Fix: Error code 51 (Game Failed to Start) on Steam

Users experience the Error code 51 along with the message ‘Game failed to start’ when they are trying to launch a game installed through the game engine, Steam. This error message is applicable and can be seen happening with all sorts of games such as Dota or Skyrim.

Error code 51 (Game Failed to Start) on Steam

Based on our investigation, users usually experience this issue when they have either updated Steam to the latest build or are running a game for the first time on their computer. This is rather a recurring issue and mostly signifies that there is some external issue for why the game is not launching.

What Causes the Error Code 51 (Game Failed to Start) on Steam?

We looked at this problem by looking at several repair strategies, user reports and the common steps which were used to solve the issue. Based on our research, there are several common scenarios which might trigger this problem:

  • Third-party applications: Third-party applications are known to conflict with the Steam especially Antivirus and other protective software.
  • Corrupt game installation: Games installations can become corrupt or outdated. In this case, since the game doesn’t meet all the parameters by Steam, it won’t be able to launch.
  • Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable: This module is used by Steam to run the game smoothly and is part of the engine of the game. If this is not installed, the game will not launch.
  • Corrupt Steam: If all the above reasons don’t seem to cause the issue, the only logical explanation left is that your Steam is either corrupt or outdated. A complete reset might solve the issue.

Before we move to the solutions, make sure that you are logged in as an administrator on your computer. Furthermore, you should have an open internet connection without any firewalls or proxy servers.

Solution 1: Verify Integrity of Game Files

The first troubleshooting step into fixing the issue is verifying the integrity of your game files. There are instances where the game you are trying to launch either has incomplete installation files or some of the files are corrupt. In this case, the game will fail to launch and cause Error code 51.

When we verify the integrity of game files, Steam downloads a manifest from the game servers and compares all the files’ details. If any file is found missing or different, it is replaced immediately. You need to verify the integrity of the game which is causing the issue. Here are the steps which you need to perform.

  1. Open your Steam application and click on Games from the top bar. Now select A. Noire from the left column, right-click it and select Properties.
  2. Once in Properties, click on Local Files category and select Verify Integrity of Game Files.
    Verifying Integrity of Game Files
  3. Now, wait until the process is complete. Restart your computer after the verification is complete and launch L.A. Noire again. Check if the game starts as expected.

Solution 2: Check Third-party Applications (Including Antivirus)

The next step is checking if there are any problematic applications installed on your computer which might be conflicting with Steam when it tries to launch the game. Special emphasis has to be drawn towards Antivirus software.

Antivirus software might limit some of Steam’s functionalities (false positive) which will result in Steam not being able to complete all the operations it needs before the game is launched. In this solution, you need to troubleshoot yourself and figure out of there are any applications that might be the culprit.

  1. Press Windows + R, type “appwiz.cpl” in the dialogue box and press Enter.
    Opening Programs and Features
  2. Once the application manager is opened, scour through all the applications and look for the ones which you might think are at conflict with Steam.
  3. If you have identified an application, right-click on it and select Uninstall.
    Uninstalling Problematic Software
  4. Restart your computer and check if the error message is resolved.

Note: You can also navigate to Steam’s official support page and check the type of applications that are known to cause issues with the game engine. You can also Turn Your Antivirus Off but do not forget to check the quarantine files. You should also consider disabling third-party FPS or game boosters. These are known to conflict with the game engine.

Solution 3: Install DirectX and Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable Manually

Steam usually installs Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable and DirectX automatically when it installs the game which needs this module. However, there are several cases where this automatic process might be halted and the module may not get installed. In this solution, we will navigate to the game files which is failing to launch and launch the module properly again. Make sure that you are logged in as an administrator in this solution.

  1. Press Windows + E to launch the Windows Explorer and navigate to the following address:
C:\Steam\steamapps\common\dota 2 beta\_CommonRedist\vcredist

Here, the name of the game is Dota 2. You can choose the required folder in your case accordingly.

  1. Now right-click on both the executables and select Run as administrator.
    Installing Visual Studio Redistributable
  2. The installation wizard will proceed with the installation process. After the process is complete, navigate to the following file path:
C:\Steam\steamapps\common\dota 2 beta\_CommonRedist\DirectX
  1. Now right-click on the exe files and select Run as administrator.

    Installing DirectX Components
  2. Restart your computer after both the installations are complete and launch the game. Check if you can start it properly.

Solution 4: Update Graphics Drivers

Graphics Drivers are the main actors or driving force behind the running of your game. They are responsible for displaying the GUI on your computer as well. If the graphics drivers are not updated to the latest build available, they might not get initialized properly or not fulfillment of Steam’s requirement might cause the error message.

In this solution, you have to update both graphics drivers i.e. in-built drivers (Intel HD or UHD) and dedicated drivers.

  1. Press Windows + R, type “devmgmt.msc” in the dialogue box and press Enter.
    Running the Device Manager
  2. Once in the device manager, expand the category of Display adapters, right-click on the graphics hardware and select Update Driver.
    Updating Graphics Drivers
  3. Now you have two options. Either you can make use of Windows update so it might install the latest drivers automatically or you can manually navigate to the manufacturer’s website and choose the second option after downloading the file.
    Installing Drivers – Device Manager
  4. Restart your game properly after updating the drivers and check if the error message is resolved.

Note: You can also navigate to your manufacturer’s website and download the latest drivers from there. Then you just have to download the executable and run it on your computer.

Solution 5: Change The Game Configuration

Steam has its engine configurations stored in your computer. Whenever it launches or runs, these configurations are fetched at real-time and used by the game engine. If these get corrupt or are not properly set, they cab cause the Error Code 51. In that case, flushing configuration and auto-config the game, the problem can be solved.

  1. Exit Steam
  2. Press Windows key and type Run. Then in the results, click on Run.
    Open Run Command
  3. Type following command:

    and press Enter.

  4. Press Allow when asked to “Allow This Website to Open a Program“.
  5. Restart your PC.
  6. Launch Steam and navigate to Steam Library
    Library In Steam
  7. Now right-click on the game you are having issues with and select Properties.
  8. Now in the General Tab, click on “Set Launcher Options“.
  9. Type in: -autoconfig and click “Ok“. Then check if the problem is solved.

Solution 6: Refresh Steam Completely

If all the above methods fail to work, we will attempt at reinstalling Steam completely. There are rare instances where Steam installation files are corrupt beyond repair and need to be reinstalled. This usually happens when you manually transfer the Steam folder to another directory or make some changes to your account.

When we refresh Steam files, we are not deleting your downloaded games. Your Steam user data will also be preserved. Only the bad files or outdated ones will get replaced by the application itself. Have your credentials at hand because you might be asked to input them.

You can refresh your Steam files. You can create a temporary backup in case things go sideways.


Kevin Arrows

Kevin Arrows is a highly experienced and knowledgeable technology specialist with over a decade of industry experience. He holds a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification and has a deep passion for staying up-to-date on the latest tech developments. Kevin has written extensively on a wide range of tech-related topics, showcasing his expertise and knowledge in areas such as software development, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. His contributions to the tech field have been widely recognized and respected by his peers, and he is highly regarded for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner.