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Pros and Cons of Using Unity 3D for Game Development

Since its inception, the Unity game engine has democratized development by offering a straightforward, efficient, affordable, and versatile "white canvas" framework. Here are the pros and the cons of using it for game development.
Daniel Zacharias

Ygor Ribeiro

June 9, 2023
Unity 3D

Gone are the days when one person could create an entire game in their parents’ basement and become an overnight success. Today, developing a game is no child’s play. Designers, artists, developers, and testers go from pre-production and prototypes to testing, releasing, and eventually updating the project on a regular basis. Yes, it takes a lot of effort but it can also bring in considerable revenue.

Normally, the team will use a game engine to make the process easier. This software framework includes relevant tools, features, libraries, and support programs. Think 3D graphics, physics engines, sound, scripting, networking, streaming — even artificial intelligence.

If you’re looking to develop your own game, the Unity game engine is almost certainly on your list of potential frameworks. So is it any good? Should you use it for your project? Let’s consider a few facts, along with a balanced list of pros and cons.

How big is Unity 3D?

To put it mildly, this thing is huge right now. Unity Technologies reported that, in 2022, more than 230,000 developers were operating no fewer than 750,000 games based on the engine. Aside from games, Unity can also help create interactive simulations and other experiences, a considerable achievement for a framework that appeared in 2005.

Since its inception, the Unity game engine has democratized development by offering a straightforward, efficient, affordable, and versatile “white canvas” framework.

Now, let’s dig into all the good stuff.

The pros you can take advantage of

Great for mobile devices

Over the last decade and a half, the Unity game engine has adapted to our mobile-centric world incredibly well. Smartphones and tablets are more powerful than ever before and the engine seems designed to take advantage of the available technologies. GPS, accelerometers, gyroscopes, and cameras are just some of the things you can integrate into your game.

Excellent cross-platform compatibility

Of course, this doesn’t mean Unity is a mobile-only affair. Far from it! The engine possesses excellent cross-platform compatibility. Even if you’re initially not planning on a multi-platform release, you can still adapt and launch it later on. Let’s say you want to do Android first, then move on to iOS. Perfectly possible! Support also includes Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Xbox, SamsungTV, and many more.

Ease of use

All of this sounds like it would have a steep learning curve. In reality, it’s just the opposite. The Unity game engine is easy to use which makes it suitable for beginners and veterans alike. It leads the trend of offering a drag-and-drop environment, allowing developers to create something without even having to code. Just bear in mind that Unity runs on Mono but is itself written in C++.

Reasonable pricing for smaller projects

The game engine isn’t only beginner-friendly but also budget-friendly. The entry threshold is surprisingly low. As a matter of fact, the basic plan is free for individuals and very small businesses. This allows amateurs, enthusiasts, and hobbyists to create prototypes free of charge. If this goes well enough, gathering enough cash for the entire project becomes a lot easier. Investors and audiences alike want to know what they’re putting their money towards.

Virtual reality

All high-optimization rendering pipeline authoring tools make the Unity game engine a great fit for both augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Its rapid iteration capabilities work to create next-generation games that blend the real with the digital in increasingly seamless ways.

Analytics

Built-in analytics are an interesting feature that not all other engines have. They can give you important player insights. This is a powerful tool you may use both to improve gameplay and overall performance. This, in turn, can speed up problem detection and reduce software development costs. You can also use Unity analytics to leverage monetization and boost your profits. You’ll find all the documentation you need in the Editor.

Now, we move on to the downsides of Unity 3D.

The cons you should consider

Unity hogs a lot of memory

Ok, perhaps we could use a more tactful way of phrasing it. Let’s say Unity is performance-intensive and demands optimization. It definitely won’t go easy on the machine. Yes, this makes it ideal for beautifully crafted, high-horsepower projects. We’re talking about elaborate universes and games that demand mechanical precision and depend on stable frame rates. You can definitely create a masterpiece but it will only run on the latest generation platforms. A fair tradeoff, one might say, but one that will get on your nerves if you dislike bulky systems.

You can’t play with the source code

Unity didn’t make its source code available to the general public. This isn’t a huge obstacle and you’ll be able to go on with your development just fine. However, if you run into an engine bug — good luck. Basically, you’ll need to submit a bug report and wait for someone to fix it. Eventually. Speed of execution, obviously, varies.

The assets are a mixed bag

The Unity game engine has a huge community and an abundant marketplace. Its wealth of features and components is often presented as a great bonus. This, however, isn’t always the case. Quantity doesn’t ensure quality. Game scripts can face problems whenever Unity releases a new update. The framework also doesn’t offer much in the way of high-polygon 3D assets. Templates also leave room for improvement which is why many developers opt for Unreal instead.

Licensing can be a pain

We mentioned reasonable pricing, however, this mostly applies to smaller projects. The subscription fees for bigger ones can quickly amount to a lot. A larger game will definitely require budgeting. Plan well in advance and be realistic about how much you’re really able to spend.

The final verdict on the Unity game engine

As you can see, the Unity game engine has a lot to offer. It comes with a large number of features and perks but also possesses a few hidden obstacles.

It’s flexible and versatile — perfect not only for mobile games but for a plethora of other platforms. The learning curve isn’t steep; you can achieve a lot with very little coding knowledge. However, Unity is also heavy on memory and licensing can be a burden.

Ultimately, your decision will depend on what sort of project you’re working on. Consider, compare, weigh in the pros and cons, and only then decide. Careful planning is crucial for game and app development. Take it one step at a time. Your success depends on it.

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