Interview: Windows 10’s new Game Mode explained

Just last week (and yet somehow an eternity ago, in terms of world events), Microsoft announced that they’d soon be adding something called ‘Game Mode’ to Windows 10 with the aim of improving games’ performance, but gave away few details about what this might involve. Are we talking real framerate gains, suppressing potentially bothersome background tasks or just freeing up a wee bit of RAM?

With the first iteration of Game Mode due to arrive as part of Windows 10’s optional early Insider builds due today, I had a chat with Kevin Gammill, Partner Group Program Manager, Xbox Platform, spokesperson for the group building Game Mode, to find out what this thing actually does, which games it will support and what kind of control users will have over it.

I’ll run the interview itself first, but underneath are a few quick thoughts from me on what I think this might all mean.

RPS: What’s the basic thrust of Game Mode?

Kevin Gammill: Game Mode’s a feature that we’re adding with the Creator’s Update in Windows 10. Our goals with Game Mode are pretty straightforward. It’s really about making Windows 10 the best operating system to play your games. We kind of look at that with two different lenses. One is both what I’ll call increased framerates for getting more performance out of the box, but the other one that I’d argue is probably more important is a more consistent gaming experience as you play your game. I don’t know if you’re a core gamer, I am; there have been many times where I’m in a game and I’m update against the final boss fight or whatever you want to call it, and because of what’s going on in the game I get a drastic reduced framerate and things start to get a little bit laggy. Providing a more consistent experience throughout the entire gameplay is also kind of an important feature of game mode.

obligatory

RPS: Is this with something that will apply just to Windows 10 games or all games?

Kevin Gammill: Basically, I think you’re asking ‘will Game Mode only work for UWP-based games or will they also work for Win32 games?” Absolutely it will work for both. I do want to say that Game Mode will likely see a slightly better performance increase in UWP-based games, simply because we know the boundaries of the game. The way the operating system works and the way Win32 works, we really don’t know where the game starts and ends from a system level perspective, whereas with UWP we do. Because we know those boundaries better in UWP, we’re likely to be able to afford the game slightly better performance increases. But it absolutely works with both Win32 and UWB-based games.

RPS: Is that legacy as well? Not just DirectX 12 stuff?

Kevin Gammill: Correct. Absolutely. If you have a game that still runs on your Windows 10 machine that’s 15 years old, Game Mode will absolutely work with it.

RPS: I was told in advance that you wouldn’t be saying too much about the nitty and gritty of performance gains just yet, but clearly that’s what most people are concerned with here. I’ve seen speculation that all it will do is suspend background tasks to free up a little more memory – any truth to that? And can it do anything to improve GPU performance specifically?

Kevin Gammill: OK, great, I’ll go there. I want to keep this at a relatively high level because we’re short on time here, but what I’d love to do with you guys is go on to the depths on a future call, but I will touch a little bit on your questions now.

With the Creator’s Update and Game Mode right now, we’re primarily focused on biasing the game versus the rest of the operating system, from a GPU and CPU perspective. So for some of the other system resources, we can get into a roadmap discussion on the next call, but really right now Game Mode is about biasing the game from a GPU perspective so it gets more of the cycles if it’s in the foreground, and from a CPU perspective both biasing to get more CPU cycles as well as avoiding what I’ll call thread contention for the game.

The current UI overload that is the Xbox app in Windows 10 – not actually related to Game Mode per se, but hey, we had to illustrate this piece somehow

RPS: Can you give a ballpark on the kind of performance boosts you’ve seen from this so far?

Kevin Gammill: I’ll touch on that a little bit. Yes, is the short answer. Kind of the way I look at it is that any increase is a benefit, without question. Even it’s as low as, say, a 2% increase in framerate, if you’re running a hundred frames per second, I will take those extra two frames per second without question. Two percent is pretty significant when you’re playing your game.

A specific answer to your question is that it’s probably too early in testing to give you a good idea where we’ll land. Basically of the broad configuration of PCs out there, both from a hardware perspective as well as from existing software running on those systems perspective, and then you throw in a variety of different games… We’re still doing a lot of testing and getting telemetry on how those results come back. So it’s really too early to tell, but the early results definitely look positive.

