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Aman Goel | 03 Mar, 2023
Benjamin Semah | Co-author
Fact checked by Robert Johns

7 Best Programming Languages for Game Development in 2023

The gaming industry has evolved from producing simple arcade games to sophisticated and immersive experiences that captivate millions of players worldwide. It’s no secret that the industry is booming, with video games revenue expected to hit more than $365bn in 2023, with an annual growth rate of 7.17%. 

A lot goes into the game development process, and it requires a combination of creative, technical, and project management skills. But for many, it’s a tremendously rewarding career, helped by the fact that game developers command average annual salaries of $80,000.

In this article, we will answer the question, what is game development? We will also consider the various factors that make a programming language suited to game development, including a rundown of the best programming languages for game development in 2023.

What Is Game Development?

Video game development is the process of transforming game ideas into actual games for users to play. This includes refining concepts, designing interfaces, planning architecture, and creating the game by writing the code that makes it function.

Typically, game development includes these stages:

  1. Conceptualization: The concept, video game design, and storyline are conceived via brainstorming. We found Will Wright’s game design Masterclass excels in this area.
  2. Pre-Production: Defining a project plan with a timeline & resource allocation. This will cover factors like target audience, gameplay mechanics, and art style.
  3. Production: Game developers use various tools and technologies, such as game engines, programming languages, and graphic design software, to bring the game to life.
  4. Testing: Once the game is built, it goes through testing to identify and fix any bugs or glitches. 
  5. Release: After testing is complete and all bugs are fixed, the game is released on the right platforms, such as PC, Xbox, mobile devices, etc.
  6. Maintenance: Game developers provide ongoing support and maintenance, fixing any issues that arise, while also adding updates or new content.

Gaming Platforms

Gaming platforms are the systems where game programmers deploy their games and where users play the games. Common examples of gaming platforms include:

  • Consoles: Sony PlayStation, Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo Switch, etc. These have dedicated hardware designed for gaming and often include wireless controllers.
  • PC: Users play games on a computer system that typically runs Windows and occasionally MacOS or Linux. Users have more control over hardware, including GPUS, monitors, mouse and keyboard, etc.
  • Mobiles: Platforms like iOS and Android offer games that are optimized for touchscreens devices like tablets and smartphones.
  • Web-based platforms: Players can play directly in a web browser without additional software installation. Common web-based gaming platforms include Armor Games, Miniclip, and CrazyGames. 
  • Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR): These use special hardware designed to create an immersive gaming experience, usually via special headsets and hand-tracking controllers. Check out the Meta Quest 2 for an example of an all-in-one VR headset.

Game Engines

Game engines are development environments or game frameworks that make game development more convenient. Game engines offer a suite of tools and reusable components that speeds up the processes of building a game. It often includes a renderer for creating graphics, a physics simulation engine, a scripting language, and other features.


Game engines offer key functionalities developers can use without coding them from scratch. This frees up the programmer to focus more on creating unique features for the game. 

Some of the most common functionalities offered by game engines include:

  • Rendering 2D/3D graphics
  • Animations
  • Scripting
  • Memory management
  • Networking
  • Streaming
  • Collision detection

We’ve summarized some of the most popular and some of the smaller game engines below, including key features, supported languages, and popular games created with them.

Game Engine

Popular Games

Supported Languages



  • Pokémon Go
  • Cuphead
  • Fall Guys: Ultimate K.O.
  • C#
  • Cross-platform
  • Powerful 2D & 3D graphics
  • Large & active community

Unreal Engine

  • Fortnite
  • Gears of War
  • Mass Effect
  • C++
  • Support for AR & VR
  • Advanced networking & multiplayer support
  • Active developer community


  • Far Cry
  • Hunt: Showdown
  • Prey
  • C++
  • Multi-platform
  • Buoyancy & water simulation
  • What you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) sandbox


  • Plague Lords
  • Interrogation
  • Apple Spider
  • Lua
  • Animations for sprites & 2D components
  • GUI editor & reusable templates
  • Very lightweight


