Unity vs Unreal: The Great Debate

Unity vs Unreal: The Great Debate

When it comes to gaming engines there is often a great debate as to whether Unity or Unreal is the best fit for various game developers.  Most game creators have their own preference as to what works best for them but if you are just starting out as a beginner game developer than it is always best to look at what each one has to offer.


Some of the most popular games over the past two decades have been built with the Unreal engine whereas Unity caters more to smaller game design. The Unreal game engine uses languages such as C++ while the Unity Engine uses C# as well as its own script called UnityScript. These engines also differ in manpower with Unity being able to harness the power of a smaller team and Unreal being tailor-made for more triple-A studios such as the studios who have developed classic blockbuster titled games such as Gears 5.


Which Engine Should Game Developers Use?

Each of these gaming engines have their own unique qualities and offerings, and in the end it all essentially boils down to what your preference is as a game designer, what platforms you prefer to work on and finally what type of game you are aspiring to build.  Every developer’s aim and vision is different, and the differences all come down to the type of engine that they decide to work with.


The Differences

Gaming Engine Unity Unreal
Engine Size Unity is a smaller engine that allows for small development teams to create amazing games such as Cuphead. Unity boasts an unprecedented art style and game play even though it does have a smaller engine compared to the Unreal engine.


This game engine is a vast powerhouse, that can give large teams of developers the chance to create amazing products, some of which have become famous gaming icons today.


For Beginners When it comes to coding, Unity uses C# which is like C++ but a lot simpler and easier to learn.  Unity engine is a great tool to assist beginner game developers. Developing in the Unreal Engine is also relatively simple for beginners as they can create an entire game without writing any code by using the Blueprint and Visual Scripting system.  Unreal also has an extremely easy-to-use interface that assists to get a prototype up and running quickly.


For Developers Unity is a very popular engine for mobile developers as it is extremely versatile and able to handle the workload that is given to it.  Unity engine is also excellent for developers that want to create mobile games as well as games for flash gamers due to its very powerful 3D engine that can create a wide range of options when developing games. This engine can create three-dimensional, two-dimensional, virtual reality, and augmented games, as well as simulations and various other gaming experiences.


Unreal is very popular amongst the more expensive Triple-A title developers and is also branching out into the 2D world. If you are a game designer working mostly on 3D titles, then this gaming engine is for you. It is a great foundation for creating next generation graphics and its high quality of dynamic lighting and execution is enjoyed by many gamers worldwide. Unreal also tends to have a better horsepower than Unity and is a bit more polished.


Types of Games If you are more a 2D game creator then Unity would more than likely be your best option. Unity has a wonderful user interface as well as tools that are accessible to people who are just starting with their game designing journeys.  Unity has some amazing 2D features and is very east to get started in.


Unity is an incredibly powerful 3D gaming engine and the Unreal Engine 4 can create out of this world gaming graphics.


Platforms offered Unity has an excellent cross-platform base that is accessible to over 25 different platforms. Unreal enables you to run the Unreal Editor on Windows, MacOS, and Linux as well as deploy projects to Windows PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Android and many more.


Visual offering Unity can produce high- quality visuals but this sometimes takes a lot more work then what it would if you were using the Unreal engine.


Unreal offers high-fidelity quality visuals to its users and is the preferred game engine for designers needing high quality graphics.
Game Creation It is always a better idea to use the latest version of Unity and it is also highly recommended that you use the Package Manager to install the Advertisements package.  Unity enables its users to create a 2D game in Unreal by using the Paper 2D system.


The Unreal Engine (UE4) is an entirely complete suite of creation tools for game development as well as architectural and automotive visualization.  Linear film and television content creation, broadcast and live event production, training and simulation are also good examples of other real-time applications that the Unreal engine offers it users. This engine also offers a wonderfully polished end- product.


