Unity vs Unreal Engine: Game Engine Comparison Guide for 2021

Evelyn Trainor-Fogleman

8 min read time

It’s a great time to be in game development. With powerful game engines available at affordable price points allowing indie, game developers and big studios alike to craft immersive worlds that keep players coming back for more. 


Two of the biggest players in the industry are Unity and Unreal Engine. From Gears of War to Bioshock to Fortnite, most of your favorite titles began on one of these game engines. Beginner and even experienced game developers may find themselves struggling to choose which one of these programs will best fit their needs as they embark on creating the games they’ve been dreaming of.


But never fear, we’re here to put these programs to the test against each other and help you decide which platform is right for you as you prepare to create epic games that amaze your users. 


Which one will reign supreme? Keep reading to find out. 


What Do Unity and Unreal Engine Do?


Unity and Unreal Engine are game engines. A game engine, also called game architecture or “game frame,” is a key component to game development as it combines many different game elements including sound, graphics, and AI into the framework of the game. 


They provide a software development environment that helps designers build their video games. Both platforms allow you to develop games for PC, consoles (like Xbox, Wii, and PS4) and mobile games with ease, allowing you to develop games for iOS and Android systems as well as Windows, Mac, Linux and more. 


Core functionality includes:


  • A rendering engine for 2D and 3D graphics
  • A physics engine to control movement
  • Sound
  • Scripting
  • Animation
  • AI
  • Networking
  • Streaming
  • Memory management
  • VR tools
  • Support for both 2D games and 3D games


As you can see, game engines like these are essential to actually constructing a functional game for any device, so choosing the right one can be crucial to your success as a developer. 


The Main Differences Between Unity and Unreal Engine

The first key difference between Unity and Unreal Engine is their native programming language. Unity uses C# in both the Unity editor and the additional plugins. Unreal Engine uses C++, but when building the game code itself, you’ll use a combination of Blueprint (a proprietary language unique to Epic products) and C++. 


However, there are several more key differences in each interface that we’ll break down in our detailed head-to-head comparison next.

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Head to Head Comparison

Ok, here’s what you’ve been waiting for. It’s time to put these programs up against each other and see which ones excel in each of our key categories: 

Ease of Use

  • Winner: Unity
  • Why: Overall, users found Unity to be slightly easier to use, thanks to its native C# coding language which should be relatively familiar for all developers and its overall workspace layout. It’s an easier platform to “dive in” and start creating on over Unreal Engine, which has a slightly steeper learning curve.  

Visual Effects (VFX) Quality

  • Winner: Unreal Engine
  • Why: While both platforms produce high-quality VFX, most users found that Unreal Engine has a slight edge over Unity in the quality of its visual effects. It can create photorealistic visualizations that immerse gamers and allow them to travel freely in a stunning new world, and incorporate high-quality assets from a variety of sources. Whether you want a lens flare that would make J.J. Abrams cry or you want to create complex textures on an alien planet, Unreal Engine has you covered. 

Rendering

  • Winner: Unreal Engine
  • Why: Similar to its slight edge with graphics quality, the quality and speed of rendering on Unreal Engine slightly edges out Unity in this category. It produces industry-leading rendering speeds and users are consistently pleased with the quality of the rendered graphics.  

Animation

  • Winner: Unreal Engine
  • Why: This is where Unreal Engine really shines. With its powerful rendering capabilities and top-notch visual effects, its animation quality is bar none. It was the clear favorite among users in the quality of its animation tools and the animation renderings.    

Team Collaboration

  • Winner: Unity
  • Why: Unity holds a bigger market share of 63% vs. Unreal Engine’s 13%. This simply means that more people use Unity than Unreal Engine, which means you’ll find more Unity collaborators than you will Unreal Engine collaborators, giving Unity a slight edge in this category.  

Scripting

  • Winner: Tie
  • Why: Both platforms have great scripting tools that will allow you to script your game from end-to-end. When it comes to scripting, either platform will provide you will all the functionality you need to quickly and seamlessly write out your game. 

Quality of Support

  • Winner: Tie
  • Why: Both platforms have 24/7 support services that can help you with any and all issues you may encounter. No matter which platform you choose, you’ll have a team backing you up to make sure things keep running smoothly.

G2 Rating

  • Winner: Tie
  • Why: G2, one of the most trusted sources for software reviews, rated both Unity and Unreal Engine as a solid 4.5/5 stars, further highlighting how neck-in-neck these platforms are when it comes to user popularity and quality.  

Capterra Rating

  • Winner: Unreal Engine
  • Why: Capterra gave Unreal Engine 5/5 stars, which Unity came in just under with 4.5/5 stars. 

Pricing

  • Unity: Unity has a free version, but to unlock all its functionality, you’ll need to upgrade to the Pro version which is available for a monthly subscription fee of $75 per month. 


  • Unreal Engine: Unreal Engine has a unique pricing model. The software itself is free, but after you release your game, Unreal Engine is entitled to a 5% royalty fee on all game sales. 