RPS: How does it operate in terms of the UI and automation? Does it kick in by itself or is essentially extra faff before running your game?

Kevin Gammill: It’s a little bit of both. At any time a user can call up the Game Bar and enable Game Mode for any title or game they would like. That’s kind of option one. And then at the same time we will have what we call kind of an approved list or whitelist of games that we feel super-comfortable about and we want to enable out of the gate. Those will be turned on by default. It’s a little bit of both. The user has full control to turn it on or off, that’s up to them on any game. And then we will have a list of games we know Game Mode works really well with, and that list will continue to grow over time, where it will be automatically enabled unless a user decides to turn off Game Mode.

RPS: How will those updates work? Automated or manual?

Kevin Gammill: It’ll be transparent to the user. We maintain a list – we call it the Known Games List – internally for both Game Mode and other game-related features, and that gets updated on a regular basis.

RPS: Is this comparable to how new graphics card driver updates have new profiles for new games?

Kevin Gammill: Yup, that’s a good analogy.

RPS: A lot of people have a Netflix stream or a podcast playing or they’re streaming themselves while they play a game – what risks are there that Game Mode will interfere with that? I know they can just turn it off but it’s still a back and forth.

Kevin Gammill: At the end of the day, if your machine is being fully-taxed it is a zero sum game. The amount of total GPU resources, for example, that you have on your system, is capped at a certain value. If you have a game running in the foreground and you have Lightroom running in the background crunching some video, you’d expect that to slow down if you have the game in the foreground running Game Mode. Absolutely, because we will bias the game that in in the foreground to have more of the GPU cycles than normal.

RPS: What about stuff that’s not specifically GPU-y, like video streams or music?

Kevin Gammill: If that is running in the background, depending on your system configuration, what machine you have, the amount of resources that you have, how much the game is taxing your system and the other software that you have running on your computer for that matter. Depending on that, there’s a chance that whatever you have running in the background does slow down because of what you’ve done. That should not be surprising, because it really is a zero sum game.

RPS: Is there any scope to additionally whitelist non-game applications?

Kevin Gammill: I think we should talk about that on our next call. That answer is there is a more complicated roadmap question, but it’s certainly something we’re considering. A good example for a lot of people is that they’ll have YouTube up and running as kind of a tutorial while you’re playing the game. That’s a scenario we want to be very thoughtful. We should probably talk about that more later.

The other thing I’ll point is that we absolutely are working with IHVs (independent hardware vendors, specifically AMD, NVIDIA and Intel in this case – Acronymnonious Ed) on this. We’re working closely with IHVs on helping us to tune this even further.

RPS: We’re not going to see anything favouring the green team over the red team or vice-versa?

Kevin Gammill: No, not at all. Not at all.

RPS: Just to confirm, by ‘Game Mode’ we are talking about purely a performance thing, not that the UI somehow switches to something alternate form?

Kevin Gammill: Correct. At this point, it is more low-level than that.

RPS: What game-related features are you looking at outside of performance? For instance, we’ve had some frustrations about how limited the control we have over games installed via the Windows store are – where they install to, even how to access the files.

That’s outside my engineering area,. It’s a good question, and I apologise for not knowing the answer, but my team doesn’t handle that.

It's from Forza! It's relevant!

RPS: Do you feel that, once you’ve got these profiles coming in and a baseline of functionality, that’s what Game Mode is? Or can we hope for far more significant performance gains later on?

Absolutely. We have quite a roadmap built up for Game Mode, and our next conversation I would love to tell you more. We have easily a year’s worth of work we could do for continual improvements to Game Mode we want to make.

RPS: What was it, broadly speaking, that made you do this? From the outside looking in, Windows has been fairly quiet about games despite occasional statements to the contrary. How much more significant a push is this one, and why?

I would argue that it’s been more subtle, but we’ve continued to do work, at least with Windows 10, on improvements for games. A good example for that is shipping DX12 about two years ago. A game that adopts DX12 – huge performance increase, lower power draw etcetera. It’s not like we’ve ignored gaming up until now, but more specifically to answer your question – I have come more from the console side of the business. Those machines are dedicated gaming boxes, obviously, and we have a learned a lot in fine-tuning the operating system for the original Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One and soon to be Scorpio. We’ve taken some of those best practices, and we’re starting to apply those more broadly across more Windows devices. Game Mode’s an incarnation of that.

