Fix: Steam says ‘Game is Running’

One of the possible problems which can occur when you want to run a game through Steam is getting an error message saying “Failed to start the game (app already running). This problem occurs when your previous game failed to shut down properly or when you simply forgot to exit. However, this problem can sometimes be more difficult to fix, especially if you definitely closed the game properly upon finishing.

The message pop-up you might receive

We have plenty of fixes for you we will mention easier and simpler fixes first so you don’t have to change many things on your computer then we will work our way up to other solutions.

Close the Game Properly

First of all, pay attention and check whether the game has finished closing yet. If you just exited a previous gaming session and you want to continue playing, the game might not have closed properly. This problem most commonly occurs if a high-end game has been opened on a low to mid-end computer and it takes a lot of time for the game to close properly.

The first thing you should do is to try opening Windows Task Manager by clicking the combination CTRL + ALT + DEL or CTRL + SHIFT + ESC. When the Task Manager opens, browse the running processes and check whether a process named similar to the game you are playing shows up. If it does, right-click on the process and choose “End Process”. This should fix things immediately and you should be able to either close Steam or run another game.

Ending a process in Task Manager – Windows 10

TIP: Not all game processes are named exactly like the official game name since some Valve games operate under the process called hl2.exe since they have derived from Half-Life 2 and they are using the same Source engine. Some of these games include Team Fortress 2, Portal 2, and Counter-Strike 1.6. If you are not sure how your game process is named. Try opening its directory.

Even though Task Manager is sufficient in most cases, some users have reported that they needed to use additional software that displays more processes that are hidden by Task Manager. The best program to use is Process Explorer which can be found on Microsoft’s website as a free download. Process Explorer should provide you with a higher variety of processes and running apps so make sure you double-check processes with a similar or unknown name.

It’s obvious to see how Process Explorer is somewhat more complex than Task Manager

If you used some of the in-game features to open a third-party app such as a browser to visit one of the links, make sure you close everything before you proceed to close Steam or to open another game. If this doesn’t work for you you can move on to the other methods mentioned below.

Restart your PC

It’s likely that you didn’t restart your client after Steam got updated or if you installed a fresh game. Whenever an installation or download takes place, a lot of configurations occur and it is necessary to restart your PC for them to take place.

Simple reboot your PC and try running the game again. If the problem still persists, we can follow the solutions below.

Re-login into Steam

We can try logging your Steam account out and then log back in. This is a simple solution and if your client is in a bugged state, it will restart it.

Note: If you don’t have access to your account credentials or don’t have access to your mobile (if you have enabled Steam Mobile Authenticator), it is not advised to follow this method. You will be required to log into your account by entering your username and password. You will be also asked to verify your account if you have authentication enabled.

  1. Launch your Steam client using Steam.exe
  2. Log out of Steam by clicking on the option of “Change User” present if you click your account title on the top right corner of the Steam client.

  1. After clicking the option, you will be given a login screen where you have to enter your credentials. After inputting your credentials, check the box which says Remember my password. Click the button Login.

  1. Run the game you were trying to play and check if the error got fixed.

Opt-out from Steam Beta

In the Beta program, you get all the features first hand before the official release, but, you may experience a lot of bugs and even crashes. As we all know, a beta version isn’t the official version and the developers are constantly tweaking and making changes by gathering data through your usage.

Note: If you are using a feature that is only available in the beta version, it may be deactivated as we will be shifting to the stable version. Don’t follow this method if you don’t want to lose access to those functions.

Refresh Steam files

Now there is nothing left except to reinstall Steam and see if that does the trick. When we refresh your Steam files, we will preserve your downloaded games so you won’t have to download them again. Furthermore, your user data will also be preserved. What refreshing Steam files actually do is delete all the configuration files of the Steam client and then force it to install them again. So if there were any bad files/corrupt files, they will get replaced accordingly. Do note that after this method, you would need to log in again using your credentials. Don’t follow this solution if you don’t have that information at hand. The process may take a while so avoid canceling once you start the installing process.

You can read our article on how to refresh your Steam files. Also, update all your Microsoft redistributables using the official Microsoft website (C++ and .NET framework).

Note: You can read our guide if you are having a connection error where your entire Steam client refuses to connect to the internet.


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.