In this article, we explain how to compile your game for the Windows platform ready to distribute to other people to play. If you haven't already set up the Windows target, then you should do that first before continuing. See:
Once you have everything setup, have finished your game and have thoroughly tested it to make sure that everything works, you'll presumably want to distribute it as an executable package to pass (or sell) to others. For Windows, this is very easy to do and simply involves you hitting the Create Executable button at the top of the IDE:
You will then be prompted to select from one of two options presented (this choice may not be shown if you have changed the default value in the Preferences, or have previously selected "Remember Packaging Option?"):
We strongly recommend that you use the "Package as Installer" option for general distribution. This ensures that all the files that your project requires are installed along with the project and that Windows treats the game as a proper installed application - so your player will get shortcuts and the game will appear in the control panel to uninstall later, etc...
The other option, "Package as Zip" will create a compressed ZIP file which the user then has to extract on their computer to run. It will be a standalone executable and no shortcuts are made. Note that if you want to publish games on Steam then you must make a zip package - if you send Steam an installer executable, then the game will fail to work for players. Depending on how you have configured your project in Steamworks, you then either upload the zip itself or (more commonly/historically) you extract the zip temporarily and then upload the loose files and folders to maintain the file structure. For more information on Steam, please see:
- Please note, the Remote Worker can only be found if you are using GameMaker 2.3.7 (Dec 2021) or older. The Remote Worker is no longer supported as of January 2022 and has already been removed from GameMaker in January Betas, so this information should be treated as legacy.
Once you have selected the package type, you will need to select a save location on your computer and your project will then be built and packaged ready to distribute. When the compilation has finished, GameMaker will open the file explorer at the created installer/zip file's location. Note that when using the Mac IDE, this process is the same except that the remote worker will build the project for you and then return the installer/zip file to the location on the local Mac which you specified for saving to.
By default, GameMaker Windows games will be 32bit, but the update to version 2.3.1 of the GameMaker IDE also added in an option to generate 64bit executables. You can find this option from the Windows Game Options:
If you do create a 64 bit Windows executable, please be aware that with extensions using DLLs, all DLLs must be 64bit compatible and any 32bit DLLs will not work with the 64bit executable.