Mobile game development: TOP-6 development platforms

Mobile game development: TOP-6 development platforms

Messengers, social networks, and games are held steady in AppStore and Google Play TOP10. Creating games is a new black. For 2020, 72% of purchases on mobile platforms are games. The mobile gaming market has made $ 86 billion in profit, and analysts predict that demand will only grow.

Mobile game development: Mobile games attract developers because AAA projects from large studios rarely come out on iOS and Android. In 2019, 1,120 games brought the developer more than $ 5 million in profit. Most mobile device users prefer casual games that are easy to develop and profitable to monetize. 

If you want to develop your mobile game and earn millions, you need a game engine or platform. Let's talk about the best platforms for game development in 2020.


Screenshot Lara Croft GO

Interface Unity 3D

The Unity is a powerful cross-platform engine for creating 2D and 3D games. Everyone can try the engine for free to create a prototype or even an alpha version. To publish the designed game, the creator needs to buy a subscription for $ 25 or $ 125 per month. There is another cost of a license for companies, and it chooses individually. 

The list of games created at Unity:

  • Lara Croft GO;

  • Angry Birds 2;

  • Pokemon GO;

  • Alto's Adventure;

  • Hearthstone.

The Unity platform is most suitable for developing 3D games, but many developers make isometric platformers or 2D games on it. 

Screenshot Lara Croft GO

Screenshot Lara Croft GO

Unity Pros:

  • component-oriented approach — the developer writes components for the object, such as the ability to control the object and the behavior model;

  • a large library of assets and plugins that you can use to create a prototype and a finished game. For example, you can import an artificial intelligence model for enemies;

  • Unity supports the latest rendering technologies like ray tracing; it's easier to make games with photorealistic graphics.


Cons Unity:


  • you need a lot of programming;

  • poor optimization, the engineer have to optimize the game manually to make it convenient to play;

  • a large number of built-in components translates into a large volume of the finished game. The most straightforward projects take from 100 MB or more, and users of mobile platforms do not like to install big games.

The Unity platform is suitable for advanced developers who can code in C # and ready to optimize. Unity allows coders to compile the game for any mobile platform. It will help reduce the budget for developing versions of the game for different platforms.

Unreal Engine

The Unreal Engine platform is the engine of Epic Games, the creators of Fortnite. It can be used for free, but with one condition: if the game collects more than $ 3000 of profit, Epic Games will receive 5% of royalties. 

Creating game logic in Unreal Engine Blueprints

Creating game logic in Unreal Engine Blueprints

Popular mobile games on Unreal Engine platform:

  • Fortnite Mobile;

  • Life is Strange;

  • Mortal Kombat;

  • Pro Evolution Soccer 2020;

  • Bright memory.

Pros of Unreal Engine:

  • games can be made without programming. For this purpose, the Unreal Engine has a visual editor called Blueprints. It allows to write scripts and customize the behavior of game objects;

  • a large number of free assets that will help in the development prosses;

  • built-in game optimization tool for mobile platforms.

Cons Unreal Engine:

  • the engine has imperfect optimization. If the programmer adds too many objects to the map or tries to create a massive seamless world, the game will be slow. Unreal Engine calculates all objects, regardless of whether they fall into the player's field of vision;

  • the interface is designed for beginners; many quick access buttons has a poor location;

  • when developers are creating large games, they need to optimize a lot.

Screenshot Fortnite Mobile

Screenshot Fortnite Mobile

Unreal Engine platform is suitable for three-dimensional games with a small number of detailed elements. A reference example is Mortal Kombat, in which a player sees two characters and backgrounds. The engine is suitable for beginners, as it allows them to program, using just the mouse and still make a good game. 

Corona SDK 

Corona platform is an engine for creating 2D games: platformers, top-down shooters, and isometric games. The platform is free, and the developer can take all the profits from the game. The creators of the Corona SDK make money by selling plugins in the in-house store.


Corona SDK interface

Corona SDK interface

For development, the creator should know the scripting language Lua. Developers could compile the project for iOS or Android with minimal changes. 

Examples of games on the Corona SDK: 

  • Zip-Zap;

  • Gunman Taco Truck;

  • Fun Run 2;


  • I love Hue.

Pros of Corona SDK:

  • built-in Android and iOS emulator, the result can be checked directly on the platform;

  • the platform allows creators to make a beautiful interface quickly;

  • optimized compiler, games on the Corona SDK work only a little slower than the native ones.

Cons Corona SDK:

  • compilation requires the Internet. The platform sends bytecode to Corona servers, which compile it into an executable file;

  • the coder can not add third-party plugins or libraries, only buy it in the Corona store;

  • only suitable for developing 2D games.


