Steam game not launching [FULL GUIDE]

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Deputy Editor
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  • Steam is the most popular digital distribution platform for PC games with millions of active users.
  • If you can’t run any games, the issue might be related to third-party applications on your PC or because your game library is not correctly set up.
  • Whilst Steam is a reliable game launcher it sometimes has problems, but not to worry, we have an exhaustive list of fixes on our Steam Guides page.
  • If your games are throwing a fit and refuse to work, then you should have a look at our Gaming Section, where we dissect the issues and provide easy solutions.
steam games not launching

Steam is the most popular digital distribution platform for PC games with millions of active users. Unfortunately, some of these users have reported that Steam games are not launching on Windows 10, so is there anything that you can do to fix this problem?

Users report that they are unable to play any game on Steam, and some of them have reported missing executable error. This is a big problem since you won’t be able to access any of the Steam games that you bought, but there are few things that you can do to fix this issue.

How can I fix Steam games not launching?

Many Windows 10 users play Steam games regularly, but sometimes issues with Steam can occur. Speaking of issues, here are some common problems reported by users:

  • Steam games aren’t launching – This is a common problem and it’s usually attributed to your antivirus software. Simply add Steam to the list of exceptions and check if that helps.
  • Steam won’t launch any games – Another relatively common problem with Steam. If you can’t run any games, the issue might be related to third-party applications on your PC. Simply remove the problematic applications and the problem should be resolved.
  • Steam Preparing to launch loop – Sometimes you might get stuck with Preparing to launch message while trying to run Steam games. If this happens, be sure to install the required Visual C++ components.
  • Steam game failed to launch error code 80 – Sometimes errors can appear while trying to run certain games. If that happens, update your graphics card drivers and check if that helps.
  • Steam game failed to start missing executable – This problem can occur if your game files are damaged. To fix the problem, verify the integrity of game cache and try to run the game again.
  • Steam game says running but won’t open – According to users, sometimes the games might not open at all. However, you should be able to fix this problem by using the solutions from this article.

1. Move your installed games to a different location

move steam games install location

  1. Start Steam.
  2. Go to your game library and find the smallest game that you have installed and right-click it.
  3. Go to the Local Files tab and click on Browse local files.
  4. Verify that the games are installed under Steam > steamapps > common > [Title of the game]
  5. If the game folder can’t be opened you need to verify the integrity of the game files. This will re-download the game to the default location
  6. Once you have re-downloaded the games, use the Move Install Folder option to migrate your games to a different location
  7. Repeat the above steps for all the Steam games which are not launching

Optional: If your Steam games are not launching, then you should move them to a different drive. This is a diagnostic step that will confirm if the problem lies with your storage solution.

2. Check your antivirus software

Steam Preparing to launch loop

In some cases, Steam games can’t launch due to your antivirus software. To fix that problem, be sure that the game you’re trying to run and the entire Steam directory are added to the list of exclusions in your antivirus.

In addition, you can try disabling certain antivirus features or disable the antivirus entirely and check if that helps. In some cases, you might have to completely uninstall your antivirus to fix the problem with Steam games.

If removing the antivirus solves the issue, we have to recommend switching to a different antivirus solution. Some antivirus software, such as BullGuard, have a Gaming Mode feature that allows you to run your games without any interference from your antivirus, so be sure to try it.

3. Delete/move GameOverlayRenderer64.dll file

According to users, sometimes certain files can cause issues with Steam games and prevent them from launching. However, you can fix this issue simply by removing a single problematic file. In most cases, the problematic file is GameOverlayRenderer64.dll, and to fix the problem you need to remove it.

Alternatively, you can just move the file to a different location and that will achieve the same results. Keep in mind that this is just a workaround, but it works according to users, so be sure to try it out.

4. Upgrade Rivatuner Statistics Server

If Steam games fail to launch on your Windows 10 PC, the issue might be related to third-party applications. Many users claim that Rivatuner Statistics Server was the problem, but the issue was resolved after updating it.

In case you don’t know, this application is a part of MSI Afterburner software, and by updating the Afterburner software you’ll update Rivatuner Statistics Server as well. This is a long-term solution, so if you’re having this problem, be sure to try it out.

5. Update your graphics card drivers

Steam games aren't launching

According to users, you might be able to fix this problem simply by updating your graphics card drivers. Your drivers are a key component, and if there are any problems with them, the Steam games might not be able to run.

