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Question about the state of mobile development with Unreal at this moment

Hi everyone,

I am a developer with 5 years of experience in the Unity engine and for our next project I’m considering switching to another engine. Because I have no experience with UE4, I wanted to ask how the current state of the engine is compared to what I have read in the past. How are things like package size and performance overhead at the moment? Do you notice the game engine is better used for PC/console games or is it nicely optimized for mobile as well? I’m really looking for some developers to share their experience and tell me about the strengths and weaknesses of the engine. I’d like to list the pros and cons of multiple engines to make my choice. I’m not really looking for a comparison to Unity, just the strengths and weaknesses that you think are part of Unreal, specifically for mobile development.

If my question is not really in the appropriate subforum, feel free to direct me to the right one.

Thanks!

It’s better and better with every update. It runs very well on mid and high-end devices but it often even doesn’t run on low-end devices. Package size is still a problem - minimum 100 MB… I think UE4 is the best option for advanced and big games but not good for simple games created in 2 weeks… It’s awesome for serious projects :slight_smile:

Thanks for the honest reply! Do you find that not running on the lower-end devices and having a bigger package size influences the downloads of your game much?

Really depends on what you’re building. We are working on an iOS/Android project for a big name project to be released in the new year and until recently was consistently under 100MB though hasn’t been so much recently from a ton of new content added but it can be done. I hope that we will be able to share a number of our experiences developing once the game is released. Lower end devices especially on the Android side can be troublesome and you will need to optimize device settings, content, code, etc. Having said all that as gameDNA said things are getting better with each update and UE4 is gaining fast on the current incumbent in mobile of Unity. Additionally Epic has some of the best support communities both through other community developers and developers at Epic. I have heard that Unity tends to lack in the support area but again that is second hand knowledge from developers who have worked with Unity.

I can tell you that we have been working with UE4 on mobile ever since it was announced as free and it has been one of the best choices we ever made as a company.

I know you mentioned that you were hoping to share your experiences later, but i was hoping you could touch on some points on why your feel it was the best choice for your company.

UE4 has high minimum requirements. And yes, the package size is definitely annoying when the leading competing engine for mobile can crank out apps a 3rd of the size easily.

Basically just decide what you want your minimum spec device to be. At the very lowest end, you will have to go for unlit materials.

LGL15G (or something like that) - dual core processor and I think adreno 302. 512mb ram. $20-30 phone you can buy at a grocery store (I bought this last year). It can handle 16 rotating objects which have specular / roughness whatever set. Not complete mobile HDR (I don’t think) but not unlit material. On top of that some background scenery that is unlit. Runs at around 40 FPS.

I have a Moto G 1st gen which benchmarks about twice as fast as the above, which is something like 3 years old at this point and was mid range then. Runs the same scene except with 48 rotating objects with lighting and it keeps 60fps. Didn’t bother trying to go higher, because that’s as far as my game will go.

I also have a Moto G 4th gen which is a mid range phone from 2016. I haven’t really done any benchmarks, but it blows the other two out of the water. And you can get this phone easily for < $200.

In my case I’ve just decided that the Moto G 1st gen is going to be my minimum spec device. There has to come a point where you say “I want at least this much performance with these visuals”. You don’t need to develop for every phone in the world. And phone performance is just getting better. Maybe if you’re targeting more developing countries you’ll have to be more wary of performance. As it is in the US, most people get a new phone every 1-2 years.


Anyway for sure UE4 is not a lightweight engine. My point is that it’s possible to create games which still run on relatively low performing devices. I mean, compare the specs and benchmarks of my target Moto G 1st gen to the newest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy. UE4 has high requirements for the GPU where other engines might be lighter. It’s just due to how it’s designed. UE4 can give better visual quality, but the cost is it has higher system requirements.

Even for seemingly simple scenes like dynamic lighting without shadows, Unity does much better on low devices. I’m talking a 2012 Nexus tablet. You’d be hardpressed to get 20 dynamically lit objects on the screen at once and keep above 20 fps. Meanwhile the same thing with Unity’s lighter rendering it can hit vsync of 60fps with ease. But really, look at the lighting differences in what you can achieve between the two on mobile and what the minimum you want to support is. I was originally mad UE4 didn’t really perform well on that 2012 tablet but at this point, who even uses it? I don’t. Even my Moto G1 is really slow nowadays.