With the rapid proliferation of mobile gaming and gaming consoles in all directions, choosing the right game engine often seems confusing enough. Obviously, game engines with proven track records of developing an array of successful and popular games remain top choices for many developers. But as far as the changing environment of consoles and mobile devices are concerned, we must take a closer look at various aspects including the pros and cons of these game engines. Here are the top 10 game engines you should know about.


Unity 3D is a truly affordable option for a game developer, and it has some unmatched merits that other engines don’t. Most important, you have to pay for the license once, and no matter how popular your game becomes, you do not need to pay again. That surely sounds like a smart financial move, particularly for startups and new developers. Here are Unity’s pros and cons.


  • Best licensing terms in the game industry.
  • Easy to use and compatible with every game platform.
  • Great community support.
  • Low learning curve.
  • Popular option among developers.


  • Limited tools, so you frequently have to create some tools of your own.
  • Time-consuming for making games with complex and diverse effects.

Unreal Engine

Unreal 4 running on a Nexus 5.

Above: Unreal 4 running on a Nexus 5.

Image Credit: Qualcomm

Unreal is one of the most popular game engines to develop high-end triple-A titles for years now. Gears of War, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Mass Effect, and many other blockbuster games were developed with this engine. Here are its pros and cons.


  • With so many developers using it, Unreal offers the largest community support. Several lifetime hours of video tutorials and assets are available.
  • Best support and update mechanism of all engines, with a new tool introduced with each new update.
  • There is widest range of easy to maneuver tools up under its sleeve. There are few tools that can be maneuvered even by a school kid.
  • Compatible with diverse operating platforms including iOS, Android, Linux, Mac, Windows, and most game consoles.
  • The new licensing terms of $19 a month and a 5 percent royalty only if your game makes over $5,000 make Unreal Engine 4 much more competitive than it had been in the past.


  • Some developers complain a lot about the unfriendly tools that involve a bit of a higher learning curve.

CryEngine 3

CryEngine graphics

Above: CryEngine graphics

Image Credit: Crytek

This game engine has received praise for beautiful graphics output. If you have a knack for pretty game visuals, this can be the ideal game engine for you. But this powerful game engine has its problems, too.


  • CryEngine 3 makes the game ambience pretty with its artist-level programming capability in its Flowgraph tool.
  • It has the most powerful audio tool, Fmod, inside it, so sound designers love this engine as well as programmers.
  • The game engine also offers the easiest A.l. coding of any tech on the market.
  • For a beginning developer, UI scale form comes handy.


  • The free version of the game engine lacks proper customer support.
  • Being relatively new to the industry, the engine is yet to find a robust community.
  • Learning curve is pretty challenging for a starter.



This game engine has earned wide acclaim in massive multiplayer and online game circles — you can see its results in Star Wars: The Old Republic. The licensing terms seems a bit heavy for new developers and startups, but it’s worth considering if you have a really ambitious project in hand. Here below are the pros and cons to remember when considering HeroEngine for your next project.


  • It offers several open-world maps and lively instances. It also offers a seamless transition between them.
    Offers fairly robust A.I.s.
  • Easy and handy mapping tools and integrated tool set.
  • The scripting is powerful enough to help you develop complex missions, crafting, and gathering resources.
  • Cloud support for client server with HeroCloud.


  • Scripting engine is powerful but nonintuitive.
  • HeroEngine together with HeroCloud is expensive for a new developer or startups.
  • Higher learning curve for a new developer.

Rage Engine


Few game engines can match the wide range of strengths that Rage offers. Naturally, some of the all-time used this multifaceted game engine. Grand Theft Auto V, Red Dead Redemption, and many other famous and acclaimed games have been developed with this. Here are some of the notable pros and cons.


  • Great capability for handling large streaming worlds and weather effects.
  • Unmatched in handling complex A.I.s.
  • Multitude of gameplay styles for the developer to work upon.
  • Fast network code.
  • Very attractive graphics.


  • Interface is poor compared to other top-notch engines.
  • Controls are less optimized for keyboard and mouse.

Project Anarchy

The Project Anarchy engine.

Above: The Project Anarchy engine.

Image Credit: Project Anarchy

This powerful game engine is acclaimed by many game developers for its vivid and comprehensive documentation. But in spite of Project Anarchy‘s brilliance, we do have some cons that we will mention here.


  • It offers free game development on mobile (on major platforms including iOS, Android, and Tizen).
  • It has strong debugging tools.
  • An active developer community and forums.
  • Solid documentation and sample is accessed through the editor.
  • Fmod for great audio output.
  • A robust Havok A.I.
  • Lots of customization options for developers with vForge.


  • Absence of Mac and Linux development environment.
  • Absence of tutorials for the new developers.
  • It’s costly for a new developer and startups.


GameSalad Arcade Publishing - 1

This prolific gaming engine claims to deliver a game without needing to write a single line of code. This is not just a catch, but obviously, some of its aspects support its claim. But GameSalad has parts that go against its tall claim as well. Here below we mention the pros and cons.


  • If you want to develop an iPhone game on your own it can be the ideal engine to bank upon.
  • For quickly prototyping ideas GameSalad is a good engine.
  • Compatibility with popular mobile game development platforms like Cocona and Moai is a huge draw for game engines like GameSalad.


  • Very restrictive development tool.
  • Lack of access to a lot of iOS features.
  • Not compatible with all operating platforms.

GameMaker: Studio

GameMaker: Studio

Above: GameMaker: Studio

Image Credit: YoYo Games

As a game developer, if you are looking for a simple and straightforward gaming engine to start with, GameMaker: Studio should be the ideal one. It is said to be a little expensive but there are various positive aspects that worth the price. Here are the pros and cons of this game engine.


  • Simple and straightforward for all basic and advanced elements.
  • One programming language (GML) to involve with.
  • No need to deal with memory management or tasks like multithreading.
  • Independent of any platforms.


  • In case of memory issue debugging can be a problem.
  • A bit expensive compared to other engines of the same stature.

App Game Kit

App Game Kit.

Above: App Game Kit.

Image Credit: The Game Creators

App Game Kit is truly cross-platform development software that people appreciate for being adaptive, easy, and flexible. Here are some of the most noteworthy pros and cons.


  • It enables you to write codes for multiple platforms, including Android iOS, Windows, Mac, and Linux.
  • It comes with Integrated Design Environment to facilitate testing in any device.
  • Includes IAP, AdMob, and Push without extra setup.
  • AGK script has powerful commands for networking, 2D graphics, and physics.


  • With a few developers working with this engine, you can expect a slow response time for fixes.
  • Lots of bugs.
  • Hardly any support for sensors or GPS.



Many designers consider Cocos2D as one of the few gaming engines that not only has a lot of versatility but is also particularly optimized for new developers. While it can be complex, its features and flexibility are worth mentioning, too. Here are its pros and cons.


  • Powerful and flexible.
  • You can literally introduce any feature that iOS is capable into your game.
  • It offers a mature framework with a wide variety of tools.
  • It is open-source, free, and offers great community support.


  • More complex than similar engines.
  • Involves a much higher learning curve.
  • It is particularly suited to Mac or iOS. It’s not a cross-platform engine.

People play games everywhere — consoles, mobile devices, and even smart TVs — so it’s important for developers to find an engine that works not just for their skills but also their goals. This why finding the proper game engine is important, especially for new developers — and a good way to tap into this growing, $20 billion-a-year industry.

Tejas JasaniTejas Jasani is a founder and CEO of The App Guruz, one of the top mobile apps and games development company across the world. He likes to do research on mobile apps and to improve mobile users’ smartphone experience.