Unity or Unreal – Which Is the Right VR Gaming Platform?

Unity vs Unreal - Best VR Gaming Platforms

2016 is the year of all things Virtual Reality. No longer is the concept of a virtually simulated world an outlandish idea - no. Today, every which where you turn, you’re sure to find something that mentions virtual reality environments or VR game development or even both.

We are not here to talk about the ever-growing, all-encompassing world of VR applications. Instead, we shall focus solely on choosing the best Virtual Reality gaming platform - Unity vs Unreal Engine. Which one is the best for you?

Industry maestros such as Sony, Facebook, Samsung, and HTC are all heavily involved in dishing out VR devices into the market. What’s more, even Google and Microsoft seem to have jumped on board this train. Apart from these tech giants, companies such as Valve or Steam online store are also coming up with fantastic contributions to the industry.

It’s not just about VR headsets or physical devices though. The game is much more complicated on the software front. While it's common knowledge that VR environments have sunk their claws deep into the world of video gaming, VR applications extend way beyond mere games. Education, healthcare, sports and of course movies are all sectors making use of the Virtual Reality concept like never before.

Given the onslaught of newer, bigger, better game engines the competition is fierce, and picking the right one, harder than ever. The market however, seems to be equally divided between two of the most popular game platforms of all the ones available: Unity and Unreal Engine 4. Equally powerful and extensive, with a history of developing some of the finest games in the industry, choosing the one that works the best is possibly the greatest dilemma faced by game developers today. Here is our two-cents to help make that difficult choice just a tad bit easier.

Virtual Reality Gaming Platforms

With the recent release of the various virtual reality headsets, the interests in VR experience have begun anew. However, while the majority of the relatively new industry have high hopes for the future of VR, there are those who have their doubts about the success of games involving virtual reality as opposed to popular console games. However, our beliefs are right in line with the majority. Let’s talk about why.

Virtual reality is the future in all meanings of the word. The penetration of this concept in all important sectors across the globe and the ever growing numbers are testament to the fact that this is here to stay. Things, workings, processes, and game engines all pertaining to the virtual reality industry are constantly improving every day. With the extreme proliferation of gaming platforms in the past years there are a number of game engines being made available in the market for the development within this sector.

Gaming Platforms worth a Mention

Gaming platforms range from the most complicated and expensive to the simplest and cheapest. We have game engines to suit the requirements of pretty much every game developer out there.

Gaming platforms most worthy of mention here include but are not limited to:

  • Game Maker Studio
  • Coscos2D
  • Marmalade

These gaming platforms have been widely successful in the recent years.

Game Maker Studio

Game Maker Studio allows a developer to create games compatible with iOS, Android, Windows and even HTML5. It’s a platform flexible enough to create a game of a variety of genres. Unfortunately though this game engine caters only to the beginners of the industry looking to find their bearings in the virtual world. with bigger and better options out there, it's likely Game Maker studio will be abandoned completely in the coming years.

Coscos2D

Coscos2D is as the name suggests, a two dimensional gaming platform. It was at one point one of the most popular of all open source gaming option in the world however, with the successes in virtual reality and three dimensional gaming, Coscos2D is becoming obsolete.

Marmalade

Marmalade SDK is one of the better options available in the market for virtual game development. On the face of it, it allows a developer to build cross platform games converting them to Windows, iOS, Blackberry, Android and many others with the help of one source code. However, there is one huge issue with Marmalade that being dependency. The Marmalade community remains a very small and tight knit community and given the number of bugs or problems encountered while using this particular game engine, there is only a limited amount of input available for any developer. Ultimately the developers have to seek out support from the company itself which is to be completely honest a truly trying task for any developer.

That said, however, there are two gaming platforms that supersede all others: Unity and Unreal. The popularity of both these game engines is almost always at odds with each other. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the hottest topic of debate within the game developer’s community are these two. The argument remains of who is better remains to be resolved.

Unity

When considering game developers tools, Unity is perhaps one of the most popular ones to date. Introduced to the market back in 2005 by Unity Technologies, what’s unusual about this game engine is that it provides support for the development of both two and three dimensional games.

This platform supports three development languages including C#, UnityScript and Boo.

It comes in two versions: free and pro. Overall Unity provides support for all mobile, desk, web and console platforms.  Mac OS X, Android, iOS, Windows and all the other mobile platforms are supported by the free version, while the Pro version takes it a step further and supports Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 and even PlayStation.