Game Engine Specs Unity’s user interface as of 2020

Written in   C++(runtime) C# (Unity Scripting API)

Platform:      See § Supported platforms

License:       Proprietary
Unity (game engine)


Year started:           2004

Platform:                Microsoft Windows, Linux, OS X

Developer:             Epic Games and Digital Extremes


Community Forums Unity boasts a wonderful community forum with amazing features as well as a high number of community members that get together to talk about ideas such as game creation as well as an offering of constructive criticism to other members. Users can feel at home and involved with fellow creators and have access to a constantly updated forum.


Unreal has an extremely active community with thousands of fans and users.  They offer many forums such as the marketplace, Unreal beta, events and content creation. Members can talk about the engine with other members and share their ideas with many other game designers.


Pricing Unity is available in three plans:

Personal – Free

Plus – $40 per month for a one-year subscription.

Pro – $150 per month


If you are working on a tight budget the free plan is extremely efficient and has good tools for game developers to make use of. This would mean that you would also not owe any royalties to Unity should your game become monetized.


Unreal allows developers use the full engine  with all its features free or charge.  If, however, your game is monetized, then Unreal is paid 5% of the revenue if it goes above $3,000 per game per quarter.  Schools are also able to get the game engine for free so that they can introduce their pupils to the world of game design which is becoming a huge industry in the modern world.



 Scripting Languages Scripts in Unity are written in C# which is the coding language that Unity works on.  This language enables to developer to talk to the engine to give it instructions.  This is an object-oriented scripting language.


The scripting language for Unreal is C++ although Unreal also can use blueprint which allows the user to create environments and games even if they know nothing about coding by using the tools that are offered in blueprint.



Graphic offering Unity has decent graphics but unfortunately, if you want the best visuals possible then the Unity Game engine is not for you.  Unity has been working on improving its graphics offerings, but it it still not as good as Unreal game engine.



Unreal 4 has a graphic quality that cannot be compared to.  Its stunning visuals are hard to beat which is why most large studios use Unreal to develop their games.




Food for Thought

Where do you want to release your games?


It is important to take into consideration where you want players to access your game.  This choice can help you to identify which engine you should be using for your game development.  Both Unity and Unreal engines offer cross-platform integration, but it is to be noted that Unity does offer significantly more integrations that Unreal


Unity Platforms                                                             Unreal Platforms

iOS                                                                             iOS

Android                                                                        Android

Windows Phone 8                                                         VR

Tizen                                                                            Linux

Android TV                                                                  Windows PC

Samsung SMART TV                                                   Mac OS X

Xbox One & 360                                                           SteamOS

Windows PC                                                                 HTML5

Mac OS X, Linux                                                          Xbox One

Web Player                                                                   PS4





PlayStation Vita

Wii U


Both gaming engines can be used to make mobile games.  It is, however, easier to make 2D games with Unity for mobile platforms. This engine has an easier time scaling down to low-end hardware and offers a Lightweight Render Pipeline that is targeted at low powered devices.  High-end devices, however, will work with both Unity and Unreal.

For Learning

Most Unity courses offers a large amount of information online and from other developers who use the Unity game engine. There are also many YouTube videos and online courses that you can find in the Unity community forums to assist you with your studies.  If you’re learning Unreal or Unity to reach a career goal of working as a game developer in a game studio you should start by looking at which engine and programming languages the studios you want to work for are using. Many studios use their own proprietary game engine, and in this case, the language is the most important factor to learn should you hope to get a job there. Unity uses C# as its scripting language which is relatively easy for beginners to learn due to its intuitive design.



Many studios value C++ knowledge, so learning Unreal and C++  would definitely give you an advantage.  Other designers such as technical designers and level designers look for candidates who have a knowledge on the engine that they are using in their studios.  Fortunately, if you have taken the time to learn one engine then you will quickly learn other engines and be able to find the career of your dreams.


Team Size

With the Unreal game engine, you normally could use a large specialist team that is dedicated to following different job aspects such as one person purely dedicated to just shaders and another person dedicated to just particles. This said, Unreal is starting to make itself more accessible to smaller teams.


