by Ben Tristem

Playstation vs Xbox, Mario vs Sonic, Unreal vs Unity? Whether it’s consoles, characters, or game engines, people get passionate about defending their gaming industry favorites.

Focusing on the game engines, Unity and Unreal Engine (aka UE4) are the two most popular game engines on the market today. They are the go-to tools for most indie developers. While many game development studios use their own proprietary game engines, plenty use Unity or Unreal. 

So which engine is better? This is one of the most asked questions from the over half a million students that the team at and I have taught over the last 5 years.

Unity vs Unreal Engine: history

Unreal Engine was developed by Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney in 1998. It launched alongside its debut title, “Unreal,” and was unique in allowing players to modify the game for the first time. Today Unreal is associated with “better graphics” and offers a big studio AAA-quality to the games that use it. Epic Games, the company behind Unreal Engine, has seen lots of success with its game Fortnite which has 200 million users and has generated revenue reported at $1 billion as of January 2019. Unreal Engine itself has 7 million users.

Complete C# Unity Game Developer 2D

Last Updated June 2023

  • 139 lectures
  • All Levels
4.7 (103,725)

Learn Unity in C# & Code Your First Five 2D Video Games for Web, Mac & PC. The Tutorials Cover Tilemap | By Team, Rick Davidson, Gary Pettie

Explore Course

Founded in Copenhagen in 2004, the founders of Unity wanted to make game development universally accessible. Today Unity is known as the “make any game” engine and is ideal for indie developers. Over 50% of games across all platforms use Unity and 60% of all VR/AR content is powered by Unity.  

In reality, though, both engines are capable of making nearly any sort of game and deploying that game to most gaming platforms.

But that doesn’t help you decide, right? To answer which of these game engines is best for your needs, you first need to answer these five questions:

  1. How much game development experience do you have?
  2. Where do you want to release your games?
  3. What type of game do you want to release?
  4. Is this a hobby, or are you looking to make money?
  5. Are you skilling up to get a job with a game studio?

1. How much game development experience do you have?

If you’re just getting started with game development we recommend Unity. It offers a very intuitive design and uses the C# programming language, which makes it both easy to learn and fun to use. 

After spending a weekend taking Unity courses, it’s not far-fetched to say you could have your first simple game made and ready to share with friends. 

Plus, there’s a large amount of information available online from other Unity developers to help you out every step of the way. From YouTube videos to online courses to active community forums.

For a complete beginner, Unreal Engine is a mixed bag. There are two ways you can program your games in Unreal, either with Blueprint Visual Scripting or C++.

Blueprint Visual Scripting helps you have some quick wins (and completed games) if you’re not familiar with programming. However, if you want to unlock the full power of Unreal you’ll need to learn C++, which many people find trickier to learn than the C# programming language used by Unity. 

Having made courses for both engines, our team deeply understands the difference in the learning curve between the two. If you want to learn to code, C# is easier than C++. 

We’ve seen many of our students start in one engine, learn the required skills, and successfully transition to the other engine when needed for future uses. Many of the skills you learn in Unity can transfer to Unreal and vice versa. 

Takeaway: The intuitive design and use of C# make Unity ideal for beginners. 

2. Where do you want to release your games?

How potential players will access your game is an important consideration when deciding which engine to use. Both Unity and Unreal Engine engines offer cross-platform integration but Unity offers significantly more integrations. Check out the list below for the current platform integrations offered by Unity vs Unreal. 

Unity Platform Integrations:  iOS, Android, Windows Phone 8, Tizen, Android TV, Samsung SMART TV, Xbox One & 360, Windows PC, Mac OS X, Linux, Web Player, WebGL, HoloLens, SteamOS, PS4, Playstation Vita, and Wii U

Unreal Engine Platform Integrations: iOS, Android, VR, Linux, Windows PC, Mac OS X, SteamOS, HTML5, Xbox One, and PS4

While both engines can be used to make mobile games, we prefer to use Unity for mobile platforms. It’s an easier engine to make 2D games on and has an easier time scaling down to very low-end hardware. Unity offers the Light Weight Render Pipeline specifically targeted at low-powered devices with old GPUs. 

If you’re going for high-end devices — like an Xbox One — then both Unity and Unreal will work. 

Takeaway: Unity offers more cross-platform integration. 

3. What type of game do you want to release?

Both Unreal and Unity support the creation of 2D and fully 3D rendered games. This is where you must consider which format is worth the time and cost spent as a developer. 

If it’s 2D content you’re creating, then Unity is the one for you. It has a simpler user interface and well-developed 2D tools. Unreal can be used for 2D game development, but Epic Games aren’t prioritizing this feature set as much as Unity.

Crossy Roads, made with Unity
Crossy Roads, made with Unity

If you’re creating a more traditional action-filled first-person shooter game then opt for Unreal Engine. These types of games are what the engine was created for — for example, Unreal Tournament, Borderlands, and Fortnite.

Fornite, made with Unreal Engine

Fortnite, made with Unreal Engine

If it’s stunning visuals you want in your game, Unreal Engine is hard to beat. Though Unity is working on improving its graphics offerings, it remains a primary differentiator between the two companies. The unbeatable visuals are also why more large studios use Unreal in their game development. 

It’s worth noting that Unreal is more opinionated about how you structure your game than Unity. By default, developers use Unreal Engine’s Gameplay Framework to structure games. 

This highlights a philosophical difference between the companies: 

Some examples of the features Unreal Engine has built-in to its platform that Unity requires third-party plugins or custom code to access include:

Even if you opt for Unity, you can take a lot of inspiration from Unreal Engine’s architectural decisions. We have done this in our own courses by building systems that resemble the Unreal Gameplay Framework and Saving System in Unity.

