Leadwerks is the easiest way to make 3D games. Learn everything you need with our comprehensive tutorials. Build games with the world's most intuitive game development system. Publish to Steam Workshop and show your game off to the world.
User reviews: Mostly Positive (149 reviews) - 73% of the 149 user reviews for this software are positive.
Release Date: Jan 6, 2014

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Recent updates View all (42)

November 22

Leadwerks Game Engine Reaches 10,000 Paid Users

Leadwerks Software today announced their top-selling game development system on Steam, Leadwerks Game Engine, has gained a user base of over 10,000 paid customers. Although the game development space has seen a dramatic drop in prices and the entry of many free competitors, Leadwerks Game Engine continues to gain popularity by teaching complete beginners how to make games with no previous knowledge required, and providing a pathway to publish directly to Steam Workshop.

Leadwerks’ ease of use is made possible by a layered development system that gradually eases beginners into game development. At its simplest, Leadwerks Editor is a drag-and-drop system with a visual interface for creating game interactions. Users can drill down to the Lua script level to modify behavior and create new game mechanics. Experts can get even more advanced and access the Leadwerks API directly in C++ with the Standard Edition DLC. This layered development system means that Leadwerks provides a smooth learning curve that grows with the user as they learn more.

Leadwerks Game Launcher is the company’s portal for user-made games, and is currently available for free on Steam as an early access title with over 40 free games. Developers can publish their games directly to Steam Workshop with the game launcher or as a standalone. This lets developers share their games with the entire Steam community, with no waiting period and no approval process. The Game Launcher features a variety of experimental titles, delivering fun bite-sized experiences similar to the iOS App Store, but playable on a PC or Steam Machine.

With Leadwerks Game Launcher on SteamOS, games can now be built on the desktop and played in the living room. Console gaming has historically been a closed system, with expensive developer licenses and strict rules about who can publish for the living room. With support for SteamOS, Valve’s Linux-based operating system for PC-based game consoles, Leadwerks Game Launcher allows anyone to create their own games they can play in the living room with a controller. All Game Launcher titles work seamlessly on SteamOS, even if they were developed on a Windows PC. Leadwerks provides full support for the new Steam Controller and is compatible with all OpenGL 4.0 hardware for Linux.

Version 3.7
The upcoming version 3.7 update is planned to add a new vegetation system and other features. Unlike traditional vegetation systems that store each tree instance in memory, the Leadwerks 3.7 vegetation system allocates objects procedurally. This allows the user to create infinitely dense forests that consume no extra memory. The Leadwerks 3.7 vegetation system is set to be featured in a chapter in the upcoming book Game Engine Gems 3, published by A K Peters / CRC Press. Leadwerks Game Engine 3.7 is a free update scheduled for release in December 2015.

Leadwerks Game Engine: Indie Edition and the Standard Edition DLC can both be purchased for $99.99 on Steam. Leadwerks Game Launcher can be downloaded for free on Steam.

About Leadwerks Software
Leadwerks Software was founded in 2006 to make game development fun and enjoyable. The company launched Leadwerks 3, their first multiplatform product, in April at the GDC 2013 expo. In July 2013 the company conducted a successful Kickstarter campaign to bring Leadwerks to the Linux operating system, reaching over 200% of their goal in just six weeks. A concurrent Greenlight campaign for Steam was also successful, making Leadwerks the first 3D game engine approved for distribution on Steam. Leadwerks Game Launcher was released as an early access title in September 2015, enabling anyone to publish their game directly to Steam Workshop.

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November 19

Leadwerks Game Launcher on SteamOS (Beta)

Leadwerks Game Launcher now works with SteamOS, with some caveats.

First, you must set the application to use the "Official Bindings" controller configuration by Leadwerks Software.

When you start Leadwerks Game Launcher on SteamOS, a page of available games will be shown. Click on the game you want to play. The game will be shown on a new page, and a blue button will appear on the bottom left of the screen. You can press the B button on your controller to go back to the main page, or mouse the cursor over the blue button and click (right trigger).

The application will pause while the game is downloaded. At this time no progress indicator is shown while downloading, but most games only take a few seconds. The game will then launch. Most games can be exited by pressing the right arrow button just to the right of the Steam button on your controller. Some games will presently not work correctly.

To exit the game launcher, press the right arrow button just to the right of the Steam button.

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About This Software

Leadwerks is the easiest way to make 3D games. Learn everything you need with our comprehensve tutorials. Build games with the world's most intuitive game development system. Publish to Steam Workshop and show your game off to the world with Leadwerks Game Launcher (now in beta).

Key Features

Learn to Make Your Own Royalty-Free Games
We provide tons of documentation and video tutorials walking you through the steps to build your own 3D games. Leadwerks is the perfect pathway to go from total noob to pro game developer. And when you do publish your commercial game, there's no royalties to pay, ever.

