Blockchain gaming is disrupting a multi-billion dollar industry and drawing non-crypto natives into the world of Web3. Blockchain game development platforms like Unity and Unreal Engine allow game developers to create immersive and exciting games that can interact with public blockchains without friction. Unreal Engine and Unity Web3 game development play an essential role in bridging the gap between the traditional gaming world and the new frontier of Web3 gaming. As such, understanding how to use these gaming engines is essential for any aspiring Web3 game developer. However, understanding the differences between them will help you establish which is the best for your next project. So, if you want to learn more about the top blockchain game development platforms, read on!
In this article, we’re going to dive deep into the top blockchain game development platforms. We’ll explore the fundamentals of blockchain gaming and why it is becoming so popular. Also, we’ll discuss how you can get started with Unreal Engine and Unity Web3 game development. Plus, we’ll give you some pointers to help you decide which is the best for you!
What is Blockchain Gaming?
Blockchain gaming, or Web3 gaming, combines video games with blockchain technology. It allows players to interact with decentralized applications (dapps) and participate in token economies using cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) within a gaming environment. The introduction of cryptocurrencies, decentralized finance (DeFi), and NFTs is transforming the gaming landscape by incentivizing players to have “skin in the game”. The concept of GameFi (gaming and finance) couples game-theoretic dynamics with DeFi incentives to enable players to earn a passive income.
Not every aspect of a Web3 game is recorded on the blockchain. Most of the basic mechanics of Web3 game development rely on conventional programming methods and operate on servers and consoles like regular games. However, in-game economies, leaderboards, NFTs, in-game items, character upgrades, and DeFi features all rely on public blockchain networks. As such, blockchain game development platforms allow players to interact with blockchain networks in multiple ways.
Several sub-categories exist within the Web3 gaming landscape. One of the biggest drivers of blockchain adoption in recent months is metaverse gaming platforms. The metaverse is the next iteration of the internet. It combines three-dimensional virtual worlds, augmented reality, NFTs, and token economies. Another catalyst for Web3 gaming adoption is the play-to-earn (P2E) model. P2E gaming platforms enable players to earn cryptocurrency rewards by competing in tournaments, battles, and challenges. The P2E model has been highly influential, creating similar gaming genres like learn-to-earn (L2E) and move-to-earn (M2E).
Cryptocurrencies and NFTs play an essential role in Web3 gaming. Players earn cryptocurrencies by completing tasks and participating in tournaments. These tokens often play a wider role in a gaming economy by facilitating the purchase of in-game items and other assets. Also, players can use their earnings to buy NFTs and other digital assets like swords, shields, virtual land, and potions to help them progress throughout the game. Plus, the ownership of digital assets is immutably recorded on-chain for everyone to see.
Furthermore, Web3 games allow players to stake their crypto rewards or participate in yield farming and other elements of decentralized finance (DeFi). Accordingly, blockchain games introduce exciting dynamics to familiar gaming concepts to encourage adoption and continuous gameplay. Plus, players gain more than just bragging rights from their victories!
Common Features of Web3 Game Development
If you’re planning to integrate Web3 into your game development, you’re probably going to need to consider some popular features. Firstly, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are a staple in Web3 gaming. As such, you may need to learn how to get NFT metadata. Also, you may want to develop an NFT marketplace to enable players to buy and sell in-game items.
Also, you might want to consider how your players will connect to the blockchain when interacting with your game. Some Web3 games use an integrated wallet, while others allow players to connect via popular wallets like MetaMask when making in-game transactions. Additionally, if your game features elements of decentralized finance (DeFi), such as staking or yield farming, you’re likely going to need to understand how to program smart contracts.
Top Blockchain Game Development Platforms
Anybody who wants to pursue a career in Web3 game development needs to be aware of the top blockchain game development platforms. Although several gaming engines are compatible with Web3, Unity and Unreal Engine are the go-to engines for an overwhelming majority of the top 1,000 games. Below, we take a closer look at the most popular and widely-used blockchain game development platforms.
Developed by Epic Games and showcased in 1998, Unreal Engine is a leading game engine for real-time 3D computer graphics in gaming, film, and television. It allows game developers to create realistic animations and 3D worlds with flexibility and fidelity on several platforms. Also, Unreal Engine enables developers to create next-generation graphics, physics, and interactive experiences that are raising the bar for the entire gaming industry.
If you play 3D games, you’ve probably come across multiple titles created on Unreal Engine. In fact, Unreal Engine has become an industry standard throughout the gaming world. This principle also extends to the Web3 gaming industry. As crypto gaming platforms move beyond 2D RPGs and arcade games, Unreal Engine is becoming one of the top blockchain game programming platforms.
Furthermore, Unreal Engine allows artists and game designers to build games using blueprints instead of code. Accordingly, the platform caters to programmers and non-programmers alike. When it comes to pricing, both platforms are free. However, unlocking advanced features on each platform encounters a paywall. Unreal Engine uses a royalty fee model. However, developers are not required to pay royalty fees for games published via Unity. Also, Unity offers a subscription service for Unity Pro, which costs around $75 per month.