RPS: What degree of crossover is there between this and DirectX? Do they remain separate projects and separate teams?

We work very closely with the DirectX team, but this is more of a parallel work effort. This doesn’t bias the game better or worse depending on what version of DirectX you’re running. That is independent of how Game Mode works.

RPS: I was more wondering if it will affect the future of DirectX if this is potentially the future of Windows for gaming.

That’s probably a better roadmap conversation. Once I open that door, we have a very long conversation.

RPS: Thanks for your time.

Closing thoughts of my own, then? Real deep-down detail on what this does and how it really works is yet to come, but the main takeaway I had was that it may be focused on the aggressive suppression of other tasks so as to not steal performance from the game. This may well be useful – I’ve had situations where e.g. Windows’ antimalware tools suddenly start chewing up a bunch of CPU time because they’re not sure what some application or service is, or some third-party application or the other decides it wants to update itself at precisely the wrong moment.

Something Kevin asked me outside of the interview was if I knew what he meant in terms of consistency of performance as opposed to performance itself, and yeah, sure, I’ve certainly known situations where things briefly go haywire because something other than game starts screaming for attention in one way or another. A few headaches might be saved if that kind of thing can be blocked.

Actual graphical performance boosts I’m less sure about, however. Certain applications, such as Photoshop or video streaming, can tie up GPU time even in the background, so maybe there are situations whereby ensuring that the game has absolutely nothing denied to it will help, but it’s hard to see right now how this could go all the way to a meaningful improvement at all times.

But maybe Game Mode can help to stop Windows itself from troubling the graphics card when it’s otherwise engaged – for instance, how Windows Shell Experience Host handles graphics for ‘Modern’ apps and controls rotation of desktop wallpaper. Various tiny background things that might minutely distract the GPU; as he says, a 2% performance gain might not be a big number, but there are certainly cases where it’s enough to make a difference. I mean, if you’re using Vsync, two or three fewer frames per second can be enough to drag the framerate lock down from 60 to 45 or even 30.

Anyway: I’ll give Game Mode and spin once it’s available, and see what difference it’s actually making to games on my system.

The first iteration of Windows 10 Game Mode is due to be made available later today, but for the time being requires opting into potentially raw and buggy Insider builds via Windows Update. It will see a wider public release as part of the forthcoming Creators Update for Windows 10. This update does not have an official release date as yet, but is rumoured to arrived in April.

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115 Comments

  1. Ghostwise says:

    Obligatory indeed. Screaming-at-screen lady forever lives in our heart.

    • thedosbox says:

      Particularly as she’s doing so at the Windows 10 start menu. On a CRT. While using a joystick.

    • JackMultiple says:

      I like to pretend the screaming-at-screen-lady is my wife, getting kicked to the desktop while trying to play her “finding game” by Windows 10 Automatic Update Please Do Not Turn Off Computer. (A True Story).

      Except she doesn’t use a joystick to find things, she uses her finger on the laptop screen, and… what are those plastic-looking things stacked next to that old TV set? Some kind of food delivery tray mechanism from the past? Ha, these kids!

  2. Snowskeeper says:

    Seems like they’re trying to keep expectations low.

    • Ghostwise says:

      Personally I can’t tell anything. They’ve announced that they are doing something and then refuse to explain anything substantial because they’re too busy (??!).

      And what he *does* say is thickly, thickly buried in that fillers-rich version of the English language that dominates in American tech companies.

      • Snowskeeper says:

        “Even it’s as low as, say, a 2% increase in framerate, if you’re running a hundred frames per second, I will take those extra two frames per second without question.”

        • Creeping Death says:

          Comments like that really made me think they were struggling for something to say about this whole thing.

          Honestly, does ANYONE here care if they are running a game at 100 fps and can get a whole whopping 2 more frames per second? Wow!

          My eyes almost rolled out of my skull when he made the core gamer comment.

