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I was wondering why I cannot just put all XNA dlls in the same directory as the game.exe, but I need to install that XNA redistributable?

if i try to run it i get an "assembly not found" error http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/shhcw6y9(v=vs.80).aspx even though that assembly (dll) is there in the same directory.

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3 Answers 3

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Well installers often do many other things than just copying files. For example XNA redist tries to install/update DirectX on a user computer to required version. I guess it can also write some required information to registry.

However, even if you can just copy XNA files with your game, that, most certainly, will violate license terms.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes you can only redistribute the redistributable not the separate XNA dlls that will violate the license. \$\endgroup\$
    – Roy T.
    Oct 30, 2012 at 11:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ thanks for the info about the license. actually i am still interested as to why a game doesnt run without the redistributable, though all DLLs are in the same directory as the exe. \$\endgroup\$
    – clamp
    Oct 30, 2012 at 13:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @clamp see: "required information to registry" in the answer. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 30, 2012 at 16:19
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When you have a redistributable, it usually is for not sending the end user the complete engine you used, as the end user only need some specific files. For XNA is the same.

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You can examine the contents of any MSI installation package using tools like less msiérables or MSI Viewer.

It's also possible to query via a script and the MSI API but it's non-trivial (Docs).

Just be aware that being able to see the contents doesn't give you any additional rights not already granted by the license.

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