C++ Games and Why C++ is Essential for Game Programming

C++ Games: Why C++ is Essential for Game Programming

C++ is one of the oldest and most relied-on languages in the game development field.

Its quality features, such as offering the best tune of the hardware control and outstanding performance, have led to it being branded as the option for professional game developers.

With this formidable language, it is possible to develop popular games with the view of executing splendid graphics, vast virtual spaces, and coherent gameplay.

However, C++ is also one of the most complex languages in the market, and it comes with rich and versatile functionalities that one needs to dedicate time and effort to learn.

In this article, we will look further at why C++ is so vital for game programming, what it could offer, and why it is not easy.

We will also disclose some beneficial instruments and materials to start with and dominate this extraordinary coding language.

Why C++ for Game Programming?

Game programming links well with C++, making it one of the most powerful programming languages.

Now, let’s briefly discuss why it is so popular and why many developers worldwide choose the Unity game engine for their projects!

Performance and Efficiency

Indeed, the role of C++ as the powerhouse of game programming stems from such features as high execution speed and resource optimization.

C++ gives programmers precise control over memory usage, delegated to them at its fundamental.

One of the differences between C++ and other languages, such as JAVA or C#, is that C++ has an auto garbage collector, while in C++, memory must be assigned and freed manually.

This, in turn, enables efficient memory management with low overhead and informs developers of memory leakage – all of which is vital to seamless gameplay in a high-stakes environment that demands it.

Moreover, C++ deals directly with the lower software and hardware levels, making it an incredibly efficient programming language.

An illustration of Performance and Efficiency

Software engineers can develop programs that directly interface with the underlying hardware, eliminating the need for the middleware to interface between the hardware and the software.

Low-level control is advantageous when deciding on architectural aspects such as graphics rendering and physics simulation since they heavily influence the player experience.

Due to the rapid tempo in the gaming industry, time is a compassionate aspect, so everything must be done on time.

As games require constant updates on the display, they must be highly responsive and maintain a high frame per second (FPS).

Therefore, C++ enables developers to create phenomenally smooth games with fine control and an array of platform compatibility; a game’s performance can be tailored to provide players with the best experience.

Industry Standard

C++ has begun cementing its role as the go-to language for game development, with vanguard game engines and significant studios now choosing this language.

Some of the most popular Game Engines that game developers use include Unreal Engine, which is used to develop games like Fortnite, Gears of War, and Unity, otherwise popular for some of its versatile cross-platform games developed using C++.

Recently, some of the largest game industries, like Rockstar Games with the GTA series, Electronic Arts with FIFA and Battlefield, and CD Projekt Red with the Witcher series, have also started using C++.

Other popular games developed with C++ include Counter-Strike, Guns of Global Offensive, World of Warcraft, and League Of Legends.

As titles that feature very competitive play in multiplayer online games with thousands of players, these titles prove that C++ can deliver large-scale network multiplayer games.

Considering that both game engines and studios currently use C++ in the development process, one has to admit that the language is widely recognized as the industry standard.

That is why C++ is used to create the best sellers and the most interesting and complex games on the market to enhance performance, control the process, and create flexible games.

Key Features of C++ in Game Development

Aside from efficiency, C++ has numerous features that benefit game development, making it a perfect language for developing games.

Now, let us take a closer look at the main features that enable the developers to offer the fans of video games engaging and fascinating play!

1. Object-Oriented Programming

Another major aspect that may entice game developers to use C++ is the programming paradigm it supports to the best extent: Object-Oriented Programming (OOP).

In this regard, OOP offers a methodical approach to the coding process while breaking it down into organized segments, which is suitable for handling the complexity of contemporary games.


Essentially, OOP is centered on the concept known as “objects”. In game design, objects are characters, opponents, tools, or, in general, everything that can interact with an environment in a game.

Each object contains data and behaviors in a single unit, making the design and implementation easier and more manageable.


Inheritance in C++ enables programmers to have structures where some objects can be established, and the object of the next higher order can possess the features and characteristics of another object.

