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How to Make a Mobile Game in Unity


October 29, 2021

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.

Is Unity Good for Mobile Games?

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.

Unity strengths

  • Amazing cross-platform support (deploy to Android and iOS simultaneously and potentially expand to 20+ other platforms)
  • Streamlined process of ad integration (Unity Ads)
  • Relatively simple coding language (C#)
  • Vast assortment of templates and prefabs (allows for quick prototyping)
  • Many components are open source and accessible for improvement

Unity drawbacks

  • For 3D games, it can take quite some time for inexperienced developers to master rendering and performance optimization
  • The internal collaboration tool (Unity Collaborate) can be confusing, with external tools having better organization.
  • The license for using Unity can be prohibitively expensive for some studios

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?”

How to Make a Mobile Game in Unity

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.

Choose your difficulty level:

1. Hard – Full-cycle development

With this approach, you develop your game in-house without taking any shortcuts. Thus, you will need to gather a team of specialists, with some responsible for coding and scripting, and others working on other aspects of the game – art, UI, performance, compatibility, etc. Of course, many game studios regularly build Unity games and don’t see it as something intimidating, but it is a big challenge for businesses with no relation to games or software development.

It can take weeks just to find qualified specialists and plan out your project, and even after that, the timeline for mobile games can stretch to a year or longer. Even with a good team, your first Unity project will probably come with certain bottlenecks, delays, and unexpected problems to solve.

2. Easy – Visual scripting

This approach is a bit easier because you no longer need to write all your code from scratch. Instead, you can use Unity’s visual scripting system – Bolt. It comes by default with the main program (Unity Editor) and allows you to build gameplay logic and mechanics with graphs and tables. These can be dragged around, easily interconnected, and typically feature only a handful of options per unit, so the pieces of functionality are easily understandable.

However, you should keep in mind that making a mobile game in Unity with this approach is not a 100% replacement for manual coding, since you won’t be able to implement more elaborate sequences and functionality with this tool. In fact, it is more common for basic prototyping or use by designers & artists as they test their 2D/3D creations.

3. Easiest – Work with a partner

Entrusting your game project to a development partner easily removes any impediments you may have had, such as a lack of qualified specialists, insufficient time or resources, or a high cost of local labor. There are thousands of game studios out there providing such services, and hundreds with lengthy experience specifically in the field of mobile games.

Oftentimes, these studios operate in countries with a lower cost of labor than in Western countries, so they can get a project done at a much cheaper rate than you could in-house. Not to mention that they will probably also do it faster, being used to short timeframes and agile project management.

Learn more about mobile game development services

What is the process of creating mobile games with Unity?

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:

Pre-production

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).

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Production

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.

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Post-production

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.

Unity Development for Android/iOS: What You Should Know

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.

How to make an Android game with Unity

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.

How to make an iPhone game in Unity

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.

How to Make a Successful Mobile Game in Unity

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!



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Related What is the Secret of Cross-Platform Mobile Game Development? Related Android Game Testing: Things to Keep in Mind and Check Related How Long Does it Take to Make a Mobile Game? Related How to Make a Multiplayer Mobile Game that Rocks Related How to Make an iPhone Game in Unity
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