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I've created a game launcher that I'm pretty proud of :). I use nw.js and so the interface uses html/javascript/css. It makes ajax api calls to my web service that I've written in C# to do things like register/login/news. I'm now looking at having my game launcher do the initial install of the actual game and updates.

My question is, where should the game be installed by default. I will allow them to change the location but what should the default game location be? This will be on Windows only at this time. My concern is that I've heard (and I don't know because I'm always admin on my PC) that you can run into issues if your game is in program files because of permissions.

Does anyone who has made a game launcher have experience around the downloading/copying/unzipping of game files in a game launcher?

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You should store your game data in C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\yourgame\ as it is a logical place to put "appdata" and it does not require admin to access .

You should give the user the option to decide if they want to have a desktop shortcut to the launcher. Include an easy way to do this without doing first time setup as well as a button to open the game directory.

The launcher file should do both first time setup and regular updates and launch for easy use.

Every time it launches it should make sure all of the required files exist; if some or all of them are missing, it should perform first time setup.

I'm not sure about Windows 7 or Windows 8 but in Windows 10, you can place a shortcut in C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\ and it will appear in the start menu as a new/recently added app until it is clicked on and will always show up under all programs.

This way, no administrator rights needed!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "You should store your game data in C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\yourgame\" - Isn't this just for like saved games and such. I'm talking where to put the actual game files since that's what the launcher will be updating/installing. If they select program files wouldn't my game launcher need special rights to install/copy files to it? \$\endgroup\$
    – user441521
    Feb 3, 2016 at 20:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ usually the game executable and the game files are stored next to each other, the exe in the base dir and the other files in sub dirs for easy access by the game. also there is no reason why you should not put the game there, it won't cause problems or confusion. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 3, 2016 at 20:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Interesting. I've never seen a game do that before. \$\endgroup\$
    – user441521
    Feb 3, 2016 at 21:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ That is not the only way. Just look at any free/commerical game installers, they all do things a bit differently. Many installers do ask for admin rights to install/update in a protected folder like "Program Files", so that the files are protected against accidental or malicious modifications. \$\endgroup\$
    – KC Wong
    Jun 7, 2023 at 1:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ I couldn't find a Microsoft article about the meaning of all these folders. Program Files: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Program_Files ProgramData: learn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-hardware/customize/desktop/… AppData: xda-developers.com/appdata/…. \$\endgroup\$
    – KC Wong
    Jun 7, 2023 at 1:26

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