To fix the problem, it’s advised to update your graphics card drivers. To do that, you need to find the model of your graphics card and download the latest drivers for it from the manufacturer’s website.

If this seems too complicated, you can always use third-party tools such as TweakBit Driver Updater to update all drivers on your PC automatically.

6. Check for problematic applications

According to users, sometimes third-party applications can cause this and other errors to appear. If you’re having issues with Steam games, the culprit might be a third-party application.

Users reported that Razer Synapse caused this issue to appear, and to fix the problem, it’s advised to turn the application off before starting the game. However, you can still use the software if you start it after starting your game. Another application that can cause the problem is Logitech Joystick Utility, so you might have to disable it.

In some cases, the only way to fix the problem is to remove the problematic application. There are several ways to do that, and the best one is to use an uninstaller software since it will remove all files and registry entries associated with the problematic application.

If you’re looking for good uninstaller software, we recommend you try IOBit Uninstaller. Once you remove the problematic application with uninstaller software, the issue should be completely resolved.

Can’t open Razer Synapse? We have a solution for this problem.

7. Install the necessary Visual C++ components

If certain Steam games won’t run, the problem might be the missing Visual C++ components. Most games require Visual C++ Redistributables to run, and to fix the problem you need to install the missing Visual C++ components.

This is relatively simple to do, and you can do it by going to the game’s installation directory and looking for _CommonRedistvcredist folder. Once you inside of the vcredist directory you’ll see two setup files. Run them both to install the necessary components.

After the necessary components are installed, the game should start without any issues.

8. Verify the integrity of game filesSteam game failed to start missing executable

  1. Open your game library, and locate the problematic game. Right-click it and choose Properties from the menu.
  2. Navigate to Local files tab and click Verify integrity of game files.
  3. The verification process will now start. Keep in mind that this can take a bit, so be patient and don’t interrupt the process.

After the verification process is finished, try to run the game again.

According to users, if Steam games won’t launch, you might be able to fix the problem by verifying the integrity of game files. Your files can get corrupted and that will cause issues with the game. However, you can fix the problem simply by verifying the integrity of game files.

9. Run the game in Compatibility mode

You can fix the problems with certain Steam games simply by running them in Compatibility mode. In case you’re not familiar, by using Compatibility mode you can fix various issues with older games and run them on your PC. Although this feature is intended for older games, it can also work well with newer games as well.

To run the game in Compatibility mode, you just need to do the following:

  1. Locate the game’s .exe file, right-click it and choose Properties.
    Steam game says running but won't open
  2. Navigate to the Compatibility tab and check Run this program in compatibility mode for. Select the desired version of Windows and click Apply and OK to save changes.
    Steam games aren't launching

After doing that, try to start the game again and check if the problem is resolved.

10. If your Steam games are not starting, start from scratch

steam games change download folder

  1. Start Steam and go to your Library
  2. Right-click on a game > Manage > Uninstall
  3. Repeat for all installed games
  4. Open Control Panel > Programs and Features
  5. Find Steam and uninstall it
  6. Reboot your PC
  7. Download the Steam client from the official website
  8. Install Steam and set up your game library directory by going to Steam > Settings > Downloads > Steam Library Folders
  9. Reinstall your games

As drastic as this measure sounds, if there is something fundamentally wrong with your Steam library, the only way to fix Steam games not starting is to start over. By reinstalling everything, you ensure that you are running the latest version of the Steam client and all your games are installed in the correct folders and have the latest patches applied.

We hope that this solution has been helpful to you, but if you need more information, we have also covered what to do when you’re unable to run Steam games on Windows 10, so make sure that you check it out.

FAQ: Common issues with Games not launching on Steam

  • Why is my Steam game not launching?

Because there might be a problem with the shortcut Steam has in your library, or a file is corrupted. To learn how to fix this, follow the steps listed in the guide.

  • Why do my Steam games keep crashing on startup?

Game crashes can have multiple reasons. Our full guide on how to fix crashes will allow you to find the cause and fix it.

  • When I launch a game on Steam nothing happens?

Check that the game has been installed correctly by verifying the integrity of the game files.  Check out this article for a more in-depth guide.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2018 and has been since revamped and updated in March 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.