What is better: a niche 2d game engine that does its job incredibly well or a powerhouse tool for creating games with almost everything you can come up with? This article will review a competition: gamemaker studio 2 vs unity — and help you figure out what game engine is best for your goals.
Do Unity and GameMaker Studio Do the Same Thing?
…as you’ve probably gathered from above, no. Unity is multifunctional and much more packed than GameMaker: Studio 2. Let’s see how these engines are different in detail.
What is GameMaker Studio
GameMaker Studio is an engine that’s aimed primarily at people who create 2D video games. Thanks to GMS, the world has Hotline Miami, Levelhead, Swords of Ditto, and others.
GameMaker Studio 2 is the latest product from the family of cross-platform game engines YoYo Games have been creating since 2007. It has been released in 2017 and updated since.
GameMaker Studio’s functionality for 3D development is quite limited, but YoYo Games developers don’t try to market it as an advanced 3D tool. The 2D gamedev community, on other hand, loves GMS a lot: within 2D capabilities, it rivals Unity and Unreal, — and has a robust and simple development environment. GMS 2 also deals in pixels, not units, so it’s very easy to build pixel games with it (that style is popular right now).
GameMaker Studio 2 has a free version and several subscription tiers for small creators and enterprises. Each paid plan extends the number of platforms to ship a game. The price starts from $49,99/year. In general, GMS 2 is a tool that gets a balance between the flexibility of functionality and ease of use.
What is Unity
Unity is an industry leader among game engines. Between 2005 and 2010, Unity programmers were one of the first who could try building for mobile platforms — because Unity developers understood that the feature is behind them.
In 2022, Unity provides them with tools for building high-end 2D/3D games, VR titles, AR-powered industry apps, and so on. Most games that are released are built with Unity. A few of its latest breakthroughs are Among Us and Genshin Impact.
Unity is free, until the game you’re developing makes $1 million. Subscription’s cost goes from $399/yr.
Unity vs GameMaker Studio 2: What Are the Differences?
Now, let’s look at the differences and similarities in tools and functionality in unity vs gamemaker competition.
As you see from the table above, Unity has a lot of features. However, it doesn’t mean that working in GameMaker Studio is somehow deficient — it simply, as it’s already been mentioned, focused on 2D functionality.
(*It is worth noting that developers of both engines often claim you’ll need no coding knowledge to build the game, but it is an oversimplification. GMS 2 requires people to be able to work with a special brand of object-oriented programming within GameMaker Language (GML) for anything remotely complex mechanically. Unity, similarly, rewards programmers who know C#. With both of them, the more complex the game, the more coding it’s going to need. It’s simply untrue to claim no code is possible for all projects.)
The table above shows that there are only subtle differences between Unity and GameMaker when it comes to 2D game development. Both are pretty good at solving challenges connected to 2D. Some would argue that Unity is even a bit too much for small 2D projects — it requires a lot of setting up for things that could be done easily and quickly with GMS 2. To answer the question “What’s better: GameMaker Studio or Unity?” is quite hard if the conversation is about 2D. It’s a matter of taste and workflow preferences.
3D functionality in GMS 2 is extremely limited, though, while Unity offers many advanced tools for 3D animations, rendering pipelines for designing 3D games, and so on. Here, GMS 2 fails a competition.
Both engines offer tools for shipping games to online stores and features that simplify and streamline monetization, allowing to integrate it into the game early on.
Unity and GameMaker Studio’s program windows are divided into sections for managing different aspects of the game development process: resources, objects, scene view, movement of objects, etc.
It’s easier to organize these screens within GMS 2 than in Unity: Unity’s interface is a lot. It’s been referred to as clunky and overwhelming by many game developers — both novices and those who've been trying to shift to Unity from other engines. So, in terms of interface, working with GMS2 is much more comfortable in terms of understanding what’s where.
Both engines have great GUIs — graphic user interfaces — that allow you to change the code of the game by configuring the visual representation of the code’s elements in real-time.
Programming languages in both engines have been briefly covered above.
Unity uses C#, that’s strongly-typed and has mechanisms for managing all of the above. In terms of ease of coding, Unity programming wins versus the GameMaker.
Graphics and Animation
Developers build amazing 2D games both with GameMaker Studio 2 and Unity — GMS 2 is Unity’s strong competitor in the 2D game market.
Of course, with Unity covering advanced 3D graphics and animation, it does have more to offer.
Working with Unity is complex because of its interface and the number of additional software components (like assets from Unity’s store) you have to manage to build a game. For a beginner, figuring out how to deal with Unity’s UI might be a challenge.
Working with CMS 2 is complex because of how GML handles complexity — it’s been mentioned before. The latest versions attempted to fix the issues with code structuring and object methods, but there are still issues to resolve there. So, for a beginner, figuring out GML and its intricacies might be a challenge. The interface is easy to grasp though.
