The most popular engines for indie games

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Has there been any sort of accounting as to how big (or small) a slice of the gaming pie indie games take up?

I use Godot myself :slight_smile: It’s become pretty popular in the Linux community since it’s accessible as Unity and it’s FOSS.


Wait, where’s ZZT?

Unreal 2.87% :cry:


I assume if this was broken down by revenue, rather than number of projects, it’d pretty much just be a circle labeled “Unity”. A lot of the other engines in this chart (like Twine and PICO-8), I associate with what used to be the world of Flash games, where a community of people are making stuff mostly for each other, rather than for a mainstream audience.

It would be interesting to see a slice for “didn’t use a game engine as such”; I get the impression that would be the biggest sector for indie games in the iOS App Store.


Noticed that too. I wonder why? Is it the cost maybe? No… it looks like they’re letting people use it at no charge. Perhaps the engine has other barriers… royalties maybe, or just the cost of developing on it? Too bad because it looks great. I kind of wonder if indie games just generally have no need for it. My BF and his friends are developing one on Unity, but it’s a 2d twin stick shooter… seems like a lot of indie games are more in that vein, which would kind of make Unreal OP. Or maybe just more people are comfortable with C#?

I don’t honestly know a ton about Unreal, so I can’t really speak to how it compares to Unity, but Unity has done some pretty great evangelism. The tutorials are quite comprehensive, and the barrier to entry is relatively low - it’s not super hard to cobble together something that basically runs.

Also, yes, C# has a ton of features that make it more friendly to work with than C++. That’s true even for an experienced programmer, but it’s probably even more true for someone who’s walking in from a background that’s not super-intensively into programming.

75% of my professional life has been C++, but if I’m just interested in trying out something new, I would much rather deal with C#

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There’s an engine that I’ve been being meaning to check out one of these days, mainly to see what it can do on Raspberrys, but there seem to be a lot of phone games too,

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bigger learning curve with Unreal, but I think it’s mostly because there’s very little community support for it. Unity, you can look up a bit of code to do anything. Also just getting a working game from Unity is a lot easier than Unreal. If you’re an amateur it’s a lot more likely that your first couple of Unreal projects will be an unplayable mess than Unity.


Unreal has only fairly recently begun to imitate Unity’s approach of being free for lower-revenue developers, and they’re still behind. Unity used their head start to have a bigger, more useful asset store, more developers offering tutorials and code, etc., so it’s going to be hard to overcome. Also, as mentioned, Unity is also easier to use for most indie projects. Still, I’m a little surprised they haven’t made more inroads lately, but I suppose it’s too little too late in terms of recent indie games (some of which pre-date Unreal’s move to free).

Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve worked with Unreal, but Unity was definitely easier to use and a lot more flexible with less effort. Unreal has long suffered from being designed for first-person-shooters, and I know in that in the past, even in big-budget development, trying to get it to do something even slightly different has always been a bit of a headache.

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Surprised Corona SDK didn’t get a look in. I had the impression it at least used to have a fair slice of the pie.

One of the major problems with Unreal when it comes to Indie games is that making 2D games in Unreal isn’t nearly as well supported and comes with a lot of unnecessary overhead. When you look at the indie market there’s a big focus in a few different art directions. You’ve got games with a retro-pixel aesthetic and you’ve got games with distinct 2D art-styles and then to a much smaller extent you have 3D games generally with a more stylized art-style rather than the photo-real style (or attempts at such) that you get from mid to large studios. Unity handles the 2D stuff much better than Unreal does right now.

As I see it another big issue is that Unreal’s Marketplace is vastly outperformed by Unity’s Asset Store, just in terms of sheer amount of content. (Unreal’s Marketplace leaves a lot to be desired in terms of usability as well however…) and I don’t see Unreal catching up anytime soon considering how much of the armature+indie market share it’s taking up.

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