Games

Fix: Steam Must be Running to Play this Game

Several Windows users are encountering the “Steam must be running to play this game” error when trying to open one or more game executables. The issue is reported to occur in all the recent Windows versions including Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.

Fatal Error: Steam must be running to play this game

What is causing the ‘steam must be running to play this game’ error?

We investigated this particular issue by looking at various user reports. From what we gathered, there are several common scenarios that will trigger this particular error message:

  • Steam is missing from the computer – You might be encountering this error message if you recently installed a game from its installation media. Some games require the Steam client to authenticate or to use multiplayer services.
  • Corrupted Steam installation – The issue might also occur due to some corrupted files inside the Steam installation folder. In this case, reinstalling the client will most likely resolve the issue.
  • Steam is not updated to the latest version – There’s a slight chance that you might be seeing the error message because your Steam client is outdated.
  • Game’s installation folder contains foreign files – If you modified the Steam installation folder of the game, the issue might occur because Steam is preventing some files from running.
  • Game’s installation directory is missing some files – It’s possible that a sudden interruption has tricked Steam into believing that the game was updated correctly. Verifying the game’s file integrity will resolve the issue in this case.

If you’re struggling to resolve this particular error message, this article will help. Below you have a collection of verified troubleshooting method that other users in a similar situation have used to resolve the “Steam must be running to play this game” error.

We encourage you to follow the methods below in the order that they are presented. You should eventually find a solution that is effective in solving the problem in your particular scenario.

Method 1: Installing the Steam client (if applicable)

Before you try anything else, it’s important to make sure that you have the Steam client installed on your computer. The vast majority of PC games nowadays will require you to have Steam installed on your PC even if you install them from a disk.

This occurs because most games are using several services used for authentication procedures and multiplayer components.

Note: If you already have Steam installed on your computer, move down to the next method below.

With this in mind, it’s important to check if you have Steam installed on your computer. If you don’t, follow the steps below to install Steam on your PC:

  1. Visit this link (here) and click on Install Steam Now to download Steam’s installation executable.
    Downloading the installation executable of Steam
  2. Once the executable is downloaded, open it and follow the on-screen prompts to install the Steam client on your computer.
    Installing the Steam client
  3. Once the installation is complete, restart your computer.
  4. At the next startup, open the same game that was previously showing the “Steam must be running to play this game” error and see if the issue has been resolved.

If you’re still seeing the same error message, move down to the next method below.

Method 2: Updating the Steam client to the latest version

If Steam is installed on your computer, you might be encountering the error because the game you’re trying to launch requires a Steam version newer than the one you currently have installed.

Several users struggling to resolve the same error message have reported that for them, the issue was resolved as soon as they updated Steam to the latest version available. Here’s a quick guide on how to do this:

  1. Open Steam and make sure you are logged in.
  2. Go to the ribbon bar and click on Steam > Check for Steam Clients updates.
    Checking for Steam Client’s updates
  3. If a new version is found, follow the on-screen instructions to install the newer version on your computer.
  4. Once the installation is complete, restart your computer and see if the issue has been resolved at the next startup.

If you’re still seeing the “Steam must be running to play this game” error, move down to the next method below.

Method 3: Deleting foreign files (if applicable)

If you downloaded a game through Steam, then proceeded to modify the installation folder with custom content (mods, cheats, scripts, etc.), the error is likely occurring because the Steam client is blocking those foreign files from being used – which effectively brings the startup procedure of the game to a halt.

This issue is quite common with multiplayer games that have a modding community such as PayDay 2, Fallout 4 and a few more.

If you’re encountering this particular issue with a game with an altered installation folder, you will be able to resolve the “Steam must be running to play this game” error by removing the foreign files – most commonly, those foreign files being blocked are .dll and .lua (Steam seems to have a problem with them). You can remove the troublesome files by navigating to the game’s installation folder and deleting the files manually or by doing a clean game reinstall.

If this method wasn’t applicable or didn’t resolve the “Steam must be running to play this game” error, move down to the next method below.

Method 4: Verifying the game’s files integrity

Several users have reported that the “Steam must be running to play this game” error was resolved after they verified the game’s integrity through the Steam client. This scenario is known to occur when a game is incorrectly updated through steam.

This particular error will get thrown if the Steam client discovers that the game’s folder is missing some files. To remedy this issue, you’ll need to verify the integrity of the games file. If the scan reveals any inconsistencies, Steam will download the missing components.

Here’s a quick guide on verifying the game files integrity on Steam:

  1. Open the Steam client and go to the Library tab.
  2. From your list of games (left section of the screen), right-click on the game that is triggering the issue and choose Properties.
    Accessing the Properties screen of the affected game
  3. Inside the Properties screen of the game, go to the Local Files tab and click on Verify Integrity of Game Files.
    Verify the integrity of the game files
  4. Wait until the process is complete, then restart the Steam client.
  5. Open the game and see if the issue has been resolved.

If you’re still seeing the “Steam must be running to play this game” error, move down to the next method below.

Method 5: Logging out & launching the game from admin Steam

Several users struggling to resolve the “Steam must be running to play this game” error have managed to get the issue resolved after logging out of Steam, closing the client, reopening the client and launching the game from Steam.

This procedure was reported to be successful for a lot of users encountering the issue with Call of Duty World War 2.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Inside Steam, go to the top-right corner of the screen and click on your account to make the drop-down menu visible. Then, from the drop-down menu, click on Log out of account.
    Logging out of Steam
  2. Confirm the logout procedure by clicking the Logout button from the newly appeared Logout window.
    Logging out of the Steam client
  3. Close steam completely – make sure that the tray-bar icon of Steam is also closed.
  4. Launch Steam with administrative privileges by right-clicking on the shortcut and choosing Run as administrator. Then, log-in with your user account again.
  5. Once you’re logged in, try launching the game from the Steam interface instead of double-clicking the dedicated executable. To do this, select the game from the Library screen and hit the Play button.
    Starting the game from Steam

    If you’re still seeing the “Steam must be running to play this game” error message, move down to the next method below.

Method 6: Reinstalling Steam & game

As it turns out, the issue can also occur if your Steam installation is corrupt. If a number of Steam files are corrupted, the client will be unable to open the services required by the game.

Several users struggling with the “Steam must be running to play this game” error have reported that the issue was resolved and the game was running normally after they reinstalled Steam along with the game that was throwing the error.

Here’s a quick guide on how to do this:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Then, type “appwiz.cpl” and press Enter to open up the Programs and Features window.
    Run dialog: appwiz.cpl
  2. Inside the Programs and Features window, scroll down through the application list to locate the Steam client. Once you see it, right-click on it and choose Uninstall.
    Uninstalling the Steam client
  3. Inside the Steam Uninstall window, simply click the Uninstall button to remove the client from your computer.
  4. Then, repeat the procedure above with the game that is triggering the error.
  5. Once the uninstallation of the game is complete, restart your computer.
  6. After the next startup is complete, scroll up to the first method and follow the instructions there to re-install the Steam client.
  7. Then, reinstall the game that is triggering the error and see if the conflict is resolved.

If reinstalling the Steam client has still not resolved the  “Steam must be running to play this game” error, move down to the next method below.

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Expert Tip

Fix: Steam Must be Running to Play this Game

If the issue is with your Computer or a Laptop you should try using Reimage Plus which can scan the repositories and replace corrupt and missing files. This works in most cases, where the issue is originated due to a system corruption. You can download Reimage by clicking the Download button below.

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