Now that I have a laptop PC running Windows 8, I’d like to get some games that are written for this environment, but every time I go to the Windows Store, it seems like they’re all for-pay. Aren’t there free games in the Windows App Store?
You’re right that the Windows App Store includes both free and paid software, but that it can be a bit tricky to figure out how to differentiate them on first glance. Worse, nowadays “free” might well mean “a small sampler of the title, but you’ll be paying lots of $$ through in-app purchases soon enough”, something that’s started to generate huge revenues for the savviest of game developers.
The biggest thing to remember as you navigate through the Windows App Store, however, is that the entire Windows 8 experience is designed for a touch screen, so if you’re on your PC you’re going to find that things are to the right, not below where you’re looking at any given time.
You’ll see what I mean as we get into things.
For now, the App Store seems to be “wider” than just about any program I’ve seen in the Win8 world, so you’ll likely find yourself click-dragging or swiping again and again as you explore what’s off screen. It’s kinda cool once you get the hang of it, actually, so don’t be put off by something new.
Let’s start on the Start Screen, appropriately. Find “Store” and click / tap it:
Now you’re in the Windows App Store, and it’s quite a big place:
Here’s where you’ll need to swipe and swipe (or the keyboard and mouse equivalent) until you get to the rightmost edge of the Store.
There you’ll find — ta daa! — the most popular free apps:
No surprise, these all have very good ratings too. More importantly, notice the fifth entry, Skype. See how it says “Installed” instead of “Free”? That means that, you guessed it, I’ve already downloaded and installed this app from the App Store. Handy to see.
To continue the demo, let’s grab a copy of Star Wars: Tiny Death Star.
To do that, click on the icon or the narrative description adjacent. It’ll show you a screen full of information, a screen capture, and more:
See the 3.7 and the stars sort of running off the right side? That’s where you’ll find ratings and reviews, so swipe over and read what others say before you decide you really want to drop this particular game on your PC.
Looks good? Okay. Tap or click on Install, the green button on the top left.
You’ll probably be prompted thusly:
Okay, okay. I’ll do so, and click “OK” to proceed, and once it’s validated…
I actually try to avoid having a payment method defined because it helps me stop and carefully consider before I decide to proceed with an acquisition or not. You might have long since set all this up and therefore don’t see the prompt.
Once that’s resolved, you’ll be back at the info window in the App Store and have no indication what’s going on.
Or do you?
Take a close look at the top right:
I don’t know why this is so subtle, but I bet 95% of people never even notice it’s here.
Eventually it’ll just vanish — *poof* — and your new game’s installed. Congrats.
But now the hard part: finding it. Games don’t just automatically show up on your Desktop any more in Windows 8, nor can the auto-appear on your Start Screen. So where the heck is it?
Well, one way you can find the new game is to go to your apps view screen, where it’s one of a ton of little icons:
Yes there’s an aqua “NEW” but, again, it’s kinda crazy subtle.
So instead, let me show you a cooler way to get your new game on the Start Screen. Bring up the search charm, which is most easily done by using Cmd-S on the keyboard. Then start typing in the name of the game you just downloaded. Like this:
Got it? Don’t click or launch it yet!
Instead right-click on the matching item, and two little options appear:
Ah, there we go! Click (or tap) on “Pin to Start” and now it’s on your Start Screen. Easy, actually, once you know what you’re doing.
Here’s what it ends up looking like on my own Start Screen in Windows 8.1:
That’s way better than the tiny entry in the all apps view, isn’t it?
Why we have to go through these extra hoops to actually have a new app be accessible, well, that’s another story entirely.