Game In Window Mode – Advantages And Disadvantages

Game In Window Mode – Advantages And Disadvantages

Are you a fan of computer video games like we are? Have you ever considered playing your games in Window Mode?

Since you landed here, we assume that you are interested to know why gamers choose to play their favorite computer game in window mode instead of Full Screen. What are the advantages of window mode? Read on!

In a previous guide we introduced many different ways to run a video game in window mode; even if the game does not support it with an option in the Settings menu. We also introduced DxWnd, an amazing tool that will force software or any game in window mode.

We have already described who would benefit from Window Mode – and we sure got much user feedback on the matter! Many readers have complained and made their points on why gamers would choose to ruin the game atmosphere this way.

Well, we got the message and here we are with a new article on the topic!

Why would someone choose to play a video game in window mode? What are the advantages and disadvantages of such a choice?

But let’s start at the beginning:

What Is Window Mode Anyway?

Game developers design their games for full screen. That means that the user interface of the game will occupy the whole screen. It will fill up the Windows interface, covering the tray, taskbar and the other programs running.

Many games, however, have options in their Settings page to run the game in a window instead. Essentially the game will take only part of the monitor, leaving space for other running software to be visible behind it.

So, there it is – playing a game windowed means that the game will not be the only thing the gamer sees in the monitor.

Games in window mode - Torchlight in window mode through settings.
Settings page of Torchlight, and how to set it to play at Window Mode.

The Two Sides Of The Coin

If you decide to spend some time researching in this topic, you will find out that gamers are split between running a game in window mode and running it full screen. Some will insist that anything else than full screen is a compromise. Others will state that a game is not the only thing they do when they are busy in their computers – there is always chatting, internet browsing and other activities they deal with.

What Are The Pros Of Window Mode?

The gamers who prefer window mode for some of their games have reasoned out about their choices. The following points are the ones they indicate as serious advantages:

  • The ability to check other software at the background. The gamer can play a video game and at times when the game does not require 100% of their attention, they can do basic computer stuff, such as watching a video or browsing the net.
  • When in Window Mode, the user can switch instantly between the running software windows and the game window. Even though particular Windows shortcuts such as Windows+M to minimize the game window or Alt+Tab to switch to other active windows still work in Full Screen, most gamers will come across serious delays at the process. The game might not respond to those shortcuts, or respond too slowly. Oftentimes, the process might even crash the game, or the system. Sometimes a hard reset might even be needed. Especially with games that have been poorly coded on that aspect, that is common. This behavior can drive a gamer insane, because he would often lose progress if there is no Checkpoint or Save Point nearby. On the other hand, a game that is running windowed will respond like any other window. You simply select another window from the taskbar and it will load at once.
  • While playing a game in full screen, certain background messages might pop up and interfere with the game actions. Typical examples are firewall warnings, especially in online games, as well as virus messages and related alerts. All these pop ups can cause frustration, because they require user interaction and will affect the game itself. Take for example a firewall warning: it has popped up at the background because the game is trying to reach an online server. The player is not sure what has happened, but the game has stopped and not moving forward. How would they know that at the background, where he cannot see, there is a firewall warning that needs a user answer, such as Allow or Refuse? Even with those firewalls that include a Gamer Mode and supposedly will not disturb the gamer, the problem could actually be of bigger proportions. The firewall would choose instead!. On the other hand, any alert or pop up while on window mode is visible – the user can respond to it anytime.
Games in window mode - firewall alert would go unnoticed.
Alert from a firewall.
  • Many gamers like to use video capturing software or other methods to shoot a video of their video game progress. These programs do come with shortcuts setup, but a better control over the actions can be held when their window is on easy access.
  • Gamers tend to install particular software which allows for temperature monitoring or FPS measurement in games. Temperature monitoring can be essential in hot months. The continuous operation of a high-end game can seriously force the limits of CPU, RAM and motherboard, causing them to generate more heat. Heat can be dangerous when combined with insufficient cooling due to dust accumulation in the case and CPU fans. Such monitoring software usually comes with a tray indicator for temperature levels. That icon will not be seen when the game is ran in full screen.
Games in window mode - monitoring temperatures.
Software to monitor CPU and graphics card temperatures.
  • Nowadays, computers can multitask without serious lag. A gamer can play a game that requires minimum attention, while maintaining his part of a Facebook conversation, having a Video Call in Skype. If you start thinking “What kind of game would not require attention?” and the answer would be simple – consider online RPG games. You will have to stay focused in instance fights and raids, but you can be only “half-way there” when crafting, selling stuff or traveling.
  • With a game running in window mode, users will notice serious correspondence – you will still be informed on an important incoming e-mail.
  • When the game is in a window, the tray is visible and thus the time is also visible. How often have you lost time while playing a nice game, only to realize you have not slept and are late for school or work? It has happened to most gamers. Well, you have more chances to notice the time and stop or take a break if the clock is right there at the bottom right of the tray.
  • Many games are quite hard to beat or proceed in later stages. Thus, many people who have limited time or patience, choose to google for walkthroughs of the game. Those give detailed instructions on how to solve a puzzle or where to find a crucial NPC. It goes without saying that you need an internet browser to search and follow a walkthrough. Consequently, frequent switches between game window and browser will occur. It can be achieved, way easier and with way less gamer frustration when the game is running in window mode.

