Game development is fun. It’s a special thing to be able to create truly unique, interactive experiences and share them with the world. Whether you’re dreaming of making the next What Remains of Edith Finch or want to try your hand at reinventing Temple Run, there is no shortage of software to help you create the interactive adventure of your dreams.
If you’re looking to dive into game development, you might have come to a crossroads of which platform to develop for. PC game development has years of documentation, tutorials and support. The platform itself is far less limiting than that of mobile, which allows for some mind-blowingly good graphics, stories and gameplay mechanics.
Games developed for PC and console are generally created the same way. Although PCs tend to be more variable in terms of hardware performance and specs, game development engines are nearly all capable of creating cross-platform releases of the same game. For example, a game made in Unreal Engine for PC can be easily adjusted for release on Xbox or Playstation.
Tower game asset, created for Sega’s mobile game, Kingdom Conquest, by Dan.
Mobile gaming has amped up in popularity in recent years. Although PC and console are the primary mode of play for most AAA titles, there’s a growing market in the mobile gaming sector. Riot Games, Activision and PUBG games have all adapted some of their biggest titles, which were once exclusive to PC and console, for portable, handheld gaming.
If you want to make a game, let us help you decide which platform is best for your budget, skills and requirements.
Highly customizable PC builds allow for some insane performance; 2022’s mid to top end graphic cards can easily run Realtime raytracing in ultra-high quality resolution, making for some truly mind-blowing gameplay. This simulates real-life situations with incredible lighting techniques, creating hyper realistic environments, animations and characters.
Naturally, mobile games don’t have this capability. The defining features of a mobile game are simple but fun mechanics, and highly stylized visuals. These are specifically used to overcome those limiting hardware restraints. Think about games such as Candy Crush, Clash of Clans or Survivor.io - the latter of which was developed by an indie team!
A huge indie market is growing in the mobile gaming sector. High quality, fun games can be made quickly and cheaply for the mobile market. Although an indie market thrives on PC gaming platforms such as Epic Games and Steam, the App Store and Google Play are quickly filling up with independently developed games. These have included the bestselling Gris, Limbo and Traffix.
A scene created for a mobile game by 3D artist Juliana.
Some gaming-specific phones offer lucrative performance, such as the Asus ROG Phone 6, or the hefty Xiaomi Black Shark 5. Whilst these can easily run the likes of Genshin Impact, Wild Rift and PUBG, the majority of the mobile gaming market leans more towards casual gaming, developed for those who don’t own ultra-high performance devices.
Unity excels at mobile game production. The engine’s primary coding language, C#, has realms of documentation and online support, which is constantly updated by teams of software engineers, games designers and coders.
Stylized mobile game assets by Leonardo.
Dedicated mobile game engines include Swift, Solar2D or Godot Engine - although these have their drawbacks. Swift is orientated specifically for iOS, whilst Solar2D cannot be used for 3D games. Godot is definitely Unity’s best alternative, with a powerful built-in rendering engine and fantastic performance that easily rivals Unity.
On the other hand, PC game development software is nearly unlimited. Instead of being restricted to a handful of programs specifically designed for mobile gaming, beginners can spring right into one of dozens of engines, each with realms of documentation, tutorials and community Discord servers, all with the intention of helping a fellow dev find their feet. Unreal Engine, CryEngine, Unity, RPG Maker, Twine, GameMaker Studio… The list goes on.
So, whilst the games development engines for mobile are great, options are limited compared to PC. However, don’t be deterred. A fun game is not defined by its art style, but rather its mechanics.
Mobile game developers must consistently be mindful of the strict memory allowance and limited polycounts required to make their game compatible with smaller devices. Likewise, the smaller screen size means visuals must be bright and catchy, with limited opportunity for intricate props or highly detailed characters.
Employing an artist with experience in stylized art is the simple workaround for restive hardware. Highly stylized art still allows for expressive and visually appealing characters, without the cost of ray-tracing, 4K textures or complex animations.
Think Clash of Clans, where simple characters with basic animations simply yell and shout to convey emotion - which works amazingly well. Stylization negates the need for costly hyperrealism, and therefore generally makes developing mobile games cheaper.
CGHero has a great resource of experienced 3D artists, with practical knowledge of creating assets and characters for mobile games. Tight polycount limitations and memory sizes makes the standard 3D pipelines unsuitable for mobile game props, so it’s important that you hire the correct artist for the job.
The complex narratives and length of story-driven PC games still haven’t truly made the transition to the mobile market, which sees its main success in endless-loop style gameplay. Likewise, the lack of keyboard and mouse means playstyles are limited in terms of precision in mobile gaming - players must instead rely on a touchscreen or motion controls for interaction. Compare this to the likes of League of Legends, Dragon Age or Total War, where controlling a character requires specific keys or point-and-click precision.
Sara’s Cooking Party, a mobile game created by Bart.
However, that’s not to say mobile games can’t be just as fun. Pokémon Go, one of the most popular mobile games of all time, utilized a phone’s portability to create a completely original gaming experience. Despite the low-poly graphics and repetitive mechanics, engaging multiplayer and genuine fun made a truly great game, which continues to be enjoyed around the world today.
Most mobile games run in this vein. Among Us has a handy D-pad to counteract the inaccuracy of a touchscreen, and despite a simplistic art style and gameplay, skyrocketed to 2020’s most popular mobile games. Temple Run, Candy Crush and Doodle Jump are similarly simplistic but nonetheless competitive and enjoyable, usually driven by leadership rankings or multiplayer options.
The mobile version of Among Us.
For the majority of audiences, the main draw of mobile games is multiplayer. Easy to play, hard to master mechanics and fun-packed gameplay makes for engaging gameplay, especially when you compete against friends or strangers.
PC game budgets are infinitely scalable. God of War, the Last of Us or Call of Duty’s cost easily reaches the millions, standard for a AAA release. On the other hand, games like Stardew Valley or Hotline Miami were created by tiny, passionate developers as a hobby, therefore incurring a far smaller budget and development cost.
Tower game asset, created for Sega’s mobile game, Kingdom Conquest, by Dan.
On average, mobile games are cheaper to produce. Ports of existing PC games to mobile see considerable investment, such as Riot Games’ Wild Rift or Tencent’s Genshin Impact, but for most mobile games, this isn’t the case. Stylized, small-scale gameplay makes development costs far cheaper, especially compared to the hyper realistic characters and environments of PC games.
Mobile games today are seriously breaking the mold with the new technology and engines that are making some amazing games possible. Although hardware specs will always be limited compared to that of a PC or the latest Playstation, this hasn’t stopped some ingenious mechanics with beautiful graphics killing it in the mobile market.
If you’re looking for assistance in creating your mobile game, look no further than CGHero. Our amazing artists, developers, animators and creatives have a wealth of experience and skill sets to get your project on the right track.
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