Is the Opera GX Browser Just for Gamers?

Is the Opera GX Browser Just for Gamers?

Opera recently purchased YoYo Games, creators of the game development engine Game Maker Studio, to build up its new “Opera Gaming” division. Opera hasn’t announced what it plans to do with Game Maker Studio just yet, but the acquisition offers great opportunity to check in on Opera’s other gaming-focused product: the Opera GX web browser.

Opera GX was released in “early access” in June 2019, so it’s still technically in development. It also looks like a niche gaming app at first glance. But while it’s best suited to PC players in its current form, there are solid reasons to try Opera GX even if you don’t play games.

Screenshot: Brendan Hesse
Screenshot: Brendan Hesse

The most gaming-specific feature is the “GX Corner” tab. Clicking the controller-shaped icon at the top of Opera GX’s sidebar opens a window with recent gaming-related news stories, links to free and discounted PC games, and a calendar of upcoming releases. The page is updated automatically and doesn’t need to be configured, but you can customise the layout and specify your region to make the news feed more relevant.

Opera GX also lets you connect your Twitch account, Discord, and other messaging apps. Each account is added to GX’s sidebar menu so you can keep up with your notifications and messages directly from the browser’s interface, rather than opening each as a separate tab or app.

GX Control panel (Screenshot: Brendan Hesse)
GX Control panel (Screenshot: Brendan Hesse)

A separate “GX Cleanup” feature lets you quickly clear your history and cache — nothing fancy there. However, “GX Control” lets you monitor Opera GX’s general network, CPU, and memory at any time and set limits for how many resources the browser uses. There’s also a list of open tabs that shows how much of your system each is using (and lets you force-close any that are bogging down your PC).

These tools help keep Opera GX’s system usage low so it won’t slow down your PC and interfere with your gaming. That said, even non-gamers will find the built-in messenger app integrations and resource management tools helpful — as long as they can get over the browser’s visual style.

Opera GX’s default theme evokes the cliche “gamer” aesthetic: dark backgrounds, high-saturation neon accents, stylised icons, animated UI elements, and even ambient background sounds and music. Opera GX also has its own set of default wallpapers that mostly look like stylised space photography or which vaguely suggest a “hacker” aesthetic. None of these visual elements are bad, per se, but I’m not interested in my browser looking like the box a gaming headset comes in. Thankfully, you can upload your own wallpapers and change or disable the visuals and sound effects in the browser’s settings.

The other drawback is how the browser tracks user data. Opera GX tracks certain data (just like the normal Opera browser), including your IP address and browsing activity, plus some activity from connected third-party accounts like Twitch. Opera shares this data with advertisers and other third-party partners, but Opera’s tracking doesn’t feel any worse than Google Chrome’s — and users can disable (some) data-sharing from the settings menu.

As long as Opera GX’s data tracking isn’t a deal-breaker and you make sure to adjust with the theme settings so the interface isn’t a garish mess, there’s a lot to recommend about this browser, whether you’re a PC gaming enthusiast or a general users. You can download it here if you want to check it out for yourself.

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