startups · 20 Dec 2019

The Best Programming Languages for Mobile Game Development

Victor Lavrentyev

Victor Lavrentyev

Chief Information Officer

Illustration by Amir Kerr

Let’s put aside high-budget AAA games and talk about casual and mid-core games that have the highest market share at the moment. These games include platformers, puzzles, point-and-click games, farms, simple real-time strategies, and many others. We see them in app stores on smartphones and tablets, on social networks and new mobile all-in-one VR devices – Facebook Oculus Go and Oculus Quest. These games can also be found on top game consoles such as PlayStation and Xbox.

Developing games for this huge market does not imply you’ll have to choose a programming language and build your own engine. Instead, it implies the development using existing engines and development tools.

If you decide to develop a game without tons of animation and graphic effects for iOS or Android platforms, then you should probably choose between native development tools, such as:

  • Xcode (written in the Swift programming language)
  • Android Studio (written in Java and Kotlin programming languages)

In this case, you’ll get the app with the smallest possible size and the smoothest interface based on Apple and Google design guidelines. These games include quizzes, some puzzles, sports management simulations, etc.

Native development platforms are intuitive since they have ready-made tools for project implementation using machine learning, AR, and VR.

In all other cases, we recommend using the Unity Engine (written in the C# programming language). Unity had quite strong and promising rivals a few years ago, but now it has become an undisputed leader.

Why do we recommend Unity? Because it stays on top of new technologies and supports porting projects to all relevant platforms. Whether you are working on a small 2D game or developing a 3D project using AR/VR, Unity will provide you with all the necessary tools for bringing your ideas to life.

Read also: 12 Ways to Come Up with Great Mobile Game Ideas

The main pros of Unity are the store of assets, templates (so that developers do not have to reinvent the wheel), large community, a considerable number of qualified specialists, the constant system development, and pricing. 

Unity is also convenient for game artists, designers, project managers, and product owners. The visual studio game development (WYSIWYG) allows you to check the result in real-time even before launching the app on the final platform. Unity has a fairly low entry threshold, and game designers can customize gameplay directly in the project without distracting the team from the main workflow.

Once again, we are not talking about AAA blockbuster games now, although even here Unity is a perfect choice. But that would be another story with different approach, deadlines, budget, and team background.

Planning to create your own mobile game? Read our full guide on mobile game development.

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Which programming language is the best for simple game development?

For simple game creation, many developers may tell you to use C# using Unity game engine. Other good options may be C++ or Java.

What are the advantages of using Unity Game Engine?

There are 3 main advantages that make Unity worth using:

  • Effective 2D and 3D rendering
  • Simple cross-platform game development
  • Cost-efficiency

What are the limitations of Unity?

The main disadvantages of Unity are:

  • Slow, programmer centric UI tools
  • The Mono is outdated and often creates hurdles for developers
  • You can only enjoy the optimized performance and graphical improvements by paying quite a big price for the expensive license
  • Version incompatibility may make you rebundle your assets
  • The game developed using Unity engine consumes more memory

Which programming language is better for Android game development?

There are many programming languages used for Android game development:

  • C++
  • JavaScript
  • C#
  • HTML5

What programming language is used for mobile games?

Among the best languages to develop mobile games are Kotlin, JavaScript, C++, C#, HTML5, and Swift.

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