How to Add Games on Raspberry Pi (4 ways on Retropie)

add games on raspberry pi (retropie)

I often write about Retropie on this website, but there are so many questions that you can have when trying Retropie for the first time 🙂
Today, I will show you how to add new games on your Retropie system
You have many ways to do this, and I will show you the most commons here

How to Add Games on Retropie?
Once your game downloaded on your computer, you need to transfer it on Retropie
To do this, several options are available:
– Using a USB Key
– Sending files through SFTP
– Using the network share
– Or simply by installing the web interface

In this tutorial, I will show you the details on how to use each one of this features
So, you can make your choice depending on your installation and the method you prefer

Prerequisites

Before to add games on your Retropie system you need two things: a games and Retropie 🙂

Download ROMs

If you are here, you probably already have found at least one game, but do you know the best way to download ROMs for Retropie?

I already made a guide on that topic that you can read here: Where to Download Retropie Games?
You’ll find here the best websites I like to use, to download games, and a few other tips on that subject

Retropie Installation

And obviously, you need to install Retropie on your Raspberry Pi before starting to read this tutorial
If you need help on that topics, I have a complete step-by-step guide on how to install Retropie

Before going further, make sure to have:

  • Retropie installed
  • Your system up-to-date
  • The Raspberry Pi IP Address
    You can get it in Configuration > Show IP

Once done, you can move to the following section, and learn 4 ways to install new games on Retropie

4 ways to add games on Retropie

As I told you in introduction, here are the 4 main ways to add games on Retropie
You’ll certainly find the perfect one for you in this list

USB Key

The first idea is to use a basic solution, no network, no protocol, we just want to use a USB key and keep everything simple

You first need to prepare a USB key for Retropie, on Windows:

  • You’ll lose any data on this key, make a backup first if needed
    If you already have a FAT32 formatted USB key, you can use it, no need to have a blank one
  • Open your file explorer
  • Right-click on the USB key (probably D: or E:) and select “Format…”
  • A window like this show up:
  • Select FAT32 and give a name to the volume
  • Click on start to confirm the format

Once done, you can now use it to transfer games from your computer to Retropie:

  • Create a “retropie” folder on the USB key
  • Now plug it 10 seconds on your Raspberry Pi
  • And plug it back on your computer
  • Open the USB drive in your file explorer
    You’ll now have new folders under “retropie”
  • You just need to copy your games files into the “roms” folder
  • Pick the folder corresponding to the game you want to install and copy it
    Don’t forget to unzip the files before copying it
    For example, I will install Pac-Man2 on Super Nintendo for this tutorial
  • Do the same for each game
  • Insert the USB key on the Raspberry Pi now
    Retropie will copy all the files in the correct path (on the SD card)
  • You just need to restart Emulstation to apply the changes
    Start menu > Quit > Restart Emulstation

That’s it, your game is now available in the Retropie menu:

SFTP

The second way is the one I prefer for mass upload
SFTP is a protocol similar to FTP running over SSH
So, as soon as you have SSH enabled on your Raspberry Pi, you can use SFTP to transfer files from your computer to the Raspberry Pi (on any system)

The first step is probably to enable SSH on Retropie:

  • Go to the Retropie configuration menu
  • Click on Raspi-Config
    raspi config
  • Scroll down to “Interfacing options”
  • Then select “SSH”
  • “Would you like the SSH server to be enabled?” ⇾ Yes!
  • That’s it, you can exit the configuration

Then you can connect from your computer like this:

  • Preferably use an FTP client like FileZilla
    FileZilla is free an available on any operating system
    You can download it here
  • Once in FileZilla, Open the site manager (first icon)
  • Add a new site for your Raspberry Pi, and configure it like this:
  • The protocol is SFTP
    The host is your Raspberry Pi IP address (you can get it in the Retropie configuration > Show IP)
    The user and password are the one you use on the system (by default it’s pi / raspberry)
  • Click on connect to start your connection
  • Once connected, you can see your computer on the left, and the Raspberry Pi on the right

    On the left, browse to the folder containing your ROMs files
    On the right, go to /home/pi/RetroPie/roms
  • Then for each ROM to upload, go in the corresponding subfolder, and transfer the file from the left to the right
    To transfer the files you can use drag & drop, or right-click > upload
  • Finally, restart Emulstation to apply the changes
    Start menu > Quit > Restart Emulstation

That’s it, you new games are now available in the Retropie menu

Network share

This one is similar to the previous one, but may be better integrated in your operating system
With SFTP, you will probably use an FTP client like FileZilla
But network shares are something you can use directly on any system

Here is how to do this:

  • Open your file explorer
  • Connect to the share
    On Windows, go to \\IP_ADDRESS
    On macOS and Linux, it’s probably something like smb://IP_ADDRESS
  • You can get the Retropie IP address in the Retropie Configuration > Show IP
  • So, in your file explorer you’ll get something like that:
  • You already know these folders if you have tried the previous solutions
  • Open the “roms” folder, and browse to the console folder corresponding to your folder (“snes” for example)
  • Copy and paste your ROM file in this folder

Now, you just need to restart EmulStation to apply changes (Start > Quit > Restart EmulStation)

Web interface

And finally, probably the easiest one to use: the web interface
It works really well when you want to upload a few games
But I don’t really like it when you need to upload 50 games from various consoles
So, you may choose a different way to install new games depending on the situation

The web interface is not enabled by default, you first need to enable it:

  • Open the Retropie configuration page, and click on “Retropie Setup”
  • Start by updating the Retropie Setup script (S)
    The default one on the image doesn’t use the correct GitHub repository for Retropie Manager
  • Back in the Retropie setup menu, go to “Manage Packages”
  • Then “Manage experimental packages”
  • And finally, click on “retropie-manager” (at the end of the list)
  • Click on “Install from source” and wait a few seconds
  • After the installation, go to Configuration / Options and select “Enable Retropie-Manager on boot” and “Start Retropie-Manager now”

That’s it, you can now use it from your computer like this:

  • Open your favorite web browse and go to http://IP_ADDRESS:8000
    You can get the IP address in the Retropie configuration page > Show IP
    For example, for me, it’s http://192.168.1.19:8000
  • You now have access to the Retropie manager main page
    retropie web manager
  • Go to Roms and select your console folder
    And simply drag and drop your game files on this page to install them
  • As for any method, don’t forget to restart EmulStation to complete the games installation (Start menu > Quit > Restart EmulStation)

You can repeat the operating each time you want to install a new game on your system

Video

If you are someone visual, you can check this video to see all the process on YouTube:

You can also subscribe to see all the news videos in your YouTube Feed

Conclusion

That’s it, you know 4 ways to add new games on Retropie
I let you enjoy the games now 🙂

If you need more information about retro-gaming on Retropie, I have a few more tutorials on that topic that you can check here:

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