  • Endoparasitic
  • Dome Keeper
  • Blastronaut
  • GDScript 
  • C++
  • Visual editor with simple UI
  • IDE with integrated offline documentation


  • One Dark Fright
  • Submarine Dash
  • Bayou Island
  • JavaScript
  • 2D framework for HTML5 
  • Uses Pixi.js rendering library


  • Cube 2048
  • Ant Smasher
  • Space Shooter
  • C++
  • Beginner-friendly documentation

Cocos Creator

  • Wirewalk
  • Top War
  • JavaScript
  • Real-time preview & debugging
  • Support for 2D & 3D games

Source 2

  • Artifact
  • Dota Underlords
  • Half-Life: Alyx
  • C++
  • Cross-platform
  • Advanced physics simulation
  • Dynamic lighting

Want to figure out which engines to choose? Check out

Unity vs Unreal Engine

What Makes a Language Good for Game Development?

What Makes a Language Good for Game Development?

Programming languages differ in features and core functionalities, with some having areas they are well suited for. For example, some are great for data science (like R), and others are excellent languages for AI development, like Python (it’s also good for games too!).

Let’s take a look at some of the qualities that make a good language for video game development.

  • Performance: Game development often involves complex simulations and real-time rendering, which require high performance.
  • Memory management: Games typically require lots of memory, which needs to be managed efficiently for strong performance.
  • Interoperability: Game developers often need to integrate various libraries and tools, which extends to interoperability with other languages.
  • Portability: Games are often developed for multiple platforms, so it helps if a language can easily cross-compile.
  • Ease of use: This makes game development accessible to a wider range of developers.
  • Community and support: Provides developers with access to resources, libraries, and tools that make development faster and more efficient while also helping with debugging or optimization.

Top 7 Best Programming Languages for Game Development

Best Programming Languages for Game Development

1. C++



  • Supported by Unreal Game Engine
  • Large online community/open-source code
  • Cross-platform language
  • Difficult for beginners to learn

For many, C++ is one of the best programming languages for games due to its high performance and versatility. It’s a statically typed and compiled language, making it efficient in execution speed and memory usage, which is ideal for developing games.

C++ also offers developers control over graphic processing and hardware, which is essential for creating complex and high-performance games. As an object-oriented programming language, it enables developers to organize their code into reusable, modular components that can be easily managed and maintained.

The gaming industry has a long history of using C++, and as a result, there is a wealth of resources and tools, including libraries and frameworks, available for C++ game development.

Key Game Development Features:

Game Engines

Popular Games


  • Unreal Engine
  • CryEngine
  • Godot
  • Minecraft
  • World of Warcraft
  • League of Legends
  • Windows, MacOS, Linux
  • iOS, Android
  • PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo

2. C#



  • Seamless integration with Visual Studio
  • Fast and efficient
  • Compatibility with the popular Unity Engine
  • Mostly dependent on Unity

C# is a modern, object-oriented programming language that was developed by Microsoft and is part of the .NET framework. This means you can access a large set of libraries and tools for developing various applications, including games.

Known for simplicity, readability, and ease of use, C# is popular among gaming programming languages as it allows developers to focus on creating high-quality games without getting bogged down by complex technical details.

The language is statically-typed, meaning it provides strong type safety and reduces the likelihood of run-time errors, which is great for game development compared to dynamically-typed languages.

C# is also an efficient language that performs well, especially when used with the .NET framework. It supports multithreading and parallel programming, which is crucial for game development, as it enables developers to write code that can run concurrently to efficiently use hardware resources.

Key Game Development Features:

Game Engines

Popular Games


  • Unity
  • Godot
  • HeroEngine
  • Pokémon Go
  • Cuphead
  • Stardew Valley
  • Windows, MacOS, Linux
  • iOS, Android
  • Web-based

3. JavaScript



  • Easy to learn and use
  • Plenty of libraries/frameworks
  • Ideal for browser-based games
  • Mostly for web-based games
  • Being interpreted affects performance

JavaScript is a high-level, interpreted programming language designed for web development. And while it may not be your first thought when looking for the best game coding language, it has become popular for building various applications, including games, thanks to its versatility.

