How To Make A Mobile Game?

Author: Obaid Chawla | October 23, 2020 - Tekrevol Team
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According to Newzoo’s Global Games Market Report, the mobile game app market is slated to grow by 13.3% in 2020 to reach a staggering $77.2 billion in revenue. This report also stated that this segment of highly lucrative gaming market has the lowest barrier to entry because of the incredibly high number of people that possess a smartphone as of today.

With such riveting figures, everyone out there wants to create their very own game app. But there is very little information out there on how to create your mobile game. What are the essentials? What tech stacks should you use? What type of game apps can you make? What is the exact process to build a mobile game app?

Answers to these questions were hard to find till now but we have solved this issue for you by compiling this complete guide on how to make a mobile game app which includes a comprehensive overview of the top game engines you can choose from, the process you need to follow among other important aspects of mobile game app development on iOS and Android.

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Getting Started For Developing A Mobile Game App – What You Need?

Mobile game apps cannot be built using conventional app makers. Instead, you need game engines for this as they are specialized software that have been developed just to serve this task.

But before you can get started with a game engine, you need to ensure that you have all the essential items we have included in our pre-game app development tool checklist:

A Computer: Game engines don’t work on mobile phones, so you’ll require to install them and work on them. Make the decision to either buy a PC or a Mac only after you have chosen which game engine you need to work on. The reason for this is that most game engines don’t have cross-platform compatibility and they can either work on Mac OS or Windows OS.

A Set Of Smartphones: While most developers will assume that just one smartphone is enough to test out your game app, it’s imperative to know that your game app will be played on a multitude of smartphone models, old and new on both iOS and Android OS. So you will need to test your game app on as many smartphones as possible to ensure that the game app works smoothly on all of them. The best approach here is to acquire at least 3-4 smartphones from the latest generation as well as the last three-four generations.

An App Developer Account For IOS & Android: Google Play and Apple App Store both require developers to acquire developer accounts if they want to submit their apps for review and approval. Both App Stores have different payment models. Apple App Store offers a yearly subscription for $95, while Google Play Store offers a developer account with lifetime validity for just $25. With a developer account, you will gain a lot of added benefits like the developer’s SDK.

Relevant Graphic Design & Animation Tools: A game app requires a lot of graphic design assets including characters, background animations etc. and to make them you will need to have the right tools. Some game app developers use Adobe Photoshop to come up with the basic graphic assets and then move on to more sophisticated animation tools for getting the storyline right.

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Understanding The Different Type Of Game Engines:

You now know the tools you need to have before you begin your mobile game app development process and now you can proceed to selecting the appropriate game engine. But before you do that, you first need to understand that there are various types of game engines out there, each of which is suitable for defined purpose.

Game Templates:

Just as the name signifies, these type of game engines have specialized templates for multiple different types of games available for game developers. This makes it easy to develop the game app since you just have to add or tweak the existing characters, music or themes within the game. However, these type of game engines are not suitable to develop any type of complex game apps as you cannot tinker with the templates as much as to change the internal mechanics of the game.

If you are looking for a quick launch with a simple game app opt for game template based game engines.

ChupaMobile and AppPie are game engines with templates available.

Drag & Drop Game Engines:

This is not the kind of drag and drops that you see in other types of software like website builders. This drag and drop is logic and behavior-based. You decide which game objects will perform a certain set of functionalities. For e.g. your game app has a spiky plant on the surface and you insert a logic that this plant will harm the character when it comes near to it by protruding out of the ground, then the game app will replicate this behavior. For beginners in mobile game development, such game engines are the perfect way to start as they are low on complexity and can accommodate advanced game ideas.

Visual Scripting Based Game Engines:

Again, the name itself is quite self-explanatory. In Visual Scripting, you don’t need to write code but the game engine will react like you are coding. Sounds complex? Well, let us explain. In this type of game engine, you can create a kind of flow diagram that consists of nodes that portray the logical progression and actions being performed within the game.

