Best Mobile Game Development Languages You Should Learn Today. There’s an abundance of options when it comes to mobile game programming, so where do you begin? The video gaming industry is valued at $85.86 billion in the U.S. and $178.37 billion worldwide—and those numbers are only expected to rise. Professional game developers make an average of $71,295 per year, according to Glassdoor, and the most popular game of 2020 (Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War) brought in $59.6 billion on its own.
Every great mobile game starts with an idea, but where do you go from there? Many games on the Apple and Google Play stores made their transition from an idea to a popular games with the help of one of five programming languages.
Mobile game development is a tough task, but when you have the correct tools at your disposal it’s much easier. Start by identifying the programming language that best suits your needs and experience.
Top 5 Best programming languages for mobile game development
Whether you plan to develop video games as your main career, a side hustle, or a hobby, learning to code with the right programming language should be on your to-do list.
Game developers use several programming languages, sometimes more than one at a time. The right language depends on the project, what features you need the language to have, and your experience level as a programmer.
1. C# Programing Language
C# (pronounced “see sharp”) is an object-oriented programing language, released by Microsoft in 2002. It runs on .NET (a Microsoft virtual execution system) and has a position among the top programming languages in the world. C# owes its popularity to its proven track record of creating robust and durable applications.
Unity is a testimony to this, as it is one of the most popular game engines in the world, built completely with C#. 71% of all mobile games in distribution today use the Unity game engine, according to Unity Technologies. Unity allows you to create customized 3D games using C# scripts, so you can stand out from the crowd.
How do game developers use C++? C++ is the most popular language for creating game engines—the development environments where game programmers create and host their interactive worlds. Game engines provide the technology for every aspect of a game, from graphics, physics, and sound to the behavior of AI-powered game bots.
Why is C++ used in games? C++ is a popular video game programming language because it is fast, powerful, and flexible. Some popular mobile games created with unity include Pokémon GO, Cuphead, Call of Duty, and Monument Valley.
2. C++ Programming Language
In 1985 Bjarne Stroustrup released the first official version of C++. In 1998 the C++ standards committee released the first international standard of the language. Today C++ has come a far way and is one of the top programming languages in the world, not only for game development but as a multipurpose language.
Unreal Engine is one of the top mobile game engines in the world. Built with C++, Unreal Engine identifies itself as a “real-time 3D creation tool”. This engine allows you to develop 3D games and is one of the main competitors of Unity. Unreal Engine created popular games such as Fortnite, Batman: Arkham City, and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.
What does C# do in video game development? C# leads the pack as a video game scripting language. Scripting languages lay out the game’s mechanics and tell the computer what to do as the game progresses. If you want a player to see a certain graphic or message when their character picks up an object, scripting makes that happen.
Where does C# show up in game development? C# is the default language for Unity 3D, a popular game engine. Unity was the engine of choice for 61% of developers in 2021, making it the top engine of the year. It’s the powerhouse behind many popular mobile games, including Pokémon Go and Temple Run 2. Unity is also a popular game engine for VR games—90% of all Samsung Gear and 53% of Oculus Rift VR games use Unity. If you want to create games in Unity or for VR, C# should be in your toolbox.
3. Kotlin Programming Language
Kotlin is a modern programming language developed by JetBrains, a company that creates developer tools. In 2016, JetBrains released the first version of Kotlin, a programming language for mobile application development. From the start, Google pledged its support to Kotlin for Android development. This move created a general association between Kotlin and Android app development. Read more here – How to learn Kotlin from scratch with no coding experience.
However, like any good mobile app development language, Kotlin is a cross-platform language. Kotlin has a software development toolkit (SDK) for Android and iOS app development called Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile. This SDK provides cross-platform and native benefits. It lets you share consistent logic (such as networking and storage) between Android and IOS while implementing device-specific features separately.
- Goo Engine
5. Python Programming Language
A beginner-friendly language, Python was created to be readable by human beings. Its syntax is possibly the most English-like among programming languages, which is why it’s a common teaching language in software development.
Python is less widely used in the game development world, but it’s a good starting point for new developers. If you start learning Python, you can jump quickly into the game development library PyGame.
PyGame is a free Python library designed specifically for game creation. It’s easy to learn and features:
- Readily available, easy-to-understand tutorials
- Easy installers for Windows and macOS
- Flexible, mix-and-match core modules
- Simple code designed specifically for game scripting
Learning Python also makes it easier to use GDScript, the programming language for the popular game engine Godot. GDScript’s creators built it to mimic Python’s readability and beginner-friendly syntax, while also offering features specific to gaming. If you already know how to code in Python, you’ll feel right at home writing scripts in Godot.
How to Choose the Best Game Development Language (2022)
Proven performance is a quality that these five languages and their respective game engines have in common. Though all these languages are great for mobile game development, they might not all be great for you.
For example, if you want to develop a mobile game for only IOS users then Swift might be your best choice. If your game will be for Android and IOS users, but it will be in 2D then Lua and Kotlin are your top contenders. However, if your game will be in 3D, C# and C++ are your best options.
Where can you learn game development programming? (2022)
If you’ve never programmed before, it’s wise to start learning the basics with a beginner-friendly programming language like Python or Java. You will learn important programming concepts such as object-oriented programming and algorithms without needing to spend too much time worrying about syntax.
If you’re a more experienced programmer, you can start getting into the specifics of game development for your language of choice.
edX has multiple game development courses that cover:
- Video game engines such as Unity and Unreal.
- Advanced concepts such as computer graphics.
- Popular game development languages, including C++ and C#.
Get started and learn video game development with edX today. Programming is extremely rewarding to learn, and it could be your first step toward making your game idea a reality.