How to download video games

Updated: 11/13/2018 by Computer Hope

Downloading a game depends on the device you're using and the publisher of the game. Below are the steps and suggestions you should follow to download, install, and play a game on your computer or console. Before downloading games, keep the following tips in mind.

Downloading game tips

  • Make sure you are adequately connected to the Internet. Video games are among the largest software downloads, so a high-speed Internet connection is ideal.
  • Check the installation requirements of the video game you'd like to play. Make sure that your CPU, RAM, and GPU meet the game's minimum requirements, and that you have enough free storage on your device to download and install the game.

Downloading games on a console

Playstation 4

Video game consoles, such as the Xbox One, PlayStation, or the Nintendo Switch, offer a game store on the device which you can use to browse, purchase, and download games.

To start the download of the game, click the button that says Buy, Purchase, or Download. It will then prompt you to add a payment method if the game costs money, or, for a free game, it will start the download immediately. Once installed, the game will appear in your game library.

If you have a disc for the game, insert it into your console, and the installation will begin immediately. Any updates for the game will also start after the game has been installed.

Downloading games on a PC using a distribution platform

Steam

Many modern PC games are installed using a distribution platform. As of 2018, the most popular platform with the largest selection of games is Steam.

To download Steam, go to the Steam website and then click Install Steam. Once downloaded, you'll need to start the installed program. Once installed, create a Steam account with an e-mail address and a password. Upon signing in, the Steam application will launch, which is where you can purchase and download games, add friends, and keep a library of games.

To install a game from Steam, click on a game that interests you, and this will launch the store page for the game. You can then click the Add to cart button, and click Purchase for myself if you are buying the game for yourself, and Purchase as a gift to buy the game for another steam user.

Once purchased the download and install process will begin. To check the status of your download, go to your game library with the Library button. In the Library, there will be a list of all the games you own and show you the percentage of the installation. To view more information, such as a prediction for when the game will finish installing, right-click the game (or ⌘+click on Mac,) and select Manage downloads.

Note

Future Bethesda titles may not be included on Steam, and you may need a separate launcher for future games from Bethesda.

Other popular distribution platforms include:

Games distributed as traditional downloads

Not all games require a dedicated distribution platform. Some are still distributed traditionally, as a self-contained package. For these games, the game may be available for download through the publisher's website.

Games played in the browser

Some games don't need to be downloaded at all. Some games run entirely in your web browser, as a web application. These games are usually simple, free to play, and independently produced.

Additional information