Reasonably priced with a very vast community of developers, Unity provides the best value for an extremely advanced game development engine. With excellent editing tools easily extended via plug-ins, this platform supports a surprising huge range of asset formats. It has the longest track record of all gaming platforms with mobile games. The free license is sufficient to cover the majority of features of the gaming engine with a beginner having little to no use of the features of the pro version. The paid version however, is also reasonably priced as well. The quality of results achieved from Unity is undeniably impressive with one of the most popular game of all times having been developed on it: the Call of Duty.

As with all cases, where there are positives some negatives follow. Some noteworthy things that may cause an issue for a game developer include the lack of engine source code, and the difficulty in collaboration. However, the solutions to these problems are available allowing a developer to work through and around them.

Unreal Engine

Unreal, a product of Epic Games, it is the game engine attributed to being behind the majority of high end, high powered games with exceptional graphic and features overall. It has the longest history of being the best option for three dimensional games for both console AND PC game platforms.

Unreal game engine’s latest version, the Unreal Engine 4, is possibly the most economical option for game aficionados at only $19 per month and a 5% share in revenue whilst giving access to all features and tools of the engine. Supporting only the C++ development language, Unreal Engine is a gaming platform that gives incredible gaming performance. The development technology includes Blueprint visual scripting system, Matinee timeline-based machine, Persona animation system and the cinematic system as well. It has the biggest developers community providing the best support to any and all who have ventured into the world of virtual reality gaming. A regular update mechanism guarantees consistent care and the answer to every single issue anyone might have well within the community boundary.

Not only does Unreal Engine support all major operating platforms for mobile and PC, it supports Linux, Oculus, PS4, SteamOS and Xbox One. Full source code extension, customization and bug fixing Unreal Engine boasts state of the art development tools covering every single aspect of three dimensional gaming.

Should I Use Unity or Unreal?

Unity or Unreal Engine, they both are solid game development tools used primarily and extensively within the gaming community. One cannot pick a singular feature and use it as a basis to claim one is better than the other. The fact is both are exceptional game development engines but have different strong points for different uses. Unity is the better option for novices and amateurs while Unreal is strictly a professional's game engine.

Unreal Engine is better suited to three dimensional capabilities while Unity has the longest track record with mobile games. The bottom line for this endless discussion is that as a company developing games, if you cater the mobile oriented niche and have a relatively low budget for a Virtual Reality game, consider choosing Unity as your choice of game development engine. If you are in the market for a top notch, high budget console based game with a fantastic and widely experienced developers team available to you, the engine of choice has got to be, hands down, Unreal Engine.

Unity

Unreal Engine 4

  • Supports 21+ Platforms Including Mobile,
    Web, PC and Console
  • Supports mainly PC and Console
    Games
  • C#, UnityScript, Boo
  • C++
  • Great for 2D and 3D
  • Better powered for 3D games
  • No Profiler for free version
  • Profiler
  • Limited graphics
  • Next generation graphics.
  • $1500 Pro Version or $75/month
  • Free with 5% revenue share
  • Better option for novices
  • Only for pro’s
  • Programmer AND Designer friendly
  • Designer friendly only
  • Detailed documentation
  • Lacklustre documentation
  • Multitude of community and official tutorials for developer support
  • Tutorials largely catering to designers
    rather than programmers
  • Free after a revenue turnover of <$100k
  • Free after a revenue turnover of <$50k
  • Perfect tool for building any sort of game
  • FPS built, so better suited for FPS based games only

How can AppReal help?

AppReal is a virtual reality development company with a world of experience in VR gaming. With a highly experienced team specializing in both Unity and Unreal game development engines, it is the one-stop shop for all your gaming issues. Whether a mobile oriented game is what you’re in the market for or you are looking to get a high-tech, high-graphics console game developed, we can provide our experience and expertise for both. So what’re you waiting for? Contact us today and let’s get this gaming party on the road!

  • Fred

    Really would like to see Cry Engine at least mentioned in this article

  • Alice Robinson

    “Unreal Engine 4, is possibly the most economical option for game aficionados at only $19 per month” this is really outdated information.

    • Thanks, will fix that 🙂

      • Alice Robinson

        Thanks! Also I believe Unity has deprecated Boo for newer versions and has stopped supporting it in their documentation. Probably worth leaving it in here just in case people want to use an older version of unity that still supports it though.