The best 22 mobile game engines and development platforms

Thomas Kriebernegg
game engines and development platforms

Mobile game development has become very popular lately for a simple reason - almost anyone can create and design a mobile game. You don’t need to be a programmer, have coding experience, or have large budgets. With a good idea, motivation, and interest in gaming, you can develop your first game in a matter of hours.

In this article, we will go through the best game engines currently available on the market. These are the exact platforms that thousands of game developers use regularly. After reading it, you should have enough information to choose a platform for creating your first mobile game. Also, you will be able to launch your mobile game in the biggest app stores like Google Play Store or Apple App Store.

Let’s dive in.

1. Unity

unity

Unity helps game developers’ teams work collaboratively and create games with 2D and 3D development features. It is a cross-platform game engine that supports different desktop, mobile, and other platforms. Unity is popular for indie game development and is also easy to use for beginner developers. 

Besides 2D and 3D games, users can create interactive simulations for video gaming and animation for film making, automotive, engineering, and other industries. Moreover, Unity allows to import asses from other 3D applications or you can also buy the assets directly from other stores. Since Unity is one of the most used and most famous development platforms, users can find help materials, guides and get community support very easily. 

Supported platforms:

  • Mobile platforms like iOS and Android
  • Desktop platforms - Windows, Mac and Linux 
  • Web platform - WebGL
  • Console platforms like PS4, PS5 and Xbox 
  • Virtual/Extended reality platforms like Oculus and PlayStation VR

Popular games developed with Unity:

  • Pokémon Go, 
  • Monument Valley, 
  • Call of Duty: Mobile, 
  • Beat Saber 
  • Cuphead

Pricing:

  • Personal - free
  • Plus - $399 /yr per seat
  • Pro - $1,800 /yr per seat
  • Enterprise - $4,000 /mo per 20 seats

2. Unreal Engine

unreal engine logo

Unreal Engine is another popular game engine platform. It is mostly used for the development of 3D games, but other industries are also using Unreal Engine. For instance, the film industry uses it for the creation of virtual sets and animated movies. 

Unreal Engine is considered to be user-friendly and one of its biggest advantages is that it doesn’t require programming skills. There is also a marketplace where developers can get paid and free store assets to use with the platform. Just like Unity, Unreal Engine supports desktop, mobile, and other platforms, which is another strong feature for game developers.

Supported platforms:

  • Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux
  • Android and iOS
  • Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 & 5, Xbox One & Series X/S] and Stadia
  • Magic Leap, HTC Vive, Oculus, PlayStation VR, Samsung Gear VR, and HoloLens 2

Popular games developed with Unreal Engine:

  • Fortnite
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood
  • The Matrix Awakens

Pricing:

  • Free publishing and creators licenses
  • Custom license to a custom price
  • Enterprise program for $1.000 per seat/year

3. Solar2D (ex Corona SDK)

solar2d

Solar2D, formally known as Corona SDK, allows game developers to build 2D mobile apps. It is Lua based game engine with a focus on ease of iterations and usage. The development kit is free to use and open-source. It also supports game development across multiple platforms. 

Solar2D has an active community of users and a marketplace where 2D features and plugins are available. It also features Solar2D Playground, an interactive website for creating and running projects instantly online. 

Supported platforms:

  • iOS and Android 
  • Kindle
  • Desktop applications for Windows, Linux, and macOS
  • Connected TV applications for Apple TV, Fire TV, and Android TV

Popular games developed with Solar2D:

  • Flappy Bird
  • Match 3 Space RPG
  • Corona Cannon

Pricing:

  • Free core functionalities

4. SpriteKit – 2D sprite-based games

spritekit

SpriteKit is one of the best ways to make games on iOS. The game engine was developed directly by Apple. With SpriteKit framework, game developers can draw images, text, shapes, and video in 2D. It is considered to be user-friendly platform forfor creating games and graphic-intensive apps. SpriteKit comes with a simple programming interface and is probably the best option for developing Apple-based games.

Because it is supported by Apple, there is no need to download extra libraries or external sources. SpriteKit also assures that the apps you develop perfectly match current and new products from Apple.

Supported platforms:

  • iOS

Example of games developed with SpriteKit:

  • Squashy Bug
  • Trestle 
  • Accelebot

Pricing:

  • Free

5. Buildbox

buildbox logo

Buildbox is one of the most accessible game engines and one of the best game development platforms for creating Android games. It is highly suitable for beginners with no coding experience and doesn’t require any programming or scripting skills.

Buildbox allows game developers to easily create 2D and 3D mobile games in a short time. It uses drag and drop functionalities to create professional-looking games. The big community of users is also an additional benefit that will get you to start developing your own mobile games.