Unity is somewhat different since developers can understand the game engine itself very quickly.  This makes it an excellent game engine for one person or smaller teams. It also boasts a significantly bigger asset store which enables the developer to populate their games if they are not equipped with a big team. Unity, however, is quickly adding more pro-level features to make itself more accessible to bigger teams of developers.

Developer or visual artist?

Are you a developer or a visual artist? Some developers tend to prefer Unity game engine while a lot of visual artists gravitate more towards the Unreal game engine.  This is more than likely due to the difference is visuals and graphics.  Both game engines offer a similar functionality and capability yet are still variably different when it comes to their visuals.


Asset Stores: Unreal Game Engine VS Unity Game Engine

Both Unreal and Unity Game engines have their own unique asset stores where you can obtain ready-to-use #D character models, textures, environments, sound and particle systems. It is evident, however, that Unity 3D comes out on top because of the sheer number of assets that it has in its store.  The Unity 3D asset store offers anything and everything and is therefore used by many game developers.  It is home to everything from animation and GUI generators to extensions for AI control.


Questions you need to ask yourself

What kind of game do you want to create: mobile, web, console, multiplayer, 2D or 3D?

Which platforms do you want to launch your game on?

Do you have a lot of time to spend on the game development or do you prefer a quicker process?

How do you intend to make money on your game?

How important are graphical game engine capabilities to you and your team?

Unity and Unreal Game Engines Pros in a Nutshell

Unity Game Engine


  • Very easy platform to start with
  • Much faster to prototype
  • Many resources such as online documentation and forum discussions
  • A clearly dominant game engine in the gaming market


Unreal Game Engine


  • Amazing out of the box visuals
  • Real-time networking is very well supported
  • A better fit for PC and console game development
  • Unreal Editor offers invaluable tools to make your game look mature and polished.
  • Powerful blueprints for game designers
  • All engine code is open source


The Cons


  • You may need to buy a few packages to get the visuals to where you want them to be.
  • Plugins need to be bought.
  • Unity cannot offer the same graphics quality as Unreal.
  • Unity only gives away the source code under specific conditions and you also need to pay for it.
  • Rendering is slow.
  • A massive asset store available to its users.



  • There are some good mobile games in Unreal, however it is too heavy weight for mobile titles.
  • It is harder to learn C++ which is the programming code for this game engine.
  • Once you have begun to make money you will need to track your yearly gross revenue and pay a 5% royalty on that amount.
  • A smaller and simpler asset store as they choose the submitted assets vary carefully.
  • Unreal game engine is not the best fit for small game creators and there is no point in making a small game with this game engine.
  • There are unfortunately not many Unreal experts because this game engine if often used by extremely specialized teams.


Best Unity and Unreal Books to Read

Top Tutorials to Learn Unreal Game Engine


This book was developed by Tim Sweeney and Epic Games and is used for all genres of games that have been created over the past twenty years.


Unity 5.x By Example

This book is suitable for complete beginners. Written by Alan Thorn this book teaches components and game objects within Unity interface. You will learn how to construct games from scratch and learn how to include shooters and a platformer.

Which Engine is Easiest to Use?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is entirely up to the game developer and how they envision their game to be.  Both engines are excellent so any engine that you choose is going to serve you well dependant on your specific needs.


Game developers with bigger budgets might do well to develop their games in the 3D environment and use the Unreal game engine.  If, however, you are a developer that is interested in 2D and mobile games then Unity would probably be the best choice for you.  Both engines have powerful graphics as well as wonderful communities and resources.


In short

Choose Unity if you are:

  • New to coding.
  • Wanting to build a 2D game.
  • Wanting to release your game on multiple platforms.


Choose Unreal if you are:

  • Leaning more towards 3D game building.
  • Making a game with a first-person shooter.
  • Looking for high-quality visuals.


Both Unity and Unreal are amazing game creation tools.  Both are free of charge so it would be a good idea to download them both and try each one out to see what is the best fit for you and your needs.



The choice is yours!

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