At the same time, if a person worked with C# — with Unity — it’ll be easy to nail GML. The reverse won’t work due to GML’s specifics.
Both engines have an extensive dev community, developers of Unity and GMS 2 work hard to maintain clear technical documentation and offer various tutorials. Learning programming languages while tying them into what’s happening in-game via the engine's GUI will simplify the process.
Both Unity and GameMaker Studio 2 allow building cross-platform games — both ship for mobile platforms, Windows and Linux, and various console targets.
Unity is a winner here, though, as it helps build games for virtual reality platforms.
Longevity and Support
Both Unity and Gamemaker Studio 2 have been around a long time and both show they’re determined to be sensitive to what gamers and game developers want in terms of functionality. Both provide strong support for their customers: developers do recurrent updates and upgrades, add new features, and fix bugs.
Also, both sometimes prioritize new features over working with UI’s ease of use: see endless discussions of Unity’s clunkiness and GML’s criticism.
Unity has also been adopted by engineering, architecture, construction, and automotive, and is even utilized by the United States Armed Forces.
GameMaker Studio 2’s drag-and-drop mechanism can help people build the entire game from start to finish without coding — they say Ark-22 was built entirely via DnD. (It’s still not advisable to repeat that.)
What Unity and GameMaker Suite Best for
Let’s start with what might impact the answer to that question.
So, GameMaker Studio 2 or Unity? Do you want to build a small 2D game that’ll look good and polished — like Hotline Miami, Disk Room, or Undertale? Pick the first one. Alternatively, if you want a 3D game, ship to a TV or VR platform, or a complex, visually compelling PRG — pick Unity, which was used to develop games like Ori and the Blind Forest, Monument Valley 2, and Hollow Knight. Unity is also perfect for building prototypes for user testing or feature discovery — game studios use the engine to test their hypotheses about game loops and mechanics users will love — to then assemble the game for the final release in a custom-built engine they use internally.
What Tools Integrate with GameMaker Studio 2 and Unity
Here are some of the tools that can be integrated with GameMaker Studio 2 and Unity.
All of these tools — built-in game engines or connecting to them via API — simplify different aspects of game development. For instance, Playfab provides GMS 2 devs with tools for user authentication, whereas Agora equips Unity games with voice and video chats.
Pros and Cons of Both Platforms
Let’s summarize the advantages and drawbacks of the GameMaker Studio 2 vs Unity competition.
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Alternative Game Engines
Both engines discussed in this article have more appropriate rivals. Unity competes with Unreal Engine, a high-end game development software that supports 3D and is used almost as widely as Unity. GameMaker Studio 2 competes over the 2D game development market with Cocos2D and Gadot, open-source engines that are (or have been, initially) focused on the niche.
Both GameMaker Studio 2 and Unity are great game development engines and people build stunning games using them.
GameMaker Studio suits best for 2D games development, for small teams and games, and for developers who like the simple UI of the tool they’re using.
Unity is great for creating 3D games and sophisticated projects.
Also, you can find out in our article a deep comparison of Unity and Cocos 2Dx engines.
Want to understand more about game engines? Check out the detailed comparison of Unity vs. Unreal Engine.
For a much more comprehensive understanding, you can check out statistics of the most used engines by games developers worldwide as of 2023.
iLogos specialists are working day to day with Unity and other game engines. If you are looking for a Unity game developer or programmer for your project you can contact us and we will help with any game development services.
Should I Use Unity or GameMaker Studio 2?
If you need to create a 2D game, pick GameMaker Studio 2. For other 3D projects — or large-scale 2D titles — choose Unity.
What Is the Best Game Engine: Unity or GameMaker?
GameMaker is more affordable and has a better, more straightforward UI while Unity has extensive functionality for building high-end games and C# code is much easier to manage. GMS 2.0 streamlines small projects, but Unity gives more possibilities for building larger projects. In other words, it depends.
What Are the Unity Advantages Over GameMaker?
It’s possible to build 3D games with it. C#, apart from being better for complex projects than GML, also has a huge developer community, so it’s easier to find people to work with when building a game.
Do Unity and GameMaker Do the Same Thing?
Technically, yes: they’re both programs for building games. The differences are many. The main one: GameMaker Studio 2 mainly provides functionality for the development of 2D games, and Unity is very close to an all-encompassing gamedev tool.
Is It Easier to Build a Game in Unity or GameMaker Studio?
Depends on the game and the professional level of the developer. For a beginner, small 2D games are easier to build in GameMaker Studio than in Unity, yes. Complex, visually-heavy games are better handled with Unity — but it isn’t easy at all. (But it’s fun.)