Supported platforms:

  • iOS
  • Android

Example of games developed with Buildbox:

  • Color Switch
  • Ball Jump
  • Slip Away
  • Blue Edge
  • The Line Zen

Pricing:

  • Free 
  • Plus - $189.99/year
  • Pro - $499.99/year

6. AppGameKit

appgamekit

AppGameKit is another game development engine that doesn’t require specific coding skills. It is a mobile cross-platform engine that allows coding a game and deploying the game on multiple platforms. Once a developer codes a game, it is available for all devices.

If you're looking to develop 2D games with some basic elements of 3D, AppGameKit will do the job perfectly. Especially if you are a beginner, you will find enough options to develop and deploy your game. The best way to develop a mobile game is by using AppGameKit Studio - all-in-one workspace with everything needed to take an idea from the initial concept to the ready-to-use game.

Supported platforms:

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Linux
  • iOS
  • Android (inc Google, Amazon & Ouya)
  • HTML5

Example of games developed with AppGameKit:

  • Driving Theory Test Kit
  • Repton 2
  • Skrobol 

Pricing:

  • AppGameKit Classic - $49.99
  • AppGameKit Unlimited - $254.89
  • Different bundle options are also available

7. Construct 3

construct 3

Construct 3 is a game engine used for developing and creating 2D mobile games. Most often it is used for role-playing games (RPGs), puzzles and racing games. People who are interested in developing games based on physics can use Box2D physics engine.

Construct 3 was developed by Scirra Ltd that claims it is “the world's best game making software”. Game development runs in a browser and doesn’t require any coding skills. Construct 3 uses JavaScript as an optional scripting language, which is great for people who are looking to learn JavaScript as well. 

Supported platforms:

  • Windows
  • MacOS
  • Linux
  • Android
  • iOS
  • Xbox
  • Web embeds through HTML5

Example of games developed with Construct 3:

  • The Next Penelope
  • Airscape: The Fall of Gravity
  • Cosmochoria

Pricing:

  • Individual: €16,49 per month
  • Startup: €12,51 / seat per month
  • Business: €33,26 per month

8. Fusion 2.5

fusion 2.5

Fusion 2.5 is a game engine that uses an event editor system to quickly develop games or apps. It is developed by Clickteam, a French software development company that aimed at improving the performance of the games.

Fusion 2.5 is also fully integrated with physics engine and comes with an active community that can support you on your developing journey. The interface of the platform doesn’t require expert programming skills. Fusion supports the development of 2D mobile games, but most of the time it is more suitable for static games development.

Supported platforms:

  • iOS
  • Android
  • Flash
  • XNA (Windows Mobile phone and Xbox)

Example of games developed with Fusion 2.5:

  • Distraint
  • Quadle
  • Bit Odyssey

Pricing:

  • The full version price goes from $59.99 to $99.99
  • Additional packages price varies from $39.99 to $149.99
  • Free version available

9. GameMaker Studio 2

gamemaker studio

GameMaker Studio 2 is a game engine developed by YoYo Games. This game engine also provides cross-platform game development with a drag-and-drop programming language called Game Maker Language. Although this game engine was developed for novice users, the supported scripting language can be used for advanced games development as well.

The biggest advantage of GameMaker is the wide variety of supported platforms. Moreover,  a large set of tools allows all types of users to create and deploy a mobile game in a fast way. In fact, most people can create games already after one hour of usage. The platform is mostly focused on the creation of 2D games by using a standard library of drawing graphics.

Supported platforms:

  • Windows
  • macOS
  • Ubuntu
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Playstation 4 & 5
  • Xbox XS
  • Nintendo Switch
  • HTML5

Example of games developed with GameMaker Studio 2:

  • Samurai Gunn 2
  • Webbed
  • Super Hiking League DX

Pricing:

  • Free
  • Creator - $4.99/month
  • Indie - $9.99/month
  • Enterprise - $79.99/month

10. MonoGame

monogame logo

MonoGame engine is a cross-platform mostly used for developing 2D games. It uses C# and .NET languages to write modern, fast, and reliable game code. Moreover, this game engine is based on Microsoft’s XNA framework that is very easy to learn.

The biggest advantages that come with it are a large community of users and its open-source technology. It also has a large number of supported platforms.