Advanced Graphics
Leadwerks makes AAA graphics achievable with hardware tessellation, geometry shaders, and a deferred renderer with up to 32x MSAA. Our renderer redefines realtime with image quality more like a cg render than real-time games of the past. The use of OpenGL 4.0 provides equivalent graphics to DirectX 11, with cross-platform support across operating systems, for future expansion.

Built-in Level Design Tools
Build game levels from scratch right in our editor with constructive solid geometry. Our tools make it easy to sketch out your design and bring your ideas to life. Anyone can build their own game worlds in Leadwerks, without having to be an expert artist.

Integrated Lua Script Editor
We integrated Lua right into Leadwerks because of its proven track records in hundreds of commercial games including Crysis, World of Warcraft, and Garry's Mod. Lua integrates seamlessly with native code for rapid prototyping and instant control. The built-in debugger lets you pause your game, step through code, and inspect every variable in the program in real-time. Lua is perfect for beginners, and the integrated Just-In-Time (JIT) compiler ensures your games will keep running fast as they grow. (Please note that C++ programming support requires the Standard Edition DLC.)

Visual Flowgraph for Advanced Game Mechanics
Our unique visual flowgraph enables designers to set up game mechanics, build interactions, and design advanced scripted sequences, without touching a line of code. The flowgraph system integrates seamlessly with Lua script, allowing script programmers to expose their own functions and add new possibilities for gameplay.

Royalty-Free License
Your games you make are yours. Yours to play, yours to sell, yours to give away, and do as you please. You will never be charged royalties for any game you make in Leadwerks. And because we only rely on free open-source middleware libraries, you never have to worry about purchasing expensive licenses from third parties.

Free Self-Publishing to Steam Workshop (beta)
Leadwerks Game Launcher is a new way to distribute games. You can publish your Lua-based games from Leadwerks Editor, then send a link to your friends to play without installers, plugins, or zip files. Use this to get your game in front of players and build a following. (Does not support Workshop publishing of C++ games.)

Steam Features

  • Download and publish game content with Steam Workshop.
  • Publish your Lua game to the Workshop for other users to play.
  • Publish image renders and YouTube videos directly to Steam from the editor.
  • Built-in Steamworks support makes your game ready to publish to Steam.


  • OpenGL 4.0 deferred renderer with uniform lighting model supports any number of lights, all casting soft dynamic shadows.
  • Up to 32x hardware MSAA makes rendered images incredibly sharp and detailed.
  • Full support for vertex, fragment, geometry, and tessellation shaders.
  • Dynamic megatexture terrain provides fast rendering of terrains with many layers.
  • Hierarchical hardware occlusion queries provides fast visibility testing.
  • Hardware tessellation for dynamic real surface displacement on the GPU.
  • Normal mapping with specular and cubemap reflections.
  • Instanced rendering allows fast drawing of large volumes of objects.
  • Hardware skinning provides fast skinned animation.
  • Deferred transparency with multiple overlapping layers of shading.
  • Real-time mesh modification.
  • Trilinear and up to 16x anisotropic filtering.
  • Blend and transition animation sequences.
  • Extract animation sequences in the editor.


  • Automatic asset management reloads models and textures when they are modified from another application.
  • Drag and drop import of FBX, DDS, BMP, JPG, PNG, TGA, and PSD files.
  • Visual interface controls every aspect of the art pipeline.
  • Constructive solid geometry modeling tools.
  • Brush primitives include box, wedge, cylinder, sphere, arch, tube, and torus.
  • Automatic UV mapping.
  • Brush smooth groups.
  • GPU-accelerated terrain editor makes sculpting silky smooth and fast.
  • Built-in shader editor with instant visualization and error highlighting.
  • Native user interface is used on each supported platform.


  • Built-in Lua script editor with debugger, code stepping, and syntax highlighting.
  • Visual flowgraph lets you connect objects to control game interactions and set up scripted sequences.
  • Launch your game and debug the Lua virtual machine as it runs.
  • API design with an object-oriented command set lets you code any type of game.
  • Entity scripts provide a per-object hook interface.
  • Direct programming gives you control over your game's loop and program structure.
  • Script variables are displayed in a visual interface and reloaded in real-time.


  • Navmesh pathfinding provides automatic AI navigation that works everywhere.
  • Character controller movement seamlessly integrated with physics and pathfinding systems.
  • Set entities to automatically chase another object or navigate to a position.


  • Fast and accurate rigid body physics.
  • Constraints including hinge, ball, and sliding joints.
  • Joint actuators provide fast and stable motorized constraints for doors, robotic arms, and other motion.
  • Automatic physics shape calculation.
  • Generate physics shapes in the editor from models or brushes.
  • Swept collision.
  • Raycasting with lines or spheres.


