Microsoft bringing new 'Game Mode' to Windows 10 for an enhanced PC gaming experience

Microsoft is working on a brand new "Game Mode" feature for Windows 10 that will enhance the PC gaming experience by minimizing resources used by running apps to almost nothing and allocating freed up resources to the game, making it run faster, better and smoother overall.

Update: We now have a full understanding of what Game Mode is following a conversation with Microsoft! Head over here for the full rundown on Game Mode.

This new feature was first spotted by WalkingCat in the recently leaked build 14997, and although it isn't working yet, we understand it's a feature that will be showing up for Insiders very soon, as it's something that's set to arrive with the Creators Update.

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Our own sources have said this feature works similarly to how Xbox One handles running a game. Xbox OS, when a game is launched, will allocate resources to make sure the game is running the best it possibly can. Up until now, Windows hasn't had a built-in option for this that benefits games directly, but with the Creators Update that will be changing.

It's unclear if Game Mode will work with all Win32 games from the likes of Steam or Origin (we're assuming it will), or if it'll be limited to games from the Windows Store. Regardless, it's interesting to see Microsoft taking PC gaming seriously again, as for a while they kind of abandoned it in favor of Xbox. Now Microsoft's goal is the merge the two, as they both run on the same platform after all.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

99 Comments
  • Brilliant, just after I bought my first Xbox yesterday haha! I'm really hoping they will extend game mode in the future to allow the Xbox UI to show up when you connect a controller, just like tablet mode when you detach keyboard etc. will be very nice for HTPCs.
  • P.s. Grammar police: Change bother to both at the end of the article :)
  • :P
  • English police.. That's spelling not grammar.
  • Yeah, I pretty much failed my English exams :)
  • It was a spelling mistake that just happened to be another word.
  • I think that's exactly what they intend to do with Game Mode, actually: like Tablet Mode, your Windows UI and UX would adapt to Xbox's look and feel as you either pick up an Xbox controller and press the home button or toggles the Continuum mode button in the action center, which would then shift between Desktop, Tablet and Game modes instead of just Desktop and Tablet. I'm also betting that while in Game Mode Windows would keep the Win32 legacy subsystem unloaded by default and only bring it up if you choose to start up a Win32 game - Win32 apps would be forbidden by default -, so UWP games would heavily benefit from a smaller OS memory footprint. That's my theory on Game Mode, anyway. :)
  • That's my hope too, I did put feedback for it a long time ago but didn't see any action on it so maybe they were already planning it anyway.
  • That would be excellent. I'd love it if I turned on a controller and everything switched to working like the Xbox but with the benefit of things like a of browser and it's plugins. It's also nice that it raises the priority for the game. I've only had to do that with horizon 3, I'm running a i7 5820k @ 4.8ghz and a GTX 1080 and horizon just chews resources. People complain it's not optimized but it clearly is. It just happens to be a game like crysis was and it needs a GPU from the upcoming generation to be maxed out. If you set a anything to ultra the game renders it in 4k regardless of your resolution. It was designed for 4k on PC and really 4k 60 fps in an open world game with all that detail and the 300hz physics engine running... Upgrade lol. I'm hoping the flagship Vega card with hbm2 is as good as im expecting. I also hope it ships with 16 gigs of memory but I can live with 12. 4k is the future of games and yes they will scale down but at the core it was made for 4k so upgrades might be needed. It uses every thread it can on my PC (which is 12) so people need to stop buying CPUs that cant multi thread. Multi threading is so important to the future of gaming so don't ignore it and blame it on the game. Gears 4 was the same. Loves threads. I simulated a 4 core it at 4ghz and the game ran horribly then I dug into exactly what the CPU was doing and found it to be a bottleneck even though 100% wasn't hit at all. Well uh....That's the end of my random ramble. lol
