Choosing a Git provider for Unreal projects in 2022

What you should take into account when choosing a Git hosting provider for your next Unreal project.

By Matthäus Niedoba
June 3 - 9 min read

If you decided to go for Git when it comes to choosing the source control system, the next step is to pick a hosting platform for your Unreal project. An Unreal project has a lot of binary files, which is different comparing to a software development project. We will take a look at Git hosting platforms, which work best for a game development.

TL;DR:

Scroll down to the Overview to see which provider works best for you. My universal recommendation is Azure DevOps from Microsoft.

First step: Get a desktop app

While Unreal has an inbuilt Git integration, it does not show you the whole overview of your project. A desktop app (so-called Git client), shows all the commits of your teammate, which is extremely useful when working asynchronously. The Unreal Git integration requires also to install Git and Git LFS. A tedious process, which a Git desktop app can handle for you.

Here are a few of them

  • GitHub Desktop
    A free Git client from GitHub itself. The features it provides are mostly enough for simple workflows. It also provides a great UX.
  • GitKraken
    A comprehensive Git client which supports the entire overview of branches. GitKraken is especially suited for developers, because it provides great code merging tools. It is a good choice for your C++ developer.
  • Anchorpoint
    This is our Git client. Contrary to GitKraken, Anchorpoint is suited for artists, because it’s simplified and able to display visual previews of graphical file formats. It also provides asset management functionalities like tagging and performing reviews.

Anchorpoint

Organize your assets, setup to-dos and perform daily reviews.
Make Git accessible for your artists.
Learn about Anchorpoint

Which hosting provider should I choose?

When you work on a client project, confidentiality is a must-have. Most hosting providers provide good security options and private repositories. Unlike public repositories, private repositories don’t allow outside access without your permission. In 2022, we can take that for granted.

Let’s assume that we are a fictional team of 10 members, need 200 GB of repository storage and need a basic Kanban for project management. We will look at the following decision criteria:

Storage

Unreal projects tend to grow very big. Especially when you import lots of assets from Quixel, sizes blow up quickly. Luckily, huge storage space becomes more common nowadays, because even code projects (think of machine learning datasets) require more space.

Setup process and UX

You don’t want to waste hours to make something work. Artists, who are not really technical, should be able to jump on quickly and on-boarding should be intuitive. You don’t want to do technical support for them.

Costs

Some providers price per user, some based on storage, some on features.

Our candidates

There are a lot of providers out there. From a initial selection for Unreal projects, I think in 2022 it’s worth to take a look at:

GitHub

I am sure you have heard of that. GitHub is by far the most popular platform when it comes to hosting code projects. It’s also the place for most open-source projects out there and usually the first hosting provider to consider when hosting an Unreal project. with almost 200 members and a fresh new website.

Tracking projects in GitHub
Tracking projects in GitHub | Copyright: Microsoft Corporation

Storage

Storage size is manages by data packs. You only get 1 GB for free, so you have to purchase packages of 50 GB.

Each 50 GB package costs around $5. It includes 50 GB of storage and 50 GB traffic and expires after one month. It’s similar to free minutes on a mobile pre-paid card.

You will hit the traffic limit much quicker than the storage limit. Think about storing 5 GB on your repo. If 10 team members are cloning the repo and downloading all of its Git LFS data, you are using 10 × 5 GB = 50 GB download bandwidth.

Setup process and UX

The setup process is quick and fun. GitHub's onboarding is pretty entertaining. Due to a clear UI, it is easy to set up repositories and projects with basic Kanban boards.

However, you cannot add images to your cards in your boards, which is a big showstopper when managing assets.

Costs

If you are fine with basic project management without any wikis, then you are okay to go with the free plan. The only issue might be the 500 MB package storage when you want to store game builds and make them downloadable. The team plan is only $4 per user per month and includes 2 GB package storage. Remember, this is not your repository size. This is only for your game builds.

In case of our fictional team, we can assume that we need 2 times the traffic (400 GB) compared to the storage (200 GB).  For our fictional team, we would pay at least $40 per month for storage (8 × 50 GB = 400 GB) if we stick with the free plan.

Pros

  • Friendly UX
  • GitHub is popular. Even for artist, their UI will feel somehow familiar.
  • Has a good free plan for a start with unlimited users
  • Allows automated game builds using GitHub Actions

Cons

  • Very limited project management features
  • Cards in Kanban don’t allow adding images

GitLab

When it comes to project management, GitLab is the most powerful platform with comprehensive Kanban boards for sprint planning. GitLab is also popular in the game development world, and you will find it as a recommendation in lots of forums.

With version 15 GitLab has changed a lot of things regarding plans, pricing and product features, which in my opinion makes it less attractive for Unreal projects comparing to the competition.

Tracking projects using the issue board in GitLab
The issue board in GitLab | Copyright: GitLab Inc.

