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Creating an installer for your XNA game (XNA Game Studio 3.1)

By Daniel D'Agostino, 2010-03-13


XNA is a great tool for creating games quickly and easily. However, people will not be able to run their games unless they have XNA Game Studio 3.1 installed. Fortunately, XNA Game Studio 3.1 supports publishing your game using ClickOnce technology, which allows you to create an installer for your game that will make it work without end users needing to install XNA Game Studio.


Right click on your project and click Publish....

  1. You will be asked to specify a folder to publish to. The installer and related files will be placed here. You can leave the default publish/, which is relative to your project path.
  2. After clicking Next, you will be asked how the application will be installed. Leave the default From a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM since there isn't an option to install from a local executable.
  3. After clicking Next again, you can specify a location where the game will check for updates, or leave the default The application will not check for updates.
  4. Clicking Next will show a summary of the options you selected, or skip and click Finish.
  5. When you click Finish, the installation files will be placed in the folder you specified in step 1 above. Also, a browser window will come up and complain that it can't find some location - this is because there is an extra pair of quotes in the address bar.


When a user runs the setup.exe file, he will be prompted whether he wants to install the game. Upon clicking "Install", the application is installed to the Start Menu. Subsequently running setup.exe will run the game instead of re-running the installer.

The game can be uninstalled from the Control Panel (Add/Remove Programs on Windows XP, or Programs and Features on Windows Vista and Windows 7).

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