When comparing libGDX vs PlayCanvas, the Slant community recommends libGDX for most people. In the question“What are the best 2D game engines?” libGDX is ranked 17th while PlayCanvas is ranked 46th. The most important reason people chose libGDX is:
Lots of references, tutorials and open source code to learn from.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Lots of resources to learn from
Lots of references, tutorials and open source code to learn from.
Pro Great performance across devices
While it may not always have the best performance for a particular device or system, it's one of the few engines which consistently performs very well across different platforms.
Pro Allows you to migrate from 2D to 3D within same framework
LibGDX supports both 2D and 3D game development. Allowing developers to migrate from 2D to 3D with ease without having to switch the engine they are using or having to learn a new API.
Pro Doesn't force a specific design
Unlike some engines, which only allow you to make your game in a few specific ways, libGDX allows you to design any type of game you wish as it is extremely customisable.
Pro Active and helpful community
The libGDX community, in the official libGDX forum is extremely helpful and approachable for any kind of question regardless of the its quality or difficulty.
The forums themselves are a very helpful resource for any issue or guide simply by searching past posts in there.
In addition to the forums, there's also the official #libgdx IRC channel on Freenode.
Pro Uses Box2D
A Java port of the Box2D physics engine is included in libGDX.
Pro Interfacing with platform specific code
Sometimes it is necessary to access platform specific APIs, e.g., adding advertisement services or leaderboard functionality provided by frameworks.
Pro Can use any JVM language
Since it's built with Java and runs on the JVM, any language that compiles to Java bytecode can be used to develop games with libGDX.
Pro Free, open source & permissive license
libGDX uses the Apache License 2.0.
Not only is libGDX free and open source but also it's license gives you a lot of power over the engine. As long as you provide a copy of the license, give credit, do not hold devs liable and do not use libGDX logo in any engine forks you can do pretty much anything you want.
Pro Kotlin support
It is written in Java so you can easily make games using Kotlin and Ktx project will help you get all advantages of this language.
Pro Very easy to customize
Pro Constantly improved
LibGDX itself is pretty mature, and get updates not quite frequently, but various libraries for it are actively updated.
Pro Across platform support
You can write once and run anywhere (Android, IOS, Desktop, Browser) also lately came with lib to deal with VR.
Pro Support for 3rd party tools
libGDX has built in support for many 3rd party tools, including (but not limited to) Bullet Physics, Box2DLights and the well-praised Tiled Map Editor.
Pro Lots of tutorials to get you going
Even though the official documentation might be lacking, there are many tutorials on YouTube for libGDX.
Pro Excellent font rendering support
Very good tools for rendering fonts.
Pro Similar to the Microsoft XNA framework
Old XNA users may like libGDX since it's API is actually very similar to XNA's.
Pro Focusing on object pool patterns, to control memory without pointers
Unlike Unity or other engine, it allows to optimize a language that uses garbage collector when using patterns of objects you can control the use of memory without needing a language like C / C ++, getting the same speed in a more productive language.
Pro Powerful assets pipeline
Assets and content delivery is very different on a web platform comparing to native. So PlayCanvas challenges best practices to allow developers decide how their content is delivered and in what form.
Async Assets download allows developers to load content as the app goes, instead of asking to download all assets in advance risking users to simply navigate away while staring at loading screens.
Formats for 3D models and textures support covers all the popular tools. And the workflow is as simple as dragging and dropping your files right into the Assets Panel. The cloud will do the rest of the hard work optimizing and converting your files into runtime-friendly and compressed data.
Pro Rendering engine runs on the browser
Has an advanced WebGL renderer that runs in the browser.
Pro Real-time collaborative online editor tool
PlayCanvas has an online editor that lets you build scenes and work with other people in your team in real-time. This is all done through the web browser without having to install any additional software.
Pro Avoids having to download lots of textures for lightmaps
Lightmaps are an efficient way to deliver lighting to your scenes for a long time. But they come with the cost of large textures. PlayCanvas offers a unique solution for a web platform, it renders lightmaps when an app is loading in runtime.
This is faster than downloading MBs of textures. And it's much more convenient: simply switch your light sources to bake, and static models to be lightmapped, and the engine will do the rest.
Pro Friendly and active community
PlayCanvas has Feed as homepage for registered users, listing Dev Logs of other developers. This allows to socialize with other developers like yourself in a twitter-like environment.
More to that, there is also an active forum, where developers help each other to solve their challenges.
Developers of PlayCanvas itself are always looking forward to chat and help the community with any problems that may arise.
Pro Integrated physics engine
PlayCanvas lets users integrate physics in their game rather easily, using the powerful Bullet Physics Engine (ammo.js). Should also be noted that the physics engine is delivered as an optional library, so by default being disabled it does not add any extra download size to your apps.
Pro Has a free tier
Engine is free for projects under 200MB and with no more than 2 people on a team. The free tier has no engine restrictions.
Tools are totally free too. There are no special limiting features behind any paywalls, and free users have all the features as paid users.
There are no royalties associated with publishing your apps and games - you've made them, you own them.
It is free to publish to playcanvas.com as well, just by one click in Editor.
Pro Small app size
The engine itself weighs just under 150Kb, and it's always challenged to stay small. There is no extra weight that has to be carried with your app, just your assets and scripts in a runtime-friendly compressed form.
This allows users to engage with your content in matter of seconds, and even just under a second on a good connection.
Pro Open source
PlayCanvas is fully open source and is under active development.
Pro Has hot code reloading
Real-time link between your launched app and the editor allows the developer to preview and play with their scene without needing to refresh the game after every change in the code to see the updated result.
Pro Cross-platform support
PlayCanvas lets you build games that run in mobile, desktop browsers, and native mobile apps. PlayCanvas can even make games that can run inside mobile social media and instant messenger clients like Twitter and WhatsApp.
Pro Very easy to use
Pro Loads extremely fast
Con Not starter friendly
Even default applications fail to load in Android. It doesn't have any documentation on errors either.
Con The project slowed down in development
The number of active developers has decreased, many open issues and pull requests.
Con Build system is clunky
LibGDX uses Gradle, which is very demanding of memory and makes IDEs freeze on anything if your computer is not powerful enough.
Con Does not create compiled code
LibGDX runs entirely on Java and does not create executable binaries.
Con A bit difficult to use
This engine is not well put together. Is made from various free modules each with their own peculiarities. At times it feels you need to learn a couple of libraries rather than just one. Is not an engine for beginners as it requires coding. Lots of coding. You need to be intermediate to advanced in Java to develop in LibGDX.
Con Private projects are only available for premium users
The free tier does not support any private projects. Instead, all the code and assets will be hosted openly. While not a problem for open source games and for developers who intend to make an open source game, it can be a deal-breaker for teams who want to keep their code and assets private.