When comparing Moai SDK vs Corona SDK, the Slant community recommends Moai SDK for most people. In the question“What are the best 2D game engines?” Moai SDK is ranked 20th while Corona SDK is ranked 21st. The most important reason people chose Moai SDK is:
Because it uses Lua + C++.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Because it uses Lua + C++.
Pro Gives you total control
You can use your own custom shaders and extend the language with C++. MOAI doesn't give you everything, instead it gives you the tools you need to develop any game you want.
Pro Full source code is available
So it is extendable with C++
Pro Easy-to-use particle engine
Uses a limited subset of Lua
Pro Uses Lua, with LuaJIT where possible
Pro Is used by many pro developers
Moai SDK is used by popular developers including Double Fine for their mobile game, Middle Manager of Justice, and for their Kickstarter hit, Broken Age(formerly, Double Fine Adventure.) It was also used to create the popular mobile game Bubble Ball 2.
This proves that this engine can be used to make fully-featured and fun games.
Pro API interfaces
Has options for development like Hanappe and Rapanui, providing a different way to interact with the engine.
Pro Helpful community
The Moai SDK Forum is active and users will go to great extents to answer queries, post code snippets, beta test, and even purchase and give feedback on each others' games.
Pro Helpful and detailed documentation
Although the Moai SDK is very advanced and uses complicated features, the documentation wiki thoroughly and clearly explains how to use these features, such as the Moai Cloud(a service that provides web services for your game), and multiple ways to build from source.
Corona SDK is completely free. That includes pro-tier plugins.
Pro Very simple to use
Pro Corona Simulator
Corona SDK ships with Corona Simulator, which runs your game/app directly on your PC/Mac and updates every time you make changes.
It provides immediate feedback to your actions, you can see your changes right on the screen, without necessity to make build to device. Getting instant feedback really boosts tenfold prototyping and development speed.
Pro Lua syntax
Uses the great and easy-to-learn Lua programming language.
Pro Good documentation and lots of tutorials
Pro Very comprehensive API
It's very quick to get things up and running with Corona SDK. The API is extensive and while it's not 100% feature-complete with the iOS API, it's close enough that you could create tons of games and never run into a roadblock.
The API docs can be found here.
Pro Amazing learning curve
Corona does not throw photoshop-like madness full of buttons editor. You can go as fast as you want, learning and building game from ground up. Eventually, you'll learn how much corona is doing for you. But to start you don't have to master complex editor software. It's a great tool to learn to start game development if you want to learn how to program and make games. Your experience will be 100% transferable to any other Pro game engine.
Pro Cross-platform desktop and mobile
Corona works on OS X, Windows and Android (including Kindle Fire & Nook).
Pro Live builds - update builds running on a device automatically
With the live build feature, once you have created a build and installed on a device, you get lightning fast turnaround times because any change on the code or data is updated to the devices running the game (within the local WiFi) immediately. So changes can be tested on the real hardware within a very few seconds.
What's even more impressive, this even works flawless with multiple devices running the game. You have to use it to learn how good of a feature this is while development and even more, while doing QA. Imagine fixing bugs and everyone of your QA team/friends/whoever helps to get your game done, has all changes on his device without doing anything but waiting 5 seconds - outstanding.
Pro Content scaling
It's easy to create a game that looks good on many different sized mobile devices.
Pro Marketplace for 3rd party plug-ins
Pro Great community
Pro Ability to call any native (C/C++/Obj-C/Java) library
Pro Well supported
Con Not for beginning developers
The Moai SDK has very advanced features which allow it to create powerful games. A drawback from this is that it is not very suitable for beginners.
Con Not necessarily tested or stable
Con Scarce documentation
Since it is a minimalist framework there is not that much documentation, but if you are used to reading API references and source code you are good to go!
Con Development has ceased
The last update was over a year ago. Users should not expect things to still work on future OS versions unless they're ready to fix them yourself.
Con Making a device build requires internet connection
To build your app for the device (iOS/Android/AppleTV) Corona requires to fetch resources from online. This would include base application template and plugins. This allows not to perform local build or use Xcode or Android Studio to do a build. Even Large games/apps would build very fast with good internet connection.
Your code never leaves computed. Corona SDK would transfer some information to determine which plugins and pieces has to be transferred in order to make a final steps in build.
As a bonus - you get basically one button press to get from your Corona Simulator game to game on a device.
Con Closed source
Since you don't have access to the code, you can't make changes to the SDK. You even have to implement workarounds on issues that have long been reported, but never fixed.
Con Free, but not completely
Such conventional plugins as a reference to AdMob for example, cost $300 per year!