At the end of the March, King released Defold, an in-house free engine. We’ve asked Oleg Pridiuk, King Evangelist, a few question about Defold – is it really 100% free, what features does it have, and most importantly, why does King even need its own engine?

How much does the engine cost for developers? Even though it’s for free there must be some hidden rocks like royalty or something?

The Defold engine and editor with full functionality is completely free of charge. No hidden costs, fees, royalties or rocks. Just free.

How do you plan to monetize the engine?

We don’t intend to monetize the engine. We make games that people love and we’ve built a successful business around our games, that is our focus. Bringing Defold public is a way for us to support the game industry eco­system. We also believe a larger user base will contribute to a better quality product, which will benefit everyone, inside and outside of King. And there are more reasons, like talented Defold­-savvy teams may become parts of King, going forward. This kind of luxury when a new team is instantly on top of your internal technology.

Why does King even need the engine? The company is already successful at making casual games, so why explore the engine-making?

Defold is a tool that we use to build games ourselves, beautiful games like Blossom Blast Saga and more upcoming titles. The technology was built robust and polished with a customer­focused mindset, so we decided to share it with people around the industry.

The engine market is crowded. Unity and Cocos occupy the mobile, the PC arguably belongs to Unreal. And the CryEngine has just become free. Is there any space left for Defold? What’s it’s target audience? 

Unity claimed at GDC that they owned around 30% of mobile top 1000 grossing games, then Cocos estimated they might have had around 15% of the mobile market. Doing this simple math shows a great opportunity. Industry players who have to stick to homebrew game engine solutions today, tomorrow may find our fast, small and battle­tested game engine perfect for their needs.

What’s the engine’s competitive advantages?

We’re a games company, and we know how to develop and ship games that keep their space in the top rankings. The Defold game engine was built with close collaboration and influence by some of our best games teams. The engine is proven to have the features needed to develop and ship high-performance mobile and HTML5 titles. And now this brilliant technology is available to everyone for free.

Vision scripts are arguably the hot topic of game development. Engines, in general, are becoming more accessible and easy to manage. Defold, on the other hand, is said to be all about the coding. Why buck the trend?

Features of the Defold game engine are heavily influenced by our in-­house teams, who use the engine, provide feedback, report bugs, request certain functionality for certain platforms. So the engine team works very closely with very skilled people and shapes the engine accordingly. But then different people have different skill sets and backgrounds. So we’d love to improve our toolset, and this was one of the reasons Defold is available for free today. Everyone is welcome to try it out and tell us how to do better.

Also, it is important to keep in mind that we’re not a middleware company and we don’t have a goal to lock Defold users in a closed ecosystem. Quite vice versa, in fact, ­we’re building integrations with 3rd party tools that Defold users love, such as Spine. We’re very open to opportunities here.

The engine doesn’t have that typical development environment. Is it staying like that or you’re planning to change it?

We welcome you and your readers to our forum to discuss things we need to improve with the engine. That’s said, we have great tutorials and built­in assets that allow anyone to get started and build a simple arcade game instantly. And we’re working on more tutorials, built­in assets, planning twitch streams and coordinating a revamped community experience. Everyone is welcome to contribute, share your experience with Defold.

Defold is suited for both 2D and 3D games. But there are only 2D projects in the showcase, so I’ve got a feeling that the engine is aimed for 2D developers. Is that so?

The engine is 3D indeed, but the games we’ve made with it are 2D. Hence, the tooling is optimised for the workflow with 2D. It is possible to import a 3D mesh and utilize it in a game, just that you’d have to use a code for it. Better 3D tools are something we have on the roadmap, in fact, something we’ve started working on.

The lighter the app distribution, the more often it gets downloaded. So Unity or Unreal are sometimes painful for developers in that context. How much does Defold add to game distribution size?

Thanks for the question, it makes us feel proud of our hard work. So the Defold engine binary is about 1.6 MB in the memory, and the virtual machine is a mere 60KB. Small, light and fast cross­platform game engine is our motto here.

The final question is what to expect from the engine? 

Defold game engine is a magnificent tool for skilled teams. We see great traction and recognition within the industry, and we also have a huge interest from some of the best industry talent to do something with this tool or even join the team. So we’re quite excited about the future. It is gonna be fun!