Do you feel like you have already chosen the Window Mode side? Wait till you read the list of disadvantages!

Disadvantages Of Playing Games In Window Mode

  • First and most important, Window Mode can ruin the game atmosphere. No single game will feel the same when ran in window mode, because the other operating system distractions will remove much of the suspense, while the smaller size of the window will make the game look more dull.
  • The game atmosphere and the immersion to it is one of the main reasons gamers like games, right? Take for example any game from the Silent Hill series – award winning games with horror elements which are increasingly scary; they employ clever usage of shadows, sounds and lack of lighting. If you try to play a game like this in a window, the lighting effects will not be same. The atmosphere will be lacking much. Simply don’t do it!
Games in window mode - Silent Hill atmosphere
An atmospheric game like Silent Hill would not be as enjoyable if played in a window.
  • Window mode for the majority of games will affect the video quality – the colors usually look less vivid and dull, the graphics are not crispy and the brightness settings will create problems to the gamer. It is not uncommon for windowed games to not be able to adjust the brightness properly. Since the game brightness options might not work (most often they do not), the gamer would change the brightness settings for the whole system. That would result in acceptably bright game interface, but too bright windows, taskbar and tray. It will end up hurting the eyes of the gamer. Moreover, particular video settings might not be available for a change when running the game windowed. Such settings could be rain and fog effects or antialiasing options.
  • Not all games can handle a window mode in a good way. There are those in which you can resize and drag the window to any part of the screen. And then there are those that will be too stubborn to resize or move. With such a game, it is not sure that anyone would enjoy window mode,. The positioning of the window could cover those other windows that the gamer wants to keep an eye on.
  • The things happening in the other windows do affect the quality of the gaming experience. If you play a demanding game, you might get serious lag the moment that the browser decides to reload the news website you had been reading earlier, or the moment that a friend decided to call you in Skype. Some games would allow such short lag to go without problems. However, it could mean a death in a multiplayer action RPG.
  • The options that the games offer for window mode, when it comes to the window resolution, are sometimes improper for particular monitors. You might have a wide monitor that is 16:9 but the game only offers 4:3 resolutions when ran in window. In these cases, the game window will distort and you will feel like everything looks wrong.
  • Game performance DOES drop when the game is ran in a window. The excess CPU and RAM needed to maintain running background applications; the load of the graphics card in trying to keep up with the advanced graphics of the game as well as the typical “work” to show the windows and the internet browser – all these will lower the game FPS and might even make the game unplayable in lower specs machines.

Conclusion – What Should I Be Doing?

From our own experience, you need to play games in a window when you need to browse the net for walkthrough purposes and a Skype call is happening (for example, if you Skype with your friends as you all play together). For all other circumstances, we would recommend to play the games the proper way – in Full Screen!

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