When you decide you want to make a game there is a ton of information out there. And when it comes to game engines there are lots of options! Here is a list I have compiled of some game engines, what they can do, and their cost.
Some info and prices may change over time but I will try to keep this list updated. If you see something wrong please let me know so we can continue to help others!
10 Game Engines In No Particular Order
Unreal may be the most well known game engine so I figured I would start here. It has been used by lots of AAA developers and tons of games have been made in it over the years. Wikipedia even has a list of Unreal Engine games. But for someone just starting out this may be a steep learning curve.
Unreal can compile games for Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Mac OS X, iOS, Android, Linux, HTML5 and others.
It is free to use the full engine but if you make over $3,000 per quarter from your games then you have to pay 5% in royalties.
Unity is another very popular game engine. It has mostly been used by independent game developers but in recent years it has been picked up and used by some AAA studios. For example, Blizzard made Hearthstone with Unity. Because Unity is so popular there are tons of youtube videos and other resources out there that teach you how to do things.
Unity can compile games for Windows, Linux, Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android, HTML5 and many other platforms.
You can use unity for free if your revenue or funding does not exceed $100k per year. After that, it would cost $25 to $125 a month.
The free version also has a few limitations like not being able to change the splash screen.
GameMaker is easy to learn and use and is very powerful for making 2D games. This is also a very popular tool so it is easy to find information about it. Plus GameMaker has one of the best built in documentation I have ever seen.
GameMaker can compile games for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, iOS, Android, and HTML5.
This game engine will cost between $39 to $399 a year depending on the plateforms you wish to compile to.
Stencyl is another 2D engine that is easy you use. They also advertise that you can build games without code by using their graphic interface.
It is free to compile to Flash and $99 a year or more to compile to Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android.
Construct is a HTML5 2D game engine that uses visual scripting to build games.
Construct can compile games to Windows, Linux, Mac, XBox One, and HTML5.
It cost between $99 to $149 a year.
Also known as love2d. This is a framework to make 2D game in the Lua scripting language.
LÖVE can export games to Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS, and Android.
LÖVE is 100% free and open source.
Duality is a 2D game engine that has its own editor and you code in C#. I know it can export to Windows but I am not sure about other targets.
It looks like Duality is free but at the time of the writing, I can’t find any information about commercial use.
Godot is a 2D and 3D game engine with a visual editor that includes tools for animating. It uses its own Python like scripting language that is Python-like and can support mutipul platforms using Mono.
The Godot engine can compile games to Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS, Android, and HTML5.
Godot is a 100% free game engine and it is open source.
PlayCanvas is an HTML5/WebGL game engine that supports 2D and 3D games. It has an editor that runs in the web browser. This allows real-time collaboration. But from what I can tell this engine will only build games that run on the browser.
The game engine is more of a web service and not something you can download and run offline. It is free if you do not mind your project being public. But it will cost between $15 and $50 in order to do closed private development of a game.
GDevelop is a simple looking 2D game engine but it lets you export your games to many platforms. It even has an option to try the engine out online in the web browser.
GDevelop can make games for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and HTML5.
GDevelop is free and it is an open source game engine.
So You Have A Game Engine. Now What?
Well, of course, you need to learn how to use the engine you picked. The engine home pages are a good place to start. But beyond that, you probably want to learn a little bit about game design. I would suggest starting with the 4 Traits That Make a Game Fun. Then after that keep learning! I feel like game development is kind of like being an artist. It is something you can learn and improve on for the rest of your life!