Best Tools for Mobile Game App Development

Mobile game app development has advanced by leaps and bounds in the last couple of years. The bevy of new mobile devices and OS’ pose a constant challenge to game app developers to raise their own bar and create better, faster and more impressive games each time. While one can find hundreds of very useful tools for building game apps, we bring you 8 most popular ones for 2013. 

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The Marmalade SDK is easily the most popular tool for developers to create multi-platform C++ games. This enables you to use Xcode or Visual Studio to create your Marmalade project file and then compile it for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry 10 and a variety of other mobile platforms.

Marmalade Juice, a cross-platform SDK for Objective-C, helps you develop code inside Marmalade and then insert platform-specific features for several major OS’. Marmalade Quick, on the other hand, is an acceleration tool, which offers you a fast and efficient open environment to develop your app. Web Marmalade helps to speed up your Web development efforts.

Marmalade SDK is priced at around $500 for an annual license. 

What We Like
  • Develop for multiple platforms at once.

  • Emulators for various platforms.

What We Don't Like
  • Requires annual subscription fee.

  • Lack of learning resources.

  • SDK no longer supported.

  • iOS development no longer functional.

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Unreal Engine

Unreal Engine offers the full source Unreal Engine 3, which gives you complete access to the Unreal Development Kit, the Unreal Engine Editor Suite, C++ source code and unlimited support as well. Unreal Engine, which is the real power behind the impressive Infinity Blade series, is integrated with leading middleware technologies and operates across a range of 10 mobile platforms, to offer you the best possible service. 

Unreal Engine 4 has been created especially to power next-gen gaming and encompasses within its gamut, high-end PCs, advanced gaming consoles, the Web and a variety of mobile OS’.

While UDK is available free of cost, Unreal Engine 3 is priced upon application. 

What We Like
  • Cross platform.

  • Capable of achieving superior graphics.

  • Efficient rendering technology.

  • Allows game creation without code.

What We Don't Like
  • Requires monthly subscription.

  • High learning curve.

  • Requires high-end development computer.

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Corona SDK

The well-established Corona SDK enables you to seamlessly publish your apps across a range of several mobile platforms, using a single code base. This helps you effortlessly create high-quality, high-speed, game apps, which keep your users engaged with it. Making use of a Lua development environment, Corona offers support for Android, iOS, Kindle and Nook.

The basic Corona SDK is available free of cost. Corona SDK Pro is priced at around $588 and Corona Enterprise costs about $950.

What We Like
  • Free development platform.

  • Large plugin library.

  • Develop for all major platforms.

What We Don't Like
  • Develop 2D apps only.

  • Difficult to debug code.

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Unity has always been very popular among both 2D and 3D action game developers. Unity offers mobile developers an integrated development environment to port their apps to all the major mobile platforms, the Web and a variety of gaming consoles as well, thereby helping devs reach out to the maximum number of gamers.

While the basic Unity tools and Unity 4 are available free of cost, Unity Pro is priced starting at about $750. 

What We Like
  • Unity engine is free.

  • Excellent online tutorials.

  • Large user community.

What We Don't Like
  • Large games may experience performance issues.

  • 3D camera management can be complicated.

  • Can be somewhat buggy.

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The powerhouse technology behind several of the present mobile devices, ARM additionally offers developers many useful software development tools. The OpenGL ES Emulator enable you to use its technologies to develop high-quality, powerful and bug-free game apps for multiple mobile devices, thereby increasing the chances for better app visibility and reach in the app marketplace of your choice.

The ARM Mali GPU software development tools are available free of cost. 

What We Like
  • Large ARM development community.

  • Many educational resources for developers.

  • Numerous development tools available.

What We Don't Like
  • Only available for Windows and Linux.

  • Limited to ARM-based devices.

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Continuing its commitment to Indie developers, Autodesk introduced its brand new Maya package in August this year. Maya has been designed especially for mobile developers and startups. Using Maya LT on a PC or Mac, designers can employ the Nex toolset, also including animation and other advanced features for creating realistic-looking graphics in their apps.

Maya LT additionally offers support for Unreal Engine, Unity and CryEngine. Furthermore, it offers you an SDK for Autodesk’s FBX file format as well.

Maya LT is priced at £700 and the Autodesk Unity Plug-in is available at £195. 

What We Like
  • Easy to use.

  • Regularly updated with new features.

What We Don't Like
  • Development platform is expensive.

  • Small, niche online user community.

  • No free version available.

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PowerVR Graphics SDK

The PowerVR Graphics SDK developed by Imagination Technologies enable you to create high-quality and high-performance game apps for multiple mobile devices. Supporting cross-platforming for iOS, Android and BlackBerry, this tool offers you a solution for all your 3D graphic development needs.
The PowerVR Graphics SDK is available free of cost. 

What We Like
  • Free and open source.

  • Cross platform.

  • Many SDK demos and tutorials available.

What We Don't Like
  • Steep learning curve for beginners.

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The Enlighten tool from Geometrics has gone mobile since the last couple of years or so. This tool helps you scale your game app to a variety of mobile OS’ and consoles, including Android, iOS and PS Vita. The use of Enlighten offers enables you to quickly and effortlessly create console-quality apps using its many advanced features.

Enlighten is priced as per developer requirements. 

What We Like
  • Cross platform.

  • Develop photorealistic graphics.

  • Powerful tool for digital artists.

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive for individual developers.

  • Already integrated into Unity.