Why Are Most Games Coded in C++? – Analytics Insight

Games

The C++ is exceptional with memory management, providing more control, flexibility, and more of gaming resources.

Have you ever thought about how fan-favorite AAA games like Call of Duty, Assassin Creed, and Counter-Strike are developed and which programming languages they use?

Today, the gaming industry is worth billions of dollars, run by high-end game development studios, filled with talented designers and developers, and loved by an overwhelming number of passionate gamers.

The gaming industry is expected to reach USD 314 billion [1] by the end of 2026 compared to USD 173 billion in 2021. With the growth of the gaming market, new game development studios are entering the gaming ecosystem every year, delivering more advanced and immersive gaming experiences.

C++ plays an important role in today’s game development ecosystem. C++ is used in the source code of many major game engines, such as Unreal and Unity, allowing developers to build more high-performant games.

Let’s see why C++ is a better programming language for game development.

What Is the History of C++ Programming Language?

C++ is one of the first high-level programming languages. Developed by Bjarne Stroustrup [2] in 1979, C++ is built on top of the C language and introduced object-oriented programming functionalities.

Initially, it was known as an extension of the C programming language and was termed “C with classes” rather than C++ until 1983. Since then, C++ has undergone many developmental changes.

In 1998, the first C++ standards known as C++98 [3] were published. Initially, the language reported multiple problems, which the C++ standards committee later addressed in 2003, and the standards were updated to C++03 [4].

Shortly after, the C++ standards committee announced languages upgrades, which were implemented later in 2011–known as C++11 [5]. The slow developmental upgrades were a major concern for developers worldwide. After 2011, C++ language updates became more frequent, allowing it to compete with other high-level languages.

What Makes C++ Programming Language Good for Game Development?

Game development is resource-intensive and requires a programming language to possess certain functionalities. C++ programming language is considered suitable for game development due to the following features:

  • The C++ programming language is exceptional with memory management, providing more control, flexibility, and optimization of gaming resources.
  • The C++ programming language is compatible with popular gaming engines (like Unity and Unreal).
  • Frequent development updates keep C++ aligned with modern gaming requirements.
  • C++ is compatible with low-level C and assembly language, making it easier for game developers to interact with the hardware-level components.
  • C++ is a compiled language that gives better runtime performance than other high-level interpreted languages.
  • C++ has a high volume of libraries [6] that support game development, making it easy for game developers to build high-performing games.
How C++ Compares With Other Languages Used for Game Development?

C++ is one of the many programming languages used for game development. Understanding the similarities and differences among different programming languages can be crucial for various gaming requirements as some languages may provide more flexibility and optimization than others. Here is a comparison of C++ with other languages:

C++ Vs. C# 

Both languages belong to the same family of C language. Here are some of their similarities and differences in the context of game development.

Similarities

C++ and C# are object-oriented programming languages, having similar underlying code structures. So, understanding one can help you program in the other too.

They use a compiler to convert the high-level language code into machine-level language directly. Direct code compilation provides better code performance, making games more efficient with a faster gaming experience.

Differences

Unlike C#, C++ is efficient in dealing with low-level C and assembly languages, making games developed in C++ relatively faster. C++ allows the game developers to manually allocate memory, giving them more programming freedom. However, C# has a garbage collector that supports automatic memory allocation and restricts the developers to program the game in a certain way, leaving less room for resource optimization.

C++ Vs. Lua

Lua [7] is another famous programming language renowned for game development. Popular gaming platform Roblox [8], which allows users to create their own games, uses Lua as its scripting language. Here are some of its similarities and differences to C++.

Similarities

Lua’s source code contains 30000 lines of C, which makes its code similar to C++. A C++ game developer can start writing Lua code quickly. However, the list of similarities ends here.

Differences

Lua is one of the fastest interpreted scripting languages requiring no compilation, while C++ requires a compiler to convert its code into machine language. Lua is embeddable with other high-level languages and can extend its libraries to improve functionalities. C++ makes it easier to manipulate memory management even in low-level languages, while Lua only deals with high-level languages.

C++ Vs. Python

Python is an old and powerful programming language mainly used for building robust web applications, machine learning models, and data analysis. However, Python is not as popular as C++ or C# for game development, but it is increasingly gaining eyeballs among modern game creators. PyGame [9] is a powerful, developer-friendly Python library used for Python game development. Here are some ways it is similar and different from C++.

Similarities

Python and C++ support object-oriented programming paradigms, making them programmatically similar. Popular Python interpreter CPython [10] is built on top of C/C++ languages.

Differences

Unlike C++, Python has more straightforward code constructs as its syntax is similar to English, making it easier for developers to write and remember the code.

C++ is a compiled language, and Python is interpreted like Lua. However, C++ allows the game developers to perform manual memory allocation, making it more flexible than Python.

Which Game Engines Use C++ Programming?

Game engines play a vital role in creating rich-gaming experiences. They provide a wide array of built-in features like physics, input, asset processing, and rendering to support rapid game development.

Developers use different game engines as per their practical requirements. But most game engines use C++ programming in some form due to flexible memory management and compatibility with machine-level code. Here is a list of game engines that either support C++ scripting or have a C++-compatible codebase.

  • Unreal Engine
  • Unity Engine
  • CryEngine
  • 4A Engine
  • Antiyard Gx 3D
  • C4 Engine
  • Godot
  • Torque3D
  • OGRE
Would You Like to Begin Your Game Development Journey With C++?

C++ is unmatchable when it comes to game development. The development community loves and supports C++ programming. It offers game developers more flexibility to design high-end features and build rich-gaming experiences.

Learning C++ is beneficial for beginners as it is a versatile language used for general-purpose programming with superior support for game development. If you want to start game development in C++, we recommend using Virtual Assist to build high-performance C++ code with tailored support for Unreal Engine.

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