This makes codes as reusable as possible while at the same time minimizing rehearsals.

For instance, in video games, a Player class might use the basic Character class to inherit parameters such as health or speed.


Polymorphism means that things that are related can be used interchangeably.

This implies that a single operational function can work on several types of objects based on the individual implementation of the objects.

In game development, it is useful for constructs that create generic actions of objects that could be characters or any in-game entity.


Encapsulation can be defined as grouping the data to be stored or processed along with the methods to be performed on such data.

This conceals the internal construction of an object and frees the implementation for change or improvement without impacting other code sections.

For instance, a weapon object can have a function that describes how it deals with the damage; this level of detail can be changed without affecting the remainder of the game.

These are the OOP principles which, if embraced, C++ gives developers means of developing coherently built and easy-to-manage source trees.

This is imperative, especially in large game projects, provided that they involve numerous codes and scripts, thus calling for simplification.

With OOP, there is a divide-and-conquer approach where large systems can be divided into workable sections. Changes are easier to incorporate in new features, eradication of bugs, or incorporation of bugs.

2. Memory Management

C++’s good manual memory management is a strength that itself becomes a weakness when it comes to the development of games.

On the one hand, it provides the developers with high control over memory management, which is good for optimizations, but on the other hand, it lacks the automated mechanisms present in languages such as Java and C#.

In C++ language, several memory management techniques are used; the most fundamental are the new operator, which signifies the dynamic allocation of memory, and the delete operator, which signifies the memory deallocation.

This level of control helps in memory management because whenever developers want to create a new memory chunk or variable, they immediately assign memory to it.

Once it is no longer required, it is released immediately. This can help enhance the performance of a game, notably in cases where memory is limited in the game.

An illustration of Memory Management

However, manual memory management has drawbacks.

Failing to free space occupied by a variable can cause memory leaks, which implies that the memory is not freed after its usefulness and, thus, over time, hampers performance or causes the application to crash.

New features like smart pointers and RAII are available In C++ to reduce these risks.

RAII is a specific programming pattern that ensures that a resource (for example, memory) is released at the object’s destruction. When the scope of an object is out of, then the resource of its scope will be released automatically.

If properly integrated, smart pointers and the RAII pattern will help slash the chances of memory leaks and pitfalls within the application.

This also helps make the code of games less volatile and highly reliable, while on the other hand, the developers can devote more time to creativity rather than being in pain about memory management.

3. Standard Library and Third-Party Libraries

Due to C++’s rich standard library and having highly developed third-party libraries, game developers were allowed tool sets to build reliable and full-featured games.

The C++ standard library offers several essential components for game development:

  • Containers
  • Algorithms
  • Input/Output (I/O)
  • Threading
  • Random Number Generation

Beyond the standard library, numerous third-party libraries cater specifically to game development needs:

  • SDL (Simple DirectMedia Layer)
  • SFML (Simple and Fast Multimedia Library)
  • Boost

Using these libraries, coupled with both the standard and third-party libraries, game developers can incorporate the layout, structure, and content required within the games with less stress and time consumed, thereby bringing out creativity within game development.

Game Engines and Frameworks Using C++

C++ is implemented in many effective game engines and frameworks to improve performance. Let’s see what they are!

Unreal Engine

In Unreal Engine, everything that can be imagined, such as game logic, artificial intelligence, and the specific rendering of games, can be implemented in C++.

However, for anyone looking to develop the full potential of the engine truly, coding in C++ becomes mandatory.

For example, C++ enables the building of more complicated and efficient systems that can easily fit into the engine’s framework.

