Nowadays, when you say "entertainment industry," you no longer think of Hollywood movies, but you think of the video game industry. This is because video games offer one of the most exciting entertainment experiences to millions of people around the world. 2021 figures are forecast to reach 2.81 billion gamers, earning the global games market an estimated $189.3 billion.
The technology has reached such a high level that you could swear that some images in video games are real. Behind these images are software and game engines such as Unity 3D or Unreal, which allow developers to create fantasy worlds in video games.
The two-game engines are among the most popular software that game developers work with. There are good reasons why game developers use almost only these two, Unity 3D and Unreal. Below you will find the advantages but also the disadvantages of each game engine.
Since Unity Technologies launched Unity software in 2005, video game development has become more accessible to more game developers. The language code is easy to learn and intuitive, which is one of the reasons why Unity has gained so many members and created a large community of game development companies. In addition, Unity 3D offers a wide range of assets, so many independent game developers tend to choose this game engine over another.
Video Game Created with Unity. Image Source: Starloop Studios Portfolio
Unreal is known for its graphics and photorealistic quality, which is why it is considered the AAA game engine, representing studios that truly create successful games worldwide. Unreal Engine was launched by Epic Games in 1988 and quickly became used by many companies because it allows game developers to bring to life any vision they might have of a video game. Almost anything that comes to their mind, they can implement with Unreal Engine. What person in the gaming industry doesn't want that?
In terms of accessibility, Unity 3D is recognized as the most accessible for game developers because it uses C # as the coding language. This language is easier to learn and use, so Unity is usually the first choice for game developers early in their careers. In addition, it has a very intuitive interface, and the architecture is straightforward. Continuous updates make Unity even easier to use. For example, since July 2020, Unity has added the Bolt visual scripting tool to all Unity's plans, allowing users to avoid coding as much as possible.
Unreal Engine uses C ++, which is considered more complicated to learn for beginners. But one of the significant benefits of Unreal is that it has a visual scripting system called Blueprints, so game developers don't have to be experts on writing codes. Instead, they must create nodes and connect them to develop logic for the game.
When it comes to graphics, Unreal is the leader. This game engine is highly valued for the latest graphics it can create. Unreal offers preset tools that game developers can get ready and easily modify. Some such examples are volumetric lights, post-processing, or lens flares. Also, game artists who use Unreal Engine enjoy accurate lighting and shadowswith a nice falloff and a polished look.
Unity 3D is excellent for graphics too, but it will probably take you longer, and you might not reach the same quality. Although it uses state-of-the-art technology for the lighting system such as PBR or GI, it still cannot provide shading details as defined as Unreal. Unreal 3D supports the usual normal maps, occlusion maps, base textures, etc., but does not have a material editor like Unreal.
Example from Unreal Engine. Image Source.
What's great about video game development these days is that you can quickly download many assets to make your life easier. Both Unity 3D and Unreal Engine offer a wide range of free or paid assets, each in its marketplace or asset store.
Unity Assets Store. Image Source.
However, unlike Unreal Engine, Unity 3D has many assets, from animations, textures, and models to entire project examples, tutorials, and editor extensions.
Because both are on the top of the most popular worldwide game engines, it is understandable that both have strong communities of people and a solid online presence. Community members are active on forums, where they help each other with valuable information, on Sub-Reddits, YouTube channels, etc. Unity 3D has a slightly larger community than Unreal because Unity is used more by independent developers. For example, in Sub-Reddits, Unity has a community of 238K members rather than Unreal Engine, which has 111K members. More members mean more questions and answers, more information distributed, and a more extensive knowledge base. However, the Unreal community is also growing rapidly and may exceed the number of Unity members at any time.
Both Unity 3D and Unreal Engine are free. But both also have payment options. For example, Unity 3D offers the opportunity to upgrade to pro packages at the cost of $ 40 to $ 150 per month, depending on the project's needs.
Those who use Unreal Engine to develop video games can use the game engine for free up to a certain point. After that, they must pay a 5% royalty cost on the game's gross revenue when their product exceeds $1,000,000. The company introduced this 5% fee on January 1, 2021.
This pricing system is an opportunity for game developers, especially for independent ones, who can access such valuable resources.
The skills of game developers with Unity 3D and Unreal Engine have become a requirement for those who want to be hired in game development studios. Most companies have given up the game engines they used and switched to Unity and Unreal Engine due to their many benefits.
If you are at the beginning of your career in the gaming industry, Unity 3D is the easiest choice to learn to code and create a wide range of games. But if you want your video game to have excellent graphics and work with a more experienced team, Unreal Engine might be the right choice.
If you're still thinking, ask a question. Starloop Studios has over ten years of experience with both Unity 3D and Unreal Engine. In addition, we have created video games that have performed globally, so our expertise could be exactly what you need to know which game engine is best for your project.