Storage

Initially you get 5 GB of storage which has to be extended with storage packs. A 10 GB storage pack with 20 GB transfer costs you $60.

Setup process and UX

The setup and login process is pretty smooth. Because GitLab is so powerful when it comes to features, you are a bit overloaded by them. The repository configuration is also simple and similar to GitHub. The Issues are the place where you do your management work. You can tag cards in a Kanban board and add images by copy & pasting them from clipboard, which is really convenient.

Costs

You get all relevant project management features in the free plan up to 5 users. After that, the Premium plan is the way to go. It costs $19 per user per month. Similar to GitHub you have to buy storage packs. The free plan comes with 5 GB storage.

In the case of our fictional team, we need the Premium plan, which is $19 per user per month. We end up with $190 monthly. In addition to that, we have to buy storage packs. Our 200 GB requirement results in 20 storage packs for $60 each. This results in $1200

Finally, we would pay $1390 monthly, which is completely out of range compared to its competitors.

Pros

  • Has all the features for project management
  • Can be hosted on premise
  • Allows automated game builds using Continuous Integration

Cons

  • Very expensive when it comes to storage
  • Expensive for a bigger team due to $19 per-user pricing

AWS CodeCommit

Before doing this research, I have never heard of it before. CodeCommit is a product of the gigantic AWS suite. The setup process is pretty complicated, but once you figured it out, you get a good and secure Git repository at a really low cost.

A history in the AWS CodeCommit repository
Code Commit has no project management but everything you need for managing repositories and continuous integration. | Copyright: Amazon Web Services, Inc.

Storage

It’s simple. You get 50 GB for free, and each new member (starting from member #6) adds 10 GB. Everything above is will be billed. There is no billing on bandwidth or traffic, which makes it predictable.

Setup process and UX

AWS has the most complicated and tedious setup compared to other providers. It requires a credit card and multiple verification procedures. It’s a huge ecosystem rather than a Git hosting provider. Creating new users requires setting up complex permission rules. You should not allow an artist to touch it. CodeCommit does not have any project management features, so you would need to use an external app for this.

Costs

It’s free for the first 5 users, including 50 GB storage. Every user above 5 is billed $1 per user per month. Yes, only $1. Each additional user adds 10 GB additional storage. If you run above the storage limit, you pay $0.06 per GB. In case of our fictional team, we would only pay $11 monthly.
(5 additional users cost us $5 plus 100 GB additional storage billed with $0.06 per GB)

Pros

  • It’s extremely inexpensive. Only $11 per month for our fictional team.
  • Options for continuous integration

Cons

  • Not so popular, you won’t find many tutorials compared to GitHub
  • Tedious setup and on-boarding
  • No project management

Azure DevOps

A GitLab from Microsoft. Similar to GitLab, Azure DevOps was designed for the enterprise. Azure Devops is fully Git based and comes with a great UX, that you may, would not expect from an enterprise platform.

Tracking projects in Azure Devops
Board view in Azure DevOps | Copyright: Microsoft Corporation

Storage

Unlimited storage. Unlike any other hosting provider, Microsoft does not bill you on storage space.

Setup process and UX

The setup process is really straight forward and the whole dashboard and project overview looks simple and tidied up. It’s easy to set up a repository and generate Git credentials. The project management features include Kanban boards and are good enough for asset tracking. You can also paste images into your cards.

Costs

The cost structure is very simple. First 5 users for free, after that you pay $6 per user per month. The 2 GB Azure Artifacts limit does not count for Git LFS files. Our fictional team would pay $30 per month.

Pros

  • No limit on storage
  • Good UX and good enough project management features
  • Options for continuous integration

Cons

  • Not that popular as GitHub or GitLab (yet)

Overview

Let's compare costs and features when you plan to scale your team and repository size.

Comparing different Git hosting providers based on cost per user per month. GitLab ist the most expensive one. At 15 users GitHub and Azure DevOps result in the same cost. AWS CodeCommit remains the cheapest.
Monthly cost based on users
Comparing different Git hosting providers based on monthly storage costs. GitHub gets also more expensive when storage goes up.
Monthly costs based on storage
Comparing different Git hosting providers based on the features they offer.
Feature comparison

Summary

Deciding on a hosting provider should be done carefully, because at least for your upcoming project you lock yourself in. Migration to another services costs time, so we want to avoid it. You also need to take into account whether you plan to scale your team in the future, or taking on more projects.

My general recommendation is:

A small team which needs a lot of space should go for Azure Devops. You don’t need to worry about size and costs of adding new team members are predictable.

A big team without the need for space can pick GitHub or AWS CodeCommit. In both cases you would need an additional project management software. CodeCommit does not have any project management and the one in GitHub is not really suitable for asset tracking. You could pick Anchorpoint or a web based project management software.

GitLab, which is still very popular however cannot be recommended in 2022 for Unreal Engine projects due to their pricing changes.