Game Development with .NET

Abdullah Hamed


We’ve launched a new Game Development with .NET section on our site. It’s designed for current .NET developers to explore all the choices available to them when developing games. It’s also designed for new developers trying to learn how to use .NET by making games. We’ve also launched a new game development Learn portal for .NET filled with tutorials, videos, and documentation provided by Microsoft and others in the .NET game development community. Finally, we launched a step-by-step Unity get-started tutorial that will get you started with Unity and writing C# scripts for it in no time. We are excited to show you what .NET has to offer to you when making games. .NET is also part of Microsoft Game Stack, a comprehensive suite of tools and services just for game development.

A picture of a game controller

.NET for game developers

.NET is cross-platform. With .NET you can target over 25+ different platforms with a single code base. You can make games for, but not limited to, Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, and mixed reality devices.

C# is the most popular programming language in game development. The wider .NET community is also big. There is no lack of expertise and support you can find from individuals and user groups, locally or online.

.NET does not just cover building your game. You can also use it to build your game’s website with ASP.NET, your mobile app using Xamarin, and even do remote rendering with Microsoft Azure. Your skills will transfer across the entire game development pipeline.

logos of some gaming platforms supported by .NET

Available game engines

The first step to developing games in .NET is to choose a game engine. You can think of engines as the frameworks and tools you use for developing your game. There are many game engines that use .NET and they differ widely. Some of the engines are commercial and some are completely royalty free and open source. I am excited to see some of them planning to adopt .NET 5 soon. Just choose the engine that better works for you and your game. Would you like to read a blog post to help you learn about .NET game engines, and which one would be best for you?

Online services for your game

If you’re building your game with .NET, then you have many choices on how to build your online game services. You can use ready-to-use services like Microsoft Azure PlayFab. You can also build from scratch on Microsoft Azure. .NET also runs on multiple operating systems, clouds, and services, it doesn’t limit you to use Microsoft’s platforms.

.NET has a rich set of tools

All the .NET tools you are used to also work when making games. Visual Studio is a great IDE that works with all .NET game engines on Windows and macOS. It provides word-class debugging, AI-assisted code completion, code refactoring, and cleanup. In addition, it provides real-time collaboration and productivity tools for remote work. GitHub also provides all your DevOps needs. Host and review code, manage projects, and build software alongside 50 million developers with GitHub.

An illustration of the person playing video games on a couch with a friend online

The ecosystem

The .NET game development ecosystem is rich. Some of the .NET game engines depend on foundational work done by the open-source community to create managed graphics APIs like SharpDX, SharpVulkan, Vulkan.NET, and Veldrid. Xamarin also enables using platform native features on iOS and Android. Beyond the .NET community, each game engine also has their own community and user groups you can join and interact with. .NET is an open-source platform with over 60,000+ contributors. It’s free and a solid stable base for all your current and future game development needs.

Learn more and start developing

Head to our new Game Development with .NET site to get an overview of what .NET provides for you when making games. If you never used Unity, get started with our step-by-step Unity get-started tutorial and script with C# as quick as possible. If you’re looking for tutorials, videos, and documentations to get your started, head to our new game development Learn portal for .NET for more resources.

Show us the work you do for .NET game development

We’d love to see the work you do for the .NET game developer. Please reach out to us if you’d like us to talk about the games you’re making, the APIs you’re developing, the plug-ins you’re distributing, or any .NET project remotely related to game development. Did you write a great blog post, or just read one? Do you want everyone to know about an amazing new .NET game development contribution or a useful plug-in or tool? Do you have an analysis of game development pipeline using .NET?

We’d love to hear from you, and feature your contributions on future posts:

  • Leave us a message in the comments section below
  • Send Abdullah (@indiesaudi) tips on Twitter about .NET game development.