  • Am I getting down votes because people are mad that it's probably time to upgrade? Modern and future games are being designed to take advantage of all the CPU resources they can get. It's no longer a big load on just one core or half *** multi threading it's using as many threads as it can to do massive numbers of small and big tasks but it's the Small ones that need as many threads as possible. That means you need at least 4 cores with multithreading but for the foreseeable future 6 cores is the sweet spot which means you don't need a super expensive CPU. Your looking at $700-800 for CPU & motherboard. Reuse your case and Anything else to save money and make sure your GPU is at least 480 or 1060. I know for some that's a ton of money but don't be afraid of buying used. You can get top end stuff for cheap especially if your patient and look for deals.
  • I downvoted cause you complained about getting downvotes
  • One can only assume you mean hyperthreading.
  • Hyperthreading doesn't guarantee an improvement though. More physical cores will be better than less cores with hyperthreading.
    http://superuser.com/questions/740611/what-is-the-difference-between-mul...
  • install windows 7..
  • I don't want a 10 year old Windows Media Centre system that doesn't have UWP apps and things like Netflix.
  • great idea, so controller plugs in, {would you like to enable game mode} switches to a UI similar to the xbox and goes fullscreen.
  • Exactly, I've been wanting that for a very long time, even though I have an Xbox now, I'd still love to be able to use my TV as a full PC for whatever I need and whenever I need it, same goes for any device really.
  • but tiles don't support remotes
  • What do you mean? And since it supports the Xbox controller what's the problem?
  • What do you mean? And since it supports the Xbox controller what's the problem?
  • To be HTPC useful, it needs to support remote controls... Windows startscreen doesn't do that currently
  • It also doesn't currently switch to "Xbox Mode" when you plug in a controller, nothing stopping them from adding support for remote controls though personally I hate the things, they get lost all the time and are horribly slow.
  • thats how you kill physical media.  giving people the option to play on either with play anywhere.  brilliant. 
  • I don't see exactly how this feature impacts the use of or need for physical media. There's no reference at all to that. It even mentions that it isn't clear if it works with Steam or Origin games (they assume it will).
  • Steam killed physical media long ago. Even if you buy a game in a brick and mortar store, it's usually just a Steam key. 
  • I have an Alienware laptop with Nvidia Optimus support. I wonder how that would be impacted by Game Mode, or if it would be impacted at all.
  • It won't impact Nvidia Optimus at all. Optimus just handles switching between integrated and discrete graphics. Game mode is all about tuning the OS, not hardware.
  • Does this work like Turbo mode in Tune-up Utilities? So it dials down on anything like scheduled maintenance tasks, graphical GUI effects, turn on low/no saving settings and such?
  • Turbo mode is mostly a joke.
  • That's what came to mind while reading the article. I'd expect it to be much better than that as it's integrated with the OS...
  • I gave this suggestion of 'game mode' almost a year ago on the feedback app. Finally, I feel like I'm being listened as an insider:D waiting for this update on the fast ring:D
  • I know what you mean.
  • I think smart thing to do would be to make it uwp only if it's not store exclusive, which I would be surprised if it was
  • Every game played on Windows is played on Windows.
  • What? Did you reply to wrong comment?
  • What??? Someone replies to you omg... Reread your comment it is very much ment for you.
  • Ok, as it didn't make much sense to me thought it was a mistake. Instead of explaining yourself, you come back with that response. I'll take it that your not capable of explaining yourself, and will no longer read or reply to your nonsense
  • Ok. Non sense is every game played on Windows is played on Windows.
  • Side note. You didn't ask for me to explain myself. You acted surprised and thought it wasn't meant for you. If you are confused in the future. I dont read minds.
  • Your (now repeatedly posted) comment still makes no sense. The main comment states that MS would likely lock this feature to UWP/"Metro" apps. Your reply is essentially "all apps are apps". Logically, I can't argue, but conceptually, I don't think your point is clear at all.
  • Then I must be surrounded by fan Boys. a Windows user is a Windows User!
  • Idiot ^^
    Makes no sense, doesn't explain his BS ramblings then goes on the offensive for no reason.
  • i dont need to explain anything. a windows user is a windows users. its self explanitory.
  • Huh?
  • Well a windows user isn't a mac user. Does that make sense?
  • Even though I don't play on PC anymore this is a brilliant addition. Maybe it's like Steam BPM? Turn every PC into a Xbox this way! I'll get me a Scorpio ♏ next year and my Surface is for all regular PC duties, but Im excited about what Microsoft will come up with 🙂
