Nice — Microsoft Store rolling out new 'Arcade' section with dozens of free, no-download games to more users

Image of Microsoft Store Instant Games
No download free games available more widely now on the Microsoft Store (Image credit: Future)

What you need to know

  • The Windows 11 September 2023 update featured an Instant Games experience that allows users to play games directly from the Microsoft Store.
  • There now seem to be more users accessing the Instant Games experience as users report getting an update today including the features.
  • The Store features 69 free-to-play instant-access games reminiscent of the great Angry Birds and Newgrounds days. 

We first covered this update back in September, and in the update, there was a new feature added to Windows that enabled instant-access games to the Microsoft Store. The games are free to play and obviously not the highest quality, but it reminds me of old Flash games or Facebook games that people used to play in their browsers all the time.

I tried out a few of the games and while they are fun, the biggest issue Microsoft has with these games is that nobody knows they exist. I could see a casual audience playing these games if they were more front-and-center and easier to play. At least they're free and don't require any download.

Are Microsoft's instant free games any good?

When the instant games feature first hit preview back in September, Microsoft explained the feature in a blog post.

Users can take advantage of Instant Games, a new experience that allows you to jump in and instantly play your favorite casual game directly from the Microsoft Store on Windows without the need to download and install on your Windows device. We’ve partnered with game publishers to be able to bring this experience to our collection of casual games.


There are a lot of users that might have already had access to these games. However, some users have reported online that the update seems to be rolling out to more users as they have noticed the new collection available in the Windows PC storefront today. I counted how many games are currently available and there are 69 available in a lot of different genres. 

The Windows 11 September 2023 Update is rolling out to users with a new experience called Instant Games that lets users play games directly from the Microsoft Store. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Will Microsoft's Instant Games move the needle at all?

Honestly, with the success of games like Candy Crush, which Microsoft just acquired through its purchase of King as part of the Activision Blizzard King buyout, there is clearly a market for these smaller mobile-type games. This type of delivery mechanism could work great for Microsoft, especially if they can get King games added to the service as free, instant no-download games. 

Bike Racing is one of the free to play instant games available and is a super simple fun time.  (Image credit: Microsoft Store)

The other issue Microsoft has here though is how few people are going to the Microsoft Store trying to kill time. Microsoft would have much better success pushing these types of experiences out to higher-traffic areas of their commercial offerings. I think they would be a great addition to Microsoft Teams as a way to kill time in an enterprise setting for workers. Sure, employers might not like the idea, but Teams already has a Games tab available, and this could add to that.

In the current state, I doubt that many people will be taking advantage of these free games, but I think there could be a day when Microsoft has more integration with casual users, potentially through their Copilot efforts, which could lead to a world where there is a big user desire for on-demand small games like these.

They could even integrate these into Copilot to play on the side while waiting for Copilot responses, or waiting for Copilot to get through a long task. Microsoft's focus on gaming is only a good thing as the recent Microsoft earnings report showcased how important Xbox and gaming will be in Microsoft's future, with the addition of Activision Blizzard and King's financial data giving the division a huge boost.

Will you be trying out some of these games when you need to kill a few minutes? Let us know in the comments.

Colton Stradling

Colton is a seasoned cybersecurity professional that wants to share his love of technology with the Windows Central audience. When he isn’t assisting in defending companies from the newest zero-days or sharing his thoughts through his articles, he loves to spend time with his family and play video games on PC and Xbox. Colton focuses on buying guides, PCs, and devices and is always happy to have a conversation about emerging tech and gaming news. 

  • Zachary Boddy
    Can't say I'll be rushing to the Microsoft Store to while away the time with these free, instantly playable games, but I can see how this feature could be handy for casual users. Just needs to be more obvious.
  • fdruid
    I just clicked on one and it started dowloading something. Unlike the Prime Gaming ones which are web based.
  • Zachary Boddy
    fdruid said:
    I just clicked on one and it started dowloading something. Unlike the Prime Gaming ones which are web based.
    That's odd. The games we tried (including me, just now) haven't required any download. That's also how the entire collection is advertised.
  • fdruid
    Another example I just tried: Marble Mission. Click on it, it says "acquiring license" and then literally "Downloding". And the same icon with the white square and the circular progress indicator as regular downloads. Yeah, it's 95 mb or something but it doesn't even hide the fact that it's being downloaded.

    I know online games do download resources behind the scenes, because assets are not magically in your PC even if it's a web game. But I thought this would be more streamlined. It ended up being a download of small games.