Urban performance legends, revisited points out that in many cases, memory allocation and deallocation is faster in Java than in the fastest C/C++ implementations. It’s an interesting read, and it definitely seems to go against the common understanding that C/C++ are needed for faster performance. Of course, it only looks at memory allocation and deallocation, and so it doesn’t touch on other issues.
Still, people have noticed that Java is becoming a good language to use for game development. Tribal Trouble by Oddlabs is an example of a game that makes use of Java heavily. It’s a 3D real-time strategy game, and it wasn’t that long ago when it was common knowledge that you just couldn’t make a decent game in Java. Now there is some proof, at least from the point of view of memory allocation issues, that Java performs better than C or C++.
Of course, interpreted languages, such as Python, are also coming into their own as game programming languages. Lower-level languages are obviously still used in some applications, and so presumably Java doesn’t perform better in certain cases, but the point is that it is getting easier to develop software.