- Game launchers are gaming software tools you can use to organize your library of games, download and view artwork, check out information like release year, and quickly launch games from a single application.
- The best game launchers have special features to optimize your Windows PC for gaming. For example, Razor Cortex has a Game Boosting mode that turns off unused processes to free up CPU and RAM.
- If you need extra help to optimize your PC for gaming, use game booster software!
- Visit our Gaming Software hub to check out more cool guides!
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.
What are the top 5 game launchers for Windows PC?
1. Photon Game Manager
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. Using this tool, you can browse your game libraries by applying sort and filter options.
In addition, you can use the software with controllers, joysticks, keyboards, and touchscreen 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 of 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. It’s a freeware that runs on Windows 7, 8 and 10 platforms.
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.
4. Gaming PC
Gaming PC is a freeware program that enables users to launch and boost games before opening them. The program is not entirely the same as LaunchBox and Photon as it doesn’t have a glossy UI design to organize game libraries with.
It requires just 1.5 megabytes of HDD storage and is compatible with Windows platforms from XP to 10.
The developer didn’t intend to turn Gaming PC into a game database tool. Thus, it doesn’t automatically scan for Steam, Origin or Uplay games.
Instead, it relies on users manually adding any number of games to the software’s gaming list from which they can then launch the titles. The game list doesn’t include any wallpaper, box art, game details, banners or anything else other than icons.
However, Gaming PC enables its users to select processes and background services to stop before opening a game. Thus, this enables you to quickly free up some RAM.
And after closing the games, you can restore all the closed processes and background services. Furthermore, you can also defrag the game folders; the software includes customizable defrag settings for that.
So, even if Gaming PC might seem a fairly basic game launcher, it still has some handy system optimization options.
5. Razer Cortex
Razer is primarily a hardware company making a splash in software with Razer Cortex. This is an all-in-one package with which you can organize and launch games, optimize them, record video, back up saved games, and more.
Although the software boasts various options and tools, it’s still freeware you can add to Windows 10, 8.1, 8 or 7.
Razer Cortex will automatically scan for supported games, including those from digital distributors. You can also manually add titles as well. This software does include box cover art and extra details for the games.
The program has a Game Boosting mode that temporarily switches off background processes for a game when you press an Activate boosting hotkey.
Users can select more system optimization options with the Tweak utility and defrag game folders with a Defrag tool. You can also back up saved games, mods and add-ons to cloud storage with the Save Game Manager.
Plus, the software boasts video recording and screenshot tools for games with which to show off game footage or high scores. So, Razer Cortex has quite a few extra tools and options that aren’t included in alternative game launcher software.
Those are the 5 programs you can organize, optimize and launch games with.
At the very least, they’ll give you a quick launchpad to open all your games with. Some of the game launchers also include extra system options and tools with which you can optimize games.
If you have any more questions, feel free to reach for the comments section below.
FAQ: Learn more about game launchers
- What is a PC game launcher?
A PC game launcher is a simple software application that organizes your entire games in a library, shows game properties, and lets you launch games from a single place. Think of it as a file explorer that lets you browse and open your files.
- Is Steam the best for PC games?
Steam is probably the best platform for PC games right now. It offers countless free, free-to-try and paid games of all possible genres, including adventure, casual, indie, massively multiplayer, and VR. It rivals GOG, Humble Store and Origin, but we think Steam is better.
- Does game launcher improve performance?
Razer Cortex has a Game Boosting mode to improve your computer’s performance while gaming. But most game launchers are strictly designed to organize a game library, show information, and launch games. Check out our tips to improve Windows 10 performance while you’re playing games.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2017 and has been since revamped and updated in April 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.