In game studios all over the world, Unity is the name that comes up the most when plans for mobile game development are discussed. The explanation is simple – Unity is one of the most popular game engines for this task, with the credentials to back it up. Today, Unity is used to build over half of all mobile apps, and its margin is at 65% for the 1000 most popular apps. But don’t let these figures fool you into thinking Unity game development is easy as can be.
There are a lot of things to contemplate about this game engine, even before you make the decision to use it. So let’s take a closer look and examine why Unity is used for mobile games and what developers go through in such projects.
With over a million developers choosing it, it must be, right? The truth is a little more nuanced. Yes, Unity has robust and widely-praised tools that make game design easier, but you could also say this about a few other engines – Unreal, Game Maker, Cocos. For a more balanced look, let’s examine some of the reasons why developers decide in favor or against Unity.
This is by no means a comprehensive analysis of the engine, and you are welcome to learn more in our article “How good is Unity for game development?”
It takes months to learn most forms of game development and years to become a master at it, so we obviously can’t cover all the peculiarities and information needed for the process. However, what we can do is describe three common approaches to mobile game development in Unity, categorized by their level of difficulty.
Every studio has their own pipeline for creating games, and often modify it for each project, but most companies would agree that the process can be broken down into 3 general stages:
This stage is all about planning and proofing. You want to get some assurances that the project has potential, so you come up with the main idea and fill it in with details. These ideas are then turned into concept art and rudimentary prototypes. The overall plan for the project is finalized in a game design document (GDD).
This is usually the lengthiest stage, with a lot of things happening at once. For example, on one side, you have a team of developers working on the gameplay, packaged in thousands of lines of code. In parallel, the art team is creating game models, animation, various art and UI assets, and working on VFX. This is also the stage when the very important tasks of level design and Unity mobile game environment modeling take place. And there will usually be at least one project manager overseeing the work and a QA engineer testing certain iterations and features.
This is the stage of finishing touches. It usually involves VFX being added and the software undergoing rigorous game testing. No initial game build is perfect, so you will probably go through several bug fixes, and might need to rework certain parts of the application.
Some companies like to get a gauge of players’ reaction to the game and give them beta access to a nearly completed build of the game, and this is often accompanied by a marketing push. Next is release, but developers’ work rarely stops there, as they often have to continue providing maintenance and updates to the project post launch.
As you begin planning out your game, you’ll inevitably come to the choice of which platform to deploy on – Android, iOS, or both. Let’s examine some peculiarities of developing for these platforms.
The first thing to keep in mind when creating a mobile game in Unity is that you will need C# developers for the project. Though Android apps run on Java or Kotlin, knowledge of these languages is not necessary to work with Unity. However, Java/Kotlin knowledge can be helpful, since some native code will be needed to add features and libraries not exposed to Unity’s API.
Today, Android is deployed on hundreds of mobile devices with unique screen proportions, so tailoring your game to them can be a bit of a hassle. However, it is made easier with the Android SDK, which can be installed in Unity. Keep in mind that even after building your app, you won’t be able to feature it on the Play Market without signing up for a Google developer account. There is a one-time fee of $25, and additional service fees when your app starts making money.
Similarly to Android, knowledge of iOS’s default languages (Objective-C and Swift) is not mandatory to create apps for this operating system, but it can be helpful. Another similarity lies in development tools: Apple also offers an iOS SDK for integration with Unity that helps tailor games to this operating system. Making an iPhone game in Unity is not that much more difficult than other types of software design.
In terms of testing, you have the option to perform it virtually through emulation software or actually purchase some models of the devices you want the app accessible on. Since the lineup of screen sizes on iPhones and iPads is much smaller than the legions of Android devices, this could be a practical solution.
Another noticeable difference when you create an iOS game in Unity lies in pricing, since the signup fee for developers is a hefty $99 ($299 for enterprises), and the company also takes a 30% cut of most in-app payments. For app monetization and ads, you can use the default Unity SDK or the specialized iOS StoreKit API. While Apple is much stricter towards apps on its store, iOS users also tend to be bigger spenders, making them a coveted user base.
Never forget, you don’t have to choose between the two platforms, and can also choose cross-platform development. Unity makes it as easy as possible to make a cross-platform game, so it can be a shame to not take advantage of this opportunity just to shave off a few weeks of development time.
Making a profitable game and one that is also well-accepted by thousands of users is no small feat. It’s a very difficult achievement to get on your first try, and certainly challenging when you have limited resources. But you’re not alone in this endeavor!
Game-Ace is ready to help you build a spectacular mobile game that makes an impression around the world. Our studio has over a decade of development experience, and we are not limited to one platform. With a large staff and a multitude of projects on various platforms, your scope and ambition will not intimidate us in the slightest.
Contact us today, and we can discuss how to bring your dream game project to life!