Why are most games coded in C++?

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by Analytics Insight


March 27, 2022

C++ is exceptional with memory management, providing more control, flexibility and more game resources.

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

Today, the gaming industry is worth billions of dollars, run by Game development studios, filled with talented designers and developers, and loved by an overwhelming number of avid gamers.

The gaming industry is expected to reach $314 billion [1] by the end of 2026, from $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 gaming experiences and more immersive.

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 create better performing games.

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

What is the history of the C++ programming language?

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

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

In 1998, the first C++ standards known as C++98 [3] have been published. Initially, the language reported several issues, which the C++ Standards Committee later resolved in 2003, and the standards were updated to C++03 [4].

Soon after, the C++ standards committee announced language upgrades, which were implemented later in 2011, known as C++11. [5]. Slow development upgrades were a major concern for developers around the world. After 2011, C++ language updates became more frequent, allowing it to compete with other high-level languages.

What makes the C++ programming language good for game development?

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

  • The C++ programming language is exceptional with memory management, providing more control, flexibility and optimization of game resources.
  • The C++ programming language is compatible with popular game 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 hardware-level components.
  • C++ is a compiled language that offers 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 create high-performance games.
How does C++ compare to other languages ​​used for game development?

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

C++ vs. VS#

Both languages ​​belong to the same C language family. 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 also help you program the other.

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

Differences

Unlike C#, C++ is good at handling low-level C and assembly languages, which makes games developed in C++ relatively faster. C++ allows game developers to manually allocate memory, giving them more programming freedom. However, C# has a garbage collector that supports automatic memory allocation and limits 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 reputed 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 with C++.

Similarities

Lua’s source code contains 30,000 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 functionality. C++ makes it easy to handle 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 primarily 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 gaining more and more attention among modern game creators. PyGameName [9] is a powerful and developer-friendly Python library used for Python game development. Here are a few ways it’s similar and different from C++.

Similarities

Both Python and C++ support object-oriented programming paradigms, which makes them similar in programming terms. Popular Python interpreter CPython [10] is built on C/C++ languages.

Differences

Unlike C++, Python has simpler code constructs because its syntax is similar to English, which makes it easier for developers to write and remember code.

C++ is a compiled language and Python is interpreted as Lua. However, C++ allows game developers to perform manual memory allocation, which makes 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 range of built-in features such as physics, input, asset processing, and rendering to support rapid game development.

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

  • Unreal engine
  • Unity Engine
  • CryEngine
  • 4A motor
  • Antiyard Gx 3D Model
  • C4 engine
  • Godot
  • Couple3D
  • OGRE
Would you like to start your game development journey with C++?

C++ is unmatched when it comes to game development. The development community loves and supports C++ programming. It gives game developers more flexibility to design high-end features and create 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 developing games in C++, we recommend using Virtual Assistance to create high-performance C++ code with custom Unreal Engine support.

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