A game engine is a system designed for the creation and development of video games. The leading game engines provide a software framework that developers use to create games for video game consoles and personal computers. The core functionality typically provided by a game engine includes a rendering engine (“renderer”) for 2D or 3D graphics, a physics engine or collision detection (and collision response), sound, scripting, animation, artificial intelligence, networking, streaming, memory management, threading, localization support, and a scene graph. The process of game development is often economized, in large part, by reusing/adapting the same game engine to create different games, or to make it easier to “port” games to multiple platforms.

Commercial solutions

Name Licence/Price Supported Platforms Scope, Intent and useage Pros Cons

Neo Axis Commercial:
Free for non-profit use.
Indie licence for < $10000 projects $95/295 (pers/team).
Commercial licence $395/995 (p/t)
Win/OSX/Linux Complete game solution. Platform independence, including gui, physics etc. •   Indie version has limits to physics capabilities and very limited source access
•   Win-only development.
•   Commercial, but no console support.

Unity Commerical:
Free $0/Pro $1500 + additions:
+Android $400/1500 (basic/pro)
+iOS $400/1500 (b/p)
+Asset Serfer $500
Android/iOS for extra $
Wii for special licence   (= $$$)
Complete game solution. Exclusively editor-based, coding through scripts only. At least HAS support for Android, iOS and Wii. •   Extra platforms very expensive by Indie standards.
•   No Linux, Web Plugin will not be ported to Linux
•   No direct API access.
•   Non-pro versions function- and capability-crippled.

(Unreal3 engine w/o source)
•   Free for non-commercial
•   25% of all revenue > $50000
Windows, iOS Complete game system. •   Extreme edge-cuttingness.
•   Generous licence for small-income projects.
Principally Windows only.
Draconic license.

Torque 2D •   Pro licence $99.
•   Genre kits for extra $.
Win, OSX; Xbox360, Wii, iPhone for special license. Editor-based complete 2D game solution. •   Affordable.
•   Full source access in licence.
•   Extensive documentation.
•   Torque 3D separate licence.
•   Non-standard script language “Torquescript”.
•   Additional and 3rd party tools and genre kits costs extra.

Torque 3D •   Pro licence $99
•   Additional assets, genre frameworks, and editors from $9 to $299 a piece.
Win, OSX, Web, Xbox360, Wii Complete game solution. •   Affordable.
•   Full source access in licence.
•   Extensive documentation.
•   No iOS support.
•   Torque 2D separate licence.
•   Non-standard script language “Torquescript”.
•   Additional and 3rd party tools and genre frameworks costs extra.

C4 Engine Commercial per-seat/per-year licences only.
•   Basic $100
•   Normal $350
•   Pro $1200
•   Win, OSX
•   PS3 w. special licence
Complete game solution •   Well-featured.
•   Full source access with all licences except for basic.
•   Mature: commercial since 2005.
•   Somewhat expensive, all licences per-person.
•   Developed by one person.
•   Home-rolled facilities?
•   Few significant games developed with engine.
•   Few supported deployment platforms.

(Previously AirPlay SDK)
•   Basic $149/seat/year
•   Normal $499/seat/year
•   Pro $3499/seat/year
•   iOS (3.0 and above)
•   Android (1.5 and above)
•   Symbian (Symbian^3 and S60 5th Edition)
•   bada (all versions)
•   webOS (1.4.1 and above)“Beta”
•   Win (full-screen and windowed)
•   OSX (full-screen and windowed)
•   Win Mobile 6.x
•   Symbian S60 3rd Edition
•   Mobile Linux, generic implementation
Complete 2D game solution. •   One-click publish to supported platforms.
•   Use same C++ code to generate applications for all platforms.
•   Expensive licence over time.
•   Focuses almost exclusively on mobile platforms.

Shiva3D Commercial
•   Basic €169
•   Advanced €1499
•   Win/OSX/Linux
•   iOS, Android, HP WebOS
•   Airplay SDK (Marmalade)
•   Wii
Complete game solution. Supports wide array of platforms. •   Basic version somewhat feature-crippled.
•   “Publishes to AirPlay”, which doesn’t exist anymore: licence issues?

CryEngine3 20% of the developer’s revenues Windows
Engine supports Xbox360 and PS3, +$$$?
Complete game system. Extreme edge-pushing gfx.
AAA focus.

Unigine Commercial Indie per-project licences for developers with < $100K turnover (months updates/days support):
•   Win/Lin $1299 (3/14)
•   iOS/Android $1299 (3/14)
•   Win/Lin/OSX $2995 (12/30)
•   All $3995 (12/30)
•   Pro/Source/PS3 licence ~$30K
•   Support $799/month
Win, Linux, OSX, PS3, IOS, Android Complete game solution. Wide platform support. •   Very expensive.
•   Unreasonably short update time envelope.
•   Unreasonable licenses.
•   No source access in Indie licenses.
•   Restricted access to API, documentation, forum and community resources.
•   Non-standard scripting language.