Coding Based Game Engines:

If you want to develop a complex game app like Fortnite or PubG, then you will need to opt for coding your game from scratch. This method is the most complex of them all since it requires you to code each and every element in your game app yourself. But the results from this method can be top-notch. Many game engines out there support an end to end coding so you can start off from there if you want to develop a high-end game app product.

  • Develop Your Own Game App
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What Types Of Game Apps Can You Develop?

Both Google Play And Apple App Store allow you to develop and publish multiple different types of games. And depending on the time, resources and complexity you can handle, the list of game app categories you can choose from is pretty comprehensive.

Here are the types of game apps you can publish on the

Google Play Store:

  • Action
  • Adventure
  • Arcade
  • Board
  • Card
  • Casino
  • Casual
  • Educational
  • Music
  • Puzzle
  • Racing
  • Role Playing
  • Simulation
  • Sports
  • Strategy
  • Trivia
  • Word

Here are the types of game apps you can publish on Apple App Store:

  • Action
  • Adventure
  • Board
  • Card
  • Family
  • Music
  • Puzzle
  • Racing
  • Role Playing
  • Simulation
  • Sports
  • Strategy
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How Much Money Can A Game App Make?

Game apps have emerged in recent times to become one of the most lucrative app categories to invest in. The monstrous success of games like Fortnite, PubG, Pokemon Go etc. have led to a frenzy in recent times among developers to get their very own game app published for users.

But how much do game apps make? There is no uniform answer to this. Game apps can make billions of dollars each year if we look at top tier game apps, and even earn thousands of dollars if we take a look at mildly popular game apps.

Also, there is no single category which users prefer over others, however, in recent times, first player shooter games have become very popular among the masses, so if you want to invest in game app development, then opting for first player shooter games probably holds the highest chances for monetary success.

  • Build A Successful Mobile Game App
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Which Are The Best Mobile Game Engines?

There are a lot of game engines out there that you can choose from but not all of them are the same. Each one of them requires a different kind skill set and offer different features to help you make game apps with different level of complexities.

Here, we have compiled a list of the five best game engines out there that are the best suited for modern day game app development.

1. Unity:

How to build a mobile app

Unity based game app development is widely used in the industry. Many popular games like Assassins Creed have been developed using the Unity game engine. The reason for this is that Unity game engine is incredibly powerful and it works through a widely understood used and deployed coding language known as C+.

Unity offers multiple plugins that have visual scripting capabilities so you don’t have to code too much when developing a game in this game engine. From Adventure Creator to FlowCanvas, these plugins are highly adept at offering the best game development capabilities.

If you are beginner, you will certainly have some difficulty in understanding this game engine but with time, you can definitely get better at it.

Unity game engine supports game app development for iOS, Android, desktops and consoles so if you want to expand the device reach of your game app any time, you can do it with the Unity game engine.

Pros:

  • Affordable licensing fees and terms
  • Easily compatible with all mobile game development platforms
  • Optimal graphics performance
  • Intuitive UI and tools for rapid game assets creation

Cons:

  • The Unity 3D pro license doesn’t come with all the features required to develop mobile games. That’s why, it demands extra investment for the development of video games for mobile phones.

2. Unreal Engine:

Unreal game engine is one of the world’s most advanced games engines to develop mobile games for any niche in a way you want.
Batman: Arkham City lockdown, Mortal Kombat X, Fortnite Battle Royale are a few of the mobile games built on Unreal Engine. Unreal is the main competitor to Unity among game engines as it too boasts of similar capabilities as the Unity game engine. Blueprint, the visual editor in Unreal can be used by game app developers to create the most astonishing gameplay themes and graphics.

Unity is not for beginners however, and if you start right now, it will take you a good 6 months to understand its mechanisms. Unity game engine can be used to develop games for mobile apps, consoles and desktops.

Pros:

  • Unreal engine has the largest community support of them all. You’ll get lifetime hours of video tutorials to get solutions to your key problems.
  • A well-maintained update mechanism where it releases a new tool with each new update.

Cons:

  • Complex tools of Unreal Engine require multiple layers of tedious learning to master.

