Windows 10 Game Mode will prioritize games for smoother play


— 4:49 PM on January 25, 2017

Remember that "Game Mode" feature that Twitter user WalkingCat found in Windows 10 build 14997? When we first heard about it, we were left wondering exactly what it did. Windows Central got to speak with Kevin Gammill from Microsoft's Xbox team, and the short version is that Game Mode is an OS feature that should slightly improve performance consistency in both UWP and Win32 games when it's activated.


Image: Windows Central

Primarily, Game Mode is intended to make game performance more consistent. By preventing system tasks and background tasks from stealing resources away from foreground games, gamers can avoid the hitches and stutters that come with multi-tasking while gaming. Microsoft says that players should see fewer dropped frames as a result of limiting CPU thread contention between games and system processes. The company notes that the ideas behind Game Mode are borrowed directly from the Xbox One.

Game Mode is controlled via the Xbox Game Bar. For those unfamiliar, the Game Bar is the small window that pops up in Windows 10 to ask if you're running a game or not. Telling the app "Yes, this is a game" brings up a window where you can set up the Game DVR feature on a per-title basis. The Game Mode feature will now be controlled from that window. Folks who have the Game Bar disabled—like yours truly—won't be able to use Game Mode.

That news doesn't break my heart, though. Windows Central asked Gammill which games will see the largest benefits from Game Mode, and unsurprisingly, the company says that while the feature will work for Win32 games, titles built on the Universal Windows Platform will see the largest gains.

Tweakers who have experience giving one application system-wide priority will no doubt be aware that doing so can cripple the performance of the rest of your machine. Thankfully, there should be no such issues with Game Mode, as it'll automatically disable itself when the game in question is minimized or loses focus. Developers don't have to do anything to support Game Mode, either, though Gammill says Microsoft is working with game developers to see how they can better make use of the feature.

Windows Central says that Game Mode will first appear in Build 15019 on the Windows 10 Fast Ring. By Tom's Hardware's reckoning, that should be the next build, planned to reach Windows Insiders around this time tomorrow. Folks who aren't part of the Windows Insider program will have to wait for the Creators Update coming this Spring.

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