Unreal Engine Features
As Unreal Engine is the industry-standard engine for cutting-edge graphics, it provides artist-friendly authoring, retargeting, and runtime features. Also, the platform offers an expansive toolset that reduces iterations and optimizes the creative process. Also, the drag-and-drop functionality of the integrated Quixel Bridge makes it incredibly easy to create. Furthermore, Unreal Engine allows users to import complex multi-polygon shapes that can be used with real-time frame rates for maximum fidelity.
When it comes to adding detailed graphics to games, Unreal Engine is the go-to choice of many prominent games studios. For example, Unreal Engine allows developers to create dynamic shadows and complex geometric patterns that are super-realistic. Also, the gaming engine makes it easy to manage multi-dimensional worlds across multiple levels with an ergonomic and intuitive workflow.
Unity Web3 Game Development
Developed by Unity Technologies and released in 2005, Unity is a cross-platform game engine that was originally developed for Mac OS X. Unity is highly accessible for new and independent developers, development teams, and independent or solo programmers. Also, the Unity Editor tool works like photoshop and allows developers and artists to build in the editor itself and deploy to multiple different platforms.
Furthermore, Unity is an extremely versatile game engine for development, testing, and deployment. In 2021, 72% of the top 1,000 games were created using Unity. Also, the gaming engine lends itself to multiple applications, including user interface (UI), input, audio, physics, graphics, animation, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and scripting in C#.
How Does Unity Web3 Game Development Work?
Unity projects are separated into “Scenes”. For example, you could have one Scene for the game menu, and another for each level of the game. Also, Unity games rely on the concept of the “GameObject”. GameObjects represent points in 3D space like a floor or a wall. They consist of multiple C# components that define single objects like inputs or rendering. Additionally, Unity uses a “Prefab” template and instancing model. This allows developers to reuse objects like players and coins and quickly adjust them on the fly with a single amendment. Plus, artists and developers can make very basic graphics in each scene and quickly adjust them or add detail later in the process.
The Unity Web3 game development platform saves developers time by allowing them to tweak components at runtime. Also, it features multiple advanced testing options and plug-and-play connectivity with almost any C# library. With Unity, you don’t need to build for any specific device. Instead, you can decide at a later date. Furthermore, you only need to step outside of Unity to edit code. This makes it a comprehensive development environment that you can use throughout your programming journey.
The intuitive and ergonomic workflow is similar to Photoshop and other popular media editing software. Plus, the visual scripting features cater to artists with no coding experience. This makes it ideal for artists, composers, directors, and other non-programmers. If you want to get started with Unity Web3 game development, check out the Unity Blockchain Game Development course at Moralis Academy.
Unity vs Unreal
Both Unity and Unreal Engine are industry-standard engines within the Web3 gaming space. Also, both engines operate cross-platform and make it easy for non-developers to build next-generation Web3 games. However, Unreal Engine is the leading platform for 3D graphics. Despite this, Unity is still capable of creating world-class graphics. On the other hand, Unity lends itself particularly well to mobile games. Additionally, both blockchain game development platforms use common scripting languages. Unity uses C# and the proprietary UnityScript language. Meanwhile, Unreal Engine uses C++. Also, both platforms offer script-free game development options for non-programmers.
As two of the leading game development engines, Unity and Unreal Engine both have expansive communities consisting of avid followers and developers. Furthermore, both engines feature seamless Web3 integration. That said, the dominance of mobile and 2D gaming within the blockchain gaming world suggests that it could be some time before Web3 games fully utilize the full potential of Unreal Engine.
Also, because Unity lends itself to 2D puzzle-based games so readily, it has become one of the most dominant blockchain game development platforms. Despite this, the graphics and interactivity in Web3 games is improving rapidly. As such, both Unity and Unreal Engine are essential blockchain game development platforms.
One of the key differences is that Unity is well-suited to smaller teams. Unreal Engine is somewhat tailored to suit the needs of the biggest game studios with access to a significant workforce. This has enabled Unity to gain popularity among independent game developers and smaller teams that want to create complex, evolving storylines with modest budgets.
Top Blockchain Game Development Platforms – Summary
Both Unreal Engine and the Unity Web3 game development platform allow developers to create next-generation games that boast an array of Web3 features. Selecting the most appropriate blockchain game programming platforms will ensure that your games can seamlessly interact with public blockchains. Plus, it allows players to participate in token economies as part of an immersive gaming experience.
Whether you work as part of a small team or a larger commercial studio, integrating blockchain technology into your productions is more accessible than ever before. There has never been a better time to learn a new skill that you can apply in a multi-billion dollar industry. Moralis Academy is at the forefront of blockchain and Web3 education. If you want to join the blockchain gaming revolution, check out our Ethereum Game Programming course. This course teaches students everything they need to know to become an Ethereum game developer. Plus, we show you how to build your own NFT game with no previous experience required. Kickstart your Web3 game development journey with Moralis Academy!
Also, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @MoralisAcademy! We’d love to hear your thoughts about Unreal Engine and Unity Web3 game development. Additionally, check out our “How to Invest During a Crypto Bear Market” and “Understanding Crypto Crashes” articles to learn how to preserve your wealth during periods of economic decline!