3- GameMaker Studio 2:

Game Maker Studio 2 is yet another powerful game engine that comes with its own visual editor that is capable of allowing the developing to animate anything they want within the game engine itself. GMS2 is the internal coding language used by this game engine so it does require some level of coding to get the game app made. Hotline Miami was a game developed using this very game engine.

However, the only drawback here is that it requires you to acquire its full version costing $399 if you want to take your game app out of it and export to any other platform like Android.

Pros

  • Animator available
  • Includes A Visual Editor
  • Assets and extensions available

Cons

  • Requires acquisition of full version to allow export of game app

4- BuildBox:

Buildbox is a relatively newer game engine as compared to the other ones listed above but it still is being touted by many in the industry as being extremely well adept at allowing developers to come up with top ranked games.

It’s a Drag and Drop game engine, so you won’t require much coding to use it at all. Also, it has templates for many types of games available, making it easy to use for beginners.

The features are comprehensive and robust as well. Overall, a good enough game engine.

Pros:

  • BuildBox has more than 20,000 game assets, sound effects, and eye-catching animations.
  • With ‘Drag-and-Drop’ functionality, the game development process becomes very easy.
  • Availability of game templates to ease up the game development process.

Cons:

  • Expensive (Monthly Subscription is $99 and Yearly Subscription is $84)
  • Limitation in the development of mobile games for various genres

5- CryEngine:

CryEngine

 

CryEngine is believed to be the best alternative to Unity: a prominent game engine. For $10/month, a mobile game developer can sign up for this game development engine.
Recently, this game engine included some brilliant features, for example, geometry cache, image-based lighting and sharing.

Pros:

  • Top-notch performance (from AI to graphics and storyline) is what makes CryEngine different from other game engines.
  • You can modify default shaders to achieve the desired results.
  • It adheres to its core mantra ‘Code Easy, Builds Good’. Therefore, it has a feature of visual scripting to let people develop simple to complex mobile games without any need to write down a code.

Cons:

  • Inflated Code Blocks Surprise bugs and inflated code blocks could be a major turn-off for you or any mobile game developer
  • Poor community support
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Making Your Mobile Game App – The Process

You now have full knowledge about the right kind of game engines, the type of games you can build along with other tools required to pull off this process. Now it’s time to understand the process of making a mobile game app that will take you from idea to the final launch in the easiest manner possible.

We have compiled a simple 7 step plan that you can follow for making your mobile game app.

1- Developing The Initial Plan:

Having a plan is essential no matter what you want to get built. Mobile game apps aren’t any different. You need to have a comprehensive plan in place before you begin.

This plan will serve as the blueprint of your entire game app development process. Everything that you need the game development agency to know will be contained in this one planning document.

The most important details include the type of game you are trying to make, what characters will be a part of the game, what will the visual graphics be like, what will your monetization strategy be and how will you integrate within the game, how would you make the game app engaging enough for users etc.

Once you have answered all of these questions in detail and compiled them together, you are ready to process to the next step.

2-    Select The Game Engine:

While gaming apps are still built on code, the availability of game engines has made this process a whole lot easier.

We have already mentioned five top game engines above and in most of them, you are not required to do a lot of coding. They also come with pre-built templates to help you even further. Choose one of them and then you can get on with the process.

3-    Familiarize Yourself With A Game App Specific Programming Language

Game engines have reduced the amount of coding you require, but still you need to do some of it. On top of this, having knowledge about a programming language is essential if you want to run the game engine in the right manner or effect changes or modifications to the game app or any of its features within it.

From C+ to Java to Kotlin, there are multiple programming languages out there that are extensively used in all kinds of app development including those for game apps.

Start off with a simple one like C+ and then progress through to the more difficult ones. At least gather some preliminary level of knowledge before beginning.

If you are working with a game development agency, then you might not need this, but if you are developing it yourself, then you definitely need to do it.