          • gabrielonuris says:

            Did you mean this one:

            I don’t know if you’re a core gamer, I am; there have been many times where I’m in a game and I’m update against the final boss fight or whatever you want to call it, and because of what’s going on in the game I get a drastic reduced framerate and things start to get a little bit laggy.

            My eyes made a complete 360° roll inside my skull. Twice.

          • thekelvingreen says:

            I don’t know if you’re a core gamer

            I don’t know either, because it’s a meaningless buzz word.

            It was “I want to say” that made my eyeballs spin to escape velocity. If you want to say it, Kevin, then say it, don’t say you want to say it. Egad.

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            cpt_freakout says:

            “The boss fight or whatever you want to call it” yeah, sure, I’ll call it “the part where you play hard”, right guys? I’m a core gamer, yeah, of course, I mean pff, come on, have you played the latest, um, yeah, Souls of Dark? Laggy all over, but I’ll take those two frames… no wait, it will take those two frames, no question.

          • Crocobutt says:

            100 fps, great, our monitors only support to 60, most games aren’t optimized that well anyway, and how many people have those fancy 120/144Hz monitors?
            2% on, say, 50fps is 1 extra fps. Whoopee. But we’ll see what comes by 2020. Maybe they’ll iron win10 out and it’ll be worth moving over.

        • alh_p says:

          It’s the games ergo “final boss” analogy, because final bosses are obligatory.

      • Baines says:

        I’m guessing that they aren’t saying much both because expectations are low and because the bulk of the potential work is still undone and up in the air. He kept talking about future conversations as well as having ideas for a year of work.

        They’ve probably got a tiny performance boost from adjusting CPU/GPU priority and tinkering with resource allocation (like thread usage), and have likely reduced or at least smoothed out some of those mid-game performance dips.

        They’ve probably got a variety of future ideas, but those ideas aren’t implemented yet, and many turn out to be busts anyway. I’d figure stuff like more aggressive code prediction might fall into this area, along with other optimizations.

        They don’t want to over-promise and then fail to deliver. That leaves them with not much at all to say, though, as tiny frame rate increases aren’t major news. (And who knows, the whole project could go belly up if it managed to catastrophically fail in widespread testing.)

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        MajorLag says:

        That’s Windows 10 in a nutshell. “We’re changing something. Never you mind your pretty little head about what.” has been the description of pretty much ever update for a year now. It makes IT a more interesting world, in the Chinese curse sense of the word.

      • DThor says:

        It honestly looks like meaningless sales talk. First off – don’t even *talk* to me about anything much under 15% speed increases since that’s around the perceptual variance error we all have when measuring speed. Just our mood or a caffeine drink can cause a 15% percent speed perception change – this isn’t a batch process, it’s real time plus messy human brains. Secondly, hearing MS talk about forking performance models just makes me cry. You *know* it’s going to require a developer to get on board or not, thus tying their horses to code that might well be in the bargain bin this time next year. I don’t buy the bafflegab about everyone benefitting “a bit”. Finally, salesman. I don’t care what he does for a living, he talks like a salesman. He’s being asked questions by someone he *should* know is fairly tech savvy, but to find anything meaningful in his response you have to dig… dig… dig…

        Blech.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      Understandable really. A lot of Microsoft’s PR faux paus lately have come from them announcing products too early, hyping them up and then having to back track during development or prior to shipping.

  3. Anti-Skub says:

    “I don’t know if you’re a core gamer, I am”

    Well Alec? Are you?

  4. slartibartfast says:

    I read all the Kevin Gamill bits in this interview in a real kind of greasy marketing executive voice with a bit of Lumbergh from office space thrown in for good measure.

    • fray_bentos says:

      Me too, except for the bits where I was TUIMM (throwing up in my mouth) e.g.”core game”, bleurgh.

    • dozurdogbite says:

      mmkay

    • JackMultiple says:

      Ha! Good one! Oh wait… which Lumburgh do you mean? “That” Lumburgh? or the other one?

    • David Mitchell says:

      Heh, well said! Reminds me of a classic D.A. quote from 1995; “The idea that Bill Gates has appeared like a knight in shining armour to lead all customers out of a mire of technological chaos neatly ignores the fact that it was he, by peddling second rate technology, led them into it in the first place, and continues to do so today.” ―Douglas Adams

  5. StevieW says:

    RPS: Just to confirm, by ‘Game Mode’ we are talking about purely a performance thing, not that the UI somehow switches to something alternate form?

