Mobile Game Engines and Development Platforms



Updated: June 21, 2024


From humble beginnings as an idle time-killer, mobile gaming has flourished into an enormous, multibillion dollar industry. App stores now support thousands of different games spanning every genre conceivable.

With almost everyone owning a smartphone capable of supporting modern, graphically advanced mobile games, the market holds unrivaled potential.

Many companies are vying for precious downloads, which has cultivated fierce competition in the market. Large corporations pour millions into producing the latest mobile hit with a better interface, quality and user experience than competitors.

However, low budget indie games are equally capable of succeeding. Some of the industry’s biggest titles have emerged from small development teams or even individual creators.

Behind every popular mobile game is the engine on which the game runs. Most engines are widely accessible, and make game development possible even on a low budget.

The Most Common Mobile Games

Casino Games

A booming online casino gaming industry has put more choice than ever before on people’s tablets and smartphones. A huge number of different apps are needed to support the sheer variety of casino games available.

Dedicated slots, roulette, blackjack and poker apps permeate every device’s app store, frequently amongst some of the most downloaded. With online becoming the preferred method of play for many, customers will welcome the broad selection of casino games mobile apps.


Thinking Games

Much of mobile gaming’s current success is owed to the games which put people’s brains to the test. They dominated the app store’s first iterations. Bearing little resemblance to contemporary titles with multifaceted gameplay and complex graphics, the original smartphone thinking games mobile apps were simplistic and casual.

Cut the Rope, Angry Birds and Paper Toss are all prime examples of classic thinking games. More recently, Candy Crush has dominated the genre.

Sports Games

The global love of sports is reflected in the popularity of the sporting mobile game genre. Sports games mobile apps cover almost every sport that is enjoyed in real life has inspired a mobile game hoping to capture its essence.

In Apple’s App Store, 8 Ball Pool, Chess and Soccer Superstar are all listed in the 50 most downloaded games.

The Best Mobile Game Engines and Development Platforms


Unity is one of the world’s most widely used game engines, compatible with desktop, mobile and console games. Owing to its ease of use, Unity is especially popular with indie or independent developers new to game development.

Able to support 2D and 3D games as well as animations applicable to a range of industries, from filmmaking to engineering. Unity is also very versatile, owing to the fact that elements can be imported from other 3D applications.

Some titles developed using the Unity engine include Pokémon Go, Call of Duty: Mobile, Beat Saber and Cuphead. For personal use the unity development platform is totally free, with professional use scaling with the number of seats.

The consensus is that Unity is the best option for those looking to develop a game for Android’s operating system.

Unreal Engine

Another development platform instantly recognisable to gamers, the Unreal Engine is responsible for the incredibly popular Fortnite. Whilst almost exclusively being used for 3D games, its uses extend to the production of virtual sets and animated films.

The Unreal Engine is another favourite for inexperienced game designers as it requires no prior knowledge of programming. An active marketplace allows developers to sell their creations as well as accommodating free assets to aid with development.

VR, Nintendo Switch, desktop, mobile and the latest consoles are all compatible with the Unreal Engine.

Solar 2D

Although less graphically capable than the first two entries, as the name suggests, Solar 2D specializes in 2D mobile apps. The engine itself prioritizes ease of use and facilitates the production of multiple iterations.

Solar 2D is both free and open source whilst supporting game development across desktop, iOS and Android. The bustling Solar community maintains an expansive marketplace to trade features and plugins.

The infamous Flappy Bird, which took the mobile world by storm upon its release, was created using the Solar 2D engine.



Developed by Apple, Spritekit is a free to access development platform for iOS games. Limited to 2D graphics, it allows developers to easily draw images to create videos and photos.

It’s often praised for its user-friendliness, with a simplistic layout and interface. With its links to Apple, this is, unsurprisingly, the most effective way to develop 2D iOS games.

All added content is hosted by Apple, eliminating the need for external sources. Utilizing SpriteKit also ensures that the game is flawlessly compatible with future updates to Apple’s operating system.

Mobile Game Development is Becoming Easier

Even the best mobile game development platforms are open source or free to use, making them ideal for inexperienced developers. Mobile game development no longer takes years of studying, and before you know it, your app idea could be a reality.