Have you ever considered creating your own online game? Current technological advances enable almost anyone to achieve this thanks to present-day mobile game development tools.
Nonetheless, you will need help from professional developers if the game that you have in mind is complex.
There are all kinds of options available and for all levels, so make sure you take advantage of the following information. We’ll now review the top mobile game development tools.
Mobile game development tools for 2D mobile games
Creating a simple game should not prove difficult if you make use of the appropriate mobile game development programmes. We’ll now discuss two of the most often used ones that will allow you to create a game without having to programme.
GameSalad is a ‘drag and drop’ development tool. This makes it one of the easiest to use if you don’t have programming skills.
- Advantage: it’s easy to use and comes along with a template marketplace.
- Drawback: it’s limited if you are aiming at creating a complex game.
- Price: free trial, $17 (approx. £14) per month thereafter.
Another point in favour is that GameSalad allows you to publish and share your on-line game in several platforms and stores: iOS, Android, Html5, etc.
You can search their template marketplace to save time and avoid having to start from scratch. Choose a template, then customise it and your game will be ready for release sooner than you had imagined.
GameSalad will prove very useful if you want to create an arcade game. It’s perfect for 8-bit, platform or puzzle games. You can see some examples of the kind of games you can create with this tool on its website.
However, GameSalad may be somewhat limited if you are planning to create a complex game. It’s, nonetheless, perfect as a first approach to applications for developing mobile games.
You can run it from the cloud, install it on your Windows PC or Mac OS X computer, or even create a game from your Android or iOS mobile.
The Stencyl game designer pays tribute to MIT’s Scratch project. With its tile system and hierarchical classification of each element, you can create all kinds of 2D games simply by dragging tiles and assigning properties without having to know a single thing about code programming.
- Advantage: it allows you to create blocks and write your own classes.
- Drawback: it has fewer templates and tutorials than other programmes.
- Price: free version for publishing on the web. However, you will need the Studio version that costs $199 per year (approx. £160) if you want to also publish on iOS, Android and desktop.
Also, if you have some knowledge on the matter, you can also create and share your own blocks, import libraries and write your own custom classes, which will interact perfectly with block-based behaviours.
It has fewer templates and tutorials than other platforms and is somewhat more limited than other mobile game development tools.
Also, in this case, free installation only allows publishing on the web. If you wish to publish your game on iOS, Android or desktop, you must upgrade your subscription to the Indie or Studio plans.
Applications to develop platform games, shooter games, adventure games…
Do you have a slightly more ambitious idea in mind for your game? You will then have to work with a programme that’s a tad more complete. The following two programmes that we’ll be discussing allow you, in addition, to publish on any platform and create a game without entering any code lines.
GDevelop is another mobile game development tool that requires no prior game development knowledge.
- Advantage: open-source platform, allowing you great customisation.
- Drawback: since it’s not one of the most commonly used platforms, there’s not much documentation available and it may be difficult to get answers in the forums devoted to it.
- Price: free on-line version and download.
This open-source platform will allow you to develop any kind of game: puzzles, shooters, platforms, 8-bits… All kinds of projects go well with this application to develop games − from small projects that are just for fun to more complex ones.
GDevelop is based on events, which are used to activate the game’s actions without having to learn any programming language.
As with other tools, it also allows you to publish your games on any platform in a simple way. Furthermore, it’s very easy to get started due to the huge number of examples you will find that are ready to use, in addition to the tutorials that you can find on their website.
The success of GameMaker Studio comes as a result of having eliminated entry barriers to users lacking programming knowledge. Its system is based on events and on game elements that you will be able to customise by simple ‘drag and drop’ actions.
- Advantage: it’s a simple tool to develop games for any platform, as you will be able to run it natively.
- Drawback: you will need to know some code programming if you’re after more advanced customisation.
- Price: starting at $39 (approx. £31) per year.
With GameMaker, you can have a game that runs on Android and on any other platform without having to enter a single line of code to enable this.
This game development software programme allows you to have a single code base for your game, which means that you will be able to publish it on several platforms because it will run natively on them. You will be able to export your game directly to the following platforms: Windows, Mac OS X, Ubuntu, Android, Android TV, iOS, HTML5, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Even if you’re not required to know how to programme code, with GameMaker you can learn how to do so. You will see a preview of the code when creating your game’s actions. This way you can acquaint yourself with it and eventually take your games to the next level.
You will be discovering all the possibilities it has to offer at the same time as you are using it. This is the reason why it’s a good tool for intermediate users.
In this case, there’s a free basic plan available, but there are also plans starting at $39 (approx. £31) that enable publishing on Android and iOS, as well as other higher-end plans if you want to take the plunge into game consoles such as Xbox One, PS4 or the like.
Applications for creating advanced games
The following two programmes for developing on-line games will already be familiar to you if you are a developer. If this is not the case, developing your game with Unity or Unreal Engine may prove difficult for you.
When looking for a team of developers to create your game, it’s a good sign that they master these two-game development software programmes.
Unity is a real-time 3D development platform that provides you with everything you need to create and monetise your online games. It’s one of the most widely-used development environments nowadays and its use goes beyond games: it’s also used in areas such as movies and animation, architecture, or engineering, amongst others.
- Advantage: a very complete professional tool that includes plenty of learning resources.
- Drawback: it entails a more complex development, with limitations to access the source code.
- Price: free for projects collecting less than $100,000 (approx. £80,000) per year.
Despite all its power and capabilities, Unity is free for beginners as long as their projects collect under $100,000 per year. The downside is that it comes without any kind of customer service or training.
However, don’t worry if you are looking for documentation to get started. There is no shortage of learning resources on the internet. And if you already have certain knowledge and want to learn faster, there is a Plus plan available that will allow you to keep on training and includes having a customer service advisor at hand for your enquires.
Also, taking your first steps in online game development directly with Unity, even if it’s a professional platform, will get you the most complete solution available for your project and, later on, for more ambitious projects that you may envisage. You may see some of the games that have been created with Unity in the following video.
We could say that Unreal Engine is the top tool of its kind. This is the most advanced platform for developing video games for consoles and mobile phones. However, Unreal Engine also goes further: it’s also used in the movie industry and in virtual and augmented reality.
- Advantage: it’s a comprehensive tool that has reaped excellent reviews at the graphic and artistic level.
- Drawback: some programmers have described it as unstable.
- Price: free for projects collecting less than $3,000 (approx. £2,400) per year.
In fact, some of the real-time images created with this suite of tools will seem real photographs to the untrained eye.
As with Unity, it’s free to download. Every four-month period, the company will charge 5% of the project’s profits if the project has collected over $3,000. It’s a downright affordable cost if you exceed such turnover, is it not?
Mobile game development tools: Which is your favourite one?
At this point, you already know which mobile game development tools are the most popular. You have several options at hand for designing video games from your own mobile phone or tablet, and also from your Windows or Mac OS computer.
You also have tools ranging from easily obtainable free tools and other very affordable ones to the most professional tools.
However, you can rely on us if you want to create online games and don’t have the time to learn how to use any of these tools. Tell us about the game you have in mind and we’ll find the best team available to get it developed.