    Kevin Gammill: Correct. At this point, it is more low-level than that.

    ———–

    Three words there scare me. “At this point”. We’re doomed.

    Also, did he really speak like that, because if someone started talking to me in that way I’d have to ask if they needed medical help?

    • Da5e says:

      I’d love to go deeper into whether or not he really spoke like that, but this comment is really pushed for time. I’ll go deeper into it in a later comment, I’d love to, but for now I’ll just say that I can’t comment on that.

      • Telkir says:

        Okay, but do you have a roadmap for how you’ll be going deeper into that question? Hopefully once you open that door we can have a very long conversation.

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      MajorLag says:

      There was already mention of a “Game Bar”.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        Will the Game Bar feature pole dancing presidents?

  6. fearandloathing says:

    Well I would be damn surprised if this amounts to anything more than freeing up RAM & CPU a bit. For 90% of the builds, GPUs cause bottlenecks, and I frankly can’t see what they can do to improve that.

    • aepervius says:

      They could tinker with the driver / GPU as to lower dynamically some parameter, e.g. color depth, vertical resolution (e.g. force 480p/720p and upscale rather than render at native 1024p) and various other shenanigan.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        IIRC Quantum Break did that lower resolution thing at release…

    • paulkemp says:

      Freeing up CPU will help a lot in Overwatch. Not downloading windows updates, viruses etc while I am using 100% of my CPU does INDEED increase the FPS.

  7. Faults says:

    HELLO FELLOW CORE GAMERS, ARE YOU INTERESTED IN 2 EXTRA FPS? I SURE AS HECK AM.

    • gabrielonuris says:

      How do you do, fellow core gamers?!

    • ColonelFlanders says:

      And next year, with the launch of Windows One, you’ll be able to watch TV on your PC!

    • Turkey says:

      Does anyone have a mod that removes the final boss? It’s causing some severe frame loss.

  8. Blad the impaler says:

    I used to be a reporter, and boy howdy, I do not miss dealing with these kinds of PR types. They’re good people, often excellent drinking companions. The tone is a usually a combination of a lack of experience regarding the subject matter (which probably doesn’t apply here) and the misconception that you have to be relevant and relatable, personally, to your audience to be an effective communicator. He also has scads of crap he can’t (probably legally) say, and I get that.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      He’s not PR.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ericusson says:

      The part where he tries to answer the question about background services the user wishes to use while playing is priceless.

      You can feel the panic in the brain while the mouth spurts some void filling BS almost in a marketing-reflex-no-brain-involved-there type of way.

      The profiles and formatting of Microsoft people allowed to speak are pretty much all the same all around the world ; can still recognize the mold I was familiar with 10 years after leaving this awful sphere of influence.

      • Valkyr says:

        I loved it so much. You like streaming music? Well of course Lightroom’s video encoding is going to slow down

  9. FurryLippedSquid says:

    “Two percent is pretty significant when you’re playing your game.”

    Back when I was trying to run Doom on a 486, maybe. Now? No.

    • aepervius says:

      2% being relative it was never that important even on a 386sx or 486dx, because it is still 2% only.

      Heck I like my 60 fps for various or bad reason, and I would not bother with a 20% difference.

      • ThePuzzler says:

        Yeah, but supposing you were on 25 frames a second? An extra 2% would take you all the way up to twenty five and a half frames a second! If you can’t appreciate how much better that is, maybe you’re not even a core gamer!

  10. KillahMate says:

    Ignoring all the fishy language going on, if it’s just an effort to ensure more consistent performance in games I’m absolutely all for it. I would instantly sacrifice my max FPS and some of my average FPS to bring up the minimum FPS in any of my games.

  11. Horg says:

    ”there have been many times where I’m in a game and I’m update against the final boss fight”

    Is this a typo or some sort of admission that Windows 10 always knows the worst possible time to install an automatic update?

    • Blad the impaler says:

      Comment of the day.

    • ColonelFlanders says:

      Yeah I thought it was a real softball from Alec that he didn’t at least make a comment about that.

