6 Top Programming Languages to Level Up Your Game Development
For Developers

February 15, 2024

6 Top Programming Languages to Level Up Your Game Development

The gaming industry has evolved from simple arcade games to awe-inspiring, immersive experiences that capture the hearts of millions worldwide. It's no surprise that this industry is booming, with video game revenue projected to surpass $365 billion in 2023, boasting a remarkable annual growth rate of 7.17%.

Number of Gamers by region

According to Statista, the video game development market value is set to soar to a whopping $268.81 billion by 2025. Behind the scenes of these sensational games, we find the masterminds – the developers. Armed with their programming prowess, they craft lengthy source code, directing computers to bring these intuitive and mind-blowing video games to life.

Also read: Inside the world of game development: 5 stages of video game creation

Buckle up as we present you with a rundown of the top 7 programming languages reigning supreme in the realm of game development today. 

Let’s dive in! 

Minecraft

1. C++

C++ is a suitable language for creating games due to its exceptional performance, close-to-hardware capabilities, portability, and compatibility with game engines and libraries. Its extensive features and strong community support make it a go-to choice for game developers aiming to craft high-quality, immersive gaming experiences: 

3 key game development features: 

  • Performance: C++ is renowned for its high performance, making it ideal for resource-intensive tasks like game development. It allows developers to have fine-grained control over memory allocation and usage, leading to efficient and optimized code execution. This level of performance is crucial for delivering smooth and responsive gaming experiences.
Also read: C++ vs Rust: Is C++ being replaced by Rust
  • Close to Hardware: C++ is known for its "close to the metal" nature, meaning it provides direct access to hardware features. In game development, this is vital for handling low-level graphics rendering, physics simulations, and input/output operations efficiently. Having this level of control ensures that games can take full advantage of the underlying hardware, resulting in superior performance.
  • Game Engines and Libraries: Many popular game engines and libraries are built using C++ as their primary language. Engines like Unreal Engine, CryEngine, and Godot are all developed in C++, offering extensive features and tools for game development.

Popular Games: Minecraft, World of Warcraft, League of Legends

Learn about careers as a Unity Developer on Jooble

2. C#

C# is a top choice for game development due to its powerful OOP capabilities, seamless integration with Unity 3D, and beginner-friendly syntax. With C#, developers can build complex and immersive gaming experiences, leveraging Unity's robust features and fostering collaboration within development teams. Its versatility and user-friendly nature make C# an excellent language for creating games across a variety of platforms and genres.

3 key game development features:

  • Unity 3D Integration: C# is the scripting language of choice for Unity 3D, one of the most popular and robust game engines in the industry. Unity offers an extensive ecosystem, providing a wide range of tools, assets, and resources for game developers. C# seamlessly integrates with Unity's components and APIs, simplifying the process of creating interactive environments, character behaviors, and game mechanics. This tight integration empowers developers to focus on game logic and design, while Unity handles the underlying rendering and physics systems.
  • Object-Oriented Programming (OOP): C# is a powerful object-oriented language, allowing developers to organize their code into reusable and modular objects. In game development, this feature is invaluable for creating complex game systems, character behaviors, and interactive elements. OOP fosters code maintainability, as developers can easily update and extend functionalities without affecting the entire codebase. This enables faster iteration and development, essential for creating engaging and dynamic gameplay experiences.
  • Versatility: C# is extensively utilized by game developers to create Xbox and Microsoft One games through the MonoGame framework. Its scripting capabilities also contribute to many PlayStation console games.

Popular games: Unity's popularity stems from its versatility, powering an array of hit games like Pokémon Go, Super Mario Run, and Temple Run

Apply for jobs in C#. What’s in it for you? High-paying remote software jobs with top US, UK & EU projects→ 

Angry Birds

3. JavaScript

JavaScript's seamless integration with web technologies, built-in stability, and support for animations and interactivity make it an excellent choice for online game development. Its widespread adoption and extensive community support, along with the availability of game engines like Phaser, MelonJS, and PandaEngine, have solidified JavaScript's position as a powerful and versatile language for creating popular games like Angry Birds, Alchemy, Gods Will Be Watching, and Cross Code.

3 key game development features: 

  • Web Technology Integration: As the language of the internet, JavaScript is a natural choice for online game development. It seamlessly integrates with HTML and CSS, enabling developers to create interactive games that run directly in web browsers. With the advent of HTML5, a core web technology, JavaScript-powered games can now run not only on desktop browsers but also on Android and iOS mobile devices. This wide compatibility allows game developers to reach a broad audience and ensures easy accessibility for players.
  • Built-in Stability and Hosting: JavaScript's built-in stability ensures that online games run smoothly and reliably, providing a seamless gaming experience to players. Hosting and maintaining online games is also simplified due to JavaScript's widespread support and stable performance across various platforms. This ease of hosting and maintenance makes it more convenient for developers to manage and update their games, allowing them to focus on improving gameplay and adding new content.
  • Animation and Interactivity: JavaScript's support for animations and interactive elements is crucial for creating engaging and visually appealing games. Developers can easily implement smooth animations, dynamic visual effects, and responsive user interactions using JavaScript. Additionally, JavaScript's versatility allows game developers to access a wide array of pre-built elements, libraries, and frameworks that speed up the development process and enhance the overall gaming experience.

Popular games: Angry Birds, Alchemy, and Gods Will Be Watching.

Apply for jobs in JavaScript. What’s in it for you? High-paying remote software jobs with top US, UK & EU projects→ 

4. Java

Java's ease of use, platform independence, multithreading capabilities, and support for socket programming make it a suitable language for game development. Its versatility, performance, and accessibility have enabled the creation of popular games like Minecraft, Runescape, and Mission Impossible III. The availability of game engines like jMonkeyEngine, Jake2, and LibGDX further enhances Java's appeal as a viable option for developing a wide range of games across different platforms and genres.