Gameplay Zip-Zap

Gameplay Zip-Zap

Corona SDK is suitable for developers who like 2D-graphics and platformers. Creators can make analogs of Mario or the Heroes of Might and Magic, but that's it. Therefore, indie studios or single developers often use the Corona SDK.

Construct 3

The Construct 3 is an engine for simple 2D games. It is suitable for creative beginners without programming skills: each object in the game has standard properties. Construct 3 works in the browser, and it does not need to be downloaded and installed. 


Construct 3 interface 

Construct 3 interface 

Construct platform could make runners, clickers, puzzles, and other casual games. Developers also use the engine to run prototypes. Construct 3 allows creators to make a simple platformer in 1 hour, and a more complex game in a week. 

Examples of games on Construct 3:

  • Beast Attack;

  • Ignatius;

  • Lunar Mission;

  • Rescuers

  • Artillerists Needs Your Help.


Screenshot Ignatius

Screenshot Ignatius

Pros Construct 3:

  • easy to learn, everyone can make games without programming;

  • games on Construct 3 work quickly even on older Android devices;

  • creators can arrange the game without a designer and artist if they deal with sprite animation.

Cons Construct 3:

  • works in a browser and needs a constant connection to the Internet;

  • incomplete documentation, which users continuously complain about;

  • only 2D games can be made.

Construct platform is suitable for beginners and fans of pixel art. It is difficult to make a game with complex mechanics on this platform. Creators have to deal with the limitations of the Lua programming language.

Game Maker Studio 2

The Game Maker Studio 2 platform is suitable for 2D games. To develop for mobile platforms, everyone needs to buy a license and pay $ 400. The platform supports Drag and Drop programming, suitable for beginners. The platform has a clear and customizable interface, a lot of training videos, and in-depth documentation. For programming, you can use ready-made properties or write code in the GML language. 

Creating a game in Game Maker Studio 2

Creating a game in Game Maker Studio 2

Examples of games in Game Maker Studio 2:

  • Sudoku Scramble;

  • Bubbles the cat;

  • Downwell;

  • Crashlands

  • Iron Snout.

Pros Game Maker Studio 2:

  • simple interface, suitable for beginners;

  • optimized engine and compiler; 

  • games on GMS2 are fast;

  • developed community, a lot of free training materials, and information on the forums.

Cons Game Maker Studio 2:

  • unique programming language GML, it doesn't look like generally accepted Java and C;

  • development license for mobile platforms costs $ 400;

 Screenshot Downwell

Screenshot Downwell

Game Maker platform is suitable for indie developers, as it allows them to make fast and beautiful retro games with convenient controls. It will not work for developing a game alone: ​​a license for exporting games to mobile stores is too expensive. Also, users notice that after working with the GML language, it is difficult to switch to more serious programming languages ​​and work on other platforms. 


The LibGDX platform is an open-source engine. It supports the development of 2D and 3D games. The platform is free; creators could export the game to Android or iOS without any modifications. Programmers need to know Java. The engine is made for professionals who need a powerful free tool. 

 LibGDX interface

LibGDX interface

Can register access to the accelerometer, camera, light sensor, or other device modules in the game code. There is also a built-in library for creating an interface, advanced work with physics through Box2D, fonts, extensions for working with social networks, and in-game purchases. All this is available for free. 

Examples of games on LibGDX:

  • Paperama;

  • Construction City;

  • Shipwrecked: Pearl Cove Island;

  • Stone Pillar;

  • Lovecraft Quest.


Paperama Screenshot 

Paperama Screenshot 

LibGDX pros:

  • free and unlimited;

  • minimum built-in elements. Games on LibGDX take up little space and work quickly on weak devices;

  • full control over the game by the developer, you can implement any mechanics.

 LibGDX cons:

  • difficult for beginners to master since the game needs to be programmed. Drag and Drop technique won't work, forget the mouse;

  • developers must create development tools on LibGDX, such as a map editor. In other engines, these tools come out of the box;

  • it may be challenging to publish the game on iOS, as this platform does not support Java.


Before choosing an engine, creators need to work with the concept of the game. On a professional Unreal Engine developer can create Cookie Clicker, and on Construct 3 — a pseudo-three-dimensional game. But it's better not to hammer nails with a screwdriver, and select an instrument for a specific task.

Corona, Construct 3 or Game Maker Studio 2 are a better choice to develop casual games and prototyping. They allow beginners to make a game even if they do not know how to program.

Unity and Unreal Engine are a better choice to create 3D games, as these engines specialize in three-dimensional games. They allow creators to register a realistic physical model, add beautiful graphics to the game, and customize the interface. 

But to create games with unique mechanics, LibGDX is the most suitable option. It allows the programmer to implement any fantasy in the code, and the game will not slow down. LibGDX is most demanding on the skills of the developer but helps achieve exciting gameplay. 


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