    • Premium User Badge

      Don Reba says:

      Is this a typo or some sort of admission that Windows 10 always knows the worst possible time to install an automatic update?

      Yeah, if you try to rearrange the words in that sentence into something that remotely makes any sense, that seems to be the take-away.

  12. gabrielonuris says:

    Two percent is pretty significant when you’re playing your game.

    Well, I don’t think so. If I play at 60fps, I’ll be able to play at 61,2 fps. Nah, I’ll keep my Windows 7 for now, thanks.

    • brucethemoose says:

      Have you read TechReport’s frametime articles?

      This isn’t about raw FPS, it’s about stopping hitching, basically. If Microsoft can smooth out some of those drops by suppressing the background processes, the whole game will look smoother, even if the average FPS numbers don’t reflect that.

      • Snowskeeper says:

        We’re talking about what the guy said. I hope you’re right, but regardless, the things the guy said are pretty silly.

        • brucethemoose says:

          Well, he specifically mentioned thread contention. Eg, a background process comes knocking and keeps the CPU busy when it should be processing the current frame.

          • Nauallis says:

            If this is all that the mode does I’d be okay with it – those background updates are really annoying and eat up CPU cycles. I’m not sure that it’ll make a noticeable quality-of-life difference though.

  13. dozurdogbite says:

    game mode… hmmm, or one could use o&oshutup or the likes.
    Better yet, fine tune windows 7, that’s the ticket.

  14. rochrist says:

    I can’t get far enough away from Windows 10.

  15. geldonyetich says:

    It would be nice if this could eliminate “hitching,” that extremely annoying phenomenon where a game stops dead for a split second because something somewhere in the background of the OS fancies a bit of a think.

    But that kind of optimism rarely gels with reality.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Reading between the lines a bit, I think that’s the whole point.

      Microsoft isn’t usually shy about having technical people explain technical things – see stuff like Channel9, or their extensive involvement in C++ conferences. I dunno why they’d bother letting a PR guy attempt to talk tech with The Gamers.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        They didn’t. Kevin Gamill was/is a developer and a project manager.

        • Psychedelic Squid says:

          It definitely sounds like he was in Project Manager mode for this interview, which is a shame since I imagine the folks who both follow RPS and would be interested in this article, are quite capable of understanding the bulk of what he’d explain in Dev mode.

          • mattevansc3 says:

            My tech news RSS feed is inundated with different interviews he’s given today.

            Poor sod has probably had the same conversation twenty times in one day with outlets that don’t really do a lot of gaming news.

  16. Rao Dao Zao says:

    Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just turn off Windows’s unnecessary background tasks in general? Like how you used to be able to do that in older versions of Windows, without faffing around with a special Game Mode that might then suppress your music player by accident? It does feel a little bit like they’re inventing solutions to invented problems (see also: internet-enabled light switches).

  17. flashlight_eyes says:

    I don’t know if you’re a core gamer, I am; there have been many times where I’m in a game and I’m update against the final boss fight or whatever you want to call it

    • alexheretic says:

      I am also a core gamer so completely understand this. I can’t be sure about other mantle & crust gamers though.

      • Zanchito says:

        Many people are arm and pecs gamers, but I gotta tell you, core gamers have the real strength.

  18. engion3 says:

    Fuck you microsoft, I paid $100 for forza and it’s the only game in the past 5 years that’s had a crashing problem.

  19. Hedgeclipper says:

    The Boss fight comment is idiotic. If developers have more overhead they’re going to use it, just like they do today.

  20. Stone_Crow says:

    Damn it, I only play games on the surface of the earth. There is nothing for me here. =(

  21. Rob Lang says:

    This all sounds reasonable. If I was asked to code this the way I’d do it is:

    Target the obvious thread jacking nonsense that the OS does like reindexing and pause it. These don’t run up a large amount of CPU or memory but it can eat concurrent threads which are limited. Perhaps give as far as giving the game a CPU affinity.
    Next I’d make sure that the game is given more real RAM and less swap.
    If it’s UWP/Unity, I’d give the garbage collector more room to breathe.

    These are safe sorts of things to do. Then I’d release it to the public with low expectations, measure what real machines with various configurations actually do and then iterate using the regular Windows update.

