You probably have some cool game ideas on your mind but learning how to code sounds really intimidating for you? That is true, it takes a lot of time learning how to code games and you are likely to give up way before the creation of your own.
To help you avoid this case scenario, I have come up with a list of the best game development software for beginners, so you will be able to skip the learning process and start working on your own piece straightaway.
As a bonus, in the second part, I have mentioned some best game development software for PROs in case you are already a professional game developer or want to be one. They will definitely help you become more flexible in your own games.
Best Game Development Software for Beginners
One of the best game development software for beginners is Stencyl.
With Stencyl, you can create your own games without coding using their simple drag and drop editor. If you are familiar with Scratch – a software which helps kids to understand computer science, Stencyl works the same way, but it has a much bigger choice of ready to use code blocks.
Besides easy to use coding features, there are simplified game designing tools which will significantly help you in making characters, terrains, and tiles.
Although Stencyl is a free game development software, there are few limitations which you can get access to only with the paid options.
In the free version, you can publish your games only to the web. To be able to publish games on desktop platforms, you have to pay $99 per year. And in case you are making games for Android or iOS users, there is an additional $100 to be paid.
Examples of games made with Stencyl – http://www.stencyl.com/game/showcase/.
2. GameMaker Studio
The second best game development software for beginners is GameMaker Studio.
As well as Stencyl, GMS has an easy to use drag and drop interface which can be easily extended with the ability to code by more advanced users.
Another similarity between these best game development software for beginners is that they both have a free plan limited by exporting features and watermark inclusion.
To pass by the restriction, you have to pay for one of its versions. In addition to this, you will also get an advanced game designing tools and an ability to add unlimited assets to the project.
In GameMaker Studio, you have to pay from $39 to $1500 per year depending from the platform you are developing games for.
The biggest advantage GMS has over Stencyl is the ability to export games not only for PC and mobile but consoles as well.
Another great advantage of GameMaker is a bigger flexibility in game styles.
Examples of games developed with GameMaker Studio – https://www.yoyogames.com/showcase.
3. Adventure Game Studio
Adventure Game Studio is a completely free game development software.
This tool is very easy to start and has tons of useful resources for game development such as characters, templates, fonts, backgrounds, and more.
Moreover, Adventure Game Studio is designed only for developing games of “Adventure” genre. And while a lot of people think of this as a disadvantage, I disagree with them.
Focusing on “Adventure” style of games, Adventure Game Studio makes creating an environment of the game easier.
Furthermore, there is already a lot of different game development software which can be used to create games of any other types.
On the other hand, AGS is not perfect either because it is able to create games only for desktop platforms.
Personally, I would be more satisfied if I were able to export my games for mobile as well.
Examples of games created with Adventure Game Studio – http://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/site/games/
4. RPG Maker
RPG Maker is another best game development software for beginners which is also sharpened by the game style. As you might have already understood, this is an RPG.
With its drag and drop editor and ready-made assets, you can quickly create simply looking role-playing games for browser, desktop, and mobile platforms.
But it is worth mentioning that you won’t be able to develop games for any commercial purposes with its trial version which can be upgraded to PRO for $79.99 (in my opinion, RPG maker is a little overpriced).
Games created with RPG Maker – http://www.rpgmakerweb.com/download/additional/sample-games
The next best game development software in my list is GameSalad.
As well as the other game development software it supports cross-platform publishing, has a convenient drag and drop editor, and offers a lot of useful assets. Unfortunately, with its free version, you will be able to publish your games only for macOS and iOS.
To get the access to other platforms, you have to pay $29 per month for GameSalad’s PRO version.
One of the core features of GameSalad is the behavior library that helps to add complex behaviors without coding.
Examples of games created with GameSalad – https://gamesalad.com/featured-games/.
FlowLab is the best game development software that allows creating games within the comfort of your own browser.
This web-based game development software has very useful drawing tools which help to create your own game assets of a high quality without any drawing skills.
