2d vs 3d game development

By juegoadmin | Game Development | August 1st, 2023

2D Vs 3D Game Development: What are the Major Differences?

Game development is a broad field that encompasses multiple disciplines. Among them, one important factor you need to decide on when you are developing a game is the art style and graphics to use in the game. Ori and the Blind Forest, Journey, Last of Us: Part II, and Don’t Starve among many other games were well acclaimed by the players for their captivative and mind blowing graphics usage.

Source: Official website of “Ori and the Blind Forest”

Video game graphics are generally divided into 2D and 3D. For instance, 2D games provide a retro and nostalgic feel whereas 3D games provide a realistic and immersive gaming experience in the virtual world. 

When developing a video game, it is important to have a good understanding of 2D and 3D games to make the right decisions. 

Let’s begin with their history.

2D Vs 3D Games — History

2D is the pioneer in computer video games.

The first ever video game created was in the 1970s, a simple 2D table tennis game. Since then, for nearly two decades 2D video games ruled the gaming industry with iconic games like Space Invaders, Super Mario Bros, and Legend of Zelda.

Later during the later 1990s, the introduction of 3D art changed the scene with its realistic and immersive graphics. In the coming decade, 3D graphics was adopted by every game development studio and console manufacturer due to their high-quality graphics.

When everyone thought that the 2D era is coming to an end, it emerged again with a new polished look competing with the 3D games.

With the gaining popularity of mobile games in the 21st century, gaming studios started adopting 2D graphics to create casual and hyper-casual games for mobile devices. Because 2D game development is cheaper and also easier to make than 3D, they were highly preferred by mobile game developers.

Although 3D art is a popular choice in AAA games for its high-end graphics, 2D art has made its mark in creating lightweight, easy, and cost-effective video games for various genres.

With that let us try to understand the difference between 2D and 3D games below.

2D Games Vs 3D Games

2D games use two-dimensional graphics such as sprites, tiles, or vector art to make game assets. They are flat structures that lack depth and perspective. While 3D games use three-dimensional graphics such as models, polygons, and texture to create characters, environments, and assets replicating real-world three-dimensional space. The 3D models have depth and perspective providing an immersive and interactive gaming experience. 

Both 2D and 3D are used to create games in multiple genres. In addition to that, both 2D and 3D possess various different types of game art styles. Vector art, pixel art, and cutout art are some of the 2D art styles whereas realism art, fantasy realism art, and low poly art are some of the notable 3D art styles that are used in video game development.

Apart from that, there are notable differences between 2D and 3D game development. Let us see them below.

Difference Between 2D and 3D Games

1) Movement

When you take 2D games, they have limited movements. They can move front, back, up, down, left, and right. But the 3D games are dynamic and they can perform multiple complicated movements. For example, they can rotate which cannot be pulled in 2D graphics. To create and coordinate movements in 3D games more resources are utilized and it is also time-consuming.

Limbo is a 2D game developed by Playdead. Image Source: Playdead’s website.

As 2D games are flat structured and have limited movements they have simple game mechanics. At the same time, the game mechanics of 3D games are a  bit complex due to their dynamic movements, artwork, and graphics. Hence, it is easier to control movements in 2D games than in 3D games.

But it depends on what you want and the type of game you wanted to make. If you feel like you have to create a more interactive gaming experience then 3D is the best choice. But if you want cheaper, lightweight, and less time-consuming games, then 2D is the preferable choice.

2) Camera/ Perspective

Camera/ Perspectives: 1. Over the shoulder – God of War, 2. Third person – Resident Evil 3, 3. Fixed – Resident Evil Remake, 4. First person – Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Images were taken from Capcom and Fandom.

2D games use orthographic camera. In this camera projection, the image size remains the same regardless of the distance from the camera. The 2D games comprise Side-scrolling, Top-view, and Isometric (Isometric is used in 2D to bring the depth of 3D) viewpoints. The reason 2D is preferred is because the players do not have to think about controlling the camera, it gives them a mindless playing experience. Platformers, puzzles, and fighting games are some of the popular genres in 2D.