3 key game development features: 

  • Platform Independence and JVM: One of the most significant advantages of Java is its platform independence. Games developed using Java run on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), which acts as an abstraction layer between the code and the underlying hardware. This enables Java games to be executed on various platforms, including Windows, macOS, Linux, and mobile devices, without the need for major modifications to the code. This portability ensures a wider reach for games and facilitates cross-platform development.
  • Multithreading and Performance: Java's multithreading feature is a key advantage for game development. Games often require handling various tasks concurrently, such as gameplay logic, graphics rendering, and user input. Java's built-in support for multithreading enables efficient management of these tasks on a single CPU, leading to smoother and more responsive gameplay. Additionally, Java's Just-In-Time (JIT) compilation and efficient garbage collection contribute to its performance, making it a viable option for resource-intensive games.
  • Socket Programming and Multiplayer Capabilities: Java provides robust socket programming capabilities, making it well-suited for creating multiplayer games. With socket programming, game developers can establish network connections between players, enabling real-time interactions and multiplayer gameplay experiences. This feature is essential for developing engaging and socially interactive games that thrive on multiplayer interactions.

Popular games: Minecraft, Runescape, and Mission Impossible III

Learn about careers as a Unity Developer on Jooble
Battlefield 2

5. Python

Python's code readability, simplicity, and beginner-friendly nature, combined with the PyGame library's convenience, make it an attractive choice for game development, particularly for beginners and small-scale projects. While it may not be as prevalent in the gaming industry as other languages, Python's strengths in education, data science, and research contribute to its growing popularity among game developers seeking an accessible and versatile language for creating games. The availability of game engines like PyGame, Ren.py, and Godot further reinforces Python's potential as a suitable language for developing a variety of games, such as Mount and Blade, Toontown, and Battlefield 2.

3 key game development features:

  • Beginner-Friendly and Learning-Focused: Python's simplicity and readability make it an excellent language for aspiring game developers who are just starting. It serves as a kick-starting language for newcomers in the programming world. By choosing Python, beginners can quickly grasp the fundamental concepts of programming without being overwhelmed by complex syntax, allowing them to focus on learning game development concepts and mechanics.
  • PyGame Library: Python's game development capabilities are enhanced by the PyGame library, which is dedicated to creating games using Python. PyGame provides a range of built-in tools and modules that simplify game development tasks, such as handling graphics, sound, and user input. Its ease of use and platform independence make it a popular choice for developing 2D games quickly. Additionally, PyGame comes with installers for Windows and macOS, easing the setup process and enabling developers to dive straight into game development.
  • Extensibility and Community Support: Despite not being as widely used as some other languages for game development, Python has a dedicated and growing community of developers and enthusiasts. The extensibility of Python allows for the integration of C/C++ libraries, expanding its capabilities and supporting integration with existing codebases. The active Python game development community provides support, tutorials, and resources that are valuable for both newcomers and experienced game developers.

Popular games: Mount&Blade, Toontown, Battlefield 2

Apply for jobs in Python. What’s in it for you? High-paying remote software jobs with top US, UK & EU projects→ 

6. Lua

Lua's lightweight, fast performance, embeddability, and extensive community support make it an excellent choice for game development. Its efficiency and speed are particularly advantageous for resource-limited platforms, while its scripting capabilities and extensibility empower developers to create dynamic and engaging games. The success of popular games like Roblox, Age of Conan, Broken Age, and the integration of Lua into game engines like WorldForge, Cocos2D, and CraftStudio further exemplify Lua's suitability and effectiveness in the realm of game development.

3 key game development features:

  • Lightweight and Fast: Lua is known for its extremely minimal footprint and high-speed performance. It is designed to run efficiently on resource-constrained devices and virtual machines, making it ideal for game development, especially in scenarios where performance optimization is crucial. Its lightweight nature allows game developers to build games that run smoothly on various platforms, including mobile devices and consoles, without consuming excessive resources.
  • Embeddability and Scripting: Lua's embeddability is one of its key strengths. Many popular game engines, such as Corona SDK, integrate Lua as a scripting language, allowing developers to add custom functionality and extend the engine's capabilities easily. The language's simple and intuitive syntax facilitates rapid prototyping and iteration, enabling game developers to experiment and iterate more quickly. Moreover, Lua's scripting capabilities make it a valuable tool for implementing complex game mechanics and interactions.
  • Extensibility and Community Support: Lua is designed to be easily extended through C/C++ libraries, enhancing its capabilities and enabling integration with existing codebases. This extensibility fosters a strong community-driven ecosystem, providing a wealth of libraries, frameworks, and tools tailored for game development. The Lua community is actively engaged in the development of game-related resources, offering valuable support and documentation for aspiring game developers.

Popular Games: Roblox, Age of Canon, Broken Age

Learn about careers as a Unity Developer on Jooble

Wrapping up

Still wondering which programming language is best for game development? The answer depends on the type of game you want to create. For instance, if you're planning a 2D platformer, languages like Lua and JavaScript might suit you well. However, for a 3D first-person shooter, C++ or C# could be more fitting. To simplify your decision-making process, we've categorized common game development scenarios and their ideal programming languages:

  1. Simple Games: Python, Lua, JavaScript, C#
  2. 3D Games: C++, C#
  3. AR/VR Games: C++, C#, JavaScript, Swift
  4. PC Games: C++, C#, Java, Python
  5. Console Games: C++, C#
  6. AAA games: C++, C#
  7. Android Games: Java, C++, C#
  8. iOS Games: Swift, C++, C#
  9. Web Games: JavaScript, Python

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