Game Development Words and Phrases

A glossary of important terms used in game development

As a game maker, you may be familiar with some of the terminology we’ve listed on this page. But if you’re new to this world or simply want a refresher, this handy glossary should help as you’re building your game and trying to communicate your ideas to others.

Frequently Used Game Development Terms

2D Game: A “flat” game that uses only two axes of motion. The camera is looking straight at the game and there is no perspective. Movement is simple; usually left-to-right and up-and-down. 2D games are often linear, where the goal is to get from the beginning of a level to the end.

3D Game: Allows full movement through a 360-degree “real world” where objects have different sizes and depths. The camera offers perspective—objects get smaller as the camera gets further away. The camera can often be moved to allow the player to see from other angles, solve puzzles, and more.

3rd Party Login: A tool that allows your players to log in to their accounts using third-party platforms such as Steam, Discord, and Twitch. Adds convenience for players who want to access your game from the store platform where they purchased the game.

A/B Trials: Testing whereby developers can segment their audience into a control group and test group. A variable is introduced into the test group’s version of the game, allowing the developer to measure the impact of the variable and determine whether to add it to the game.

Admin Portal: Beamable’s web-based project administration tool for game makers. This is where game makers develop their project and support live games.

ARPDAU (Average Revenue Per Daily Active User): How much money comes in every day from each regular user of your game. Revenue can come from in-game purchases, ads, or any other source of monetization.

ARPU (Average Revenue Per User): A measure of average revenue across all purchasers of a game, including those who do not actively use it. Calculated as total revenue divided by the total number of players. Can be used to see which types of advertising attract the most users, and for various other purposes.

C# Microservices: A Beamable feature that allows game makers to write server-authoritative game code in C# inside the Unity editor along with their C# game client code without needing to create or manage a game server.

Chat: Allows players to communicate with each other in-game via a text chat feature. Facilitates cooperation and collaboration among players, deepening their interest in the game.

Cloud Storage: A streamlined interface to write complex objects (JSON, binary, etc.), and back them up for the player. Useful for cross-device and player-generated content.

DAU (Daily Active Users): Measure of the total number of users who interact with your game on a given day. An “active” user is simply one who logs in.

Deterministic Multiplayer: Game logic that uses a “send input only” model for synchronization so that different players in the same multiplayer game see the same thing on their screens.

Friend List: In-game social feature allowing players to become friends with each other and see which friends are online.

FTP (Free To Play): A game that is free to download and play, but may use microtransactions to generate revenue. Also called F2P.

Game Analytics: Data about how players are playing your game; allows game makers to measure multiple ways in which players interact with the game and uncover opportunities to improve the user experience.

Game Studio: An industry term referring to the business within which game development takes place. Running a game studio encompasses not only game development, but finances, sales, and other aspects of running a business.

Guild Play: Forming an organized group within a game to accomplish goals and enjoy the game together. The social aspects of a guild can help drive more engagement within your game.

Host: Another name for a game server. The host/server transmits data that displays the game world to players.

IAP (In-App Purchases): Items that can be purchased within a game. The use of IAPs allows developers to provide free-to-play games.

In-Game Mail: Feature enabling players to receive in-game mail with subject, body, and attachments such as items. Similar to email, but within a game.

Leaderboard: A ranked list of high scores (or other values) achieved by the players of a game.

Live Event: A live (often timed), one-time competition between players within a game community with rewards based on scores and ranking achieved during the event.

Live Game: A game that is continuously updated with new content and features. Regular updates encourage players to continue playing, thereby leading to more in-game purchases.

LTV (Lifetime Value): A prediction/calculation of the profit a game developer will earn from an average player over the total time the player plays the game.

Matchmaking: Grouping players based on what experiences they seek and/or their abilities and skill level.

MAU (Monthly Active Users): How many unique users play your game in a 30-day period. An “active” user is typically defined as someone who has logged in.

Metaverse: A virtual reality-based successor to the internet, said to contain the total of all virtual worlds, augmented reality, and the internet. Would consist of 3D virtual spaces shared by all.

Microservices: An approach to application-building whereby pieces of an app are independent but work together. Microservices allow developers to quickly build new features or components to meet evolving needs or demands.

Multiplayer: A game that allows more than one person to play at the same time.

Player Object: A player that is currently connected to the game.

Player Stats: Scores, rankings, and other data that can be displayed on a leaderboard or otherwise tracked. May be visible to the player, the developer, or other people.

Push Notification: Notifications sent to players’ devices to remind them of events, tournaments, or other occurrences in the game.

Relay Server: Beamable’s multiplayer is a relay server. Beamable keeps a list of all events sent from all clients in a given room. Then, via push or pull, each client can ask "for all events since last time I asked". The clients then must advance the gameplay deterministically, replaying each player’s input, so each client is in sync.

Session: The period during which a player is playing the game. Session length is often measured from the time the player begins until the player disconnects.

Team Play: Similar to Guild Play. Players organize into groups to accomplish goals or journey through a game together in various ways.

Tournament: A recurring competition among all players within a game’s community, based on score ranking, stage, and tier. Differs from Live Events in that Live Events are one-time occurrences.

Virtual Currency: Many games allow players to exchange real-world money for in-game funds that players can use to make in-game purchases. The use of virtual currency allows developers to provide free-to-play games.

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