Exploring mobile game development with Unity
If you’ve ever played a mobile game on your smartphone or tablet, chances are high that it was built on the Unity game engine. Unity powers more than 70% of all mobile games, and provides all of the technology necessary for building both 2D and 3D games.
Unity offers a variety of platform options, enabling developers to use the free version of the platform as long as their games generate less than $100,000 in revenue, with premium options and licensing rights available for larger gaming companies.
In this article, we’ll walk through why and how to use the Unity game engine when developing mobile games.
What is Unity?
The Unity platform was built in C++, but users don’t need to have programming skills to start building games. It’s an ideal platform for collaborations between artists, designers, and developers, even working across different operating systems — it works with Windows, Mac, and Linux. It offers a robust ecosystem of tools and services to provide the right solution no matter where you are in the game development process.
Unity includes a creation engine with the technology to help its users create and deploy 3D gaming experiences. The gaming engine includes coding workflows to optimize your game’s performance, and optimized design workflows for creating high-quality, immersive graphics. Multiple users can collaborate on games in production throughout the entire production lifecycle.
Art assets and tools
Game designers can also benefit from pre-built content, with access to the Unity Asset Store, where they can purchase art assets, world-building systems, and tools to help them develop games more quickly.
Unity’s ArtEngine is an AI tool that helps you quickly convert photos to physically-based rendered (PBR) materials, so that your design team can focus on building value into the artistic process rather than pure duplication. It can also help you enhance the quality of existing low-res images, and remove signs of JPEG compression.
Unity offers multiple service tiers, based on the users’ needs. Users can start with the Free/Personal edition to get to know the platform and learn how to build games, and can even sell the games as long as they don’t earn more than $100,000 in revenue in a 12-month period. The Plus plan costs $399 per user seat each year, and includes additional functionality, including live-ops analytics and real-time cloud diagnostics. The Pro level, at $1,800 per user seat each year, includes everything in Plus, as well as priority customer support options and custom build options. Larger teams will benefit from the discounted rates available to them with an Enterprise plan, at $4,000/mo per 20 seats, which includes all of the options from Pro as well as additional dedicated support, a tailored learning plan, and more.
Because of its diverse set of tools and solutions, Unity is an ideal platform for any type of game developer, from students just learning the ropes all the way up to enterprise game studios.
Why build for mobile with Unity?
Unity is an ideal platform for mobile game design because of its robust feature set and use cases. Many of the most popular mobile games were built on Unity, including Pokemon Go, Super Mario Run, and Alto’s Adventure. Why is Unity such a great platform for mobile game development?
Unity makes cross-platform development simple, supporting over 25 different platforms in addition to Android and iOS. Its multi-platform support makes it easy to deploy to a wide variety of different operating systems using the same code base, ensuring that the game feels native to any platform.
Unity’s graphics engine also offers sophisticated applications, enabling game developers to render 2D, 3D, and AR game applications on mobile, with the ability to create high-definition graphics.
And because Unity is so widely used, developers will have no trouble finding support with technical documentation to support virtually any use case. Likewise, designers can make use of its extensive asset store to find any element they need for their games, including GUIs, textures, and audio files. Because Unity uses the popular C# as its primary coding language, many developers will be able to easily write code for their games in Unity.
Unity also offers an extensive network of educational resources for designers and developers in training, with step-by-step instructions to walk them through the basics of building their first game.
Overall, Unity is a popular and intuitive platform with the right technology to support simple deployment across virtually any gaming platform, making it an ideal choice for mobile game development.
Should you use Unity for general mobile app development?
Unity is not necessarily the right choice for building regular mobile apps that aren’t games. Unity is designed for gaming, and so other Unity-based applications will drain the user’s battery life much faster than they might on a more lightweight platform. Additionally, Unity’s codebase includes a lot of gaming-specific code, creating a lot of excess code in the development phase for non-gaming apps that will speed down development and take up excess space in your storage. Unity’s UI is also not designed for non-gaming apps, so the user experience may fall short of your expectations.
For general mobile app development, developers may prefer using platforms like Microsoft Xamarin, Flutter, Adobe PhoneGap, or Sencha, which all offer a greater variety of use cases and better user interfaces.
Getting started in game development with Unity
Whether you’re just starting to explore game development or you’re affiliated with a large gaming studio, Unity can be the right fit for your mobile game development needs. Because the platform offers endless collaboration possibilities, you may be able to add specialized expertise and cut down your development cycles by partnering with an experienced game development agency. If you’re interested in exploring possibilities for end-to-end game development support, get in touch with our team.