Esenthel Engine Commercial (licences are per-product, not per-year or per-seat)
•   Free
•   Personal: 150$
•   Company: 750$
•   Pro: 4,000+6,000$
•   Windows, Mac
•   iPhone
Complete game solution.
Restricted source access even for pro licence.
Non-standard scripting languge (Esenthel Script).
Licence is per-product, which is an issue when making many smaller products.
There is only one developer!
Sub-standard (non-existing?) API documentation.

Game Start Unclear, plans from forum post:
“An indie/hobbyist license (~150€) with optional access to the C++ SDK. Will allow publish on all supported platforms for all major desktops (Windows, OSX and Linux).
A pro license (~<500€) that will publish to all supported platforms to come (iPhone/iPad/Android).
A source license, is meant to be used by companies with programming staff so that they can expand, modify and eventually share back improvements or bug fixes with the core distribution.
An additional license for big players that will need to be discussed on a case per case basis.
Upgrades will be available for a fraction of the full license cost. 2D support (currently deactivated) will not be a major upgrade.
you are not planning on doing commercial work: go ahead and use it as you please.”
Currently Windows only? •   2D and 3D engine (2D currently deactivated?).
•   Full focus on visual editing (editor-based), coding through scripts only.
-?- •   Currently in beta, feature-incomplete, scripts can’t access entire engine.
•   Missing scripting features (f.i. networking and pathfinding) “will be addressed through a source licence”.
•   Big though perhaps unrealistic plans from the single developer (high planned fees, belief that “big players” will buy AND share code back, plans to publish on all platforms)
•   Unclear licence: might spring fees or restrictions on you later?
•   Non-standard scripting language, “Squirrel” & “ACE”.
   Dead solutions

Game Core Commerical:
Free for indies.
Pro version $1499
Windows only Complete solution. High focus on visual editors for about everything, script coding only. •   Free for indies.
•   AngelScript is a powerful language.
•   Dead
•   Constant online req. for validation of tool usage (Indie licence only?).
•   No cross-platform support?
•   Indie version crippled.
•   No native API access, scripting only.
•   Somewhat lacking documentation.

Open-Source solutions

All of these share the advantage of being free with full source access:

Name Licence Supported Platforms Scope, Intent and useage Pros Cons

Panda 3D Open Source, Modified BSD license Win/OSX/Linux Complete game solution. •   Well supported with several full-time developers.
•   Disney backing.
•   Generous licence.
•   C++ API.
•   Profiling tools.
•   Python scripting.
•   Windows and Linux development.
•   Focus on pedagogics/education AND commericial-quality games.
•   No iOS or Android support.
•   No console support.
•   Docs more focused on Python.

Maratis Open Souce (Engine zlib/libpng, editor GPL) Tested on Win/OSX/iPhone and “can be used on any platform” Graphics (rendering, fixed pipeline, shaders, lighting); Physics (Bullet); Scripting (LUA) scripting; input. •   Visual editor.
•   C++ SDK.
•   Generous engine licence.
•   Blender exporter.
•   Possibly easiest system to export to further platforms?
•   Not a full game system: f.i. no network or GUI.
•   Linux port not complete yet.
•   No Android support.
•   No integrated terrain support.

Delta3D Open-source LGPL
(Editor source under GPL)
Fully platform independed,
OSG 3.0 supports Win/OSX/Linux/*NIX/iOS/Android/PlayStation
Complete game solution. Integrates open-source solutions behind common interface. •   Wide platform support.
•   High portability factor.
•   Wide range of libraries included.
•   Uses highly reliable FOSS systems
Lags behind OSG somewhat (3.0 support not done as of Oct 2011).

Polycode Open Source (MIT licence) Win/OSX, reported as compiling and working on Linux with some work 2D & 3D Graphics, Audio (OGG/WAV), Network, Physics (Bullet), Scripting (LUA) •   Generous licence.
•   C++ API.
•   Under development.
•   Limited platform support (in particular no Linux [coming?]).

Crystal Space 3D + Crystal Entity Layer Open Source LGPL Windows, Linux, OSX (x86, PPC, ARM & SPARC CPUs) With the Crystal Entity Layer  a complete game system except for networking. Python scripting. •   No integrated networking.
•   Inconsistent code naming conventions.
•   CEL is still under development.

Blender Game Engine Open Source GPL Windows, Linux, OSX 2D and 3D graphics. Physics (Bullet), Audio, scripting. •   Python for scripting.
•   Integrated with Blender for easy handling of graphical resources.
•   Under development.
•   Inadequate documentation.
•   No individual or central web presence.
•   No integrated networking.
•   No integrated input?
•   Licence consequences due to GNU?

Rejected systems:

* Construct Classic: unrealistic legacy system only for DX9
* Yake: complete system, but apparently dead (last commit March 2010, vandalised front page.)
* The Monocle Engine: cross-platform system for 2D graphics, but not a game engine as by the definition above.