If you’re a gamer, you probably are familiar with some or all of these programs already. However, this will be a list which can be added to in the future, so feel free to suggest any programs that you are aware of and which we didn’t cover here. Also, we are not going to look at general Windows software, but rather we’ll look at software that directly pertains to gaming or gaming hardware. For Windows essentials, check out our list of software here and feel free to comment there as well, if you have suggestions for further addition to the list. So, let’s begin.
If you have ever had to lose saved games for any reason, you know how much of a pain it can be; the moment of realization, perhaps after a re-install of the operating system or maybe after uninstalling the game due to some issue. GameSave Manager takes care of this for you. It’s a nice central management/backup tool for all your saved games. It will scan your system for installed games and back them all up, even to cloud storage like OneDrive or Google Drive. You can then restore your saved games to resume the games where you left them.
2. ReShade (SweetFx + ReShade)
ReShade is a post-filter injector for games. It allows you to add various post-processing filters to games, changing the look and feel of the game to your liking. For example, you can apply Sin City filter to a game, which will make everything black and white except for red coloured objects. You can add godrays, anamorphic lens flares, blood, lens dirt, etc. You can see some of the effects from the screenshot above. You can either go for the ReShade assistant or download ReShade (v 1.1) and SweetFX (v 2.0) separately by scrolling to the bottom of the page linked above. Below is an example of ReShade assistant in action. I’ve used Hitman Blood Money. The image on the left is how the game originally looks, and the right hand side image has vibrance effect added using ReShade.
Most PC gamers are familiar with Fraps, the program commonly used for benchmarking and recording game videos. Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) is a great open source, free alternative to Fraps and other paid programs. You can record videos or live stream to any of the popular video sharing websites like Youtube, Dailymotion, etc.
MSI afterburner is another fantastic gaming tool which is is not only useful for overclocking, but also for hardware/temperature monitoring and screen/video capture. Each of these functionalities can and do have separate dedicated programs (Fraps, OBS, HWMonitor, CoreTemp). Afterburner is also available for Android and iOS devices.
5. Hardware Temperature Monitors
If you want a separate hardware temperature monitor, you could download HWMonitor. You can see CPU, hard drive, motherboard temperatures as well as battery wear level if you are using it on a laptop. There is also CPU-Z for processors, and GPU-Z for graphics processors. It’s quite useful if you are overclocking or if you just want to keep an eye on the temperature of your components.
Steam needs no introduction if you are a PC gamer. However, if you’re new to the scene, Steam is the biggest digital distribution platform out there. Steam was originally supposed to be an auto-update platform rather than an online store, borne out of problems with updates of Counter-Strike as its popularity began to grow. Speaking to gamesindustry.biz, Doug Lombardi, VP of Marketing at Valve, explained the real impetus behind the creation of Steam:
“We basically had our feature list that we wanted. We wanted auto-updating, we wanted better anti-piracy, better anti-cheat, and selling the games over the wire was something we came up with later. But we had like real world problems because Counter-Strike was getting huge and we would release these updates that would knock the 70 – 80 thousand simultaneous players right down to zero and it would take 48 – 72 hours for it to come back up and that was like this huge anxiety roller coaster that we would take every two or three months.
It also limited our ability to put those updates up because of that. It was like…”Well, if we’re going to turn the lights off for 48 hours in the player community, the update needs to be worthy of that.” So, you had to bundle up the things you were going to put up in the update or you’re going to pull it out because you didn’t want to take the roller coaster ride. So that was really the impetus to why we did [Steam].”
Good Old Games, or GOG.com is a DRM-free game distribution platform. Because it’s great to own what you buy with no restriction on usage. It began in 2008, and has been growing ever since. If you enjoy content free of DRM restrictions (who doesn’t?), then you can download their gaming client GOG Galaxy by clicking here. In an interview with Eddie Makuch of Gamespot.com, GOG’s managing director, Guillaume Rambourg said:
“When we launched GOG back in the day, so back in fall 2008, the initial goal was to revive classic games and to bring them to modern gamers. And the other mission we had, which we still have, is freeing games and gamers from the chains of DRM. Because, to us, DRM is like a prison. And whether it’s for classic games or new games or even movies now, our goal is to free digital content from every kind of locker. I think we managed pretty well, because when we launched GOG back in the day, everybody thought that this would be a doomed project, a niche project, and in the end, as you might know, we have over 800 games without DRM and we operate with over 200 publishers and developers, including some big ones. So I think we convinced many people in the industry that DRM-free was the way to go when it comes to convincing the gaming community to buy games.”
There are good reasons to buy games on GOG, like:
- 30-day money back guarantee if a game doesn’t work.
- Fair-price package (wherein if the game you purchased is more expensive than the US price, GOG will pay you the difference as store credit).
So these are the seven applications that we like using, and do use frequently. If you think we’ve missed any programs here, do comment and let us know.
Featured Image credit: Pawel Kadysz