As a dynamically-typed language, its data types are determined at run-time and not at compile-time, making it easier to write code quickly. Known for ease of use, it has a straightforward syntax and provides lots of built-in functionality, including for games.

Overall, JavaScriptIt is a highly expressive language that enables developers to write code intuitively and easily for other developers to read and understand.

JavaScript is a non-blocking, event-driven language, which makes it well-suited for writing asynchronous code. This is important for responsive games that handle many requests and provide a fast user experience. Also, games made with JavaScript can run on any browser, making them easier to distribute.

Key Game Development Features:

Game Engines

Popular Games


  • Phaser
  • MelonJS
  • PandaEngine
  • Alchemy
  • Gods Will Be Watching
  • Cross Code
  • Web browsers
  • Desktop platforms
  • Server-side platforms

4. Swift



  • Ideal for building macOS/iOS games
  • Easy to learn and use
  • Large and active online community
  • Mostly limited to Apple platforms
  • Little game engine support

Swift is a high-performance programming language from Apple for developing software for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. As a modern programming language, Swift offers many features that make it well-suited for developing games.

One of the key benefits of using Swift for game development is its speed and performance. Swift code is compiled into machine code, allowing it to run efficiently and making it a good choice for demanding tasks like gaming.

Swift has a strong type system and automatic reference counting (ARC), ensuring code is safe, secure, and easy to maintain, which is ideal when developing large and complex games. And with libraries like SpriteKit and SceneKit, developers can easily add high-quality 2D and 3D graphics to their games.

Key Game Development Features:

Game Engines

Popular Games


  • SpriteKit
  • SceneKit
  • ARKit
  • Herodom
  • Skillzone
  • iOS & macOS
  • Linux
  • Web-based

5. Java



  • Popular for Android game development
  • JVM allows for cross-platform use
  • Limited access to low-level hardware
  • Games can have large file sizes

Java is a versatile and popular programming language. While it may not be an obvious competitor for C++ or C# for the title of best coding language for games, Java has built-in portability, as Java code can run on any device with the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) installed. This is ideal for game developers who want to target multiple platforms.

As an OOP language, Java is great for developing large-scale applications, including games. Java also offers socket programming, which allows two-way communication with servers and allows programmers to conveniently build multiplayer games. 

The JavaFX library offers a comprehensive set of tools for working with graphics and animations, which can be leveraged by game developers. Java also has a large and active community of developers, making it easy to find resources and help. 

Key Game Development Features:

Game Engines

Popular Games


  • jMonkeyEngine
  • Jake2
  • LibGDX
  • Minecraft
  • Runescape
  • Mission Impossible III
  • Windows, MacOS, Linux
  • Android
  • Web-based

6. Lua



  • Fast and efficient
  • Foundational language for Roblox
  • Easy to learn and use
  • Less community support due to lack of popularity

Although less popular than some of the big hitters on our list, Lua is a fast and flexible gaming coding language that is ideal for scripting game logic or creating mods and extensions.

One of the major benefits of Lua is that it enables game developers to quickly and easily modify game behavior without recompiling game code. A very attractive feature indeed! It’s also useful for creating game modification interfaces that let users alter the behavior of a game.

Perhaps Lua’s biggest claim to fame is its use to create the massively popular game Roblox. Which is quite an accomplishment! It’s also used within the game to allow users to create their own games and experiences and to allow for player customization.

Key Game Development Features:

Game Engines

Popular Games


  • WorldForge
  • Cocos2D
  • CraftStudion
  • Roblox
  • Age of Canon
  • Broken Age
  • Windows, MacOS, Linux
  • iOS, Android
  • Web-based

7. Python



  • Easy to learn
  • Good for rapid prototyping
  • Large and active online community
  • No hardware control or memory management

Python is a high-level, interpreted programming language that has become one of the go-to coding languages for games when there’s the need for rapid prototyping. With inherent flexibility, it’s ideal for game developers that want to quickly iterate and refine their game design. 