The huge downside FlowLab has is their free version.
It supports only up to 50 in-game objects and up to 5 levels. Moreover, you cannot create more than 3 games, there is no game exporting, and you can’t upload your own sound effects.
On the other hand, the paid version is comparatively cheap and costs only $10 per month.
Examples of games made with FlowLab – http://flowlab.io/game/browse.
7. ClickTeam Fusion 2.5
This tool is not the best game development software for beginners because it requires some coding, but it is not complex and can be learned fast.
The most valuable feature I find in ClickTeam Fusion 2.5 is the event editor. It is a very useful and simple way to set up game behaviors and interactions between other objects.
Another great tool ClickTeam Fusion 2.5 has is an easy to use visual editor which helps to create amazing 2D graphics for your game.
While this game development tool has a lot of useful features, there are some drawbacks as well.
Firstly, the free version is pretty much limited in terms of functionality.
Secondly, it supports only limited publishing to the web platforms.
The paid version of ClickTeam Fusion 2.5 starts from $99. But this version gives you access only to the development tools that are not available in the free option.
To get exporting features, you have to pay for each platform separately. And that is why I don’t recommend it.
Examples of games you can create with ClickTeam Fusion 2.5 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1GXK4uxXT8.
8. Construct 3
The next best game development software where you can build games without programming skills is Construct 3.
Construct 3 is pretty much similar to game development software mentioned above as it has an intuitive visual interface that helps to create games in a drag and drop way.
Besides that, this game development tool has kind of similar event editor with ClickTeam Fusion 2.5.
Along with these game development features that simplify the coding process, Construct has something for designing games too (there are lots of assets such as visual effects, shaders, etc.).
In case you are not satisfied with standard assets, you can always download new ones from Scirra Store.
The payment policy in Construct 3 the same as well.
With the free version, you can publish games to the Web only. And if you are ready to pay $8.26 per month, you will get access to desktop, console, and mobile platforms.
Examples of games made with Construct 3 – https://www.construct.net/en/make-games/showcase.
Best Game Development Software for PROs
The first best game development software for professional developers is Cocos2D.
The tool is open source which means you can create 2D games for mobile and PC platforms without paying anything.
And if you already familiar with one of them, Cocos2D will provide you with its helpful functionality.
Also, it is worth mentioning that Cocos2D is one of the easiest game development software for professional developers.
Here you can find some of the latest games developed with Cocos2D – https://discuss.cocos2d-x.org/c/game-demo-showcase.
2. Unreal Engine 4
Nowadays, Unreal Engine 4 is being used by the top game development studios because of its powerful functionality and unlimited capabilities.
Thus, I think I can give it a title of the best game development software.
Besides all common platforms such as consoles, mobile phones, and PCs, Unreal Engine 4 also exports games to VR platforms. And if you are young and just starting out in game development, I would definitely recommend you to consider studying it.
As you may have already noticed, popular platforms are flooded with games of any kind, but Virtual Reality is in an emerging stage right now and when you get familiar with Unreal Engine 4, there will be a big demand for VR games. And I am more than sure you will be able to crush it even if you build a mediocre game.
There are two ways you can build game logic in Unreal Engine 4: coding and visual scripting.
So if you are good with C++, the first option is for you.
Alternatively, you can use the blueprint system which allows building game logic without coding at all.
Yes, you have read it correctly, no coding at all to create games on the most powerful game engine in the world.
In addition to that, Unreal Engine 4 is also stuffed with a bunch of useful game assets; therefore, you won’t be spending a lot of time building things like AI or visual effects.
Pricing system here is simple.
You can use it for free without any limitations but once your game revenue reaches $3,000, you will start paying 5% of every item sold.
Here you can find a list of all successful games built with Unreal Engine – https://wiki.unrealengine.com/Unreal_Engine_Games.
I am sure you have already played them before.
3. Unity 3D
The next best game development software I want to review is Unity 3D.
