This section of the site is directed towards those who are very new to PC gaming or modding and covers basic instructions for installing games and mods on your computer. You should be aware, however, that some newer retail disc games do not include all of the game data and additional digital downloading will be required to obtain the complete game. So buying retail may not solve a bandwidth cap problem.
As a game ages, you may also notice that physical copies could be considerably cheaper than digital copies of the same game. However, for the PC gamer, stores that carry physical copies usually only carry Triple AAA titles. You might find more of a selection online on Amazon, Gamestop, or even Newegg. Some publishers/developers don't do physical releases of their games at all, particularly the Indie developers, as digital is proving to be the way of the future.
If you buy a hard copy,
at the very least, your PC game will come with one disc. Depending on whether it's CD or DVD technology, or if the size of the game in terms of megabytes or gigabytes
is quite large, there could be several discs. This is more common with CDs. If you're lucky, your game may also include a manual, however, these days, many do not. When installing software, it is usually best to first close down your anti-virus and firewall programs as these may interfere with the installation. In fact, it's also better to play with these off as well, as long as you are playing offline. Conversely, you could make an exception to the game in your anti-virus program and leave them on while playing as you may forget that it's off when you go online, which would be an invitation to catching a virus. (Guide To Making Exceptions)
Also, close any running programs such as your browser etc.
Open the tray
of your CD or DVD drive, insert the disc, label up, and close the tray. It will probably start to run automatically, so wait a few moments for your instructions to appear on screen. If nothing happens after a minute or so, you will have to do the following; ( these instructions are also included in the manual if you have one. )
- For Windows 7, in the start menu type run in the search programs and files box, then click run. If your still using Windows XP, left click the start menu and click run.
- Type in the dialog box, minus the quotation marks, "D:\autorun.exe" and click OK. Substitute the correct letter for your CD/DVD drive if it is other than D. For instance, mine is F:\ - Info on the drive letter is located in your My Computer folder
- When the dialog box comes up, click install and follow the rest of the directions.
As of Windows 7, automatic playing of CD/DVD/BlueRay content is disabled in Windows. You must change the Autoplay settings in the Control Panel. WikiHow SamLogic
Windows 10 removes the Windows Media Center and substitutes it with Windows DVD Player. However, if you did not already have this feature before upgrading to Windows 10, you will have to buy the app. Your best option is to download a free open-source app such as VLC Media Player
Installation may take some time
depending on your hardware and the size of the game, so go get a coffee, read a book, play with the dog. Each game installation is slightly different. There will be legal stuff you should read and it will ask you if you accept the license. You really could have lunch while reading some of these. It's up to you how much you want to bother with this, but I guess you should skim over at least one of these to get an idea of what they basically all say. They will tell you what you can and cannot do with your copy of the game. You have to agree to the license for the game to be installed.
If your game requires a CD key,
you will be asked for it. This is a long string of letters and numbers unique to your copy of the game and should be included with it. If not, you're up the creek without a paddle, so be wary of buying used games that need keys. Type it in making sure you get it right, caps and all, or you will be declined. If your edition has more than one game in it, there may also be more than one key or there may be an additional multiplayer key for playing online.
If you are given a choice
of type of installation, go with the recommended. It will also choose a location, usually under Program Files or Documents and Settings, so unless you specifically want it installed elsewhere, just go with this too. However, take note of the path as sometimes the game files can be hard to locate later.
If it asks if you want DirectX installed,
you'll know whether to say yes or no since you read TechTalk
, right? Even if the game calls for an earlier version, you should always try to run with the latest version as it is supposed to be backwards compatible. (Notice I said supposed to be) If you are unsure, just click yes to be on the safe side as many games install it anyway and you will likely gather quite a few of these files over time.
There are variations in some games
that you may not be familiar with. I can't remember which game it was that asked for a specific version of QuickTime (The Crystal Key, I think) and although I had a newer version of the software, this caused all kinds of glitches. I actually had to uninstall my later version and install this earlier version. Another game asked about Punkbuster and I had no idea what that was. Although now I know it's an anti-cheat program for online play, at the time I was installing my game I didn't know. I have a beef about these types of practices because during installation they don't tell you what these things do and it's a little late to find out at that point without cancelling and starting again. Some of these programs are not the least bit necessary in order to run your game, but some are. If you're unsure, install it and do a search later. You can uninstall the extraneous parts afterwards. Some will try to get you to install their sites, but the only time you have to do this is if it's an essential requirement to run the game.
If there is more than one disc,
it will instruct you when to insert the next one, so if you go away, check back on things once in awhile.
Choose to have a shortcut
placed on your desktop. It just makes it easier to find and click on it when you want to play.
Eventually you will finish.
Launch the game from the shortcut on your desktop and hopefully, away you go. Some games with a type of DRM
require you to play the game with the disk in the CD/DVD player and some don't. If you're unsure, try starting the game without it and it will tell you if you need it. Some games also have the game configurations in a separate launcher program outside of the game. Rather a nuisance when you want to change configurations on the fly.
