Steam is the biggest online gaming store from which many players download and install games. Players utilize the Steam gaming client to launch games they’ve installed with that software. However, it’s not uncommon for players to report games not launching on Steam. Players typically report startup issues for specific Steam titles but sometimes can’t launch any games with that gaming client. For example, one player’s Steam forum post says:
I have Steam installed on a brand-new computer. No Steam games will launch. Games outside of Steam start fine.
In many cases, Steam games don’t start after the “Preparing to launch” message appears without showing error messages. There can be many causes for Steam games not launching. These are some ways you can fix common causes for PC games not launching on Steam.
Verify Game Files
Game file corruption is one of the more common reasons for games not launching on Steam. That’s why Steam includes a troubleshooting tool for verifying (repairing) corrupted or missing game files. First, try verifying an affected game’s files with that troubleshooting tool as covered on this Steam help page.
Clear Steam’s Download Cache
Many players confirm clearing Steam’s download cache can fix games not starting. Doing this can clear corrupted data in that cache. You’ll also need to log back into Steam after clearing its cache. The Steam website includes this support page that tells you how users can clear the download cache.
Set Steam to Run as an Administrator
Sometimes games launched with Steam don’t start because the client software doesn’t have administrator rights. This restricts the folders and files the Steam gaming client can access. So, try setting your Steam software to run as an administrator.
- Click your Steam desktop shortcut with the right mouse button and select Properties.
- Select Compatibility inside the Steam Properties window.
- Next, select Run this program as an administrator to enable that setting.
- Click Apply to set Steam to run as an administrator.
- Select the Steam Properties window’s OK option.
Run the Game That Doesn’t Start in Compatibility Mode
Running games in compatibility mode can sometimes fix games not launching on Steam. That’s especially the case for old games installed with Steam. The oldest games on Steam date back to 1998 (Half-Life) and were designed to run on older Windows platforms like XP. You can set Windows to mimic a compatible platform an older game was designed for by enabling compatibility mode like this.
- Open Steam and the Library tab to view your games.
- Next, right-click on the Steam game that doesn’t start and select Manage > Browse local files.
- Now right-click the EXE file that starts the game in its installation directory to select Properties.
- Go to the Compatibility tab.
- Click on the Run this program in compatibility mode box to activate that setting’s drop-down menu.
- Select the Windows OS that was the latest platform when your game was released. For example, Vista would have been the latest Windows platform for a game released in 2007.
- I also recommend that players select Run as this program as administrator option on the Compatibility tab. Or select that setting on its own to see if it makes any difference.
- Finally, click Apply and then OK to save the settings you’ve selected.
Repair Visual C++ Files
Many Steam games need Visual C++ runtime libraries. Corrupted or missing Visual C++ runtimes can cause game startup issues to arise. Players have confirmed they’ve fixed games not launching on Steam by repairing Visual C++ Redistributable packages as follows.
- Activate Run (use the Windows logo + R keyboard shortcut) and input appwiz.cpl inside its Open box.
- Press OK in Run to view a Programs and Features Control Panel applet.
- Right-click the Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable package and select Change.
- Select Repair to fix the Visual C++ package.
- Repeat the previous two steps to repair all Microsoft Visual C++ listed in Programs and Features.
Repair .NET Framework
.NET Framework issues can also cause Steam games to crash. Microsoft has a special tool with which users can repair .NET Framework setup issues. Utilizing that tool could feasibly fix games not launching on Steam for some players. This is how you can repair .NET Framework with Microsoft’s repair tool.
- Go to this Microsoft .NET Framework webpage in your web browser.
- Click the Download option for the Microsoft .NET Framework Tool.
- Press your keyboard’s Windows logo and E keys simultaneously to activate Explorer and navigate to the download folder containing the .NET Framework repair tool file.
- Double-click on the NetFxRepairTool.exe file.
- Click the I have read and accept license box and Next.
Reinstall Steam Games
Reinstalling Steam games isn’t the most preferable resolution because it can take a long time to download them. Users also worry about losing saved game progress, but you can back up game saves. However, reinstalling games not launching on Steam will refresh their files, which can potentially fix many startup issues. You can reinstall games installed with Steam like this.
- Run your Steam software and select Library.
- Right-click on the game that doesn’t start and select Manage > Uninstall.
- To reinstall a Steam game, select it within the sidebar on the Library tab and click Install.
If you need to fix many games not launching on Steam, you might need to reinstall the game client software to repair it. However, this will remove installed games unless you move them from the steamapps folder. You can uninstall Steam vai Settings as outlined on Steam’s support page for removing the gaming client.
To reinstall the gaming client, click the Install Steam button on this download page; open whatever folder contains the SteamSetup.exe file. Double-click on the SteamSetup.exe file to open the installation wizard for Steam and select to install the software from there.
Other Possible Ways to Fix Windows PC Games Not Launching on Steam
The troubleshooting methods aren’t guaranteed to always fix games not launching on Steam. These are some additional ways to fix Steam games when they don’t start:
- Install the newest driver for your PC’s graphics adapter (video card).
- Disable fullscreen optimization for a game that doesn’t start via the Compatibility tab.
- Turn off antivirus utilities and firewalls before starting a game. If that works, add the game to the allowed (exception) lists for the antivirus shield and firewall.
- Set a high-performance graphics preference for a game that doesn’t start via Settings.
Applying the troubleshooting methods in this guide can fix many games not launching on Steam. They’re widely confirmed solutions that will usually fix Steam games that aren’t starting. I can only advise you to contact Steam’s help service if your games still don’t start after applying all potential resolutions above.