Table of Contents
JS Framework for Games: Game development pushes the boundaries of what’s possible with code. To build the next viral hit, you need a robust framework optimized for smooth animations, physics, UI, and more.
We’ll compare their key strengths and weaknesses across crucial criteria: graphics, physics, platform support, learning resources and more. Plus sample projects to showcase what you can build.
By the end, you’ll have the insights to pick the perfect framework to level up your next game dev project!
- Phaser – A lightweight 2D game engine perfect for HTML5 browser games or apps.
- Babylon.js – Focused on beautiful 3D graphics using WebGL and Web Audio.
- PlayCanvas – Build stunning 3D games with its powerful graphics engine and editor.
- PixiJS – Blazing fast 2D WebGL renderer ideal for sprite animation.
- Crafty – Lightweight framework for 2D games using Canvas and DOM overlays.
- MelonJS – Retro-style 2D game engine inspired by classics of the 90s.
- GDevelop – Code-free game builder for beginners to create HTML5 games visually.
Now let’s see how they compare across the key criteria:
Stunning visuals are crucial for an engaging game. The graphics engine determines what’s possible.
Babylon.js shines here, optimized for beautiful 3D graphics leveraging WebGL. Real-time lighting, materials and post-processing create cinematic scenes.
PlayCanvas also delivers stunning 3D visuals. Its editor lets you build scenes visually using a drag and drop interface.
Phaser and PixiJS are both built for 2D instead of 3D graphics. Phaser uses Canvas while PixiJS uses WebGL, making it faster. Both work great for 2D and sprite animations.
MelonJS takes inspiration from classic 90s games, with a pixel art style. Crafty focuses on simplistic 2D graphics.
GDevelop lets you create basic 2D visuals without coding, great for beginners.
Winner: Babylon.js offers the most powerful 3D graphics capabilities.
Realistic physics adds immersion – and both 2D and 3D engines have flexible options here.
PlayCanvas has integrated 3D physics support including collisions and triggers. Babylon.js also offers a feature-packed 3D physics engine.
Phaser integrates 2D physics using Arcade Physics or Matter.js. MelonJS and Crafty also enable 2D physics.
PixiJS and GDevelop have more basic built-in physics support, but can be extended.
Winner: PlayCanvas for integrated 3D physics, Phaser for 2D.
Platforms and Browser Support
The best frameworks support multiple platforms – both desktop and mobile.
Phaser, MelonJS, Crafty and GDevelop support all major desktop and mobile browsers. PixiJS also works across most browsers.
Babylon.js and PlayCanvas support modern browsers with WebGL. Their 3D graphics are CPU intensive so work best on higher-end devices.
Most of the engines also support building for platforms like desktop (Windows, Mac, Linux) and mobile apps stores.
Winner: Phaser for ubiquitous browser support on even low-end devices.
Great frameworks have extensive learning resources to help you skill up.
Phaser is arguably the most popular choice, with a huge community. There are tons of tutorials, books, examples and forum support.
Babylon.js, PlayCanvas and PixiJS also have excellent learning resources. Their communities are smaller than Phaser’s but still very active.
MelonJS and Crafty have smaller (but helpful) communities. GDevelop’s visual editor makes it beginner friendly.
Winner: Phaser for sheer volume of learning content.
What can you actually build with these frameworks? Let’s look at some sample games made with each.
- Cyber Orb – Pixel art action platformer
- 1907 Dinogame* – Dino runner game like Chrome’s 404 page
- Zombie Attack – Zombie wave survival shooter
- Mindseize – 3D multiplayer shooter
- Nefertiti – Ancient Egyptian puzzle game
- Gladius – Roman gladiator swordfighting game
- Isle of Frosch* – Multiplayer treasure hunt
- Bunny Jump – Retro arcade jumping game
- Captain Crashy – Infinite runner game
- Bubble Trouble – Bubble shooter puzzle
- Raincat Adventure* – Cats and rainboxes platformer
- The Watcher – Turret defense tower game
- XRaycer – Grid based multiplayer racer
- Techwood Brooks – Logging & crafting simulation
- The Story of Cat Knight – Cute platformer
- Space Conquest – Top down shooter
- Darkness: Lost in the Dark – Spooky maze game
Verdict: Phaser Is Best Overall, Babylon.js Leads in 3D
There’s no single best choice for all scenarios. But Phaser strikes the winning balance of features, browser support, community and learning resources. Its lightweight codebase also makes it faster than rivals.
If you need stunning 3D graphics and physics, Babylon.js is likely the best choice to push boundaries. However, it’s overkill for basic 2D games.
PlayCanvas is also powerful for 3D, albeit with a steeper learning curve. PixiJS dominates performance in the 2D/WebGL space.
Here’s a quick summary of the key winners:
- Graphics: Babylon.js (3D), Phaser/PixiJS (2D)
- Physics: PlayCanvas (3D), Phaser (2D)
- Platform Support: Phaser
- Learning Resources: Phaser
- Overall: Phaser