  • Real-time particle editor with instant visualization.
  • Emission volumes include box, sphere, cylinder, tube, and cone.
  • Adjustable curve graph for alpha and scale.
  • Particle animation sheets with adjustable frame counts and layout.
  • Velocity-based rotation for directional particles like sparks.


  • 3D sound spatialization.
  • Emit a sound from any entity.
  • Automatic channel management frees up unneeded channels.
  • Skip to any time in sound.

System Requirements

SteamOS + Linux
    • OS: Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, or 10
    • Processor: 2.0 ghz dual core
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Nvidia, AMD, or Intel OpenGL 4.0 / DirectX 11 graphics.
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Storage: 2 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: Non-English characters including Cyrillic in the user path are not supported.
    • OS: Ubuntu 14.04 LTS 64-bit
    • Processor: 2.0 ghz dual core 64-bit
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Nvidia or AMD OpenGL 4.0 graphics card with proprietary drivers
    • Storage: 2 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: Intel graphics drivers do not presently support OpenGL 4.0 on Linux. Non-English characters including Cyrillic in the user path are not supported.
    • Graphics: Nvidia graphics card is recommended on Linux.
Helpful customer reviews
31 of 33 people (94%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
331.2 hrs on record
Posted: August 15
Leadwerks is a very intuitive and unique mid-scale game engine. With a certain investment of effort, I made things I had no idea how to do with other engines.

What's even better, I discovered and learned so many things related to computer graphics by simply using the LE (Leadwerks). That said, the main strength of LE lies probably in its use of industry standard technologies: OpenGL + GLSL for CG, and c++ and Lua for programming.

A nice thing about Leadwerks is that you can use it as a regular API and totally ignore the editor, which is, btw. quite decent and has a great CSG brushes support. A big plus (and a necessity for me) is a complete transparency of a program flow: in LE, you start from the main function (in the case of C++ - a standard edition) or from Main.lua file that gets invoked from the main c++ function (an indie edition).

Now, despite its claims, it's not meant for utter beginners. Nevertheless, it's easier to use and has a less steep learning curve than other engines, such as Unity, Unreal, etc. However, you'll have to invest some time in learning programming and a minimum of linear algebra (matrices, vectors and similar) to be able to develop any 3D game. Also, you won't find an asset store (there is a very basic user workshop sharing space). And while the engine does the heavy lifting (OpenGL, input, physics etc.), you will have to implement most of the things related to game logic yourself (there are some prepackaged useful script for FPS character, for example).

The downside of the engine lies in the fact that it's developed and maintained by a single developer. He works very hard and responds regularly to LE users, which is quite nice and respectful. However, I have an impression that a mid-scale engine, such as LE, demands a lot more work than a single person can deliver.
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12 of 14 people (86%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
646.4 hrs on record
Posted: August 27
I have 'finally' choosed this software for a number of reasons.

Its the most easy way to actually get something done and still have full control of the details. The editor is leightweighted and quite capable with easy 'drag and drop' import of models, sounds and images. You can add behaviour to any object using LUA scripts which is a very fast way to write code and almost instantly see the result. If you need even more power you can mix LUA and C++.

The API is one of the most easy to understand and control I have ever seen. You can even design code parts using a visuak Flowgraph editor. The visuals are great and getting better and better each month, much because the shader system. Another thing that's absolutely great is the Workshop system where you can import models from the Steam Workshop directly inside the editor. The support for publishing games are there also and works together with the new GameLauncher here on steam.

I higly recommend this engine, no matter if you are a newbie or a more experienced developer
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15 of 21 people (71%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
560.6 hrs on record
Posted: June 17
As someone who is new to game design, I find Leadwerks to be a fantastic first introduction.

I've been using it since the beginning of this year, and I've managed to learn how to use it through a combination of tutorials, the community, and good ol' trial and error. If you're on the fence, then get it during a sale like I did and give it a shot. I can't claim that it's as robust as something like Unity, but it is very easy to learn.

The Good:

-Drag and drop interface
-Grid snap (for the OCD among us)
-Lots of pre-made scripts
-Easily repurposed for multiple genres

The Bad:

-Small community
-Website could use more tutorials/examples
-Documentation is sometimes vague
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8 of 9 people (89%) found this review helpful
84.4 hrs on record
Posted: September 14
This software is making my dreams come true. Easy to use, allot of functions to work with. The developer is always making this engine better and better and he is always helpful with support and he is always concerned to know what the users need and what can be done to add new functionalities. 100% RECOMMENDED
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7 of 11 people (64%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
27.8 hrs on record
Posted: June 27
Very good program. It's expensive but it worth it. It have many features, nice tutorials and forum.
People at forum are trying to help in every single topic. It should be one of your first engines.
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