On the other hand, when we take 3D games, over-the-shoulder camera and perspective camera is used to capture the player’s movement. In this, the perspective camera uses three perspectives which are fixed perspective, first person, and third person perspective. While over-the-shoulder cameras are best for shooting games and ranged combat games, perspective cameras are best for close-range games.

3) Cost

Creating 2D games costs less than 3D games. Apparently, to create a simple 2D graphic model the minimal cost is $50 and the cost can go high up to thousands of dollars depending on various other factors like the artwork, level of detail, and graphics quality. And to create a 3D model, the starting price is $1000 which can extend up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Apart from that to craft a 3D model, you need to implement certain techniques like sculpting, rigging, and modeling which costs more.

Another factor to consider is the various gaming platforms, the cost differs based on each platform. For instance, the cost of 2D mobile game development services will differ from 3D. The cost will further vary when they are made for consoles and PC, as they have larger screens, OS, and hardware configurations.

4) Game Development Tools

Both 2D and 3D games use various tools to develop game assets. Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Clip Studio Paint, GIMP, Aseprite, etc., are some of the tools used in creating 2D graphics. The 3D games also use various tools like Autodesk Maya, Blender, 3ds Max, ZBrush, Substance Painter, etc., to create 3D game assets.

Not only the game development tools, but the game engine preference also differs based on the features offered by them. The game artists choose the game engine that offers the best features that can be used to make fascinating 2D and 3D art. 

5) Testing

Game testing is an important process in the entire game development cycle. You test a game to check if the game is functioning properly, if there are any bugs and most importantly to check ‘if the game is fun to play’.

We have many different types of tests to check various technical and playable aspects of the game. Among them, we have certain tests particularly for 2D games, and certain tests only for 3D games. And some tests are common for both game types.

Here, let us see the types of tests used in 2D and 3D.

  • 2D Game Testing — Sprite testing, resolution testing, collision testing, UI testing, and parallax testing.
  • 3D Game Testing  — Model and mesh testing, animation testing, light and shadow testing, physics, and collision testing, and camera testing 
  • Common in both 2D and 3D — Art style consistency, localization testing, UI/UX testing, and accessibility testing

The Bottom Line

To conclude, the 2D and 3D games have some major differences such as the movements, camera perspective, graphics quality, tools, and testing types. Considering these factors, it solely depends on you to choose the one that best suits your game. If you wanted to make a lightweight, cheap, and less time-consuming game, then 2D can be opted for. But if you want high-quality graphics and an interactive gaming experience then 3D is the best choice. 

Apart from that you also need to consider the player’s preference of graphics, to make successful games. Because, no matter how amazing your game is, “you can’t make the success. Your players make the success”. — Irme Jele, Co-founder of Bossa Studios,

Make Games With Juego Studios

Juego Studios is a leading video game development company with many years of experience in creating various types of games. We provide 2D and 3D game development services for multiple platforms like Android, iOS, consoles, and PC. 

We use cutting-edge technology to create innovative games in multiple genres such as strategy games, shooter games, metaverse games, AR/VR games, and NFT games. Our team of game artists, designers, and developers work closely with our clients to meet their requirements. So, far we have successfully made 500+ video games for clients all over the world.

FAQ

  • Why 2D games are still popular?

2D games are still popular for the retro and nostalgic feel they provide. They are also cheaper, and easier to make than 3D games.

  • Why 3D games are better than 2D?

3D games possess high graphics quality which provides an engaging and immersive playing experience. 

  • What is the main difference between 2D and 3D games?

2D games use two-dimensional graphics and 3D games use three-dimensional graphics. This is the main difference between 2D and 3D games.

  • Are 2D games cheaper than 3D games?

When we consider the cost of game development, 2D games are much cheaper than 3D games. The 3D games are costlier due to their high graphic quality.

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