How Good is JavaScript for Game Development?

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Publish date:

August 5, 2022

Updated on:

June 13, 2024

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How Good is JavaScript for Game Development?


JavaScript is a frequently overlooked programming language for many game development projects. Yet, in reality, JavaScript is a highly capable and powerful programming language that can reach a global audience in a short amount of time. JavaScript for game development can be a highly productive tool in creating engaging virtual experiences in a very rapid time frame.

Some of the most notable advantages of JavaScript come from the accessibility of the language and the widespread availability of tools capable of running its code. Today, JavaScript can be built and run on any device capable of deploying a web browser to create web-based and mobile games to reach a near-unlimited user base.

From a developer’s perspective, JavaScript is a language that is easy to pick up and learn through hands-on experimentation and the abundant number of resources available. Combined, these assets of JavaScript development make it a powerful tool to deploy to create exceptional games.

Here, we take a look at what JavaScript game development can deliver for your teams, how it’s being used in the industry today, and how to deploy it for your next project.

JavaScript for game development - a white child's hands are visible playing an IOS game on an iPhone

What is JavaScript?

One of the first stumbling blocks of JavaScript is the name itself. Junior developers often read into it that the language must be related to the Java language as an offshoot project or share some of the same resources or tools. In reality, the two are barely related beyond the shared name.

Java vs. JavaScript

Java is a compiled language built ahead of time to create executable programs that run, most commonly, on a desktop machine or server. JavaScript, in contrast, is an interpreted language that is executed line by line.

This feature of JavaScript is what makes the language so ideally suited to running within a web browser or another lightweight device to respond to user actions. Of course, there are performance penalties and resource restrictions associated with this approach—making Java ideally suited to larger, complex, and highly detailed worlds that come with AAA game titles.

Smaller games, and those to be deployed rapidly into the marketplace, can benefit immensely from the advantages of deploying JavaScript for game development, however. With high-quality JavaScript teams making the biggest difference when it comes to development outcomes, our guide to hiring and retaining top JavaScript teams can help you build up the right resources for JavaScript game development within your business.

Popular JavaScript Games

JavaScript is responsible for some of the world’s most widely played, widely shared, and most addictive games on the modern web. Just a handful of these include:

  • Wordle. Now owned by the New York Times, Wordle was initially developed by independent developer Josh Wardle and launched to become an overnight Global sensation in October 2021.
  • Words With Friends 2. A Scrabble-like word game that uses the React Native framework to create a mobile app, Words with Friends 2 is a JavaScript game that has millions of users across both mobile platforms from a single codebase.
  • 2048. A much earlier online craze, 2048 is a browser-based puzzle that had millions of users scratching their heads and sharing their results back in 2014.
  • Angry Birds. A mobile game that spawned an entire franchise, including a blockbuster movie of the same name, Angry Birds was one of the early hit mobile games built in JavaScript back in 2009.

Top JavaScript Game Engines

One of the fastest and most productive ways to power your JavaScript game development is to tap into the game engines that provide a robust architecture to build your ideas around. Luckily, the age and popularity of JavaScript mean that there are plenty of available options to find the tools and resources that work for you.

Some of today’s top JavaScript game development engines include:

  • Three.js, a JavaScript library designed to enable the creation of rich 3D graphics in browsers that support HTML5
  • ImpactJS is a notably more complete game engine, in comparison to Three.js. Impact is designed to enable 2D game development at a scale larger and build game worlds more complex than many would expect from a JavaScript engine
  • BabylonJS is a web rendering engine capable of producing incredible visualizations and 3D animations. While not strictly a game engine on its own, developers have deployed the tool to create immersive 3D worlds and remarkable games using the tool in conjunction with physics libraries and tooling
  • PhaserJS is designed first and foremost for rapid and iterative game development using community-backed tools. A 2D game development framework, Phaser can be easily extended and modified to meet the scale and demands of the games you plan to create
  • PixiJS creates the same kinds of graphics and tools for 2D visualizations as BabylonJS does for 3D graphics. The library includes support for many game elements that can be extended with a capable physics engine and some additional tooling
JavaScript for Game Development textbook for web designers

In addition to these five, there are dozens of other highly capable frameworks and tools to power up JavaScript for game development within organizations. Our guide to the best JavaScript Frameworks highlights some of the best tools to take to your teams to enhance their productivity.


While the language is often overlooked in favor of more powerful options, JavaScript has a well-deserved place within modern game development. Many of the gaming hits to sweep the world over the last decade in both mobile and web gaming have been powered by JavaScript.

By deploying the right tools, in the game engine and resources that enable development, using the right team of developers, and targetting your organization’s goals—JavaScript for game development can develop rich rewards for months and years to come as your teams lean more and more into its advantages and benefits.


Q1. Which JS framework is best for game development?

Phaser is one of the best JavaScript game engines for 2D game development. Ideally suited to building everything from arcade-style side scrollers to physics-based shooters, Phaser is a highly capable framework for complete game development.

Yet, for 3D games that rely on rich graphics and vast worlds, a framework such as BabylonJS can enable teams to develop JavaScript games far beyond expectations. Both Babylon and Phaser offer contrasting approaches to game development with JavaScript with each suited to different types of games and different approaches to game development

Luckily, JavaScript is one of the most well-equipped languages when it comes to building games and the number of frameworks available to teams. As one of the most popular languages worldwide, there are dozens of capable frameworks to empower both 3D and 2D gaming on the many platforms and devices that support the language.

Q2. Does Unreal Engine use JavaScript?

Yes, the Unreal Engine can be accessed using JavaScript using the engine’s plugins and tools. Natively, Unreal Engine relies on C++ to build games and access its API. The vast majority of games built using the engine — such as Gears of War, Life is Strange, and Fortnite — have been built using this approach. The Unreal.js plugin published on the platform unlocks the full capabilities of the engine to JavaScript development, however.

The add-on to Unreal Engine 4 brings the full power of the V8 JavaScript runtime to the unreal engine and allows full access to the UnrealEngine API in addition to enabling the use of JavaScript libraries and tools. The UnrealJS plugin is a tool that will enable more developers to access the immense power and capabilities of the Unreal Engine while porting their existing skills and toolsets to the engine to create entirely new kinds of games and applications.

Q3. Is JavaScript faster than C#?

In modern application development, JavaScript is more than capable of being faster than C#. While traditionally, interpreted languages have always been at a distinct disadvantage over compiled ones, modern tooling means Just-in-time compilation applied to interpreted languages can take advantage of tailored compiling strategies to provide a performance advantage.

When it comes to hard numbers and data, it’s difficult to directly compare JavaScript to languages such as C# or Java because the two different approaches to technology are used in such different ways. Where C# or Java is run ‘closer to the metal’ on a desktop PC, console, or server-side JavaScript is most often run in a browser of some kind.

However, with these caveats in place, well-written JavaScript on any of today’s platforms is likely to perform exceptionally well under most circumstances. In truth, the quality of engineering and application development when comparing these technologies is likely to be the biggest variable that affects application performance and speed in the real world.


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Ian Deed

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Software developer, mobile application engineer, and writer helping companies to enhance their tech branding and improve the way they communicate with technical and non-technical audiences.

Leaning on years of experience and knowledge to understand technical communication that works from wordy jargon that doesn't.

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