Who is Unity Best Suited For?

Unity is a great platform for the indie game designer just starting out. With native C# language and a huge community of other developers and designers, Unity is a great platform for indie designers that want to start creating right away and don’t want to owe the platform a royalty off their games on the back-end. 


Who is Unreal Engine Best Suited For?

Unreal Engine is all about the fine-tuned graphics and lightning-fast render speeds, making it perfect for enterprise-level game developers or indie developers who want that extra-fine quality on their games, and don’t mind owing the royalty on the back-end. 


The learning curve is a little steeper, but learning to play but Unreal Engine’s rules rewards you with mind-blowing graphics capabilities that seem absolutely limitless. 


So, Which One Should You Choose?

As a developer, either one of these programs will help you build games that are visually appealing, and seamlessly functional, so choosing the right one comes down to a few factors.

The first is programming language of course. If you want to dive straight in and use a familiar language straight from the jump, Unity is probably the platform you’ll prefer. If you are more familiar with C++ and don’t mind taking some time to learn Blueprint, then Unreal Engine may be the better choice for you. 

The second is pricing. While Unity costs more up-front, many indie developers may prefer that over a royalty-based plan as indie game profits can be wildly unpredictable. However, there are quite a few other developers who don’t mind the 5% royalty in exchange for Unreal Engine’s features and performance. Take a good hard look at your budget and compare and contrast which platform better fits into your financial plan. 

Lastly, Unity is a bit slower to process and render than Unreal Engine. This may not matter if you have unlimited time to produce a game, but if you’re a developer who works on tight turnarounds, you may see the benefit in Unreal Engine’s lightning-fast rendering capabilities. 

Hopefully this head-to-head comparison will make choosing the right software for your next project a breeze, allowing you to unleash your creative energy and focus on telling stories and immersing your users in the worlds of your imagination. However, what works best for you is still a matter of personal preference. If it all still seems confusing, just remember that no matter what platform you choose, you’ll be in good hands. It’s better to get started and see what works for you than to fret too much over the details. 


If you’re looking for a better way to bring your remote game development team closer together and collaborate more efficiently from a distance, check out Evercast. Evercast allows you to stream your edit sessions in HD while video chatting and exchanging notes with your team, all under one platform. Because we believe collaboration is key for making the next great gaming experience.

Unity vs Unreal Engine: Game Engine Comparison Guide for 2021

Evelyn Trainor-Fogleman

7/12/21

It’s a great time to be in game development. With powerful game engines available at affordable price points allowing indie, game developers and big studios alike to craft immersive worlds that keep players coming back for more. 


Two of the biggest players in the industry are Unity and Unreal Engine. From Gears of War to Bioshock to Fortnite, most of your favorite titles began on one of these game engines. Beginner and even experienced game developers may find themselves struggling to choose which one of these programs will best fit their needs as they embark on creating the games they’ve been dreaming of.


But never fear, we’re here to put these programs to the test against each other and help you decide which platform is right for you as you prepare to create epic games that amaze your users. 


Which one will reign supreme? Keep reading to find out. 


What Do Unity and Unreal Engine Do?


Unity and Unreal Engine are game engines. A game engine, also called game architecture or “game frame,” is a key component to game development as it combines many different game elements including sound, graphics, and AI into the framework of the game. 


They provide a software development environment that helps designers build their video games. Both platforms allow you to develop games for PC, consoles (like Xbox, Wii, and PS4) and mobile games with ease, allowing you to develop games for iOS and Android systems as well as Windows, Mac, Linux and more. 


Core functionality includes:


  • A rendering engine for 2D and 3D graphics
  • A physics engine to control movement
  • Sound
  • Scripting
  • Animation
  • AI
  • Networking
  • Streaming
  • Memory management
  • VR tools
  • Support for both 2D games and 3D games


As you can see, game engines like these are essential to actually constructing a functional game for any device, so choosing the right one can be crucial to your success as a developer. 


The Main Differences Between Unity and Unreal Engine

The first key difference between Unity and Unreal Engine is their native programming language. Unity uses C# in both the Unity editor and the additional plugins. Unreal Engine uses C++, but when building the game code itself, you’ll use a combination of Blueprint (a proprietary language unique to Epic products) and C++. 


However, there are several more key differences in each interface that we’ll break down in our detailed head-to-head comparison next.

Head to Head Comparison

Ok, here’s what you’ve been waiting for. It’s time to put these programs up against each other and see which ones excel in each of our key categories: 

Ease of Use

  • Winner: Unity
  • Why: Overall, users found Unity to be slightly easier to use, thanks to its native C# coding language which should be relatively familiar for all developers and its overall workspace layout. It’s an easier platform to “dive in” and start creating on over Unreal Engine, which has a slightly steeper learning curve.  