Supported platforms:

  • Windows
  • macOS
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Playstation 4 & PSVita
  • Xbox One
  • Nintendo Switch

Example of games developed with MonoGame:

  • FEZ
  • Bastion
  • Skulls of the Shogun

Pricing:

  • Free

11. Amazon Lumberyard

amazon lumberyard

Amazon Lumberyard is a freeware cross-platform game engine based on CryEngine and powered by Amazon’s features. Some of Lumberyard’s benefits include the possibility to create high-quality games, AWS cloud storage, and integration with Twitch.

The game engine comes with beginner-friendly tools, an easy learning curve, and the fast creation of prototypes. However, if you want to use the AWS service with it, they are typically more expensive than other AWS products.

Supported platforms:

  • Windows
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Playstation 4 
  • Xbox One

Example of games developed with Amazon Lumberyard:

  • Crucible
  • Breakaway

Pricing:

  • Free

Learn about the most successful game mechanics for hypercasual games.

12. Cocos2d-x

cocos2dx logo

Cocos2d-x is an open-source game engine with cross-platform development. It supports 2D and 3D mobile games development but is mostly intended for experienced developers. Cocos2d-x runs using C++, JavaScript, or Lua as the scripting language. 

One of its best features is Cocos 2D-x which allows you to create very small size games. It comes with detailed documentation and it has a large support community. 

Supported platforms:

  • iOS
  • Android
  • Facebook Instant Games
  • Windows
  • HTML5

Example of games developed with Cocos2d-x:

  • Magic Rush
  • Dragon Ball Z
  • Pokemon Masters

Pricing:

  • Free

13. Haxe 4

haxe logo

Haxe is another open-source and cross-platform developing language used to create apps and games. It comes with many game frameworks and libraries that help leverage a single code and achieve native speeds across many platforms.

This game engine is generally free but comes with a price tag when you need different types of support. However, the fees charged are used to further develop and support the Haxe ecosystem.

Supported platforms:

  • iOS
  • Android
  • macOS
  • Windows
  • Linux

Example of games developed with Haxe:

  • Northgard
  • Dead Cells
  • Spellbreak

Pricing:

  • Free
  • Professional - $6,500 /year
  • Enterprise - $26,000 /year
  • Elite - $98,000 /year

14. Gideros

gideros logo

Gideros is a free and open-source game development platform that allows the creation of 2D and 3D games. Mobile game developers like it because it is not hard to learn and enables quick game development and deployment.

Additional advantages that Gideros provide include instant testing during the game development process, native speed, open-source plugins, and a full set of development tools.

Supported platforms:

  • iOS
  • Android
  • macOSX
  • Windows

Example of games developed with Gideros:

  • Magness
  • Proto-Tap
  • Tetcolor

Pricing:

  • Free

15. Godot

godot logo

Godot is a versatile and cross-platform game engine used for creating 2D and 3D mobile games. It uses a pixel-based measurement system, which makes it especially good for 2D games. Beginner developers can benefit from its node-based interface.

Godot provides a large set of tools that help the game development journey. And because it is open-source, every game created is fully owned by a developer. Unlike some other game engines, Godot shines when it comes to UI editing. In other words, it includes visual editor and content creation accessibility for artists, level designers, and animators. 

Supported platforms:

  • iOS
  • Android
  • macOS
  • Windows
  • Linux
  • Nintendo Switch
  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • HTML5

Example of games developed with Godot:

  • Kingdoms of the Dump
  • Haiki
  • Until Then

Pricing:

  • Free

16. Phaser

phaser logo

Phaser is another game engine with a focus on mobile development and 2D game framework. It enables fast rendering for desktop and mobile platforms because it uses a Canvas and WebGL renderer internally.

Phaser is also an open-source HTML5 game framework that uses JavaScript. In this way, it allows novice and professional developers to create games for the browser in a fast and fun way.

Supported platforms:

  • iOS
  • Android

Example of games developed with Phaser:

  • Idle Zoo
  • Fishing.io
  • Atari Asteroids

Pricing:

  • Free
  • Also sells separate plugins

17. Defold

defold logo

Defold is a game engine that is free and used for the development of games for mobile, desktop, web, and console platforms. It is mostly used for the creation of 2D games, but there is a lot of possibilities for 3D games as well.

Defold is easy to use and users love it because it comes with great technical documentation and a community of developers that support each other. Defold is written in Lua, but there is an option to use native code with the engine for more advanced functions. It doesn’t require setup and it comes with many editors like the visual editor, code editor, and others.

Supported platforms:

  • iOS
  • Android
  • Windows
  • macOS
  • Linux
  • HTML5
  • Steam
  • Facebook
  • Nintendo Switch

Example of games developed with Defold:

  • Plague Lords
  • Craftomation 101
  • BoxRob

Pricing:

  • Free

18. Starling Framework

starling framework logo

Starling framework is also a cross-platform and open-source game engine. It uses Adobe's AIR™ technology and can be run in the browser, iOS, and Android. The main concept behind Starling is that games can be debugged in the browser and immediately after that deployed on a mobile device.