    I use Razer Cortex to shut down all the dev services I use on my box to grab back RAM and CPU but then my machine is far from clean.

    • aepervius says:

      I may be wrong but I was in the mind that this is already the case. Stuff which on cron for specific time is run at that time, but index or other similar service are only called when it detects you are in a low cpu/low io/free mem situation. I could be wrong though.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      It’s not just the OS you have to look at. Internet browsers, especially Chrome are not very efficient when it comes to RAM, CPU and GPU usage.

      Having it on in the background for music, wiki guides, YouTube, etc is going to have a performance hit and ideally Game Mode would target that.

  22. foszae says:

    The one question you forgot: what command do i type to disable this extra layer of crap on my Windows install

    • Premium User Badge

      MajorLag says:

      Based on my experience with their other features in Windows 10: you can officially do it with a reghack, but only on Enterprise edition. Unofficially, you remove all permissions to a particular executable in System32, and remember to redo that after every OS update.

  23. vahnn says:

    “I don’t know if you’re a core gamer, I am.”

  24. Blackbird says:

    I would love to believe they are doing this for the love of gaming, but as is the trend with these companys, the end game is to by force, or con, cash from your pocket.

    Oh did I mention one more underhand way to gather your private information.
    It’s going to be intresting to see what they devise to deliberate the amount of dumps you take per day.

  25. Premium User Badge

    Benratha says:

    “Kevin Gammill, Partner Group Program Manager, Xbox Platform”? Does that mean that the PC is an Xbox Platform?
    Also, what’s a Game Bar? Is that a W10 thing/ UI, or the start of a joke, e.g. “A Pentium and a Celeron walk into a Game Bar…”

    • KillahMate says:

      Yes – Microsoft now more-or-less sincerely considers Windows and XBox to be essentially a single platform. The ‘gaming’ app in Windows 10, the one nobody uses, is called ‘XBox’, and all of the connectivity and streaming etc. services MS is now pushing for Windows gaming are being marketed under the XBox umbrella.

      I think Microsoft genuinely believes that the XBox has some sort of positive brand equity with PC gamers, which is the most baffling part to me.

  26. Landiss says:

    “We kind of look at that with two different lenses. One is both what I’ll call increased framerates for getting more performance”

    What a perfect reasoning. How about “improving frame times to get more frames per second” or “getting better performance to make games perform better”. Seriously, it’s like if person driving a car too fast would explain to policeman “I was driving fast to get more km/h”. I stopped reading after that sentence, couldn’t stand that marketing speech…

  27. Premium User Badge

    Addie says:

    Game mode toggled on and off by Windows+G, apparently, which since my venerable Model M doesn’t have a Windows key, means that I’ll be attempting to remove this, same as their existing ‘game mode’ nonsense that pops up. I’m not giving up my clicky keyboard for a mere 2% !

  28. nawiry says:

    I hope it can be uninstalled like the other Windows 10 bloatware and Xbone guff.

    I’m not a core gamer, I’m a PC gamer.

  29. RosalietheDog says:

    This guy is hilarious.

  30. Dewal says:

    Felt like reading an interview of Molyneux. Lots of words and very little meaning.

    On some answers, it look like he talked so much he both forgot the question and what he said at the start of the phrase.

  31. David Mitchell says:

    What he’s really saying is there might soon be an option for gamers to temporarily turn off the Win10 background spyware constantly logging one’s activities and forwarding it to the NSA/GCHQ datastores. Yes Kevin, I believe it’s called uninstalling Win10 and/or disconnecting your Internet.

  32. yogibbear says:

    That was just bizarre. What a dickhead. “core gamer”. Puke puke puke. He came from the console side of the business too? What a fucking disgrace that was. He said absolutely nothing and then when poked decided that there wasn’t enough time to explain anything except to say that it would come in the future. This guy obviously knows absolutely nothing about what they are doing but knows all the buzz words to pretend like he can sell something to you.

  33. Premium User Badge

    MajorLag says:

    This really came off as a PR guy thinking he’s talking to stereotypical Gamer Fuel chugging, Doritos eating, Xtreme Halo Gaming, “Nintendo only makes little kid games”, XBox audience. Which isn’t even really that large a group even on the XBox, let alone the PC.

