Fix: Enable DirectPlay in Windows 10 [gamer’s guide]

Matthew Adams
by Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
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  • If you're a fan of older Windows games, you might encounter errors when trying to play on Windows 10. 
  • The most common one is related to the DirectPlay component, and we'll explain why in the article below.
  • Since this topic is related to DirectX, take your time to read more on the topic in our DirectX section.
  • Bookmark our Troubleshooting Hub as well, for quick access to all the guides you might need in case of errors, bugs, or similar.
how to Enable DirectPlay in Windows 10
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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 As DirectPlay is obsolete, it’s no longer required to update Windows games.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.

How can I fix DirectPlay errors in Windows 10?

  1. Installing DirectPlay
  2. Adjust your antivirus software
  3. Run the game in Compatibility Mode
  4. Use the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter

1. Installing DirectPlay

  1. To enable DirectPlay, first press the Win key + R keyboard shortcut to open Run.
  2. Then enter Control Panel in Run, and click the OK button.
  3. Click Programs and Features to open the uninstaller programs and features
  4. Click Turn Windows features on or off.
  5. Double-click Legacy Components to expand it, then select the DirectPlay checkbox.enable directplay
  6. Reboot your desktop or laptop after installing DirectPlay.

Can’t open Control Panel on Windows 10? See this step-by-step guide to find a solution.

2. Adjust your antivirus softwareadjust antivirus to allow directplay

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, antivirus software might be blocking DirectPlay. Try switching your antivirus software off, only temporarily, which you can usually do via antivirus utilities’ system tray icon context menus.

However, keep in mind that antivirus developers have strived in the past years to comply with the requirements of various activity modes users might need. Consequently, a lot of antivirus tools nowadays come with gaming compatibility modes.

It is also the case with BullGuard, who introduced the Game Booster in all its antivirus plans.

The Game Booster feature doesn’t interfere with the gaming options. On the contrary, it allows you to game in complete safety so you don’t have to sacrifice security for performance. It blocks pop-ups and other interruptions to ensure you the smoothest gaming experience, sometimes even speeding games up.

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3. Run the game in Compatibility Mode

  1. First, press the File Explorer button on Windows 10‘s taskbar.
  2. Open the folder that includes the game .exe file.
  3. Right-click the game‘s .exe file and select Properties on the context menu, then select the Compatibility tab.
  4. Click the Run this program in Compatibility mode for checkbox.
  5. Then select an earlier Windows platform from the drop-down menu. Select the Windows OS that was the latest platform when the game launched.
  6. In addition, select the Run this program as an administrator option.

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

No more File Explorer issues for you. Fix them all with the help of this extensive guide!

4. Use the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter

  1. Type compatibility in the search box.
  2. Select Run for Programs made for earlier versions of Windows option to open.
  3. Click Advanced and select the Run as administrator option, then press the Next to run compatibility troubleshooter
  4. Then select a listed game, or select Not Listed, click Next and press the Browse button to select a game to fix.
  5. 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.

If you have any more questions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below and we’ll be sure to take a look.

FAQ: Learn more about playing Windows retro games

  • How do I install old games on Windows 10?

The games can be installed in the classic way; the problem might be when trying to run them. You might get an error that the game or program can’t run on Windows 10, but we’ve got just the right guide to help you.

  • Is DirectPlay safe?

Since DirectPlay is an API inside of the DirectX component, it shouldn’t cause any issues with other components on your PC.

  • Does Windows 10 have XP mode?

Windows 10 does not include a Windows XP mode, but you can still use a virtual machine with XP installed.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in February 2018 and was revamped and updated in July 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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