Visual Effects (VFX) Quality

  • Winner: Unreal Engine
  • Why: While both platforms produce high-quality VFX, most users found that Unreal Engine has a slight edge over Unity in the quality of its visual effects. It can create photorealistic visualizations that immerse gamers and allow them to travel freely in a stunning new world, and incorporate high-quality assets from a variety of sources. Whether you want a lens flare that would make J.J. Abrams cry or you want to create complex textures on an alien planet, Unreal Engine has you covered. 

Rendering

  • Winner: Unreal Engine
  • Why: Similar to its slight edge with graphics quality, the quality and speed of rendering on Unreal Engine slightly edges out Unity in this category. It produces industry-leading rendering speeds and users are consistently pleased with the quality of the rendered graphics.  

Animation

  • Winner: Unreal Engine
  • Why: This is where Unreal Engine really shines. With its powerful rendering capabilities and top-notch visual effects, its animation quality is bar none. It was the clear favorite among users in the quality of its animation tools and the animation renderings.    

Team Collaboration

  • Winner: Unity
  • Why: Unity holds a bigger market share of 63% vs. Unreal Engine’s 13%. This simply means that more people use Unity than Unreal Engine, which means you’ll find more Unity collaborators than you will Unreal Engine collaborators, giving Unity a slight edge in this category.  

Scripting

  • Winner: Tie
  • Why: Both platforms have great scripting tools that will allow you to script your game from end-to-end. When it comes to scripting, either platform will provide you will all the functionality you need to quickly and seamlessly write out your game. 

Quality of Support

  • Winner: Tie
  • Why: Both platforms have 24/7 support services that can help you with any and all issues you may encounter. No matter which platform you choose, you’ll have a team backing you up to make sure things keep running smoothly.

G2 Rating

  • Winner: Tie
  • Why: G2, one of the most trusted sources for software reviews, rated both Unity and Unreal Engine as a solid 4.5/5 stars, further highlighting how neck-in-neck these platforms are when it comes to user popularity and quality.  

Capterra Rating

  • Winner: Unreal Engine
  • Why: Capterra gave Unreal Engine 5/5 stars, which Unity came in just under with 4.5/5 stars. 

Pricing

  • Unity: Unity has a free version, but to unlock all its functionality, you’ll need to upgrade to the Pro version which is available for a monthly subscription fee of $75 per month. 


  • Unreal Engine: Unreal Engine has a unique pricing model. The software itself is free, but after you release your game, Unreal Engine is entitled to a 5% royalty fee on all game sales. 


Who is Unity Best Suited For?

Unity is a great platform for the indie game designer just starting out. With native C# language and a huge community of other developers and designers, Unity is a great platform for indie designers that want to start creating right away and don’t want to owe the platform a royalty off their games on the back-end. 


Who is Unreal Engine Best Suited For?

Unreal Engine is all about the fine-tuned graphics and lightning-fast render speeds, making it perfect for enterprise-level game developers or indie developers who want that extra-fine quality on their games, and don’t mind owing the royalty on the back-end. 


The learning curve is a little steeper, but learning to play but Unreal Engine’s rules rewards you with mind-blowing graphics capabilities that seem absolutely limitless. 


So, Which One Should You Choose?

As a developer, either one of these programs will help you build games that are visually appealing, and seamlessly functional, so choosing the right one comes down to a few factors.

The first is programming language of course. If you want to dive straight in and use a familiar language straight from the jump, Unity is probably the platform you’ll prefer. If you are more familiar with C++ and don’t mind taking some time to learn Blueprint, then Unreal Engine may be the better choice for you. 

The second is pricing. While Unity costs more up-front, many indie developers may prefer that over a royalty-based plan as indie game profits can be wildly unpredictable. However, there are quite a few other developers who don’t mind the 5% royalty in exchange for Unreal Engine’s features and performance. Take a good hard look at your budget and compare and contrast which platform better fits into your financial plan. 

Lastly, Unity is a bit slower to process and render than Unreal Engine. This may not matter if you have unlimited time to produce a game, but if you’re a developer who works on tight turnarounds, you may see the benefit in Unreal Engine’s lightning-fast rendering capabilities. 

Hopefully this head-to-head comparison will make choosing the right software for your next project a breeze, allowing you to unleash your creative energy and focus on telling stories and immersing your users in the worlds of your imagination. However, what works best for you is still a matter of personal preference. If it all still seems confusing, just remember that no matter what platform you choose, you’ll be in good hands. It’s better to get started and see what works for you than to fret too much over the details. 


If you’re looking for a better way to bring your remote game development team closer together and collaborate more efficiently from a distance, check out Evercast. Evercast allows you to stream your edit sessions in HD while video chatting and exchanging notes with your team, all under one platform. Because we believe collaboration is key for making the next great gaming experience.

Evelyn Trainor-Fogleman

Website
Evelyn Trainor-Fogleman is a writer based in New York City. After over half a decade in the film industry, she came back to her Journalism roots to write for a variety of media outlets about subjects including technology, business, marketing, and social and environmental justice.

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