    The takeaways I got from this are: There’s a Gamer Bar now, so you have even more UI cruft you don’t want and Microsoft will probably use it to market to you, and Microsoft is going to supply a list of game->minor-performance-tuning mappings as part of Windows Update, which you won’t be able to get in isolation since you can’t choose which updates to install or not anymore.

    It’s shit like this that makes me really wish Steam boxes had taken off and made Linux support practically mandatory for games.

    • KillahMate says:

      There already is a Gamer Bar in Windows 10, been there since the OS came out – it’s just that nobody uses it since it’s a part of the XBox app which also nobody uses, but it already runs on Windows startup and stays in the background. It’s the thing I had to turn off to make Steam Big Picture work properly.

  34. Penguinho says:

    I’m wondering how this suppression of background processes is going to play with, say, a TeamSpeak server. Or Steam, Origin or Battle.net. Or an overlay like Hearthstone Deck Tracker.

  35. paulkemp says:

    10% of the time i use my computer, I need 100% of the CPU cycles to focus on pushing Overwatch at 165 fps. Updates and background services causes the fps to dip below that, something I immediately notice.

    Today, I can white list Overwatch as one of the applications i need all my resources for (Game mode), and in the future this would be done automatic. This is a good thing.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      You definitely do not notice your FPS “dipping below 165 FPS.” Unless you mean dipping to, like, 30 FPS. But if you think you can eyeball the difference between 165 and 155, you’re deluding yourself.

  36. Avus says:

    M$ did something for PC gaming?? Talk to me again when they REALLY did something to PC gaming. I still remember the bad experience with GFWL, games for Windows Store (more like Windows 10 + anniversary update store). It is stupid that a game (example: Forza Horizon 3) that “require” the newest Windows + Windows update to play. I am not asking a “Microsoft WINDOWS game” need to work all the way back to Windows XP… But not even work in Windows 7, 8 and 8.1?!
    Unless MS have the “technology” the made their games available in other digital distribution, otherwise I don’t need M$ do too much “for” the PC gaming. All you (M$) need to do is made Windows stable and don’t screw up Windows update too much (like the last couple times)

  37. immaletufinishbut says:

    “I don’t know if you’re a core gamer, I am”

    Cmon, who even says stuff like this?

  38. thenevernow says:

    Two questions I’d ask, given the chance:

    – there are two outlined advantages of Game Mode are higher FPS and a “consistent gameplay experience”. The case for the latter is “because of what’s going on in the game I get a drastic reduced framerate”. However smartly you allocate CPU and GPU resources, busier, frantic moments in games will see framerate dips.
    So does this feature actually cap framerates, so that the dips are less noticeable? Or does it work on frametimes like Rivatuner is supposed to do? (link to pcgamer.com)

    – The Game Mode is said to operate in two ways: manual activation by the user or automatic detection that a game is running, based on a whitelist.
    So what would be the disadvantage of having Game Mode always on? Higher CPU and GPU allocation to foreground processes, less to background ones? Certain Windows components being permanently disabled? Arbitrary third-party processes being stopped? None?

  39. Photonboy says:

    “ZERO SUM GAME” is being used incorrectly BTW. It’s being used as there being no benefit. The correct usage involves at least two parties with one losing and one gaining such that the TOTAL is zero.

    As per the tool, there’s already a tool called “CPUCORES” which does much of what MS Game Mode looks to do. It prioritizes a game thread onto its own core, disables HT where it makes sense etc.

    • Snowskeeper says:

      Nnno, as much as I dislike him, he was using it correctly. He was saying that if everything is being used, then to gain something in one area you have to take it away from somewhere else.

  40. gebrps says:

    I’ve been reading a lot of articles in other places with writers that don’t understand what is the objective. They do frame tests mainly, and that is not what Game Mode may be about.

    Right now I do a lot of stuff manually before launching a very demanding game: closing unnecessary programs, killing unnecessary processes, pausing anti-virus and other “shielding” software, etc.

    That’s not for frames is for a general better “flow” of the game: loading times, reading to disk, less lag, better response.

    If “Game Mode” does something of what I do manually, but automatically, I’m in.