To embark on your journey with Unreal Engine and C++, here’s a simple roadmap:

  1. Familiarize Yourself with C++: The first step that should be followed is learning more about the basics of the language.
  2. Download and Install Unreal Engine: It is worth noting that Unreal Engine is not expensive, though it is provided as open-source software that can be downloaded for free.
  3. Explore the Engine: View the Unreal Engine release notes and follow some simple steps to get familiar with the editor and its tools.
  4. Start with Blueprints: The best way to use the Blueprints Editor is to work on basic projects to familiarize yourself with how the engine operates.
  5. Dive into C++: When you feel free in Blueprints, it is time to begin with C++ tutorials and samples focusing on Unreal Engine.
  6. Experiment and Build: It is advisable to begin by achieving goals when developing systems, starting with small-scale projects and progressing towards larger ones with the goals incorporated.
  7. Join the Community: The Unreal Engine supports its users with a solid, vibrant development community. Sign up for newsgroups, discussion lists, DMOZ, LinkedIn, and other related social networks to interact with other developers and share your creations.

By ramming and dedicating the necessary time and energy to abiding by each step, anyone can use C++ and Unreal Engine to develop games that enthrall the globe.


CryEngine, another immense game engine used to render mind-blowing images and captivating environments, is built using C++.

This leads to developing games with fine-tuned graphics and visuals, realistic physics, and high-end rendering.

These engineering aspects also stem from its use of C++, which enables the creation of versatile gameplay systems and AI characteristics.

Several notable games have been crafted using CryEngine, showcasing its prowess in delivering immersive and visually arresting experiences:

  • Crysis Series
  • Far Cry Series
  • Ryse – Son of Rome
  • Sniper – Ghost Warrior Series
  • Hunt – Showdown

Custom Game Engines

Although there are established game engines such as Unreal and CryEngine, some developers develop their game engines from the ground up.

This approach offers flexibility and precise control associated with the specific codec but has pros and cons.


  • Tailor-Made Solutions: Unlike previous engines, developers can customize the engine, including adding or removing modules to optimize performance and achieve unique game features that are impossible with commercial engines.
  • Learning Experience: Building a new engine requires developers to understand the technical and artistic aspects of game development, including rendering pipelines and physics simulations.
  • Intellectual Property (IP) Ownership: Developers who choose a custom engine preserve the independence of the technology they use, and it’s free from the limitations licensed engines may provide.


  • Time and Resource Intensive: It is still quite monumental to develop a strong game engine from the ground up. This might not be possible for a small-scale team or individual working on the game’s development.
  • Steep Learning Curve: Topology creation requires a vast understanding of C ++, software design, and other subspecialties in gaming development. It may be very challenging for any candidate who has never been through that process.
  • Limited Feature Set: A given custom engine can be less furnished. Developers must independently create a few obligatory features, which may take significantly longer.

Basic Steps to Start Building Your Own Game Engine

  • Define Scope and Requirements: Make functional and precise explicit specifications of what you want an engine for your game to be. That will assist in differentiating what must be developed and what should not be added to the list.
  • Design the Architecture: Decide on the general architecture of the engine you plan to create; the main features and components could be the rendering system, physics system, audio system, input system, and logic system.
  • Choose Supporting Libraries: Choose relevant family libraries for miscellaneous operations such as graphic computing (OpenGL, DirectX), sound processing (OpenAL), and physical calculations (PhysX, Bullet).
  • Implement Core Systems: Consult with the priorities and needs of the users and implement the limited but helpful features before incorporating the extra and complicated ones.
  • Create Tools and Editor: Provide facilities for artists and designers to create and import data assets into your engine. Building a custom editor tool for level designing and games may also go well.
  • Test and Iterate: It is necessary to spend a lot of time testing the engine and game to find breaks, performance issues, and other troubles. Update your design and your quiz implementation based on what you find from the feedback and the results.
  • Expand and Refine: It should be noted that no engine is ever complete and should be improved and expanded as your game continues to evolve. This one is self-explanatory as new features may be incorporated, existing systems must be tweaked, and some systems must be modified to fit new requirements.

Programming an in-house game engine from scratch using C++ isn’t easy, but it pays off in the end.

Realizing the strengths and weaknesses related to the emission and through adherence to the outlined guidelines, the developers can build a very strong and versatile engine that would fully meet individual needs.

Developing a Simple Game with C++

While crafting a full-fledged game is complex, developing a basic game can be surprisingly accessible and rewarding.

Here’s how to do it!