NOTE: If a game has a serious glitch, check for the latest patches and download them if they are not applied automatically through a client such as Steam. Sometimes these are on the official game sites, but often they are not. Use a trusted site for this. You also need to know if the patch is for the disc version, the digital version or both and whether all the patches are cumulative in the lastest patch. Since most games require patches, you should create a folder where you can download these to (not forgetting to scan them with your anti-virus before installing them.) If a game is no longer being officially supported, you may run across unofficial patches created by a user. Often, these fix the issue. If you're nervous about doing this, a good policy is to make backups of original files first, which you can revert to if things go wrong.
DOWNLOADING is not installing. You have to click on the .exe file to actually install the patch. It should automatically detect where it needs to be installed, but if not, it usually goes into the main game folder. Look for instructions on site or in read files included in the download. If you ever want to re-install the game, you will also have to re-install the patches, but you will already have them and creating a folder for patches will make them easy to find. Just check to see if there have been any newer ones issued.
Disc versions of games are the most problematic
if they use SafeDisc or SecuRom as Microsoft has stripped support for these from Windows 10, 8, 7, and Vista. The following is an article How To Geek
with possible solutions. You can still re-purchase many of these digitally, but be careful if you want to collect older disc versions. Please research this further as information keeps being updated.
Choosing from which site
to purchase and download your digital game requires some discretion. You will be giving them your private information as well as banking or credit card information. Make sure it is a trusted site and that there are good security measures in place. You can glean valuable insights by reading forums and blogs and will find a variety of opinions on the matter. I more or less started my online purchasing with Steam
because the game Half-life required registering with them, but there are other options: Gamersgate
, Origin, Gamestop, Uplay, GreenMan Gaming,
plus the Official sites of individual developers (if they have a store) and many others. You can sign up with as many as you like to get the best prices during their sales. The ones I've named are all reputable sites.
Once you register
with a digital game retailer, just choose your game from their store and fork over the loot. This will put either the game or a key in a library section of your new account. Some sites may send the key via email. In order to install your game, you may have to download a client or a launcher. Once done, they will do all the work of setting up the process that gets the game onto your computer in the appropriate location. The instructions should be located on their site. Some sites have their own downloader app and some don't, in which case you would register the key to the appropriate site such as Origin, Steam or Uplay and use their method of installation. If you are not given a choice of what location to download to, you may have to search in Windows explorer to find the default location, although it is usually Program Files or Documents and Settings. It will likely be second tier in the path tree within the publisher's or developer's folder. There may even be two folders - one in Documents for saves and one in Program Files for the game. Some clients allow you to customize where you want games installed. The default is C:\ drive unless otherwise instructed.
may offer different methods of payment such as credit card or a payment service like Paypal.
Check out these things first as it is seriously annoying having to set things up for the first time when you have a mind to buy a game and play it right away. There can also be problems whenever these third parties are involved, so read policy pages concerning what happens during disputes. For instance, if there is a problem with Paypal not releasing the funds when you buy a Steam game, your access to that game and future purchases may be blocked till this is resolved. It is NEVER
a good idea to do chargebacks, but rather send in a support ticket to deal with the matter. Chargebacks will only complicate the matter and take longer to unravel.
that digitally downloading games does not necessary mean faster. In fact, it could take longer. It depends on the server being used, how many people are downloading at the same time and the speed of your IP contract. If you feel you should be getting faster speeds and are having a problem, it's likely others are too, so check the site forums for possible answers. You can also try downloading it from different locations.
Game Server - To take any the mystery out of this, a server is basically just another computer that routes information from one source to another. You might call it the middle man. Virtually every internet activity requires using a server of some kind. Google is a server. In order to download information or play online, your computer needs to communicate with someone else's computer and this is achieved by both of you connecting to the same server. Some gamers actually set up their own servers and may be able to handle a smaller number of players.
Mirror - On the Internet, a mirror site is an exact copy of another Internet site. Servers come in all sizes in terms of the amount of information they can process and may also be dedicated to types. Sometimes, if they are exceptionally busy, you may not be able to connect. Mirror sites are most commonly used to provide multiple sources of the same information and are automatically updated as soon as the original is changed. Using a location closer to your own might provide faster downloads, but not always. You might try a server from a different location if the one you are using is exceptionally slow.
with digital downloading you have no hard copy of the game, although some allow you to make back-up copies. With some games, you may also have to connect to the Internet prior to playing even single-player. (Don't worry, it does this automatically when you launch the game) This presents a problem if you want to play when you have no Internet connection and is one of the reasons for the variety of opinions regarding certain games. Check the game requirements concerning this and whether there is an offline mode of playing. Most games within the last decade, digital and hard copy, will require at least a one time online activation, but older games may not.
patches or mods may require more than one step. You may have to download, unzip, relocate the files or execute to get your game installed and ready to play. It may not automatically create a shortcut on your desktop or may locate in hard to find places under names you don't recognize. You may want to create a folder for all of your downloads for easy access. Whenever possible, look for instructions on the site, but one of my biggest beefs is that sometimes these fundamental instructions are missing. My message to them is SHAPE UP and provide the basics! You know who you are.
is a continuation of how to install digital games and mods .....