It has never been a better time to be a gamer. Think about how people and services practically throw games at us every day, even for free; with so many games readily available, it’s easy to get lost.
It’s almost a given if your gaming collection consists of more than a handful of titles bought from various online retailers, storefronts, and services. Thankfully, front-ends like PlayNite can help you make sense of this chaos. Let’s see how.
What Is PlayNite?
At its most basic, PlayNite is a front end for almost all your gaming libraries, no matter where they reside.
By default, it supports popular storefronts, retailers, and services like:
…and others. Still, that’s an oversimplification of what the app offers.
So, download the app from PlayNite’s official site, and install it. Now, let’s see how you can use it as the single “entry point” for all your gaming.
Note that although PlayNite has some emulation-related add-ons, and can also list retro titles, it’s not optimal for oldschool gaming.
If you mostly play games from emulated platforms, a better solution would be to check our guide on how to set up Retroarch on Windows.
Alternatively, we believe Launchbox is a better solution for combining modern, retro, and emulated titles. If that’s what you want, and don’t mind that it doesn’t have as many versatile add-ons as PlayNite, check our article where we saw what Launchbox is, and how it works.
Getting Through the First-Time Configuration on PlayNite
On its first run, PlayNite helpfully presents a first-time configuration wizard. (Note: the wizard might not appear or work correctly without an Internet connection).
From there, you can choose to connect (“integrate”) some of your gaming libraries to GameNite.
After connecting some of your libraries to PlayNite, you will see a notification on the top-right of its window stating that it started importing your games.
Fine-Tuning Your Library Integrations
To further customize PlayNite’s library integrations, click on its icon, which also acts as its main menu button, on the top left of its window. Then, choose Library > Configure Integrations.
You can configure options you might have missed or weren’t available during the initial setup. For example, you can also include Humble Choice games in your library if you have a subscription to the service.
Some Important Settings to Tweak Before You Start
It’s worth paying a visit to its settings to take advantage of everything PlayNite offers.
Those are accessible by choosing Settings from the menu we saw before or pressing F4 on your keyboard.
The General page allows you to change PlayNite’s language, tweak its icon, have the app launch automatically whenever you start your computer, and so on.
To customize how PlayNite looks, check everything under Appearance.
- The first page under Appearance, also titled General, allows you to change PlayNite’s “core” looks – its theme, font, background, etc.
- The Details View page is where you can tweak how that type of view will look. You can change the game cover image height and enable or disable various pieces of information. Those include the display of game covers, backgrounds, publishers, developers, and many more.
- You can find similar options on the Grid View and List View pages, for tweaking those alternative display modes.
- From the Layout page, you have some control over the arrangement and width of PlayNite’s panels.
- Finally, the Top Panel page is where you control the looks of PlayNite’s top toolbar and the items on it.
How to Set Up Auto-Closing Clients
We’ve talked in the past about how the top gaming storefronts and launchers might be slowing your system down. Thankfully, you can have PlayNite terminate them automatically when you exit a game.
For that, pay a visit to the Auto Close Clients page, and enable the Automatically close third party client after game exits option.
You can also choose which clients you want to terminate automatically, and add a delay in seconds, to ensure no after-gaming cleanup by a client is interrupted.
How to Prioritizing Performance or Quality
If you are on an old or underpowered PC and PlayNite feels slow, visit the Performance options page under Advanced. Try disabling Asynchronous image loading and placing a checkmark on Disable hardware acceleration.
On the contrary, if you are on a new or fast PC with resources to spare, it’s worth changing the Image rendering scale from Balanced to Quality to improve PlayNite’s thumbnail “crispness”.
Extend PlayNite With Some Third-Party Add-Ons
To further extend and customize PlayNite with third-party creations, select the Add-ons option from its main menu or press F9 on your keyboard.
Look under the Browse section of the window that shows up to find new add-ons.
Start on the Libraries page, checking for other storefronts and services where you might have even more games. You will find entries for services like GamersGate, Groupees, itch.io, and others.
To install any, select them and then click on the Install button on the right. You can do the same with metadata sources, but most people will probably be OK with the default settings. We suggest you add the one for PCGamingWiki, though.
The most interesting list is Generic, which despite its bland name, presents the most useful add-ons.
Going over them in detail would turn this article into an e-book. Still, we wanted to at least list the ones we believe are worth checking out:
- Emulation Toolbox
- Game Engine Checker
- Ludusavi Restic Save Backup
- MAME Tools
- MAME Utility
- News Viewer
- Nexus Mods checker
- Parental Control Locker
- Resolution Changer
- Steam Trailers
If you want to change how PlayNite looks radically, pay a visit to the two themes-related pages, Themes Desktop and Themes Fullscreen.
You can install various new themes that modify PlayNite’s appearance. They range from “colored” versions of PlayNite’s default theme to others that mimic how the Xbox and Playstation console interfaces look.
Navigating (And Making Sense Of) the Ginormous Game Libraries
When back at PlayNite’s main interface, you can choose how you want to see your game library from three available view modes.
Those are accessible from the 5th, 6th, and 7th buttons on PlayNite’s main toolbar. Those, respectively:
- Show more details about entries.
- Display a more visually pleasing grid of game covers
- Show a more compact list of titles.
Playing a game doesn’t have to feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Instead, use the search field on the top left of PlayNite’s window and type part of the game’s title there. PlayNite will filter down its list to only show titles containing what you typed in their name.
The second button gives you access to three sub-lists, which only show:
- Your favorite titles.
- The games you played the most.
- The titles you played recently.
You can enable grouping for your games list based on various values (age rating, category, genre, release year, etc.) from the third button.
The fourth button presents a menu with a similar list of values, affecting how the list is sorted.
When clicking on a title, you will see a button that allows you to launch it if installed or download it if it’s not.
Next to it will be a button with the letter “i”, which, if clicked, will present more information about the selected title in a panel (by default on the right of the window).
The ninth and tenth buttons offer extra filtering capabilities and functionality.
- The first one allows you to only see the titles from a specific library, like GOG or Steam.
- The second one presents a more detailed panel from where you can filter your list according to various values like the ones we saw before.
For the functionality offered by installed add-ons, you will have to read more about each add-on before you install it.
Organized Fun With PlayNite
With all your games accessible from the same spot, you’ll be able to find and launch a title no matter where you originally bought it.
And in an all-too-real “problem” with being a gamer, when purchasing new game bundles, you won’t have to check your separate store libraries to see if you already own most titles. Just use the app’s zippy search and you’ll be there in no time.