[FIX] DirectDraw Error when Playing Legacy Games on Windows 10?

Some Windows 10 users are encountering the DirectDraw error 16385 (or a different error code) when attempting to play legacy games like Diablo, Diablo II, or Age of Empires on a Windows 10 computer.

DirectDraw Error on Windows 10

After investigating this particular issue thoroughly, it turns out that there are several different scenarios in which this particular issue will occur. Here’s a list of potential causes that might be triggering this error code:

  • The game runs in full-screen mode – Keep in mind that for a lot of legacy games, this particular issue occurs in situations where the game is configured to run in full-screen mode. However, a lot of affected users have confirmed that the issue no longer occurs if they force the game to run in windowed mode.
  • The Game is not compatible with Windows 10 – If the game was not originally developed to run on Windows 10, there is an entire host of compatibility issues that might cause this error code. Fortunately, you can use compatibility mode to get around most issues by forcing the executable to run in compatibility mode with an older Windows OS.
  • Direct Play and .NET Framework 3.5 are Disabled – As it turns out, the vast majority of legacy games that were released when Windows XP was the latest OS from Microsoft will require Direct Play and .NET 3.5 Framework in order to work. But since these technologies are deprecated and disabled by default on Windows 10, the only way to fix this issue is to re-enable them from the Windows Apps & Features screen.
  • Graphical Rendering issue – Graphical rendering issues can also contribute to the apparition of this issue if the legacy game doesn’t know how to use new technologies like Direct3D 11 and Direct3D 12. In this case, you can use a wrapper like dgVoodoo to make the game compatible renderable on Windows 10.

Now that you know every potential culprit that might be responsible for the apparition of this DirectDraw error on Windows 10 when attempting to play legacy games, here’s a list of confirmed methods that other affected users have successfully used to get to the bottom of this issue:

Method 1: Forcing the Game to Run in Window Mode

According to a lot of affected users, you might be able to fix this particular DirectDraw issue by modifying the properties screen of the legacy game executable so that you force it to run in windowed mode.

Weirdly enough, this ends up removing the DirectDraw requirement for a lot of legacy games including Diablo I and Diablo II. You can enforce this workaround by accessing the Shortcuts tab and adding ‘-w‘ at the end of the target.

If you haven’t tried this particular fix yet, follow the instructions below to configure the legacy game’s properties so that it’s forced to run in windowed mode:

  1. Navigate to the location where you installed the legacy game (or right-click on the game’s shortcut) and click on Properties from the context menu that just appeared.
    Accessing the Properties screen
  2. Once you’re inside the Properties screen, click on the Shortcut tab, then add ‘-w‘ at the end of the Target text box and hit Apply in order to force the game to run in windowed mode.
    Forcing the game to run in windowed mode
  3. After the changes have been saved, double-click on the game normally and see if you are now able to play the game in windowed mode without seeing the same kind of error.

In case you still end up seeing the DirectDraw error even after you have successfully modified the properties screen of the main executable of the legacy game, move down to the next potential fix below.

Method 2: Running the Game in Compatibility Mode

If the first method didn’t work in your case, the next thing you should try is to force the main executable to run in compatibility mode with an OS version that the legacy game was originally developed to work on. This particular fix was confirmed to be effective by a lot of Windows 10 users that were previously unable to run Age of Empire.

You can force the executable to run in compatibility mode either by running the Compatibility Troubleshooter and applying the recommended fix. However, after testing this Windows 10 functionality, our recommendation is to enforce this modification manually from the Properties screen to ensure that you’re selecting the correct legacy OS.

If you haven’t tried this fix yet, follow the instructions below to force the legacy game to run in compatibility mode:

  1. Right-click on the main executable of the legacy game (or the game’s shortcut that you use to launch the game) and choose Properties from the context menu that just appeared.
    Accessing the Properties screen

    Note: If you want to try the Compatibility troubleshooter first, click on Troubleshoot Compatibility from this same menu.

  2. Inside the Properties screen of the legacy game shortcut / executable, click on the Compatibility tab from the menu at the top.
  3. Once you’re inside the compatibility tab, check the box associated with Run this program in compatibility mode for, then select Windows XP (Service Pack 3) from the list of available options.
    Running the program in compatibility mode with Windows XP
  4. Click on Apply to save the changes, then launch the game and see if the problem is now fixed.

In case you’re still encountering the same kind of DirectDraw error 16385 even after forcing the legacy game to run in compatibility mode, move down to the next potential fix below.

Method 3: Enabling Direct Play and .NET 3.5

Another fairly common reason that might be causing this error is an instance in which the legacy game you’re trying to render on your Windows 10 computer requires Direct Play and .NET Framework 3.5 to be enabled – These technologies are deprecated by now and are disabled by default on Windows 10.

If the original developer of the game has not updated the game to utilize the newer equivalents of Direct Play and .NET Framework 3.5, the only way to fix the DirectDraw error 16385 is to re-enable these 2 legacy components from the Windows Features menu on Windows 10.

This method was confirmed to be effective by a lot of users that were previously dealing with this issue on Windows 10. Here’s what you need to do to enable Direct Play and .NET Framework 3.5:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Next, type ‘appwiz.cpl’ inside the text box and press Enter to open up the Programs and Features menu. When you’re prompted by the UAC (User Account Control), click Yes to grant admin access.
    Accessing the Programs and Features screen
  2. Once you’re inside the Programs and Features screen, click on Turn Windows features on or off from the left-hand side vertical menu.
    Turning Windows Features On or Off

    Note: When you’re prompted by the UAC (User Account Control), click Yes to grant admin access.

  3. Once you’re inside the Windows Features menu, start by checking the box associated with .NET Framework 3.5 (includes .NET 2.0 and 3.0) and click Yes at the confirmation prompt.
    Enabling the .NET Framework 3.5
  4. Next, check the box associate with Legacy Components, then expand the menu and enable Direct Play as well before clicking on Ok to save the changes.
    Accessing the Legacy Components
  5. Confirm the operation, then reboot your computer and launch the legacy game once again to see if you have successfully managed to fix the DirectDraw error 16385.

If this issue is still not resolved, move down to the next potential fix below.

Method 4: Using the dgVoodo Wrapper

If none of the methods above have worked in your case, you should consider using a wrapper (like dgVoodoo) that’s capable of converting old graphics APIs to Direct3D 11 or Direct3D 12 so that you can render the game on newer operating systems like Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.

Using a wrapper like dgVoodoo will end up fixing the majority of compatibility and rendering issues that might be behind the apparition of the DirectDraw error that you’re seeing when you attempt to play a legacy game. On top of this, you can also use wrappers to enable various overrides, enhancement and use it them together with other 3rd party tools to enhance or improve the gaming experience.

If none of the other methods featured above have allowed you to fix this particular issue, follow the instructions below to download & use the dgVoodoo 2 to bypass the DirectDraw error and play the legacy game on your Windows 10 computer:

  1. Visit the official download page of dgVoodoo2 and click on the hyperlink associated with the stable version of dgVoodoo.

    Downloading the latest version of dgVoodoo
  2.  Once the download is complete, use a utility like WinRar, WinZip, or 7Zip to extract the contents of the dgVoodoo folder in a convenient folder.
  3. Once the utility is extracted, double-click on the main executable and follow the official documentation to configure it for the legacy game you are attempting to render on Windows 10.
Kevin Arrows
Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

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[FIX] DirectDraw Error when Playing Legacy Games on Windows 10?

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