FIX: Steam error joining multiplayer session (5 solutions)

Elena Constantinescu
by Elena Constantinescu
VPN Expert & Privacy Advocate
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  • If Steam is showing you an error message when attempting to join multiplayer gaming sessions with your friends, use this simple troubleshooting guide to solve the problem easily.
  • You can repair .NET Framework, remove the Steam and game cache, and use a premium VPN service with port forwarding and split tunneling support. Discover more solutions.
  • Return to our Steam area for more awesome guides about this gaming platform.
  • Join our VPN Hub to find out how a VPN can make your digital life better.
fix Steam error joining multiplayer session
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Steam users report the Error joining multiplayer session message when trying to play certain games, such as Sid Meier’s Civilization V (Civ 5), Sid Meier’s Civilization VI (Civ 6), and Grand Theft Auto V (GTA 5).

Here’s an example:

Error joining multiplayer session?!?

How do I fix this?!?! Thanks!

posted by pineapple bun on Steam Community forum

If you’re one of these unfortunate gamers, here’s what you need to do to get rid of this error message.

How can I fix the multiplayer session error in Steam?

Repair .NET Framework

use Microsoft .NET Framework Repair Tool
  1. Download the Microsoft .NET Framework repair tool
  2. Select the NetFXRepairTool.exe and download it
  3. Open the downloaded file and follow the instructions on the screen (you need admin rights)
  4. Once this is done, restart your computer
  5. Launch Steam, your game, and try to join a multiplayer session

Some Steam games require .NET Framework to work properly. If you don’t have this software package installed, it could be the reason why you can’t join online sessions with other gamers on Steam.

However, the Microsoft .NET Framework repair tool should solve any problems related to this dependency, including missing libraries, failure to launch, or an outdated version.

Remove the Steam and game cache

  1. Using your file explorer, visit the following address:
    • C:\Users\YOURUSER\AppData\Local
  2. Replace YOURUSER with your PC username
  3. Select and delete the Steam folder
  4. Also, select and delete your game folder in this location

Clearing Steam and game cache is a good way to fix multiplayer issues. If you know the other players, get in touch with them and ask them to do the same on their devices.

Disable your free VPN service

don't use free VPN

If you’re using a free VPN while playing on Steam, it could be the reason why you’re experiencing an error when trying to join multiplayer sessions: your IP address changed.

But you can resolve this problem by turning off your free VPN before firing up Steam.

Use a premium VPN solution

PIA

If you want to use a VPN to not only avoid Steam multiplayer issues but also improve your ping by connecting to VPN servers closer to the host, consider investing in a premium VPN service.

And we can’t think of a better option than Private Internet Access. It has VPN servers optimized for gaming.

You can even host game servers via VPN without having to configure router settings. That’s because PIA is one of the few VPNs with native support for port forwarding.

Alternatively, you can set up split tunneling mode, exclude Steam from the secure tunnel, and continue using the VPN in your other applications, such as web browser or torrenting client.

More about PIA:

  • WireGuard and OpenVPN
  • Private DNS servers
  • Dedicated IP addresses
  • 10 simultaneous connections
  • A zero-logging privacy policy
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee (no free trial)
  • Pay with a credit card, PayPal, or crypto
Private Internet Access

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Deny folder permission

manage security folder permissions in Windows 10
  1. Go to Documents > My Games folder
  2. Select any folders that resemble: packageddumps, moduserdat, logs, dumpgs
  3. Right-click each folder and select Properties
  4. Go to the Security tab and select your group of usernames
  5. Click the Edit button
  6. Select the first group or username and check the Deny box
  7. Repeat the previous step for other user groups
  8. Save changes
  9. Restart your Steam games

The instructions above prevent Steam from creating game cache files in those folders, in order to fix the error when you’re trying to join multiplayer sessions.

Conclusion

To recap, if you’re encountering a Steam error message when trying to join your online friends in a multiplayer session, make sure to repair .NET Framework, remove the Steam and game cache, as well as manage permissions for cache folders.

You should also disable any free VPN you’re using. Instead, we recommend opting for a premium VPN service like Private Internet Access (buy here).

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in May 2019 and was revamped and updated in December 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.