It is probably the most popular game development software among the amateur developers. And there are reasons for that.
First of all, Unity 3D is completely free and you only have to pay for it in case your revenue from games is higher than $100,000. Then, there is a monthly fee starting from $25 per month.
Probably, this is not the money to care about when you earn that much.
Secondly, with this game development software, you can create games of any kind and export them for any possible platform.
Lastly, there is an asset store where you can download for free or buy any game component you are interested in (even the whole game) and then customize it.
To start using Unity 3D you must be familiar with C# which is way easier than C++.
And this is actually another reason why developers prefer Unity 3D to Unreal Engine.
Games made with Unity 3D – https://unity3d.com/games-made-with-unity.
4. Godot Engine
Godot Engine is an easier alternative to Unity 3D.
So, while there are lots of familiarities between them, let’s just mention what is different in Godot Engine.
Although you can create 2D games on these both game engines, I would recommend you doing this in Godot Engine.
From the start of Unity, there was not any 2D functionality, and it was added only in 2013 over the 3D engine which now causes some bugs and slows gaming experience.
On the other hand, creating 2D games in Godot Engine was a planned feature and its developers made sure it works perfectly with great performance and no bugs.
The second advantage of Godot Engine is being an open source project.
Thus, even if your game will bring a lot of income, you won’t have to share it with the game development software you build a product with.
Lastly, you can use a drag and drop editor to build a game logic and customize it with code (GDScript, C#, or C++) only in case you need it.
Actually, I wanted to add it in the best game development software for beginners section first, but it can be hard to get started with for a complete newbie.
Games created with Godot Engine – https://godotengine.org/showcase.
MonoGame is totally free, and you don’t have to share your revenue with anybody.
With this game development software, you can create games for all popular platforms (macOS, Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, PS4, Xbox One, PS Vita, and Nintendo Switch) using C# that allows creating pretty fast and reliable game code.
Although developing games with MonoGame may seem intimidating for beginner’s eyes, I definitely recommend it in case you are looking for 2D game development software.
Also, MonoGame supports 3D, but you will not create a masterpiece with it, so you would better start with Unity.
Games made with MonoGame – http://www.monogame.net/showcase/.
In PlayCanvas, games can be created only for the Web platforms, but don’t let this fact discourage you.
Most of the games you have ever played in your browser are likely to be made with this tool.
Another cool feature this game development platform has is mobile optimization. Thus, games created with PlayCanvas are performing incredibly well even on old smartphones.
There are three pricing plans in PlayCanvas: Free, Personal, and Organization. And while paid options have a great functionality, the free one is pretty much limited.
That said, you will get access to 200 MB online storage and to host your games directly on their servers but there is no way to export them and host on your own.
Also, I want to urge you that all your projects made in the free version will be visible to the other users, so there is no way to hold them in secrecy.
Just take a look at these awesome games developed with PlayCanvas – https://playcanvas.com/explore.
7. Corona SDK
The last tool I want to mention in my best game development software list is Corona SDK.
This game engine is recommended to be used for mobile development, but you can create desktop games as well.
The core programming language here is Lua, which means even if you don’t know its syntax, it will be easy to figure it out. Besides this, Lua is a lightweight and fast scripting language, so your games will have a high performance.
Another great feature of Corona SDK is their marketplace. There, you can buy or download for free game templates, plugins to extend your development capabilities, graphics, and audio.
You can literally download Flappy Birds and customize it to your needs. And I think this is awesome.
Moreover, it is completely free, so don’t dwell and test it out!
Here you can find the best games developed with Corona SDK – https://coronalabs.com/stories/.
I hope this list of the best game development software was useful for you.
Although it is not complete, I have gathered all the best game development software you can find today.
So now you have to pick up the right tool to make your dream gaming project become a reality and immediately get started.
And remember, in spite of the game engine you choose, there will always be difficulties on your way. Just don’t give up!
Also, let me know which game development software you like the most in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!