  • They mentioned a long time ago every Windows 10 machine is a Xbox.   Xbox is now a service not a specific hardware.   Basically, in the future you will just have PCs with the brand name of Xbox (maybe).    Oh, yes, you do play on a PC, its just running a slice of windows 10 at this point.   I wouldn't be surprised by the Scorpio just being a Xbox branded PC at this point. 
  • I'll believe that when they release some of their older Xbox One exclusives like Halo: Master Chief Collection for PC. 
  • There is nothing to really believe as that is why they are releasing most of their exclusives going forward on both the Xbox One and PC... as there really isn't much difference.   The Xbox One is the gap filler, eventually all Windows 10 devices will be Xboxes.... as they run the Xbox service.  This isn't a secret, Xbox is now a service not a specific hardware.   Looks like to me the Xbox Store has now been fully intergrated into the Windows store.... so they have converted all Xbox Store users into Windows Store users.   At this point, the only question is whether they put full windows 10 on the Scoipio.  
  • That's fine and dandy for games going forward, but they can't say "every PC is an Xbox" if the Xbox has games the PC doesn't. 
  • Sure they can, they already are.   Xbox is just a service, that doesn't mean every piece of hardware can run every single piece of software on the Microsoft Store.   Also, please don't confuse my comments to suggest the Microsoft Software will be successful, I actually high doubt it will be.   My guess it eventually, years from now goes the way of Games for Windows Live.... the trash bin.   The Scopio at this stage is nothing more than a Xbox branded PC, whether it ends up running full windows or not.
  • Already there in nvidia control panel
  • This is not just good this is great. Cant wait to have this. Hope it helps with obs.
  • From the sounds of it, if it puts all unnecessary background processes into a standby mode OBS may not even work when in game mode, or you'll have to adjust a rule for exceptions, etc. If you are wanting to do a lot of other things though, like streaming, you'll probably be avoiding game mode. Game mode is almost certainly not intended for multitasking.
  • I'd love this, I like the Xbox app interface much more than Steam big picture. 
  • I hope there will be a similar mode of other programs too, like music studio programs for example.
  • Now if we could just get them to do some work on that cruddy generic video-driver.
  • H8ERS! Enjoy your 1024x768 (or lower) resolution existence! My name is BBQ McNugget. You ate my father for lunch. Prepare to DIET!!!!!
  • This looks good. Still waiting for streaming from PC to Xbox as well. If steamlink can do it then Xbox should be able to do it too.
  • If they get to this concept, they could possibly also build "Maximize battery mode" based on it which prevents windows systems from going crazy in the background eating through battery. Or a "Low Spec Machine" mode where Windows normally works OK until "stuff" goes crazy in the background and the system becomes unresponsive even.
  • LOL, love that low spec machine mode :D
  • Wouldn't the first one be the Battery Saver mode they have now?   And the low spec mode would make things worse because you would just add another background service on top of whatever you're trying to do. The solution there is to get better hardware or a lighter OS like Chrome OS. 
  • You can do new, just set network as metered connection. No live ties or update checks etc
  • Second thought. How does this differ. Open task manager. Right click on game change processor priority to high. From normal.?? Leave everything on normal??
  • I'd love to see this tied to the game bar.
  • It *might* cause other processes to crash or cause some other malfunctions. To be honest, I don't know. Just a thought
  • back when i was worried about proformance we use to tweak windows. and one tweak was to run your game on high. i dont think anything else crashed but hey.  games use to randomly blue screen every day or 2. thankfully we are here today. :D
  • Bear in mind this is preliminary information based on - I think - reverse engineering Windows' code; there's probably more to it, a lot more. It's entirely possible, for example, that "Game Mode" is a Continuum UI and UX choice like Tablet Mode is currently and only while in that mode will these so-called gaming performance enhancements apply.
  • I want this for FL Studio, please!
  • This is a small revolution for gamers, people should give this new Microsoft more credit. Also, I think this will eventually tie in with Project Scorpio.
     
