Enable DirectPlay in Windows 10 to get outdated games up and running

By: Matthew Adams
3 minute read

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DirectPlay is an antiquated API library that was a component of earlier DirectX versions. However, Microsoft sidelined DirectPlay in favor of Games for Windows Live. As DirectPlay is obsolete, it’s no longer required for update Windows games.

However, DirectPlay is still more essential to run games that predate 2008 in Windows 10. Consequently, some older games don’t run without DirectPlay. If a game or app needs DirectPlay, a window opens stating, “An app on your PC needs the following Windows feature DirectPlay.” Are you getting that DirectPlay error in Windows 10? If so, this is how you can enable DirectPlay.

Fix DirectPlay errors on Windows 10

  1. Installing DirectPlay
  2. Switch Off Your Anti-Virus Software
  3. Run the Game in Compatibility Mode
  4. Open the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter

1. Installing DirectPlay

  • To enable DirectPlay, first press the Win key + R keyboard shortcut to open Run.
  • Then enter ‘Control Panel’ in Run, and click the OK button.
  • Click Programs and Features to open the uninstaller utility in the snapshot directly below.

  • Click Turn Windows features on or off to open the window shown directly below.

  • Double-click Legacy Components to expand it as below.

  • Then select the DirectPlay check box.
  • Reboot your desktop or laptop after installing DirectPlay.

2. Switch Off Your Anti-Virus Software

However, DirectPlay doesn’t always install. Some users have stated that they get an error code 0x80073701 when attempting to install DirectPlay. Thus, they can’t install DirectPlay as outlined above.

If that’s the case, anti-virus software might be blocking DirectPlay. Try switching your anti-virus software off, which you can usually do via anti-virus utilities’ system tray icon context menus. Alternatively, you can temporarily remove the anti-virus software from the Windows startup as follows.

  • Right-click the taskbar and select to open Task Manager.
  • Select the Start-up tab to open a list of programs included in the Windows startup.

  • Select your anti-virus package, and press its Disable button.
  • Restart Windows and install DirectPlay.

—> READ ALSO: Fix: Stutter in Games Caused by Diagnostics Policy Service

3. Run the Game in Compatibility Mode

The Compatibility mode setting can also come in handy for running older games in Windows. That setting will enable the game to utilize settings from a previous Windows OS.

So aside from activating DirectPlay, it’s also worth selecting the Compatibility mode setting to kick-start games more specifically designed for earlier Windows platforms. This is how you can select that option in Windows 10.

  • First, press the File Explorer button on Windows 10’s taskbar.
  • Open the folder that includes the game exe.
  • Right-click the game’s exe and select Properties on the context menu to open the window shown below.

  • Select the Compatibility tab to open the compatibility settings in snapshot directly below.

  • Click the Run this program in Compatibility mode for check box.
  • Then select an earlier Windows platform from the drop-down menu. Select the Windows OS that was the latest platform when the game launched.

  • In addition, select the Run this program as an administrator option.

4. Open the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter

  • Also note that Windows includes a Program Compatibility Troubleshooter that can resolve game compatibility issues. To open that troubleshooter, press the Cortana button on the taskbar.
  • Enter the keyword ‘compatibility’ in the search box.
  • Select Run programs made for earlier versions of Windows to open the window directly below.

  • Click Advanced and select the Run as administrator option.
  • Press the Next button.
  • Then select a listed game, or select Not Listed, click Next and press the Browse button to select a game to fix.

  • After selecting a game, press the Next button to go through the troubleshooter’s resolutions.

So that’s how you can enable DirectPlay in Windows 10 and select the Compatibility mode setting to kick-start games that predate the more recent Windows platforms.

Note that you might also need to enable DirectPlay for some retro game emulators. Check out this post for further tips for running antiquated games.


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