Leave a comment

  • Avatar
    Roman Shapiro

    I would like to present, which is C# port of the famous C gamedev library named stb.
    Or – in other words – StbSharp is pure C# framework that allows to do following things:
    – Load Images in in JPG, PNG, BMP, TGA, PSD and GIF formats.(StbImageSharp)
    – Write Images in JPG, PNG, BMP, TGA and HDR formats(StbImageWriteSharp)
    – Rasterize TTF fonts(StbTrueTypeSharp)
    – Encode images in DXT format(StbDxtSharp)
    – Decode Vorbis(StbVorbisSharp)

    • Avatar
      Fleet Command

      Somehow, you’ve got the idea that anything that has Microsoft’s name on it must be great. I don’t have to elaborate on how unpopular this idea is, because everyone knows. We all remember what happened to the largest worldwide vendor of mobile phones and smartphones in 2014.

      That said, for a project to start (or restart), there must be manpower, potential market, potential profit, and competitive advantage.

    • Avatar
      Shaun McFall

      Monogame is a fantastic step up from what XNA was, and I’d highly recommend it. While not being officially supported my Microsoft, it has basically everything you could need–especially with the Monogame.Extended packages. It’s very quick and easy to get started and supports a TON of platforms:

      PlayStation 4
      PlayStation Vita
      Xbox One
      Nintendo Switch
      Google Stadia
  • Avatar
    Paulo Pinto

    Why do you guys keep mentioning SharpDX when the project is dead, as the developer got fed up writing bindings to DirectX?

    After killing Managed Direct X and XNA, it puzzles me that Microsoft is so resistant to providing proper .NET bindings to DirectX.

    Even with the big push for WinRT/UWP adoption, every time the question was raised, why no UWP bindings are provided for DirectX (it is after all COM based), we either get evading questions, or as of Reunion (we don’t have time for it).

    It would be nice that for promoting .NET game development, Microsoft would stick to it and actually provide first party DirectX support instead of hoping for community work and their partners.

  • Avatar
    Michael Winsor

    I’ve written a 2D graphics API in C# called Gorgon, which uses SharpDX and Direct3D 11.2.

    • It reads/writes various image formats like DDS, JPG, PNG, BMP, TGA, and GIF
    • Provides support for drawing sprites, primitives (e.g. lines, circles, rectangles, etc…)
    • Shader support for those neat effects that people seem so fond of these days.
    • Input handling via Raw input and XInput
    • Has a virtual file system which can use folders or packed files (e.g. zip files)
    • And other stuff…

    I’m surprised that MonoGame, or Godot aren’t mentioned here. It’s not like they’re unknown. Also, SharpDX is now abandoned, so it’s probably not a good idea to point to it as a resource for new projects.

  • Avatar
    Martin Sedlmair

    Currently I don’t really know in which technology to rely on. The is SharpDX, there is SlimDX, some Vulkan impementations, some OpenGL wrappers. There was/is Win2D, then there is GDI and some proprietary implementations like VESA, Magick, SkiaSharp and many more… Managed DIrectX was abandoned… XNA was abandoned… SharpDX was also abandoned.

    So on what can I rely on?

    Currently I don’t really know what to take but at least for my future work there are a few essential requirements (only for short, because I can complain the whole day about the current status quo):

    1. I need platform a independent technology
    2. I need something that is maintained and not like Win2D which is announced and then abandoned
    3. I need something that integrates and streamlines with the rest of my environment (WPF, HTML, whatever)
    4. I want high-level access (but in certain occasions I want also low-level access e.g. DirectCompute, CUDA, Vulkan, etc).
    5. I also need 2D operations in most of my cases (GDI was mostly sufficient to me but maybe too outdated), as said above Win2D was abandoned
    6. Keep in mind that graphics is not only for game development. There are many situations where you need graphics in other applications.
    7. I need vector graphics and also pixel-wise operations.

    I would really love if some high level/high performance bindings would exist for WPF (but currently it seems way to slow) compared to GDI and it should be independent from DirectX. I hope that at least for WinUI this will be the case.

