D and 3D games and experiences in various environments.
- An application that combines design and user interface with graphics preview and playback controls.
- A code editor IDE aka Integrated development environment that provides a separate text editor for writing code.
Unity Engine Pricing
The Unity video game engine is used by both large developers and independent studios. It is the latter, along with mobile developers, that have a special warm spot for it ‒ they can use its free version, provided that the annual income from the game does not exceed $100,000.
- All plans are royalty-free, which allows developers to keep all their income.
- All plans include access to the Unity Asset Store, a marketplace for assets and tools.
- All plans include access to Unity Learn to support expert knowledge at all levels.
There is also a free option for students called Unity Student, offering free use of the latest version of the core Unity development platform with a free student asset pack.
Unity is great for creating both 2D and 3D games. Calling it the life of the cross-platform party in our article on the best game engines, we did not prevaricate − Unity is the best cross-platform option, covering all known modern platforms. It is actively used to create VR and AR projects thanks to a large number of convenient SDKs.
A great tool for beginners, the Unity gaming engine has an intuitive drag-and-drop interface using a component-based approach. This means that the developer creates objects and adds various components to them, debugging the game right in the editor. A special visual programming tool called Bolt allows users to create game mechanics without writing a single line of code. Even non-techies can easily make changes, test an idea, and control their work.
The official website of the engine offers an article on how to make a game without knowing the code, which details the tools that beginners need to create games.
Note for Unreal fans. Unity does not try to compete with Unreal in terms of realism but focuses on cross-platform and adaptability features. It also remains the best game engine for mobile development.
What Are the Best Games to Make With Unity?
Whatever! You can create games of any genre, both casual mobile games and PC-based large-scale open worlds close to AAA class. A little further we will give some famous examples of Unity games. Looking at them, you will not believe that they could have been created on the same engine, they are so different.
In the meantime, for understanding, Unity covers almost all known genres:
- First-person shooter
- Action roguelike
- Card game
- Sports simulator
- City building simulator
- RPG (role-playing game)
- RTS (real-time strategy), etc.
Did you know? In addition to traditional gaming, Unity is used to create AR/VR applications, animated films and effects, as well as any non-game projects with rich and juicy 3D visualization.
Unity Pros and Cons
As with any other engine, there are pros and cons of using Unity. We have already briefly covered them in our analysis of the most famous game engines. Here is a short recap.
|Free for games producing less than $100,000 a year||No access to source code for small development teams|
|Availability for over 25 platforms||High system requirements for more advanced features|
|Intuitive interface and visual development environment ideal for beginners||Less performance compared to other narrowly focused gaming engines|
|Powerful support for mobile game development||Need a license for games producing more than $100,000 a year|
|Unity Asset Store with tons of free assets||Limitation of the visual editor when working with multi-component charts|
|Huge knowledge base and large friendly community||No support for links to external libraries|
If you’re interested, you can dive deeper into the specific advantages and disadvantages of Unity that we’ve explored in more detail.
What Are the Advantages of Unity?
Best Cross-Platform Features
Unity is the generally recognized leader in the number of supported platforms – there are more than 25 of them. The created product can be easily used on PCs, consoles, smartphone, web, AR/VR, and so on. Porting is easy, as well as graphics rendering, available even from other engines: Adobe, Direct 3D, OpenGL, and others. Unity is ideal for mobile games: it allows developers to integrate them with out-of-the-box advertising, analytics, and in-game payments, as well as built-in GPS, gyroscopes, and accelerometers.
Simple and Intuitive Interface
Visual scripting is one of the main advantages of Unity. This feature allows anyone to create login and scripts without writing code. Scripts, in turn, are created by combining nodes. Compared to other engines, Unity offers a really intuitive user interface suitable for people with little or no programming skills. In addition, flexible pricing options include, for example, a free package for individuals and small businesses earning less than $100,000 a year.
Active Community and Lots of Guides
The Unity Developer Community is the largest among other engines. Any beginner can find answers to their questions on forums, feedback threads, Q&A platforms, and other sources. A huge number of training materials makes the process of learning Unity simple and smooth, and the ability to find out the answer to your question at any time will significantly speed up mastering the engine.