Takeaway: If your end goal is a game with impressive graphics, choose Unreal Engine. 

4. Is this a hobby, or are you looking to make money? 

Both Unreal Engine and Unity are free to use, however, some conditions apply once you start earning revenue from the game. 

Unity is available in three option plans — Personal, Plus, and Pro:

Unreal lets developers use the full engine — with all its features — for free. If you decide to monetize your game, then Unreal is paid 5% of the revenue if it goes above $3,000 per game, per calendar quarter. 

You can find further information on Unity pricing here and Unreal pricing here.

Takeaway: Both engines are worth experimenting with as you build out your games. If you’re expecting to make money on games, take the time to do some revenue analysis to uncover which company’s price structure is best for you. 

5. Are you skilling up to get a job in a game studio?

If you’re learning Unreal or Unity to reach a career goal of working as a game developer in a game studio, start by looking at which engine and programming languages the studios you’re interested in working for use. Many studios use their own proprietary game engine; in this case, the language is the most important factor for your career trajectory. Many studios value C++ knowledge, so learning Unreal and C++ could give you an advantage. 

For other roles such as a technical designer, level designer, environment artist, a studio will favor candidates who know the engine the studio uses. The good news is that if you take the time to learn one engine, you’ll already have a head start if you need to quickly learn another to ace a job interview. We go into more detail on this, in our How To Get A Job In The Video Game Industry course.

Unity vs Unreal Engine: the main difference

The main difference between Unity and Unreal is the programming language they use natively. Unreal Engine uses C++, but when you build your game with it, you’ll also use one of Unreal’s proprietary languages called Blueprint along with C++. Unity uses C# for both the main Unity editor and any plugins. It also uses its own proprietary languages, Prefab and Bolt.

Unity vs Unreal Engine: summary

Hopefully, we have helped you decide which of these gaming engines will work best for your project. Here is a table that describes the differences in detail:

ComparisonUnityUnreal Engine
DeveloperUnity TechnologiesEpic Games
Target AudienceMostly indie and hobby developersAAA game developers as well as indie developers
Ease of useUnity comes with features that make it easy to useUnreal Engine has a steeper learning curve
Open sourceUnity is not open source.Unreal is open source.
PriceThe basic version is free, but commercial licenses have a price.Unreal is free, but commercial game developers must pay a percentage of sales to Unreal.
PerformanceDoes not scale as well as Unreal EngineSupports distributed execution for more performance
3D supportUnity supports 3D.Unreal supports 3D.
2D supportUnity supports 2D.Unreal supports limited 2D.
Language supportC#, Prefab, BoltC++, Blueprint
AI supportLimited AI supportAdvanced AI support with behavior trees
VR supportMany features for VRLimited built-in VR features
AR supportMany features for ARLimited built-in AR features
Multiplayer supportIntegrated multiplayer support is in development and there are third-party plugins availableHas integrated multiplayer support
Mobile supportHas powerful mobile featuresNot as much support as Unity
Graphics featuresDecent graphics, though not as good as Unreal, with physically-based rendering, global illumination, post-processing, and optional volumetric lights through a pluginAdvanced graphics with physically-based rendering, global illumination, volumetric lights, post-processing, and a material editor
Cross-platformWindows,  MAC, Linux, Android, iOS, PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo SwitchWindows,  MAC, Linux, Android, iOS, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and Google Stadia
Awards for developersThe Unity AwardsThe Rookie Awards
Famous gamesCuphead, Pillars of Eternity, FeFortnite, Street Fighter 5, Borderlands 3
Reddit Communities294k members162k members
Choose UNITY if you are:Choose UNREAL if you are:
– new to coding– up for a challenge
– making a 2D mobile game– making a first-person shooter
– looking to release across many platforms– all about the high-quality visuals
– after a job in game development, and the studio uses Unity– after a job in game development, and the studio uses C++ or Unreal

If you’re interested in exploring ‘Unity vs Unreal’ from a beginner versus advanced developer viewpoint, then check out the video below.

Page Last Updated: May 2022

Unity students also learn

Empower your team. Lead the industry.

Get a subscription to a library of online courses and digital learning tools for your organization with Udemy Business.

Request a demo

Courses by by Ben Tristem

Complete C# Unity Game Developer 3D
Rick Davidson, Team, Gary Pettie
4.7 (42,260)
RPG Core Combat Creator: Learn Intermediate Unity C# Coding
Ben Tristem, Rick Davidson, Team
4.7 (11,069)
How To Get A Job In The Video Game Industry
Rick Davidson, Team
4.8 (1,601)
Unreal Engine 5 C++ Developer: Learn C++ & Make Video Games
Ben Tristem, Team
4.7 (69,984)
Complete Blender Creator: Learn 3D Modelling for Beginners Team, Rick Davidson, Grant Abbitt
4.7 (63,726)
Complete C# Unity Game Developer 2D Team, Rick Davidson, Gary Pettie
4.7 (103,725)
Unreal 4 C++ Multiplayer Master: Intermediate Game Dev
Ben Tristem, Team
4.6 (2,218)
Blender Character Creator for Video Games Design Team, Rick Davidson, Grant Abbitt
4.7 (7,731)
Finish It! Motivation & Processes For Video Game Development
Rick Davidson, Team
4.8 (1,264)
Blender Environment Artist: Create 3D Worlds Team, Rick Davidson, Grant Abbitt
4.8 (3,782)
Unreal Engine Blueprint Game Developer
Ben Tristem, Team
4.7 (7,668)
Get Git Smart Course: Learn Git in Unity, SourceTree, GitHub
Ben Tristem, Team
4.7 (1,641)

Courses by Team