Python is known for its simple and straightforward syntax that is easy to learn, even for newbies to programming. Python also offers a large standard library with support for basic graphics, networking, and sound. This makes it easy for developers to get started with game development.

Game engines often use Python to provide scripting interfaces that allow developers to create game logic and mechanics without writing code in a more complex programming language.

Key Game Development Features:

Game Engines

Popular Games


  • PyGame
  • Godot
  • Mount and Blade
  • Toontown
  • Battlefield 2
  • Windows, MacOS, Linux
  • iOS, Android
  • Web-based

What Is the Best Language for Game Development?

If you’ve got this far, but still want to know, what is the best programming language for games? Well, have no fear; we’ve filtered the information into some common game development use cases, allowing you to quickly choose the best gaming programming language for your project.

  • Best Programming Language for Simple Games: Python, Lua, JavaScript, C#
  • Best Programming Language for Beginners: Python, Lua, JavaScript, Java, C#
  • Best Programming Language for 3D Games: C++, C#
  • Best Programming Language for AR/VR Games: C++, C#, JavaScript, Swift
  • Best Programming Language for PC Games: C++, C#, Java, Python 
  • Best Programming Language for Console Games: C++, C#
  • Best Programming Language for AAA games: C++, C#
  • Best Programming Language for Android Games: Java, C++, C#
  • Best Programming Language for iOS Games: Swift, C++, C#
  • Best Programming Language for Web Games: JavaScript, Python


Choosing the best language for game programming is crucial to the success of your project. The language you choose will determine the platform you can develop for, the tools you have access to, and the level of performance you can achieve.

Whether you're a beginner or an experienced developer, it's important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each language and choose the best game development language that fits your needs.

In this article, we’ve covered seven of the best programming languages for game development in 2023, including the pros and cons, game engine compatibility, and platform support.

If you want to dive into the deep end of game development, then you probably want to learn C++, as it’s the go-to for many of the biggest games on the market across various platforms. Similarly, C# is one of the most popular programming languages for game development due to its use with the Unity game engine.

That’s not to say that these two languages are the only show in town. You can also consider JavaScript, Swift, Java, Lua, and Python, each with its own set of strengths and useful features. So whatever game you plan to create, you should be all set with one of these seven languages for game development.

Want to become a game developer? Check out 

The Ultimate Guide to Game Development with Unity

Frequently Asked Questions

1. C# Or C++, Which Is Better for Game Programming?

C# and C++ are both popular languages for game development, as they’re fast, efficient, and supported by the two largest game engines, with C# being used on Unity and C++ with Unreal Engine.

For advanced programmers, C++ is a good option, as it is a lower-level language with fewer layers of abstraction, offering control over hardware and graphical processes. If you’re a beginner, C# may be the better option, as learning is easier.

2. What Is the Best Language for Game Development?

There is no one size fits all answer to this question. The best language for game programming will depend on your needs and preferences.

If you want to create AAA games, you’ll need to use C++ or C#, but if you want to create Android games, perhaps Java is the best choice. If you’re unsure which to use, look closely at our section on the best languages for different use cases.

3. What Are the Easiest Languages for Game Development?

The easiest languages to learn for game development are probably those with a syntax similar to English, as it makes them more readable and beginner-friendly. Python and JavaScript are both great choices in this regard. If you do have some coding experience, you should also consider Lua, Java, and C#.

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By Aman Goel

Entrepreneur, Coder, Speed-cuber, Blogger, fan of Air crash investigation! Aman Goel is a Computer Science Graduate from IIT Bombay. Fascinated by the world of technology he went on to build his own start-up - AllinCall Research and Solutions to build the next generation of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing based solutions to power businesses.

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