What is Game Mode in Windows 10 and what it can do for gamers

Game Mode is available to all users of Windows 10. It aims to make Windows 10 the best operating system for gamers, smoothing the gameplay experience across all types of computers and devices. It does not matter whether your PC is the most powerful in terms of hardware or if it is an older, slower PC. The Game Mode prevents system background activities such as Windows updates or notifications from apps during game play, all to offer a more consistent gaming experience. In this guide, we explain what Game Mode is, and what it can do for gamers:

NOTE: Game Mode is a feature first introduced in Windows 10 Creators Update, back in 2017. This article, however, was written using the Windows 10 May 2019 Update. If you have an older version of Windows 10, some of the things we show might look different or might not even be available.

What is the Game Mode from Windows 10?

Game Mode was created to help boost performance in games, regardless of your computer's age or hardware configuration. According to Microsoft, it is designed to do two things: increase the frames per second you get in games and offer a more consistent gaming experience. You can view more information in the video below.

Introducing Game Mode for Windows 10

What does "consistent gaming experience" mean? Microsoft says that it is about avoiding extreme slowdowns and frustratingly low framerates. If you are a gamer, you certainly know what this is all about: you play a game, and it runs smoothly for some time. Then comes a fight with the boss at the end of the level you are on, and the framerate drops, the game becomes less responsive, and you lose the fight because your Windows 10 computer could not handle things well. That is not a positive ending, is it?

Playing a game on a Windows 10 computer

That is where Game Mode steps in and tries to squeeze every bit of performance from your Windows 10 computer. When enabled, Windows 10 prioritizes processor and graphics card resources to your game. Game Mode can also stop Windows Update from installing drivers updates, or showing notifications during gameplay. Hopefully, that might be enough to keep the frame rate stable and provide you with a more "consistent gameplay experience." The Game Mode is not designed to increase the highest framerate on high-end hardware.

What can Game Mode do for gamers in Windows 10?

Together with the Xbox Game Bar app that's also part of Windows 10 by default, Microsoft also offers you additional tools that can make your gaming experience better. Among other things, the Game Mode and the Xbox Game Bar allow you to record and broadcast your gameplay online, access and control things like the sound volume, chat with your friends, monitor your computer's performance, or play music from Spotify. Windows 10 lets you do all that, and more, by using the Xbox Game Bar and a set of overlays that you can open directly from your game, without having to switch between your various apps, or go to your desktop.

The Xbox Game Bar overlays shown in a game

If you want to know more about all the things you can do with the Xbox Game Bar in Windows 10, while playing your favorite games, read this article: 6 things you can do with the Game Bar from Windows 10.

How to make sure that Game Mode is enabled in Windows 10

If you use Windows 10 May 2019 Update or newer, you should know that the Game Mode is enabled by default. However, if you have an older version of Windows 10 or if you changed the Game Mode settings and you do not know how to turn it back on, follow the steps described in this guide: 2 ways to enable Game Mode in Windows 10.

Playing music on Spotify while playing a game

The limitations of Game Mode in Windows 10

Although the Game Mode is an excellent feature for gamers, it has a few limitations. The first is that, even if the Game Mode feature is enabled, some games might not be automatically recognized by Windows 10. Unfortunately, Microsoft does not provide a public list of games that support Game Mode, so there is no easy way to tell if your favorite game is on that list.

To make sure that Windows 10 uses Game Mode in your favorite game, you can follow the steps shown in the second section of this guide: 2 ways to enable Game Mode in Windows 10. Also, in certain situations, the Xbox Game Bar might fail to start although you are pressing the right key combination on your keyboard, which, by default, is Windows + G. If you stumble upon this issue, try following the steps we described here: Fix problem: The Windows 10 Game Bar is not opening. Can't enable Game Mode!.

Press Windows + G for Xbox Game Bar

When we tested Game Mode using several video games and different test systems, the Game Mode has rarely improved gaming performance for us. Its real-life performance is a mixed bag so you might see tangible improvements only in some games and on a limited number of systems. To learn more, read our analysis: Game Mode in Windows 10: Testing real-life performance in modern games.

Do you enjoy Game Mode and did it improve your gaming experience?

When they first launched Game Mode, Microsoft made a promise that Windows 10 is going to be the best operating system for gaming. While in theory, the Game Mode is a useful feature, in practice it is difficult to say how significant its positive impact is. However, the additional tools that come bundled as part of the Xbox Game Bar are useful. Did you try the Game Mode and the other gaming features in Windows 10? How well does the Game Mode work for you in the games you play? We would love to hear about your gaming experience in Windows 10.