If you’re into video games or game development, you’ve heard about this. Unity is many things. It’s the “birthplace” of Pokemon Go. The game engine was also the first to offer a blank canvas with which developers could work. But of course, most of all, Unity is the world’s most popular 3D mobile game engine.
But what made it so? And are there downsides to Unity that are worth mentioning? I’m going to explore this question, in detail, in the following paragraphs.
What made Unity so famous?
Back in the day (inclusive of the early 2000s), video game development was not only a difficult but an extremely costly process. Each game had to be created from scratch. Unity changed all of this.
As mentioned, Unity offers a flexible, easy, and affordable way for developers to work on games. It simplified the process. But of course, this isn’t all that made the engine so popular.
In a sentence: Unity is an excellent platform to work with.
So let’s explore this.
The upsides of Unity
There are quite a few pros to using Unity for game development. Consider that popular mobile games such as Angry Birds and Temple Run Identity were developed on the engine.
Even Ubisoft and Microsoft have made use of Unity for game development.
(Assassin’s Creed: Identity anyone?)
It’s pretty clear that there are quite a few positives to using Unity.
Unity makes it easy to port code to different systems. Typically, unless we’re talking about Playstation, Nintendo, or Xbox exclusives, it’s standard practice to release games on several different platforms.
The Unity engine can publish to: Oculus Rift, PlayStation 3 & 4, iOs & Android, Windows, Linux, Mac OS, Wii U, and many other platforms.
Affordability & accessibility
Anyone who has worked in game development, or even software development for that matter, is well aware of just how expensive software licenses can be.
Well, Unity offers an entirely free-of-charge option as its basic (personal) plan. This is suitable for individuals but also small upcoming teams.
The barrier to entry is nearly nonexistent, which encourages more Unity developers. In turn, more resources regarding Unity (such as YouTube videos and guides) are made, making it even more accessible.
Abundance of support
Because Unity has been around for so long, plenty of documentation exists. Not to mention that that which is available is extremely detailed, helping you every step of the way. The advantage here is that you don’t have to struggle to find resources.
Great for mobile games
We all know that cell phones have “evolved” in leaps and bounds over the past two decades. The operating power of a cellular device is comparable, if not more significant, than that of computers and gaming consoles of years passed.
Unity provides an engine that can easily create visually-stunning games attuned to these new devices. It can also readily use technology such as GPS and gyroscopes to best use the potential cell phones hold.
Fast development speeds
Unity is incredibly easy to use and work with. This, paired with the fact that it provides for fast game creation, quick prototyping, and efficient game release, makes it much more compelling.
A wide variety of functions
Unity provides for tweaking and debugging during runtime, simple 3D surround implementation with an excellent audio engine, built components for controls, physics, and sound, and an integrated level editor, among many other fantastic features.
Great built-in analytics
You can find the analytics in the editor, which provides insights into the game you’re developing. This helps you create a better experience for the end user and make edits as needed.
The downsides of Unity
Of course, no software is entirely without fault. And so, a couple of cons are worth mentioning when looking at Unity.
It’s resource hungry
Unfortunately, because Unity uses up a lot of memory, there’s a risk of debugging problems. You may also encounter out-of-memory (OOM) errors on cell phones and tablets.
In addition, while Unity allows the creation of aesthetically pleasing video games on mobile devices, unfortunately, this may limit the player pool to just those devices that can handle them.
Finally, because Unity develops such high-caliber games, your device may lack the space to run the game. Or you may discover that specific platforms restrict how large downloadable content can be, making the game difficult to access.
The optimization and performance issues
While I’ve gone at length “singing praises” about the platform, this doesn’t discontinue the reality that there are some issues. This includes the fact that it can be challenging to attend to performance issues because source codes aren’t provided.
And if you’d like to develop a significantly large AAA game using Unity, you’ll need to do a lot of optimizations (which is quite time-consuming).
World editing insufficiency
Unlike tools such as Unreal, there aren’t enough assets to create a decent world. The terrain and placement tools need to be improved.
It’s about what works best for you
The “best game engine” is the one that best attends to your unique requirements. Everyone is on a different journey in game development, so carefully weighing your options (and trying them out if you have the budget) is the best way to go. However, I hope that I’ve made your decision a bit easier.