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Unreal Engine 4
vs Unity 5

2017.08.13
When The Novice Becomes The Victor: How Does Unity 5 Stack Up To Unreal Engine 4?
Tilda Publishing
> Unreal Engine 4 vs Unity 5
2018.08.12
It has long been said that designers interested in creating the most graphics-intense 3D games have a relatively simple choice to make. The Unity platform is great for 2D, they said, but the need for an external application, like 3ds Max or Maya, to appropriately handle 3D work has been a bit off-putting. Now, with the release of Unity 5, the plot thickens.

For a little more than two years, Unity Technologies' Unity 4—the game engine that powered the creation of mobile classics like Temple Run, République and Monument Valley—aimed to create a new era of gaming that invited more people to the party, both as hosts and guests.

"We started with this very simple idea that we wanted to democratize game development … and make some people game developers, who wouldn't otherwise be developers," said Unity Founder, David Helgason.

Now, with the March 3rd drop of Unity 5, expect industry growth to occur at an even faster pace, especially with the new royalty-free option.
Unity 5
U5 comes in two flavors: Personal and Professional Edition. For the less serious or financially focused developers with earnings below $100,000, Personal is completely free to use. Those operating outside that criterion must opt for Professional, paying $1,500 or $75/month.
Unity's Pro Edition additionally comes with 12 months' free access to the Unity Cloud Build Pro service which will remotely save your work before disaster strikes (Personal Edition cost $25/month).

Right out of the box U5 comes development-compatible with twenty-one platforms, including: iOS, Android, PC, Mac, PlayStation, Xbox, WebGL, VR and more. Devs can finally create one game and have it natively boot on a variety of systems. Unreal doesn't quite match up quantitatively speaking but still supports the arguably ten most important platforms like PC, Mac, Linux, Mobile (iOS & Android), high-end consoles, WebGL, and Oculus Rift.

Most interesting of the supported bunch is perhaps WebGL which allows for full-scale games to be played straight from most popular browsers without the necessity of installing any additional plug-ins and also eliminating the need for client-side storage and installations.

Drawing more users into the ecosystem doesn't necessarily immediately translate into greater revenue for Unreal or Unity but certainly creates a more diversified pool of developers to support a wider range of consumer tastes. And while we'd be naïve to think a company solely exists for goodwill, we do appreciate the trend of openness that is being exhibited here. A developer is now empowered to experiment without concern as to whether or not their concept can ultimately support a premium license.

Unity's Pro Edition additionally comes with 12 months' free access to the Unity Cloud Build Pro service which will remotely save your work before disaster strikes (Personal Edition cost $25/month). Unreal on the other hand does not offer a standalone remote backup (as in, non-local storage), but this is a simple fix using FTP and DropBox or a similar service.

The Unity Cloud service also unlocks a useful advertising interface that can drum up an additional source of revenue to put you on track to fund your next big thing. Modern Frogger-clone built on Unity, Crossy Road, has earned over $3 million from ads since November 2014. Unreal has also in-game advertising potential as seen in the somewhat famous Flappy Birdcopy, Tappy Chicken.

Both Unreal and U5 ship with a 64-bit editing system useful for taking advantage of large amounts of RAM. Unity also totes a rebuilt audio mixing board—a similar feature already found in Unreal—which should give better control for the soundtracks. Unity has finally updated its graphics potential, as well, with Nvidia PhysX 3.3 providing greatly improved design physics over U4. Lighting and shading features are also expected to be noticeably improved with the included Global Illumination tool.

After reading the point for point similarities of the two engines, you may still find yourself floundering in the decision of which company to invest your time—and potentially money.

The most obvious deviation between the two engines is that of graphics potential. Unreal is a respected player and has had a longtime performance leg up on Unity, which was often regarded as offering ineffective design support (hence, the necessity to work with a secondary software).

We were interested to see a real time comparison of current and past-generation Unity engines, so we did some searching around. One clip pits a plug-in-maxed (Skyshop shader) U4 against a base U5. Admittedly, the difference between the two versions isn't entirely shocking, but just to compete, U4 must be upgraded to the teeth. Though other videos seemed to demonstrate staggering improvements to lighting and shadows between the two versions.

What does a maxed out U5 look like? More importantly, how will a maxed-out U5 compare to UE4? We don't yet know, but we will soon find out.

One last significant consideration should be in regards to the intensity of your projects and the strength of your workhorse.

It's recommended that a system running Unreal should have at least a quad-core processor with eight gigs of RAM and a DX11 compatible graphics card. Unity checks in a bit lower needing only a DX9 card (they say anything since 2004 should work). Older processors, less RAM and legacy operating systems should also be compatible.

Still, the bottom line for both is determined by what kind of game you intend to make, so your mileage may vary.

Both Unreal Engine 4 and Unity 5 are now available as free downloads. If you haven't yet tried them, give them a shot and tell us what you think.

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