Git vs Perforce for Game Development: Which is Better?

Allison Bokone
Allison Bokone
·
Last updated on May 9, 2024

Git and Perforce are two popular source code management (SCM) tools used for version control across many industries. SCM tools provide a place to store, branch, merge, and track changes to source code and other digital assets.

Using SCM first ensures that it always backs up your files. It also allows teams to collaborate more efficiently by using check-ins, check-outs, and commits. These operations are fully annotated to make it easy to identify when and who made the changes.

Using Version Control for Game Development

Not only do games often have large codebases but they also have hundreds or thousands of other files which are needed to make an immersive entertainment experience. These include 2D, 3D, audio, and video files, along with binary files that can have a large file size. Tracking all these assets so that they aren’t duplicated or lost is critical and version control can help teams store, organize, and share their files.

The number and size of the files generated during game development creates some unique challenges that must be considered when choosing an SCM tool. This article focuses on Git and Perforce and how their version control works with gaming – for a higher level overview of SCM options, read our previous post about Popular SCM Tools and How They Solve Problems and Choosing a Version Control System. For a general look at the differences between Git and Perforce across several industries, see Perforce vs Git: A Comprehensive Comparison.

Git vs Perforce: What’s the Difference?

The biggest difference between Git and Perforce is that Git is decentralized and Perforce is centralized. With Git, the full code repository is downloaded to the developer’s machine, and Git supports many branching strategies and workflows. With Perforce, developers only download the files they are working on locally and they check in code changes to a centralized server that contains a single source of truth.

Git for Game Development

Git is a great choice for studios working on small-to-medium sized games. Because every developer must download the entire repository to their computer on a regular basis, Git works well for games with smaller codebases and lower graphical requirements that result in smaller graphics files. For teams with fewer and smaller files, merging and pulling changes shouldn’t pose any problems. Developers can enjoy the increased speed on their computers by having all the files available during local development on their machines.

When codebases grow larger or digital assets begin to include more complex graphics, downloading these files every time changes are made can lead to performance issues. In addition, because of the decentralized architecture, every developer has the full change history downloaded to their machine. In the case of large binary files, this means that Git needed to take a different approach – Git LFS.

Git LFS

While Git LFS is commonly recommended as a viable solution for game development (or any development involving digital assets), it’s important to note it has its limitations. 

  • Git LFS does not integrate with art and design programs
  • Has to be installed for every user, and configured for every repo. 
  • Anyone who needs to use the binary file will still need to download it locally and must do so via the command line, which is not a user-friendly solution for non-developers.

Perforce for Game Development

For studios working on larger or more graphically intense games, Perforce Helix Core is a better solution because it can efficiently handle large binary files, thousands of digital assets, and 10,000+ concurrent commits. The distributed architecture of Helix Core allows for rapid file access from the cloud while preserving a unified source of truth. This ensures that the team can effortlessly determine the latest version of assets.

Perforce also offers Helix DAM, a digital asset management tool built on top of Helix Core that enables teams to quickly find, track, and review game assets. For a look at other features Perforce offers for game development, check out Cloud-Based Game Development with Perforce.

Game Engine Integration

Beyond its ability to handle large game assets, the other compelling reason to consider opting for Perforce is the robust integrations it has with two of the industry’s leading game platforms: Unity and Unreal Engine.

Helix Core has well supported integrations with both Unity and Unreal Engine that enable 3D artists and designers to access version control from within the 3D Unity environment and Unreal Editor. Perforce has the Helix Visual Client (P4V), Helix Plugin for File Explorer (P4EXP), and Helix Sync, which all give artists, designers, and other non-developers easy ways to visualize, access, and update Helix Core version control from their desktops or within tools like Adobe Photoshop CC and Autodesk 3DS.

On the developer side, Unity and Unreal Engine each support plugins for Visual Studio, the most popular IDE for Unity and Unreal game developers. Perforce also has the Helix Plugin for Visual Studio (P4VS). Using P4VS and the Unity or Unreal plugins, game developers using Visual Studio get a seamless experience and can access version control features to complete tasks without leaving the Visual Studio IDE.

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How Assembla Can Help

Assembla is the only cloud-based hosting solution that supports Git, Perforce, and SVN. If your game is growing and your studio needs to level-up its SCM tools, we’re here to help.

Assembla’s all-in-one platform combines project management, version control, and collaboration tools specifically designed for cloud based game development. With features like task tracking, code repository hosting, and team collaboration, Assembla simplifies and streamlines the game development process. By centralizing your development activities on a single cloud platform, you can enhance security, team productivity and deliver high-quality games more efficiently.

Managed Git & Perforce Hosting

If you have smaller projects where the teams want to continue using Git, while larger projects need an upgrade, you can mix and match SCM tools. All while taking advantage of Assembla’s security and project management features across all projects. Check out our documentation to learn more about Using Git.

Supporting multiple SCM solutions gives your team the flexibility to use the tools that fit best with their workflows. Your dev team might prefer Git, but for artists and other non-engineering disciplines, Git might be overly complex and slow them down. 

In a Q&A With Hyperion Realms, Sigurdur Gunnarsson drove home this point by sharing “Perforce [hosted by Assembla] is also easier for our artists and non-engineers to use. They have a tough time understanding terms like rebase and merging – it’s not part of their everyday workflow.”

Managed Perforce Hosting

If your team is ready for increased scalability and less overhead, we have a cloud-based solution to fit your needs. Whether you’re just getting started with Cloud-Based Game Development with Perforce, or are ready to explore Git to Perforce Migration, our team is here to help. As industry leaders for cloud hosted Perforce, the Assembla DevOps teams will expertly monitor your source code management platform 24/7 so that your teams can focus on creating great games.

Integration with Unreal Engine

See how Assembla source code management platform integrates with Unreal Engine and Perforce Helix Core (YouTube) to streamline version control for game development.

Start a Free Trial

If you’re ready to try cloud-hosted game development, start a free 14 day trial of Assembla. Our team would love to talk with you about how our solutions can help you take the next step in growing your game studio.

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Allison Bokone
Allison Bokone
Allison Bokone is an instructor at Miami University in Ohio for the Computer and Information Technology department, specializing in process and DevOps. Prior to teaching, Allison worked at Microsoft for 18 years, first as a Technical Writer, then as a Program Manager and Director at Xbox. In her last role she was a regular contributor to MicrosoftGameDev.com.

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