Cross-Platform Mobile Game Development [Ultimate Guide for 2022]

Anyone who faces the challenge of mobile game development needs to make many important choices, and one is what kind of development to choose: native, cross-platform, or hybrid? If you’re thinking about developing a cross-platform mobile game, there’s probably one question on your mind: is it worth it?

Well, it’s hard to answer this in a couple of sentences because this type of development undoubtedly has many strong sides for both business owners and gamers. However, cross-platform mobile 2D/3D game development has some challenges as well.

In this article, we’ll examine when going cross-platform is the best option and which of its peculiarities need to be considered. We’ll also cover what mobile game development services you can choose if you need this kind of assistance.

When to Choose Cross-Platform Mobile Game Development

A cross-platform mobile game is an application that can be used on different platforms/hardware. So when and why can you need this type of development? You can learn the top reasons below!

  • You want to launch a game on different platforms. The main sign that you need a cross-platform game is when you know for sure that you are going to launch your product on iOS and on Android. Different platforms support apps written in different programming languages, but cross-platform development is about using generic, reusable code that can be adapted to all platforms you need.
  • When you have limited time to develop several native apps. Cross-platform games and applications are designed with one codebase, while native applications for different platforms are written in various languages. For example, iOS applications are created with Objective-C and Swift, while Android applications mostly with Java and Kotlin. Thus, developing one cross-platform game will be faster than developing two separate applications.
  • When your budget is limited. Of course, if you are going to launch a mobile game only in the Google Play Store or only in the App Store, then developing a native application will cost you less than a cross-platform one. But if you plan to simultaneously enter different markets, then developing two native applications separately will be more expensive.
  • If you want to achieve a more extensive market reach. When you can launch your product on multiple platforms simultaneously, it dramatically expands your user base, and hence your profit margins. In addition, such games attract more users with advanced features. For example, it is usually crucial for many gamers to play together with users of other platforms and also to be able to continue playing on another device.
  • You don’t want to spend much time on updates in the future. A single codebase not only solves the problem of developing one game for multiple platforms at a time, but also makes the update process faster and easier. You won’t need to roll out the same update several times for different platforms.

Top 3 Cross-Platform Mobile Game Development Challenges

Codebase management

Reusable code sounds like a great solution, but it’s not easy to develop consistent code across multiple platforms. You need to consider the peculiarities of each operating system on which the game is planned to be released. In addition, you should pay special attention to testing since many companies that release cross-platform games miss many bugs and spend a lot of time fixing them.

Integration

The integration phase causes difficulties not only in the development of cross-platform games. These are common challenges for any kind of development, as well as for testing. Some frameworks do not support the function of integrating the application with the settings of different devices.

In addition, different platforms have additional requirements for social media integration, which must be included in the game to promote the product. It is possible to cope with these problems, but it’s not the easiest task.

Optimization

Cross-platform applications, unlike native ones, have inferior performance levels. This is because the application backend cannot optimize for high performance on every platform. It’s no small feat to consider the peculiarities of each operating system and device to unite it all in one code.

How to Develop Cross-Platform Mobile Games

The development of any application or game can be divided into five main stages. When working on a cross-platform mobile game, it is worth considering the product’s features at almost every step to achieve a quality result. So let’s have a closer look at the cross-platform mobile game development lifecycle.

  1. Planning. The pre-production step is an integral part of developing a cross-platform mobile game, as there are many things to plan for organized and smooth development. It is imperative to approve the key idea and concept of the project, establish the technical requirements and formalize this information into an official document.
  2. Execution. The design process for a cross-platform mobile game usually requires game engines or special programs that involve cross-platform development. Such platforms often provide ready-made plugins and scripts for building a mobile game based on common code, suitable for iOS and Android devices. Nevertheless, developers spend a lot of time and effort creating a cross-platform game, like developing several applications in one.
  3. Quality Assurance. Testing is an integral part of cross-platform game development, as such games often contain more bugs and flaws than native apps. QA engineers write scripts for automation testing to simulate user actions and also perform tests manually. Thus, specialists first identify critical errors in a mobile game on different platforms and fix them before the release.
  4. Finishing touches. When a game is almost ready, QA engineers run final tests to assure that a game is ready for release. Thus, the last critical bugs are fixed after beta tests — the game is checked not by specialists but by people who use the product as the target audience and leave their feedback about the experience.
  5. Release & maintenance. After fixing the final detected issues, experts release the game, but this is not the end. A game launched on the market requires regular updates, and after each of them, the product needs testing to ensure that the upgrades didn’t cause new bugs. In addition, the product needs constant server monitoring and support.

