Unity and Unreal comparison

Raka Mahesa

January 26th, 2018

If you want to find out how to get into game development, you’ve probably come across the two key game engines in the industry: Unreal Engine and Unity. But how do Unity and Unreal Engine compare? What are the differences between Unity and Unreal engine? Is one better than the other?

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Unity and Unreal price comparison

Unreal Engine has a simple pricing scheme: You get everything for free, but you have to pay 5 percent of your earnings. Unity also has a free tier that includes the core features of the engine, but if your company has an annual revenue of more than $100,000, you have to use the paid tier, which will cost you $35 per month. The paid tier also gives you additional features including a custom splash screen, an enhanced analytics feature, and expanded multiplayer hosting

 The question here is which pricing scheme fits with your business model (and budget). If you have a small, nimble team Unity might be the better option, but if you have a big team developing a complex game, Unreal Engine might be more cost effective. The good thing is, without spending a dime, you can get the full capability of both tools, so you can't really go wrong starting with either of them.

How do Unity's and Unreal's capabilities compare?

We'll start with a simple, but important, question: what platforms do Unreal Engine and Unity support? Unreal engine supports developing games for mobile platforms like iOS and Android, for consoles like PS4, XBOX ONE, and Nintendo Switch, and for desktop operating systems like Windows, Mac, and Linux. It also has support for VR platforms such as Oculus, SteamVR, PSVR, Google Daydream, and Samsung Gear VR.

 Unity, on the other hand, not only supports all of those platforms, it also supports smart TV platforms like Android TV and Samsung SmartTV, as well as augmented reality platforms like Apple ARKit and Google ARCore. And Unity doesn't simply support more platforms than Unreal, it is also usually the first game engine to provide compatibility when a new platform is launched. Unity is the clear winner when it comes to compatibility, and if you're looking to release your game to as many platforms as possible, then Unity is your best choice.

Comparing Unity and Unreal's feature sets

Even though both software have similar capabilities, Unreal Engine provides more built-in tools that makes game development easier. Unreal has a built-in, extensive material editor as well as a built-in cinematic editor that allows developers to easily create cinematic sequences in their games. Meanwhile, Unity relies on third-party addons from their asset store to provide similar functionalities. That said, the 2D development tool provided by Unity is much more effective than Unreal’s.

 Do keep in mind that features can't only be judged by their numbers alone. One of the most important qualities in a tool is how easy they are to use. Ease of use is, of course, relatively subjective – what one person loves using might be a nightmare for another. 

Is Unity or Unreal easier to use?

Based on the built-in tools provided by the engine, we can see that Unreal is the more powerful of the two options. But that also means Unity is simpler to use. The same comparison can be seen in their programming aspect. Unity is using C# for their main programming language, which is easier to use and learn. Unreal, on the other hand, is using C++, which is much more powerful, but is also harder to learn and more prone to mistakes.

Fortunately, Unreal makes up for its complexity by providing an alternative, easy-to-use scripting language: Blueprint. Blueprint is a scripting language where developers can simply connect nodes together to program gameplay elements. Using this tool, non-programmers like artists and writers are able to script gameplay events without relying on programmers.

Comparing the Unity and Unreal communities

The last point we're going to address is something not directly related to the engine itself, but it is nevertheless pretty important - the community. A big community makes it much easier to get help when you run into trouble; it also means more tool and resource development. Unity is the winner on this front, as can be seen with the huge amount of tutorials and third-party libraries that are created for it.

It’s important to remember one thing: both development tools are fully capable of producing great games with amazing graphics and good performance that can sell millions. One tool may need more work than the other to get the same result, but that result is perfectly achievable with both engines. So you don't need to worry that choosing one tool over the other will negatively affect your end product.

So, have you made up your mind on which tool you're going to use?

Raka Mahesa is a game developer at Chocoarts who is interested in digital technology in general. Outside of work, he enjoys working on his own projects, with Corridoom VR being his latest relesed gme. Raka also regularly tweets @legacy99.