On the ground battle at GDC – Unity vs Unreal

My first visit to GDC was an eye opening experience.  Enthusiasm, smarts, hope and dedication was everywhere.  So was the battle for mindshare.  And for much of the crowd, that battle was fought in which game engine platform is best – Unity or Unreal.  (Of course they were fighting for the biggest / coolest booth).

I’d never been as deep into the weeds of either platform.  And of course this post isn’t meant to be an authoritative opinion about which platform is better.  Of course each have their strengths and weaknesses.  But of all the debate that I listened to between developers on the floor, and beers in the evening, the points that kept floating to the top were:

  • Disbelief, curiosity, excitement but more than slight concern about Unreal’s choice to be so open about their native code. The prospect of such a green field of decisions to be made seemed to flummox the less experienced developers – scaring them into the shelter of Unity’s structure
  • Unity’s documentation and community support won big awards. I heard over and over again that content is highly searchable, Q&A sections are thorough and breadth and depth of information is best in class
  • Unreal’s flexibility is a strength, but that Unity’s flexibility is sufficient for the overwhelming majority of games. And perhaps Unreal’s narrowed focus on that flexibility hurts it for the corresponding majority of developers

Yes I admit the survey group was small.  And likely a bit subjective.  But for a first-time GDCer, the debate held my attention throughout the show.

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