The Android and iOS game engines are designed to scale to hundreds of thousands of users.
But a recent spate of high-profile mobile game failures has put that goal in question.
In May, Unity, Google’s popular game engine for Android, went dark following a server outage.
Unity, a game engine used to make games for the Oculus Rift, created by Google, had been one of the most popular game engines around, having helped make games like the first-person shooter Doom, and popular mobile game titles like Pokemon Go.
Google announced on June 10 that it would not be supporting Unity.
Unity has since gone dark, but not before users have used Unity’s popular Game Engine plugin to create hundreds of millions of games.
In June, Apple released a mobile game developer toolkit called Apple’s GameKit, which included tools to make game engines for iOS and Android, including Unity.
In September, Google released the Unity mobile game framework, which is built on the Unity engine and is similar to Apple’s own GameKit.
But there’s a problem.
Google’s engine is designed for mobile devices, not servers.
That’s because Unity is designed to run best on mobile devices.
In order to run, the Unity Engine needs to be running on a single, central server.
This means that, if it’s not running on that central server, then the game won’t be playable.
As a result, a number of mobile game developers have started to create their own mobile game engines.
But these efforts have been slow and costly.
While Google is working on a solution to its Unity problem, Apple has not been able to make the Unity Mobile Game Engine the basis of a new game engine.
“Unity is a great engine for mobile gaming.
But it is not suitable for a wide range of platforms, because it is only suited for Android,” says Matt Linnell, a developer at Pixeljam, a mobile development studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts.”
Android games need a lot more than Unity.
The Android SDK needs to support cross-platform code and UI widgets.
Apple’s SDK is designed specifically for iOS.
And we need to build a mobile web engine that will run on Android.”
Linnell’s company, Pixeljam Interactive, was founded in 2017, and it’s focused on making a mobile Web game engine similar to Google’s Android Game Engine.
Pixeljam’s engine can run on iOS devices running the Android SDK, but it has a significant number of Android-specific bugs.
Linnel says Pixeljam will continue to work on improving the Unity framework and add new features to improve the mobile experience for Android game developers.
“I’m confident that the Unity team is working hard to fix all of these issues,” Linnella says.
“Hopefully by the time we release the next version of Unity in October, the engine will be ready for everyone to play.”
Lennell says Pixel Jam will also focus on improving Google’s mobile game SDK.
Google currently supports only Android-based games, and there’s no mobile game development platform that supports Unity.
“We need to add support for other platforms, like mobile browsers and cross-device game development,” Lennell explains.
“Our plan is to build the Unity Framework for mobile browsers, but we’re still working on that for other mobile platforms as well.”
The lack of support for Unity is one of many problems for developers who are working on their own apps for mobile platforms.
“Unity has been a great game engine but it’s a really expensive engine,” says James Gaudreau, a founder of indie game development studio Cactus Lab.
“In order to build something for Android and not run on Google’s servers, you have to pay Google for all of its servers.”
He points out that Google charges a per-request, per-device cost for its mobile app services, which include advertising and analytics.
“That’s expensive for developers,” Gaudres said.
“It’s a lot of money, and if they don’t charge it, it’s like you’re not getting a game.”
For many mobile game makers, the issue is even more pressing.
“When we’re designing for mobile, we’re working on things like multiplayer games, where we want to support all the different platforms,” Lannell says.
“[Google] is very slow to build things for Android.
It’s a big reason why there are no games like The Witness, for example.”