    Still I also want the low-level access but the only access from WPF is going to C++/COM implementations. I assume it’s a lot of work to create DirectX bindings and I don’t know if it worth the work or if it would be better to find something more generic and platform independent,

  • achmad sudibyo
    achmad sudibyo

    Hi, why not considering stride3D, formerly xenko, a MIT licensed game engine using sharpdx as its core rendering. Support all major graphic library DX12 and vulkan is among supported backend.

    Its work more “closely” with c# than Unity does.
    If by any chance microsoft can be their gold sponsor.

    EDIT : Oh shoot stride is already mentioned.

  • Avatar
    Uros Berce

    I find none of the API’s and engine’s listed as useful, versatile and elegant as XNA was for indie game development. It is a shame MS killed it off. It is about time to bring it back, along with some proper .NET DirectX bindings.

    As others noted, since Managed Dx, XNA, SharpDX etc. are all dead, there is even no proper .NET DirectX bindings at the moment – and without that, talking about “Game Development with .NET” is counting chickens before they are hatched.

    • Abdullah Hamed
      Abdullah HamedMicrosoft employee

      Games published with engines using .NET makes up a majority portion of mobile games. They also make up a significant portion of the desktop console market. So many of your favorite games are already made with MonoGame and Unity. There are always room for improvement in the ecosystem of course.

      • Avatar
        Ismail Demir

        Hello Abdullah,
        please change the title to “Mobile Game Development with .NET” then it would be clear for most of us.

        C# is the most popular programming language in [mobile] game development

        Corrected. When it comes to “game development” I personally think about desktop technologies like DirectX and C++ programming.

        Please differ the both, mobile and desktop.

        Thank you!

        • Abdullah Hamed
          Abdullah HamedMicrosoft employee

          Hello Ismail,

          As you might know, over half of games published currently are made with Unity across all platforms. Sure, most of those might be on mobile, since its the more mainstream option, but there are some great AAA and desktop successes with it. The Ori series from Moon Studios and Fall Guys are just two examples of that. Also, CryEngine does use .NET to enable C# scripting and that engine is mostly used for AAA development.

          With fidelity lines being blurred between platforms, and the emergence of cloud gaming, distinguishing between gaming on those platforms doesn’t make sense anymore. For example, the Nintendo Switch consoles uses an ARM processor just like an android device would. Oculus uses an ARM chip with an Android based OS in their only VR headset.

          Players want to play everywhere, and developers can reach players where they play with .NET.

      • Avatar
        Uros Berce

        Thank you for your answer and time I appreciate it.

        Excuse me for being old school, but game development for me means DESKTOP(console) game development. Furthermore, as 3D is technology of the day, it means 3D DESKTOP game development. 2D is niche, mobile is mobile. If either was aim of your article, it should be noted.

        Now that we cleared that up, let’s see what we’re left with for “proper” 3d desktop game development in .NET:

        1. Unity – basically the only more or less viable option, but is far from perfect, has many issues in many different aspects (I will not go into details here).
        2. Monogame – for 2D it is ok, but 3D still has loads of issues, littered with bugs, a far cry from XNA. And it relies on other open source solutions, some of which are already deprecated (like SharpDX). Also looking at its pulse on github is not exactly comforting either, the project is slowly dying, I see no real future here.
        3. Xenko/Stride – project discontinued by SiliconCorp, and now maintained/developed by a sole developer.
        4. Some other even less viable options.

        I invested heavily in XNA back in the day, built engine and tools around it, just to see it dropped by MS like it was a joke. You need to understand that it takes years of time and commitement into any of there frameworks/APIs if you want to make something real out of it. And investing that much effort into something developed for hobby by someone, that might be dropped any day, is just not an option.

        So until MS provides at the very least proper DX bindings, and shows some effort and commitement, 3d desktop game development in .NET is a joke.