  • Credit... hmm, well, some people that play on their PC don't want to their PC turned into a console.   And some people that are console players want to stay on a traditional separate console.   At this point all Windows 10 devices are Xboxes as Xbox is now just a service, not a specific hardware.   Of course, the Scorpio will be brought in... .as its just simply another Windows 10 device.  Their goal is to get some of the console players into the Microsoft store.   Eventually they will just eliminate the physical media.
  • Consoles already have the worst parts of pc gaming, zero day patches and os updates etc, but none of the advantages such as cheap games and easy modding. Gave up on consoles ages ago
  • Well, Instant-On is still pretty useful imo.
    And no need to fumble around graphic settings before playing is another. If you are a dev. It's easier for you to optimise (using low level language, etc), and you don't have to worry about different specs and OS / background services interruption...
    Still has its pros I think. *Well... money is never my primary concern.
  • This sounds like the answer to Steam OS. Which was one of the key selling points to building or purchasing a Steam machine. I like this, as I still get to use my PC for other things than just gaming. maybe these are the stepping stones for Scorpio.
  • We're starting to see a few AAA publishers dip their toes in distributing via the store. However, right now there is no incentive for gamers to purchase from the store over steam releases unless they are an Xbox gamer for play anywhere. Well if there was a 25-30% boost in PC gaming performance and you could play any Xbox game on a certified PC, that would be a pretty huge incentive.
  • I have serious doubts you will see massive amounts of gamers leaving steam (origins, etc) nor the publishers/developers although some might do both.   Not sure what the incentive is for anyone really to move traditional PC games over to the Windows Store.
  • I buy wherever I can get the best price, be it Steam, the Windows Store, Origin or UPlay. I don't think Microsoft will convince gamers to switch over 100%, but subsidizing game prices will get gamers to buy from the Store now and then. 
  • It'll also depend on if the publisher wants to keep the MP community on PC together no matter where you buy it or if they follow Activision's lead and segment off the people who bought it from the Windows Store.
  • Oh that's definitely awesome.
  • Cool stuff!
  • Doesn't Windows generally free up resources when an app demands it since Vista? This is basically that, on steroids.
  • More or less... Yes, Vista introduce a similar approach in the first iteration of the WDDM.
  • I would not expects so much, except for a blacklist of applications (like well knowns antimalwares and hopefully 3rd party updaters) to lower the scheduler priority. Telling hybrid systems to use the discrete GPU would be sweet too, but this would require an adequate interface in the WDDM 2.2 and updated drivers. Simple things for simple users. So no, forget any magic performance improvements on a well maintained system environment (yes, now you all can blame me ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) ).
  • hmmm i always said that if they improve the xbox app or bring a mode for gaming like there is the tablet mode pcs on living rooms would become an easier choice !!! ;) 
  • Vista already introduced a special shell folder called Game Explorer. Although it was kinda barebones and didn't add much extra compared to just making a folder with shortcuts yourself, it was actually more useful than that weird Xbox adware found in Windows 10. I supposed this rumour will make it even less likely that we will ever be able to uninstall unwanted Xbox stuff from the OS?
  • well game dvr is built into the os with the xbox app. so doubtfull that will ever be the case.
  • anyone remember the days of going to Dos and playing a game ou