When comparing Corona SDK vs Defold, the Slant community recommends Corona SDK for most people. In the question“What are the best 2D game engines?” Corona SDK is ranked 27th while Defold is ranked 30th.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Very simple to use
Corona SDK is completely free as of March 2, 2015. That includes pro-tier plugins.
Pro Lua syntax
Uses the great and easy-to-learn Lua programming language.
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 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 Good documentation and lots of tutorials
Pro Cross-platform desktop and mobile
Corona works on OS X, Windows and Android (including Kindle Fire & Nook).
Pro Great community
Pro Ability to call any native (C/C++/Obj-C/Java) library
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 Content scaling
It's easy to create a game that looks good on many different sized mobile devices.
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 Well supported
Pro Easy to learn
Defold uses Lua, which is regarded as an easy to learn language by most.
Pro Completely free of charge
Software and online dashboard are free of charge.
Pro Good combination of visual editing + code (Lua)
You can do a lot with drag and drop, but you're not limited -- the code (Lua, which is easy to learn) allows you more power than just visual editing usually gives you.
Pro Visual editor
Pro Easy and fast export for various platforms
Pro Fast results
Going from idea to result is very important for the creative process.
Pro Very performant
Being crossplatform it is important to work on low end devices.
You can invite friends from the dashboard and create games together.
Pro Great community
A very active and friendly community in forums.
Pro Hot reload
It allows you to change scripts in a game while it is running live. Common use-cases is to tweak gameplay parameters or to perform debugging on a running game.
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!
Con Google account needed
You need a Google account to develop with Defold.