LOD models are widely used in PC and console games, to optimize performance by reducing the vertex count and texture size for distant objects. However, I'm having a harder time finding out if they are typically used to increase performance in mobile games.
I've seen a few people in forums suggest that the CPU overhead for LOD models might actually outweigh the GPU gains on mobile devices. Another consideration is the more limited storage space on mobile, and LOD models/textures necessarily increase the total size of a game. Other than that, I can't find much information on the subject. The Unity documentation on LOD models doesn't mention mobile, and the Unity documentation on optimizing for mobile doesn't mention LOD models.
I know the first answer to any performance question is usually "profile it and find out for yourself"; however, in this case, I am helping to optimize a game that doesn't currently have LOD models, so profiling it would first require commissioning the artists to create enough LOD models that we can realistically profile the performance change.
Does the usage of LOD models typically provide noteworthy performance gains in 3D mobile games, or does the overhead for LOD cancel out any gains?
The specific title in question is a racing game.