Rich Unity Asset Store
The Unity Asset Store is a unique phenomenon – built-in storage of an abyss of resources, available to users along with other features of the engine. The Unity Asset Store offers the largest collection of ready-made assets: models, animations, effects, instructions, tutorials, and more. Developers can either use ready-made assets or change them after purchase.
Unity doesn’t compete with Unreal in photorealistic graphics, but it also offers an excellent level of visuals that will catch the eye of the most sophisticated gamer. Excellent lighting tools, an enhanced set of post-processing effects, accelerated lightmap processing, and more make it possible to create fantastic environments. Just take a look at the sample games below and find Ori among them. You will understand.
What Are the Disadvantages of Unity?
If you need more advanced features or if your income exceeds $100,000 per year, your choice is to purchase a Unity Plus, Pro, or Enterprise license. The prices for these packages may not seem that cheap. It is also important to remember that only users of the Unity Enterprise package have access to the source code.
Unity is a very cumbersome and performance-demanding system. A complex and large-scale game developed using the Unity engine consumes more memory, which in turn leads to OOM errors and debugging issues. Such products will require players to use modern and powerful equipment. There are workarounds, but they require additional tools that increase development costs and delivery times.
Unity Asset Store Limitations
Quantity does not always mean quality. The Unit asset catalog often does not include the best assets. Some important assets such as game scripts can run into issues whenever Unity updates its engine. Also, Unity falls a bit short when it comes to high-poly 3D assets. This area is better served by the other widely used Unreal game engine.
Large Size and Slowness
Another problem of the Unity engine follows from the previous one – this is slowness. Creating large, complex scenes with many components can negatively affect game performance, causing developers to spend additional time and resources optimizing, and possibly removing some elements from the project.
Difficulties With External Plugins
Unity does not have integration with external services and libraries: due to the lack of links to them in the program, the modules will have to be searched, installed and configured by yourself. The lack of a single folder with libraries makes it difficult to share functionality between different projects. It is also not possible to add third-party physics to the engine.
Unity Game Examples
Unity 3D/2D game engine is used to create games of various genres − it would be easier to list the options not yet covered by Unity. Here are some of the more famous examples of Unity engine games.
Ori and the Blind Forest
|Moon Studios||Platformer, metroidvania||March 11, 2015||Nintendo Switch, Windows, Xbox One|
Ori and The Blind Forest is an arcade platform game with adventure game elements. Torn from his home, the protagonist, Ori, must travel through a gloomy forest to restore the Tree of Life and bring light to the tormented lands of Nibel.
To return the normal order of things to the dying thicket, you need to find the sources of the elements and restore the broken balance. The task is not easy: thorns, rivers of lava, foggy thickets, and other dangers will stand in the way of Ori, and the few surviving forest dwellers see him as an enemy, not a savior. But through the efforts of the hero, the world around him gradually becomes brighter and friendlier, and its inhabitants realize their unity with the forest and with each other.
In Ori and the Blind Forest, the creators mixed an ecological parable, Eastern philosophy, and Indian motifs. The result is a stunningly touching tale with a bewitchingly beautiful design, after which it is time to think about the connection between people and cultures.
|miHoYo Limited||Action/RPG||September 28, 2020||GeForce Now, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Android, iOS, Windows, IPadOS|
Genshin Impact is an addictive action-adventure game with RPG elements in a stunning open world. In the story, you are a brother and sister who went on a journey. Suddenly, your twin has been kidnapped by a mysterious being. Waking up in an unfamiliar area, you go in search of him. You have to explore the whole continent and go around the seven kingdoms, get acquainted with amazing companions, unravel all the secrets of this amazing world, and try to find your soul mate.
The game world is full of magnificent landscapes that can and should be explored. And you will have to do this in a variety of ways: running, flying, climbing mountains, arranging swims and solving puzzles.
Each character has elemental skills based on the elements, which can be combined to create more advanced effects. For example, hitting an enemy with water and then ice instantly freezes them. In addition to magical attacks, you can use normal attacks, dodges, and special moves. The game also allows you to switch between different characters, which helps to train not only reflexes but also the skill of strategic planning.
The Fall Guys: The Ultimate Knockout
|Mediatonic||Platformer, battle royale||August 4, 2020||Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch|
At the time of its release, the game made a big stir among streamers, let’s players, and indeed all industry players. Just two weeks after the release, Fall Guys managed to overtake League of Legends in terms of the number of views on Twitch.
Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is a multiplayer game that puts players on a frenetic obstacle course where they have to outrun other players and be the sole winner. The entire playing space is filled with various traps and obstacles that can prevent you from reaching the end at any time.
In fact, Fall Guys is a battle royal in which players do not have to shoot their opponents, but compete with them in agility, reaction speed and card knowledge. The game offers several different modes with completely different conditions. The main goal is to stay as high as possible than all other players, which will bring the crown and victory in the round.
The action of the game takes place in seasons, lasting several days. Each season has its own theme and also adds new rounds, obstacles and costumes to the game.
|Luis Antonio||Quest||August 19, 2021||Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Android, iOS, Xbox One, Windows, Xbox Series X|S, Mac OS|
Combine the nightmarish tension of The Shining, the claustrophobic feel of Rear Window, and the fragmented structure of Memento, seasoned with the voices of James McAvoy, Daisy Ridley, and Willem Dafoe. As a result, you will get Twelve Minutes − a top-down point-and-click game where you have to get out of a time loop with a duration of 12 minutes.
The place of the time loop is always the same − this is the apartment where the main character and his wife live. The conflict of the game revolves around an intruder who breaks into the spouses’ apartment, accuses his wife of killing his father and demands that his watch be returned to him.
Figuring out what’s going on here becomes a challenge. It will take more than one or two repetitions of the loop to collect at least some information, each time inventing new ways to extract it from surrounding objects and dialogues. The main character needs to develop a plan as soon as possible on how to save himself and his wife from a strange police officer and, perhaps, reveal the biggest lie in his life.
Cult of the Lamb
|Massive Monster||Roguelike, Fighting, Action-adventure||June 10, 2022||Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, macOS, Xbox Series X|S, Windows, Mac OS|
Being a classic indie game, however, Cult of the Lamb is one of the biggest hits of 2022. On release, a roguelike about an insane cult captivated more than 60,000 Steam users. In comparison, Spider-Man’s peak online presence was only a couple of thousand higher, and cult roguelikes like Hades and Dead Cells never reached such heights at all.
Cult of the Lamb is about a lamb being executed by mysterious bishops. Once upon a time, executioners sent a dangerous enemy to prison, but according to legend, innocent lambs can bring him back to reality. To prevent this, the bishops ruthlessly kill the animals.
However, the genocide did not help: having lost his life, the hero meets a villain named The One Who Waits. The creature resurrects the lamb, empowers it, and orders it to kill the four heretics. To do this, you need to collect a cult and, at the expense of the faith of the minions, gain great power.
Unity Developer Rates Worldwide
The widespread use of the engine means high demand for Unity specialists. And although Unity has a low barrier of entry, it takes a lot of work and study to master all of its features and become a truly advanced specialist. That is why those who have invested a lot of time and effort into learning this engine are highly valued in the gaming market.
Unity developer rates vary by region. Let’s take a look at the comparison table.
|Country||Average rate per hour|
Rate information is based on Unity developer salaries taken from the workplace platforms Glassdoor, PayScale, and ZipRecruiter
One of the most popular regions for Unity developers is Eastern Europe: Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic, and others. Traditionally, their rates are lower than in Western Europe and America, but the quality of services often significantly exceeds the more expensive options.
Which Game Engine is Better to Use?
Whether to use the Unity gaming engine for any of your gaming ideas or try other options depends on what kind of game you are planning to create. We have taken a detailed look at the advantages and disadvantages of the 5 most popular game engines for creating different types of games in our comprehensive material. Be sure to check it out for when to use Unreal, Lumberyard, CryEngine, and Godot.
Get to grips with game engines like a boss. Learn their pros, cons, and top picks for different types of gamesExplore more
Final Thoughts on Unity
So, here it is, Unity. Now you know and understand it better.
Is Unity the best game engine? Answer this question yourself, because it all depends on how its functionality is suitable for the implementation of your ideas. The Unity gaming engine demonstrates excellent performance in creating absolutely diverse products.
If you are convinced that Unity is what you need, then we get the perfect match. Our specialists have been working with Unity for 10 years and have managed to implement many projects, from mobile match-3 and puzzle mobile games to play-to-earn advanced AAA-class blockchain products. We harness all the possibilities of Unity and use it to the maximum to get the most spectacular results customized for specific requests and goals. Contact us to find a reliable and experienced partner in Unity development.