You are also invited to explore more detailed information on how to make a cross-platform game from scratch and learn our personal tips for better development.

Top Tools for Cross-Platform Mobile Game Development

As a company that developed hundreds of different games, we have in-depth knowledge and experience using specific tools for cross-platform mobile game development. So we want to share the best languages and game development engines with you!

Choosing the best language for cross-platform mobile game development

  • C++
    The use of C++ for cross-platform mobile game development is widespread. Many popular mobile games like Clash of Clans are made using C++. It’s often chosen because both iOS and Android platforms support apps written in C++. In addition, it provides high performance and great scalability for mobile applications.
  • Javascript
    Javascript cross-platform mobile game development is one of the most popular ways to build an app for iOS as well as for Android. Frameworks that support Javascript are usually more modern and have a more expansive library of scripts. It also allows a more complex development level of animations, interactives, etc.
  • HTML5
    The advantage of HTML5 cross-platform mobile game development is in its multifunctionality. HTML5 allows developers not only to build a game that can be supported by iOS and Android devices but also PCs Windows/Linux/Mac OS and even Web versions such as Google Chrome, Safari, Opera mobile, etc.

Choosing the best cross-platform mobile game development engine

A cross-platform mobile game development framework is a set or library of tools and assets for creating an application for various platforms. Some of them are widely used by game developers worldwide.

  • Unity & Unreal Engine
    Unity and UE4 are the most popular and effective game engines that allow the creation of different kinds of games, including cross-platform mobile games. To work on the Unreal Engine,C++ development is usually used, and information about it can be found in the engine’s documentation. In addition, the framework provides the ability to create and work on visual effects of games supported by various platforms — Blueprint. Before the development, the framework needs to be set up for cross-platform product creation.
    Unity shares some similarities with Unreal Engine as it is also a game engine that is widely used for game development. Unity is more commonly used for mobile cross-platform development due to its simplified setup process. In addition, this engine offers a large selection of 2D assets, which is very suitable for the development of mobile games since these games are more often made in 2D than games on PC and other platforms.
  • Cocos2d-x
    Cocos is a free cross-platform engine supporting Javascript, Lua, and C++. The engine is primarily made for iOS and Android 2D/3D mobile games development. Thus, it provides a large toolbar for developer-friendly coding, rendering, and creation of intuitive GUI.
    Besides, there is one more version of this engine called Cocos Creator that uses JavaScript, TypeScript and provides a free game editor that helps create a game. Both are widely used for cross-platform mobile games and app development, but Cocos Creator is more suitable for beginners.
  • Godot Engine
    Godot Engine is a free Android, iOS game development framework that also supports PC platforms and consoles. Developers usually use HTML5 to write a common codebase. The engine is equipped with built-in nodes and a visual editor, which make the development process easier and faster, so it is optimal to use it when the deadlines are already running out.

Choosing Mobile Game Development Services for your Needs

Cross-platform development is full of nuances that cannot be described in one article or memorized after reading programming books. The best option is to hire qualified specialists who not only thoroughly know the theory, but have also repeatedly confirmed their knowledge in practice.

When looking for a developer company, you can’t go wrong with Game-Ace. For many years, we have not just been developing games, but creating complex solutions that will help you reach a new level of success in the game industry.

Are you ready to make a stunning cross-platform game? Then let’s discuss all the details as soon as possible — contact us and get ready to get a result that will exceed your expectations.

Originally published at https://game-ace.com on November 30, 2021.

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