Steam Game Won’t Launch: 10 Tips to Open Them Again

Missing executables and directory files can cause Steam errors.

by Milan Stanojevic
Milan Stanojevic
Milan Stanojevic
Windows & Software Expert
Milan has been enthusiastic about technology ever since his childhood days, and this led him to take interest in all PC-related technologies. He's a PC enthusiast and he... read more
Reviewed by Vlad Turiceanu
Vlad Turiceanu
Vlad Turiceanu
Passionate about technology, Windows, and everything that has a power button, he spent most of his time developing new skills and learning more about the tech world. Coming... read more
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  • If a Steam game won't launch after clicking play, you might be missing important executables.
  • This can happen to any gamer, so make sure your library is correctly set up.
  • It's also possible to come across a Steam game that is running but not opening. 
  • Corruption works in mysterious ways, so don't forget to check the integrity of your game folders.

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Steam is the most popular digital distribution platform for PC games with millions of active users.

Unfortunately, many reported that their Steam game won’t launch every time as it should. So, is there anything that you can do to fix this?

This is a big problem since you won’t be able to access any of the Steam games that you bought, but there are a few things that you can do if you notice that a Steam game won’t launch.

But first, let’s see what you’re up against.

Why is my Steam game not launching?

Many Windows 10 users play Steam games regularly, but sometimes issues with Steam can occur.

Some users report that they are unable to play any game on Steam, while others struggle with a missing executable error. Speaking of issues, here are some of the most common problems:

  • Steam Preparing to launch loop – Sometimes you might get stuck with the Preparing to launch message while trying to run Steam games. 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.
  • Also, 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 the game cache and try to run the game again.
  • Steam game says running but won’t open – Sometimes, the games might not open at all, other times, Steam games won’t stop running.
  • Steam game won’t launch after clicking play – 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 game won’t launch after update
  • Also, Steam game won’t launch fullscreen
  • Steam game won’t launch correctly / Steam won’t launch any games – If you can’t run any games, the issue might be related to third-party applications on your PC. Simply remove them.

What can I do if the Steam games are not launching?

In this article

1. Move your installed games to a different 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.
  5. Select steamapps, choose common, and click on [Title of the game].
  6. 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.
  7. Once you have re-downloaded the games, use the Move Install Folder option to migrate your games to a different location.
  8. Repeat the above steps for all the Steam games which are not launching.
Note icon
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. Update your graphics card drivers

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, we’ll help you to update graphics card drivers for Windows 11.

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 you are not running Windows 11 yet, check out how to update your graphic card drivers in Windows 10.

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

To make sure that everything goes smoothly and avoid any kind of GPU driver errors, be sure to use a complete driver update assistant that will solve your problems with just a couple of clicks, and we strongly recommend DriverFix. Follow these easy steps to safely update your drivers:

  1. Download and install DriverFix.
  2. Launch the software.
  3. Wait for DriverFix to detect all your faulty drivers.
  4. The application will now show you all the drivers that have issues, and you just need to select the ones you’d liked fixed.
  5. Wait for the app to download and install the newest drivers.
  6. Restart your PC for the changes to take effect.


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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. Check your antivirus software

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 disabling 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 like ESET Internet Security has a gaming mode feature that allows you to run your games without any interference from your antivirus, so be sure to try it.

5. 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.

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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.

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.

Once you remove the problematic application with reliable uninstaller software, the issue should be completely resolved.

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 are inside 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 files

  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

  1. Locate the game’s .exe file, right-click it and choose Properties.
  2. Navigate to the Compatibility tab, and check Run this program in compatibility mode for.
  3. Select the desired version of Windows, and click Apply and OK to save changes.

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. 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

  1. Start Steam and go to your Library.
  2. Right-click on a game, select Manage, and choose Uninstall.
  3. Repeat for all installed games.
  4. Open Control Panel, and go to 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.
  9. Select Settings, go to Downloads, and choose Steam Library Folders.
  10. 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 that 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 11, so make sure that you check it out.

Also, for more suggestions or other questions, feel free to access the comments section below.

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