4-    Begin Your Game App Development:

The next step is commencing your project. This is the most important part of the overall process since this is where you will set the tone for the entire project. So start off small and keep things as simple as possible. Otherwise, things can become complex fast, making it difficult for you to manage the process down the road.

First off, decide on your game levels and design them. Include the rules which will govern your game in the stage. Next up, finalize your character arcs and their details. Finally, move on the user interface which can include the game controls, menus, settings etc.

5-    Create Your Graphic Assets:

Graphic assets for a game app include everything from characters to your background styles to all other visual elements required to complete the gameplay.

If you are doing this yourself, then opt for Photoshop if you are developing a simple 2D based game. If it’s 3D, then go for a more advanced graphic design tool like 3Ds Max or Maya.

But if you are not adept at this, then outsource this task to a game development agency.

6-    Finalize Your Gameplay:

Once the basic structure of your game is ready, you can then move on to the final stage before launch i.e. elevating your game app to make it as user-friendly and engaging as possible.

The purpose of this stage is just one i.e. to make the game app as seamless and as engaging as possible.

For this, you can take the following steps:

  • Ensure the game’s graphics are smooth and there is no pixelation at all
  • Keep the game’s controls easy to handle. Remove all complex actions.
  • Work on making your storyline more interesting. Remove all boring bits.
  • Test out every single element one more time till you are sure that the game has absolutely zero glitches

7-    Launch Your Game App:

Once everything is in place, it’s time for you to launch your game. If you decided on a certain launch date for your game app, then it’s critical for you to release the game on that date. It doesn’t matter if some elements that you really want in your game app are not ready yet. Just release it and you can add the elements later on through updates.

Submitting your app to the Google Play Store and Apple App Store is a complex process and their review takes time so take into account that as well. Submit your apps for review at least a month before the launch date to ensure that you have the game app approved before the launch date arrives.

One more thing to remember here is that you really need to have a marketing plan in place for your game app if you really want it to succeed.

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How To Submit Your Game Apps To The App Store?

Once you have developed your mobile game app and it’s ready to be published, the next step is to submit them to the app store for review and publishing.

To understand how both of these process work and what you need to take care off, read the following guides.

If you need any assistance with publishing your game app, you can let us handle this for you.

  • Get Your Game App Live

FAQ:

1- How Hard Is It To Make A Mobile Game?

It depends on the game. If you want to create a 3D game, the process will be complex, but for creating simple games i.e. card games, it is not complicated at all. It is recommended to use Unity: an incredible yet cost-effective game engine to build a game app of your choice.

2- What Programs Do Game Designers Use?

Game developers use different types of software when developing a game app. They also use multiple programming languages depending on the game engine and project requirements. Unity, BuildBox are some top game engines, while software include Maya, 3D Studio Max and Photoshop.

3- How Much Does It Cost To Make A Mobile Game?

Game apps are resource intensive, so you should only let experienced developers work on your game app project. The cost for developing a feature rich mobile game app can range from $400,000 to $1,000,000.

4- Can You Make A Mobile Game For Free?

To develop a game app for free, you will be required to leverage a game engine that supports latest game development technologies like Unity. Unity is a powerful game engine that has support for both 2D and 3D games. If you don’t have any knowledge about programming languages, then use Unity to develop the best, high end games.

Obaid Chawla

Author : Obaid Chawla

Obaid Chawla is an innovation buff with a propensity to debate hard. He has a deep interest in how humans can push things forward in the fourth and final Industrial Revolution and loves covering every single development that takes place! He’s also freelancing in making new friends and communities!

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USA,

39899 Balentine Drive,
Newark, CA 94560
1301 Fannin St #2440,
Houston, TX 77002
501 E Las Olas Blvd Suite
230, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Canada,
4915 54 St 3rd Floor
Red Deer, ABT T4N 2G7
Estonia,
Harju County, Tallinn, downtown, Tartu mnt 67 / 1-13B, 10115
Pakistan,
3/25, Block 5, Gulshan-e-Iqbal,
Karachi, Sindh 75650
USAusa
CANADAcanada
PAKISTANpakistan
ESTONIAestonia
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