FIX: Age of Empires 2 Doesn’t Work in Windows 10

Ivan Jenic
by Ivan Jenic
Troubleshooting Expert
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Windows 10 is used by millions of people worldwide, but just like with many other operating systems, sometimes there are problems with older software.

Speaking of old software, sometimes older games such as Age of Empires 2 won’t work on Windows 10, but luckily, there’s a fix available.
age of empires 2 windows 10
If you can’t run Age of Empires 2 on Windows 10, you might need to update your drivers. Check if your drivers are latest, and if not, update them.

Also make sure that your game and Windows 10 are up to date (check your Windows 10 version here), in order to prevent any unexpected issues.

Some users reported that Age of Empires 2 uses Safedisc for protection, and since Safedisc isn’t supported with Windows 10 you might want to find a digital version of the game. In addition, there are few more solutions.

Old school player with an old-school laptop? Here are the best games for you.

Solution 1 – Run Age of Empires 2 in compatibility mode

Since Age of Empires 2 is a very old game, maybe running it in the compatibility mode could solve the problem. To do that, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click Age of Empires 2 shortcut and choose Properties.
  2. After Property window opens go to Compatibility tab.
  3. Check Run this program in compatibility mode and select the operating system from the list.
  4. Click Apply then OK.

If you’re running Age of Empires 2 on Steam you might try the following solution.

Solution 2 – Disable the Age of Empires 2 launcher

If running the game in the compatibility mode didn’t solve the problem, you can try with disabling the game launcher. Follow these steps to disable Age of Empires 2 launcher:

  1. Open Steam and find Age of Empires 2.
  2. Right-click it, and choose Properties, then go to Set launch options.
  3. Type NoStartUp and click OK.
  4. Now click Local files and then Browse local files to open the game folder.
  5. Delete or rename Launcher.
  6. Create a copy of AoK HD.
  7. Rename the copy of AoK HD to Launcher.
  8. Go back to the Steam properties window and click Close.

For a better gaming experience, we recommend downloading GameFire (free). It will help with various gaming issues, such as low FPS, lags and slow PC.

Just like with any new operating system, compatibility with older software is somewhat limited, but Microsoft has stated that Windows 10 will be compatible with Age of Empires 2. If you have any issues with Age of Empires 2, we hope that these solutions are helpful to you.

If you want to play old-school games on Windows 10, check out this how-to guide.

That would be all, if you have any questions or suggestions, reach for the comment section below. Also, if you have any other Windows 10 gaming-related issues you can check for the solution in our Windows 10 Fix section.

Also, if you’re not running the original version of the game, we suggest you buy now Age of Empires 2 HD or the Gold Edition which comes with additional content.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2015 and has been revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness. We want to be sure that our list has the best products that will fit your needs.

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  • Most of these suggestions aren’t a fix. Telling me to rebuy the game and other services doesn’t fix the issue.
    It cant be that hard to fix a problem from 25 years ago.

  • I’m not sure if it’s a bug; but my monks, camels and bombard cannons disappear unless I click on the idle military button.There may be other units too that disappear. Does anyone else have the same problem and is there a way I can fix it. Also, the middle of my Town Centre sometimes disappears as well and ranged units that fire disappear for like half a second.

  • There is a solution to this problem, all you have to do is replace a file, no updating, no special permissions or compatibility issues, just load the game and replace the file. I have made a post explaining how to fix this but it is awaiting moderator approval most likely because what it contains may not be allowed or simply because everything may have to go through this process. I leave it up to them to decide but hopefully they can edit my post so it can be displayed and help others.

    • I forgot to say that it is the Safedisc protection that prevents this game from working because it is no longer supported by Windows 10. You have to bypass it somehow.

      • Hi Allan,
        any news on this? It’s very frustrating not to be able to play.
        FYI I did download a version which was supposedly modified to block out the dll call to safedisc and it did work for some months, but with recent updates to windows 10 it has stopped working too. I get the error “Initialization Failed” on both the modified versions of Age of Mythology and Age of Titans.

  • Ok, I cannot run my AoE at all. Tried to run in compatibility in Windows XP mode, and nothing happens. Installed without a problem. Tried to start it up, and nothing happens. I see the little circle next to the arrow for a few seconds, and then it disappears. Nothing happens after that. Can someone help?
    I am running windows 10.

  • I’ve just upgraded my Sons computer to Windows 10. I then installed Age of Empires 2 from the disk. Came up with error issues. I then Unstalled it then re-installed it again. I actually re-installed it 3 times (didn’t unstall it again after the 1st time. Then I got the following error: could not initialize graphics system. Make sure that your video card and driver are compatible with directdraw. Now I had another issue. I found a solution to that problem at another site. to simply find your .exe file to launch the game, (mine being empires2.exe) right click it, go to properties, then Compatabality tab and make it run
    on 640×480 screen resolution, then apply and run the .exe. Mine is now working. Haven’t tried The Conquerors Expansion yet…here’s hoping

  • This article is not true. As of Sept 10 2015, there is still no way to play Age of Empires on windows 10 from the disk. None of the fix’s work.

  • my program (disk) was working properly before I upgraded to Windows 10. Now it just has a loading sign and will not open. I have tried opening with all previous versions. no luck, I have also tried uninstalling it all together and reinstalling. with no luck. Age of Kings, and Conquerors are both not working.

    • Same problem. The compatibility settings do not fix anything. Still won’t work on windows 10. It is sad that Microsoft will not allow their own game to be played on windows 10.

    • Vmware player and windows xp installed on it.If you have a pc capable of running windows 10 well you will be able to run a virtual machine with XP specs (one core and 512 mb ram).Always install the vmware tools on it because that gives you hardware acceleration for the gpu,and you can play any old game you want.Ive played Red alert,carmageddon,and aoe without a hitch.

      • Adrian: any specific instructions to accomplish the tasks above would be appreciated… thanks…

        • First of all please check whether or not you have virtualization capabilities on your cpu.If you own an AMD CPU and you run Windows 10 ok there are 90% chances of having AMD-V.On the intel side things are not that easy and you must check with CPU-Z if you have such capabilities (look at the “instructions” tab and see if you have Vt-x at least .if you have vt-d even better).Once you have these simply download Wmware player (free for home use) and configure a virtual machine with simple hardware for xp.Assign only one core to the virtual machine, 512 mb ram and a 40 gb disk.At this point you have a black virtual machine.Insert a windows xp cd (or point the wizard towards a windows xp iso) and Vmware will automatically detect the os and use “easy install”.From there onwards the process is pretty much straightforward.Once XP finishes the install, Vmware will attempt to install Vmware tools which includes a virtual GPU for basic gpu acceleration (you get a directx 9.0 C capable VGPU).This step is critical in order to run games.Once everything is finished,download/mount age of empires on your pc and you can start playing. Note:Windows 10 (pro) has a built in virtualization program called Hyper-V.DO NOT, and I repeat, DO NOT use Hyper-v in conjuncture with Vmware because it causes networking problems.If you have problems along the way post back.