Because Starling is embraced by Adobe, it uses some of its powerful technology called Stage3D. For the game developers, this means extremely fast rendering performance.

Supported platforms:

  • iOS
  • Android
  • Windows
  • macOS

Example of games developed with Starling Framework:

  • Angry Birds
  • Neuronation
  • Ruby Blast Adventures

Pricing:

  • Free

19. GDevelop

gdevelop logo

GDevelop is a cross-platform and open-source game engine made by Florian Rival, a software engineer from Google. The target audience of GDevelop are non-developers who want to create full video games without any coding skills.

GDevelop’s biggest advantage is very simple and free game making. It uses a so-called “event system”, which is a powerful way to define your game’s logic. The game engine comes with a lot of tutorials and interactive options. And it also offers much more possibilities for JavaScript developers who want to add more extensions.

Supported platforms:

  • iOS
  • Android
  • Steam
  • Facebook Gaming
  • Microsft Store

Example of games developed with GDevelop:

  • Hyperspace Dogfights
  • Swamp
  • The Research Age

Pricing:

  • Free

20. GameSalad

gamesalad logo

GameSalad is a game engine designed for everyone that is at least 12 years old. It does that by providing a no-code visual programming system to its users.

GameSalad focuses a lot on educators, but this doesn’t mean it is intended for that purpose only - there are over 75 games that reached the top 100 in the App Store and multiple games that held #1 rank. It is really easy to use and is definitely one of the easiest ways to create and publish 2D games.

Supported platforms:

  • iOS
  • Android
  • HTML5
  • Windows 
  • Amazon Kindle

Example of games developed with GameSalad:

  • 8-bit space
  • Nitro Car Racing
  • ZOMBEAT! Zombie Invasion

Pricing:

  • GameSalad Basic - $17/month
  • GameSalad HomeEdu- $8/month
  • GameSalad Pro- $25/month

21. Stencyl

stencyl logo

Stencyl is a freemium game engine that allows creating games quickly and easily without code. It comes with an intuitive toolset that gives game developers enough options to make great 2D games.

Stencly comes with a drag and drop interface that is particularly useful for novice developers. For more advanced users, there is an option to write code, import libraries, and write classes. Many games developed with Stencyl have reached the top charts and featuring sections in app stores.

Supported platforms:

  • iOS
  • Android
  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Linux
  • HTML5

Example of games developed with Stencyl:

  • GoldSpace
  • Tiny Dangerous Dungeons
  • Bit Battles

Pricing:

  • Free
  • Indie - $99/year
  • Studio - $199/year

Curious what to do after your game is developed? Check out these 3 game growth strategies.

22. Cryengine

cryengine logo

The last on our list is a game engine that currently still doesn’t support mobile platforms. However, it is one of the most powerful game engines on the market, so we decided to put it on our list.

Cryengine is dedicated to providing the highest experience for its developers and real-time development. There is a whole range of features that come with Cryengine, such as visuals, sandbox, realistic characters, audio control, high-end physics, and high performance.

Cryengine is an excellent choice for beginners as well. This game engine comes with full source code, clear tutorials, documentation, and a large community. There is also a marketplace with plenty of assets that can immediately be used for the projects. We believe that mobile support will make this platform even greater.

Supported platforms:

  • Windows
  • Linux
  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Oculus Rift
  • OSVR
  • PSVR
  • HTC Vive
  • Mobile coming soon

Example of games developed with Cryengine:

  • Hunt: Showdown
  • The Climb
  • Crysis 3

Pricing:

  • Use of the platform is free
  • 5% royalty when shipping the project (first $5K annual revenue are royalty-free)

Summary of the best mobile game engines and development platforms

Those are 22 mobile engines that you can use right now and create your first mobile game. Try out a couple of development platforms and choose the most fittable for your mobile game concept. 

Don’t forget that once your game is developed, the world of gamers needs to find it. If you want your game to be installed and played by many people, you will need to properly push it to app stores, manage it, promote it and grow its popularity. App Radar can help you with all these steps and with app store optimization of your app. Not sure if you need this? Create a free account and give it a try.

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thomas 756
Thomas Kriebernegg
Managing Director & Co-Founder
Thomas is Managing Director and Co-Founder of App Radar. He is an app enthusiast with over 15 years of experience in online marketing and a well-known keynote speaker. Thomas is a part of the mobile game community as well as a worldwide start-up ecosystem.
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