1. Setting Up Your Development Environment

First, before you start your C++ game developer quest, you must gather your supplies and prepare the environment.

Setting Up Your Development Environment

Choosing an IDE (Integrated Development Environment)

An IDE is an integrated tool for software development that supports programmers with all they need to build software.

It usually includes the source code editor, build, and debugger tools.

Here are a few popular choices for C++ game development:

  • Visual Studio
  • CLion
  • Code::Blocks

Installing Libraries and Frameworks

It’s quite natural to prefer to have ready-made solutions for such non-core tasks as rendering, sound, or input handling, and that’s why you will most probably want to use libraries and frameworks for that.

Some popular choices for C++ game development include:

  • SDL (Simple DirectMedia Layer)
  • SFML (Simple and Fast Multimedia Library)

Regarding the installation of these libraries, you might encounter specific and distinct instructions that you have to follow depending on your operating system and IDE that you use.

Usually, you have to download the library files and include them as a reference project in your IDE. Practically all IDE frameworks include rather friendly package managers or build that ease this exercise.

2. Basic Game Loop and Structure

Establishing a game loop can be seen as one of the main fundamentals of each game, as it represents a process that forms the game’s logic and orchestration.

In C++, a basic game loop typically consists of the following steps:

  1. Input Handling: This one specifies if the game has detected any inputs using the keyboard, mouse, clicks, controller, or any other device.
  2. Update: The game modifies its internal state, first on receipt of the input and second on the passage of time into discrete frames. This involves the flow of game objects’ transformation, which includes changing their location, behavior, and other factors.
  3. Render: This comes in handy, especially when the current state of the game world needs to be brought to the screen.
  4. Repeat: The loop progresses, taking input from the user, updating its state, and drawing graphics until the game reaches its conclusion.

3. Debugging and Optimization

Testing and code tuning are two important processes for developing C++ games because they demand that the game be played smoothly.

Here’s an overview of common techniques and tips:

Debugging Techniques

  • Print Statements: One of the most basic debugging forms is adding or using print statements (std::cout) that help display variable values or trace program execution.
  • Debuggers: IDEs like Visual Studio, IntelliJ, and CLion offer built-in debuggers that allow you to step through code line-by-line and set breakpoints to examine variables during execution.
  • Memory Leak Detection Tools: The presence of a memory leak can cause performance downgrades and crashes, and this is where tools such as Valgrind can be useful as they can assist in identifying the presence of memory leaks.
  • Static Analysis Tools: Some tools help recognize all the possible mistakes and dangerous non-standard techniques in your code; for example, the Clang Static Analyzer can analyze all the possibilities you wrote without running the program.

Optimization Tips

  • Profiling: Profilers help know which parts are most time-consuming or for direct optimization efforts.
  • Data Structures and Algorithms: Select suitable data structures for faster processing, like hash tables instead of linear search, and algorithms like quick sort instead of bubble sort, etc.
  • Memory Optimization: Optimize code to use memory efficiently, using objects that are resident and, where possible, reuse them, avoid unnecessary allocations, and use data structures that take less space.
  • Rendering Optimization: This is achieved by grouping several objects and drawing them in a single go, as well as LOD and other options for removing objects that are out of camera range.
  • Multithreading: Take advantage of multithreading techniques and complete computational-intensive tasks simultaneously, like physics calculations and AI processing.

With these debugging and optimization techniques, the C++ games you develop would achieve good freedom, efficacy, and playability for the players.

Advanced Topics in C++ Game Development

As you delve deeper into C++ game development, you’ll encounter more advanced concepts and techniques that can elevate your game projects to new heights.

1. Multithreading and Parallelism

In the context of games and, more specifically, game development, issues such as multithreading and parallelism are crucial for obtaining high levels of performance and interactivity.

An illustration of Multithreading and Parallelism

Importance of Multithreading in Games

  • Enhanced Performance: Some essential features of core games can perform multiple tasks simultaneously, such as physics calculations, AI, rendering, etc…
  • Responsiveness: Because the retrieval of information from the network, the loading of assets, and the updating of GUI elements are all handled in their threads, the main loop of the game can stay light, always prepared to handle input and maintain target frame rates.
  • Resource Optimization: With multithreading, the flow of operations is optimized and consumes system resources optimally.

