The app store revolution has seen the cost of publishing your own videogame drastically decline. So it only makes sense that game building tools have evolv
The app store revolution has seen the cost of publishing your own videogame drastically decline. So it only makes sense that game building tools have evolved to take advantage of this trend. While still limited in terms of their flexibility, these game makers have started to produce titles that can rival those built by more powerful engines such as Unity. What’s more the mobile game gold rush has seen a big spike in competition, increasing the range of game makers available – from simple drag-and-drop affairs, to systems that more closely mimic traditional programming.
In this round-up we’ve provided a list of all the Android game makers that are currently available. The main qualifiers for this list are that the tool does not require coding knowledge and lets users easily export their creation to Android. If you think we’ve missed any platforms get in touch and let us know.
The best Android game makers
Game Maker is pretty much the granddaddy of game building tools that don’t require coding knowledge and probably considered the most advanced non-coding platform out there, with some comparing to the industry standard Unity in terms of its sophistication. There’s been a number of successful games created on Game Maker, including titles such as ‘Hotline Miami’ and ‘Gun Point,’ which were met not only with commercial success but were also praised by game critics. However, due to its relative power, Game Maker is probably the most difficult tool to learn when you compare it against other tools on this list such as Stencyl and Game Salad. In fact, some may say you’re better off getting to grips with Unity. It’s also expensive, costing $399 for the version that supports Android, and $799 for the full version that supports all platforms.
Price: $99 for non-mobile, +$399 for Android support, $799 for complete cross platform support
Game Salad is one of the original mobile game creation tools, launching back in 2009 and originally focusing on iOS. The platform has since expanded to Android, as well as Windows Phone. Game Salad works on a behaviour system, offering a graphical user interface that lets you set the behaviour of game objects, such as movement, changing attribute states, etc, without any knowledge of programming. The tool has been used to create a lot of games over the last few years (200,000 according to the website ) and Game Salad claims that around 70 of its titles have reached the top 100 charts on Google Play and the App Store. A number of professional dev studios also use Game Salad for prototyping. You can download the tool for free and try it out, but if you want to publish on Android you have to stump-up $299 per year. There’s also a marketplace, where you can buy art assets created by other developers.
Stencyl very much prides itself on offering a simple, intuitive and good looking user interface to develop games. The platform was launched back in 2011 and breaks down code and game logic into modular pieces, called behaviours and events. Stencyl goes-up directly against Game Salad in terms of its ease of use and sophistication – which one is better really depends on who you ask, so you might as well try both and see what fits. Stencyl is reasonably cheaper though, costing $199 per month for the ability to export games to Google Play, compared to Game Salad’s $299.
Price. $99 for non-mobile games, $199 to export to Android
PlayMaker + Unity
Unity is one of the most popular professional tools for making Android games, but it does require users to learn a programming language. However, you can use Unity in combination with PlayMaker , which lets you build games via something called ‘visual state mechanics.’ This is much simpler to understand and pick-up than Unity on its own, but is probably still a step above more basic game makers such as Stencyl and Game Salad. If you’re looking to learn game development longer term – and eventually want to move onto Unity itself – then perhaps using PlayMaker is a good first step.
Game Builder Studio
Game Builder Studio is a multi-layered editor that uses a drag and drop interface to build games, while also allowing experienced developers to add custom code to the project. The platform is well supported and recently integrated Spine Pro, which lets users create quite sophisticated 2D animated characters via procedural bone manipulation, as well as support for the Ouya Android console. Pricing seems pretty reasonable too at $99 for a one time payment, though if you want multiplayer support that will bump things up to $199 per year.
Price. $99 (single payment)
A relative newcomer to the market, the UK-based PlayIR launched last year and focuses on multiplayer 3D games. The interface looks very simple and works on a drag and drop basis, with pre-made character models and animations. PlayIR also features real-time updates, multi-platform editing and collaborative editing. Pricing starts from $20 per month.
Clickteam Fusion 2.5
Clickteam Fusion 2.5 is a 2D only game creator from the same people behind the console-focused Game Factory platform. The tool uses an event editor system to allow users to create both Android games and apps, but the focus is mainly on games. The creators say you can learn the basics of Fusion within an hour and the platform is also offered to educational institutions on a special license. One of the benefits of Fusion 2.5 over other platforms is there’s no monthly fee, instead you can just buy the software outright for £59.99 (around $99).
Clickteam Fusion in action
Engine 001 was released back in 2006 and offers both graphical scripting, for users with no coding background, and text scripting for those with some coding experience. Be warned Android support and Google Play distribution is in beta at the moment. Engine 001 is also 2D only, so if you want to create an immersive FPS or something then look elsewhere. But for retro-looking games Engine 001 looks like a decent bet. It’s also relatively cheap compared to some of the other makers on this list, costing $100 per year.
App Salute Creator
App Salute Creator is a recently-launched game building platform from Ukraine-based developer Absolutist. AppSalute uses a simple drag-and-drop interface and seems like a good fit for basic games, like hidden object, match 3, and other puzzle genres, but may not cope to well with more complex projects. Only problem is… when we downloaded the software we couldn’t get the menus displaying in English and therefore couldn’t view pricing details.
Another 2D-only platform, Game Editor ’s big selling point is that it’s open source and you can therefore fiddle with the tool itself to help you create apps. However, this is something only advanced users will ever make use of. In terms of basic features, Game Editor uses drag-and-drop visual editor as well as an events/actions driven system. The good thing is Game Editor is largely free-to-use, the bad news is that’s it’s not quite as slick as the other platforms on this list, such as Stencyl and Game Salad, but worth trying out.
For more Android game tools check out our directory. If you think we’ve missed any game maker platforms on this list let us know .
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