Those with extensive Windows game libraries can’t always organize them effectively. Steam, GOG, and Origin are a few of the digital game distributors with client software you need to launch before opening games. Thus, you’ll usually have to start multiple game clients separately to launch the games. As such, some software developers have now developed game launchers with which you can organize your Windows games within a single library more efficiently. Game launcher software enables you to organize all your games from separate digital distributors and Windows folders within a single package.
Then you can quickly open all your games straight from the game launcher software without shuffling through countless subfolders. Game launchers are a gaming equivalent of Google Picasa, which imports and organizes images on your HDD so that you can quickly find and edit them within a single program. The programs usually have customizable interfaces, search tools and some also include extra options and settings with which to optimize your gaming system.
Best game launchers for Windows
Photon Game Manager
Photon Game Manager has an eye-popping UI design with which to show off your game collection. The V4 version is compatible with Windows (XP and up) and Linux platforms. This isn’t exactly freeware software, but you can try out the demo with a database of five games by pressing the Download for Windows button on this web page. For larger game libraries, you’ll need the software‘s $15 license key. However, the earlier V2 and V3 versions of the program are freely available with no restrictions.
The best thing about Photon Game Manager is a UI design comparable to media center software. It has customizable full-screen and windowed interfaces to show off games with. The program has built-in support for online databases so that you can include box art, banners and extra game details in your Photon gaming library. The software supports emulators so you can also launch retro games straight from Photon. With Photon Explorer users can browse through their game libraries with sort and filter options. In addition, you can use the software with controllers, joysticks, keyboards and touch screen input devices.
LaunchBox was originally a frontend for DOSbox but the developer expanded the software to support PC games and a variety of emulators.
This software is compatible with Windows platforms from Vista on, and the publisher hints there might also be future Mac and Linux versions. LaunchBox has a freeware and Premium version with extra customization options and a Big Box Mode. The Premium version of the software is currently retailing at $20. LaunchBox is comparable to Photon Game Manager as it enables users to set up visually appealing game databases.
The software is partnered with EmuMovies so that you can quickly add associated box art, fan art, logos, screenshots and videos to your game database. LaunchBox will also find all associated metadata pertaining to title, genre, release, platform, etc. In the Premium version, users can customize window color themes and fonts and set up custom fields and filters. It also includes Big Box Mode that provides a home-theater view of your database with game videos included.
GameRoom is another program that provides an elegant display for your Windows game library and supports various digital distributors. This is freeware that runs on the more recent Windows 7, 8 and 10 platforms. Click Download GameRoom (Windows) on this page to save the installer to your desktop or laptop. GameRoom supports the Steam, Origin, Battle.net, Uplay and Origin digital distributors and automatically scans and imports games from those libraries. Users can also manually import any game title. You can configure the program to leave some Steam or Origin games out from your GameRoom library. IGDB automatically provides background wallpaper, cover art and additional details for the games.
Once you’ve set up the database, you can then sort and group the games according to titles, release dates, ratings, genre, series, etc. This program also has some handy options on its Settings window from which you can manage scans, configure shortcuts, select a primary game folder to scan for new entries and customize the GameRoom theme.
These are three programs you can organize, optimize and launch games with. At the very least, they’ll give you a quick launch pad to open all your games with. Some of the game launchers also include extra system options and tools with which you can optimize games.