How to Implement Multithreading in C++

C++ provides robust tools for implementing multithreading, including:

  • std:thread: This class refers to a single execution path of a certain process or plan. As for threads, developers can build thread objects and design functions that these threads are to perform; the thread’s life cycle can also be controlled.
  • std::mutex: A kernel or user-mode object that enables synchronization and protection of shared resources from concurrent access by various threads and causing race conditions.
  • std:condition_variable: A synchronization object through which threads may wait until they are notified, often when some condition is met.
  • std:atomic: Variables are instances that are not supposed to be synchronized for a multi-thread environment but can be read or written from more than a single thread.

2. Graphics Programming

Graphics programming is an essential part of game development, which focuses on producing visuals that contribute to the appearance of the game’s virtual reality.

Basics of Graphics Programming with C++

In its simplest sense, graphics programming is repositioning and controlling small screen pixels into forming images.

Graphics programmability is fairly low in C++, offering developers direct control over most aspects of rendering.

This includes:

  • Creating a Window
  • Clearing the Screen
  • Drawing Shapes
  • Applying Transformations
  • Texturing
  • Lighting

Using OpenGL or DirectX with C++

OpenGL and DirectX are two common software interfaces that appeared to create standards for hardware control.

These function features cover almost any drawing, shading, texturing, and other graphic functionality one might need.

OpenGL and DirectX are rather powerful, but such APIs might confuse many developers.

Some game engines and libraries, for example, SDL and SFML, give a simplified interface to these APIs so that codecs raise only the common beginning for C++ graphics programming.

With a little background information on graphics programming, you can utilize tools like OpenGL or DirectX to create aesthetically appealing games that entertain players and bring out the gamer within them.

3. Networking

Interconnection can be considered the foundation of multiplayer games as it allows players to interact, play, and cooperate with other individuals worldwide.

An illustration of Networking

Implementing Multiplayer Features in C++

There is a lot of support and flexibility provided to the developer by C++ to implement various multiplayer features.

The primary and widely used architecture for multiplayer games is a client-server architecture where the state of the game is maintained at the server end.

This server can be accessed through multiple instances running at the client’s end on the players’ devices.

To enable the clients or connected servers to communicate, the developers employ the network’s standard protocols, such as TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) or UDP (User Datagram Protocol).

Maintaining client synchronization and ensuring all players see the same state of the game becomes challenging due to network latency and the like, which needs client-side prediction and server reconciliation techniques.

These techniques can be used to sustain lean physical dynamics and ensure that flow inconsistencies among various players are minimized.

Another significant issue in MMGs is security, which encompasses property protection and individual ownership of assets.

Through security, they get to ensure they come up with the best solution that would enable as many players to have a great time without having to compete with one another.

Overview of Networking Libraries for C++

C++ offers several libraries that simplify the complexities of networking, providing pre-built functionality and abstractions:

  • Boost.Asio
  • ENet
  • RakNet
  • Steamworks

These libraries assist in minimizing complexity in implementing a multiplayer option in games, hence saving time as the programmer can concentrate on the games’ essence in offering fun.

In this way, through the correct comprehension of the basic concepts of networking and the use of tools and libraries within the C++ language, video game developers can offer extremely engaging games that can link players from all around the world.


It can be said that C++ has now fully and unarguably entered the game development scene, where it is used to create fun, fast-paced, and gorgeous-looking games.

So, if you dream about game creation, you should start with C++.

The rewards are tremendous; not merely does one become aware of how to engineer a game, but one will also develop employable skills much needed in the current world of game development.

Thanks to a vast array of free-access materials ranging from tutorials, C++ courses, and communities, learning C++ has been simpler than ever.

Therefore, what would be your reason for waiting then? Have you ever wanted to build games and explore the fastest-growing area of computer programming?

Jump into the world of C++ game development now!

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