Age of Empires 3 doesn’t work in Windows 10 [STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE]

Ivan Jenic
by Ivan Jenic
Troubleshooting Expert
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Age of Empires 3 Doesn't Work

Age of Empires III is a popular real time strategy game released in 2005, so it’s not unusual to see that game that is ten years old has issues with Windows 10.

If you’re a Windows 10 user and you’re having issues with Age of Empires III you might want to have a look at our solutions.

How can I deal with Age of Empires 3 problems in Windows 10:

  1. Run Age of Empires III in compatibility mode
  2. Install the latest version of DirectX
  3. Update Windows
  4. Remove temporary files and folders
  5. Clean boot your computer
  6. Update your game client

If you can’t launch Age of Empires III on Windows 10, you might have some compatibility issues and you can easily fix them by trying one of our solutions.

Solution 1 – Run Age of Empires III in compatibility mode

This is pretty straightforward solution, just run the game in Windows Vista compatibility mode. To do so, follow these instructions:

  1. Go to Age of Empires III installation directory. By default it should be C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Age Of Empires 3\bin. We have to mention that installation directory might be different on your computer.
  2. In the installation directory locate the age3y.exe and right click it.
  3. Choose Properties from the menu and when Properties window opens go to Compatibility tab.
  4. Check Run this program for compatibility mode for and choose Windows Vista SP2 from the menu.
  5. Check Run as Administrator as well.
  6. Click Apply and OK to save the changes.

Nothing happens when you click on Run as administrator? Don’t worry, we’ve got the right fix for this issue.

Solution 2 – Install the latest version of DirectX

Windows 10 users have reported getting “The program can’t start because d3dx9_25.dll is missing from your computer” error message when trying to run Age of Empires III.

Try reinstalling the program to fix this problem. This error is caused if DirectX file is corrupted or not copied properly, so in order to fix it you need to download and install the latest version of DirectX.

In addition, you can also insert the game disc and go to DirectX9 folder and copy the d3dx9_25.dll file from there to your game directory. Also, check out possible fixes for Age of Empires 2, in case you’re having issues with it on Windows 10, as well.

In order to boost your game performance and get rid of slowdowns, lags, low FPS and other annoying issues, we recommend downloading GameFire (free).

Solution 3 – Update Windows

Make sure that you’re running the latest Windows OS updates on your machine. Microsoft constantly rolls out Windows updates in order to improve the system’s stability and fix various issues, including game bugs or game compatibility problems.

Keep in mind that running outdated Windows versions may cause various technical issues preventing you from enjoying a smooth gaming experience.

To access the Windows Update section, you can simply type “update” in the search box. Then go to Windows Update, check for updates and install the available updates.

Your Windows Search box is missing? Get it back right now with the help of this handy guide.

Having trouble updating your Windows? Check out this guide that will help you solve them in no time.

Solution 4 – Remove temporary files and folders

Disk Cleanup is the simplest and quickest manner to delete temporary files and folders. When you use your computer or browse the Internet, your machine accumulates various unnecessary files, the so-called junk files.

They may affect your computer’s speed, trigger various error codes, prevent apps, programs and games from running, etc. It’s important to regularly clean your temporary files on the disk where you installed the OS.

1. Go to Start > type Disk Cleanup > launch the tool

2. Select the disk that you want to clean > the tool will them tell you how much space you can free up

3. Select “Clean up system files”.

Problems deleting all your junk files? Follow this guide to solve Disk Cleanup issues and save your drive.

Solution 5 – Clean boot your computer

By clean booting your computer, you use a minimal set of drivers and startup programs. This eliminate software conflicts that may occur when you launch Age of Empires 3. Here’s how to clean boot your Windows 10 computer:

  1. Type System Configuration in the search box > hit Enter
  2. On the Services tab >  select the Hide all Microsoft services check box > click Disable all.clean boot pc age of empires 3
  3. On the Startup tab > click on Open Task Manager.
  4. On the Startup tab in Task Manager > select all items > click Disable.
  5. Close the Task Manager.
  6. On the Startup tab of the System Configuration dialog box >click OK > restart your computer.
  7. Launch the game again and check if the problem persists.

If you want to know how to add or remove startup apps on Windows 10, check out this simple guide.

Can’t open Task Manager? Don’t worry, we’ve got the right solution for you.

Solution 6 – Update your game client

If you use a third-party game client on your Windows 10 computer, update it as well. Running outdated game client versions may trigger a variety of issues that will limit your gaming experience.

So, make sure to cross this possible cause off your list by installing the latest game client updates.

Well, we hope that these quick solutions helped you fix the problem and you can now enjoy smooth Age of Empires 3 gaming sessions.

Editor’s note – in case you’re not running the original version of the game (don’t worry, we don’t blame you), you should know that there’s a great deal currently going on at Amazon to get Age of Empires 3 at a seriously discounted price. You can also check out the Microsoft Store for the Complete Collection edition, as well.

If you have any other questions, post them in the comments section below and we’ll continue the talk there.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in December 2015 and has been since completely revamped and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.