Fix: Steam Stuck on Preparing to Launch

Games may fail to launch due to a number of different reasons. It is very incorrect to say that there is only one specific problem which causes Steam to get stuck because each PC has its own unique hardware and software configuration. When you get stuck with this problem, it means that the games are crashing immediately after they are launched. This is different from the Steam Disk Write error though.

We developed a general guide to help you figure out your problem and fix it. There are many solutions listed. Please troubleshoot starting from the first solution and work your way down.

Solution 1: Updating your Windows

Sometimes certain games require the latest version of framework to be installed and running on your PC. If it isn’t, the game’s requirement isn’t fulfilled and it crashes indefinitely.

  1. Click Start and type in the dialogue box “Settings”. Click the application that returns in the search results. Click on the “Update and security” button.

  1. Here you will find “Check for updates” in the “Windows Update” tab. Now windows will check for any available updates and perform them after downloading.

Solution 2: Updating your drivers

Always make sure that your drivers are up-to date. These include audio, video, graphic drivers etc. Also, update other drivers such as DirectX.

  1. Press the ⊞ Win(windows) + R key to bring up the run window (make sure to run it as administrator).
  2. In the dialogue box type “dxdiag”. This will open up DirectX diagnostic tool. It will list all the available hardware that is installed on your PC along with the versions of the software.

  1. Use your official hardware name to search for the latest drivers available and download them through the internet.

Solution 3: Verify integrity of games

If your game still continues to get stuck, there is a possibility that your extracted game files are corrupt. Follow the following steps to verify integrity of the game files.

  1. Restart your computer and relaunch Steam.
  2. Head over to the library section and right click on the game which is giving you problems.
  3. Click on its properties and select the local files
  4. Click the “Verify Integrity of Game Cache” button and Steam will verify that game in a few minutes.

Hopefully, after performing the above steps, your Steam won’t give any issue.

Solution 4: Disabling unwanted software

Another issue that users may face is that a lot of background processes may be active; resulting in not enough memory on RAM for Steam to function properly. What you can do is open the task manager and end all the unnecessary processes and restart Steam.

  1. Launch your Task Manager by pressing ⊞ Win + R button. This should pop-up the Run application. In the dialogue box write “taskmgr”. This should open up the task manager.

  1. End all unwanted processes such as Skype, web browser, updaters etc. Restart Steam using Steam.exe and hopefully, it will work as expected.

Solution 5: Check game requirements

Games may also fail to launch if your PC is at or below the required specifications. Don’t forget to compare your PC’s specs with that of the game requirements. Please note that a machine also near the required specifications may not work. In that case, it is advised to upgrade your system.

Solution 6: Disabling Windows Defender

Windows Defender is also reported to cause problems in the launching of games. It is advised to disable it and try launching Steam, however, please do so at your own risk.

  1. Press ⊞ Win + R button and in the dialogue box type “gpedit.msc”.
  2. A Local Group Policy Editor will come forward. Click the Computer Configuration tab and select Administrative templates.
  3. Here you will see a folder of Windows Components. Click it and select Windows Defender.

  1. Here you will find a number of different options. Browse through them and select “Turn off Windows Defender”.

  1. Select “Enabled” to turn Windows Defender off. Apply settings and press OK.

After completing the above steps, your Windows Defender should be turned off. Restart your computer and re-launch Steam using Steam.exe. It is preferable to launch it with administrative privileges. To do so just right click on your client and select “Run as administrator”.

Solution 7: Deleting App Cache

It is possible that steams cache has been corrupted. Certain launch configurations are cached by applications to decrease loading times and provide a better experience. Therefore, if this data is corrupted it can interfere with certain elements of the application. In this step, we will be deleting the App cache which will automatically be replaced by a new one. For that:

  1. Press “Windows” + “X” keys simultaneously.
  2. Select “Task Manager” from the list and click on the “Performance” tab.
    Opening task manager.
  3. Click on the “Steam.exe” process and select “End Task“.
    Selecting the process and then clicking on “End Task”
  4. Navigate to the directory in which steam has been installed.
  5. Click on the “AppCache” folder and press “Shift” + “Del” keys simultaneously.
    Deleting “Appcache”
  6. Click on “yes” in the prompt to permanently remove the folder from your computer.
  7. Right-click on the steam executable and select “Run as Administrator”.
  8. Check to see if the issue persists.

Solution 8: Updating Steam Client

In some cases, the Steam servers can acquire a bug and prevent users from playing certain games. This issue is quickly recognized and fixed in steam updates. Therefore, it is recommended to check for any updated to the Steam client. For that:

  1. Open the steam installation directory.
  2. Delete everything except “Steam.exe” and “SteamApps (All downloaded games are installed in this folder)”.
  3. Double click on the ‘Steam.exe” to download and install the rest of the missing files.
  4. New updates will automatically be updated and installed.

Solution 9: Reinstalling Steam

If the above steps don’t seem to work, you can finally resort to reinstalling your Steam client while keeping your in-game data safe. To do so, please follow the instructions listed below.

Please note that any interruption during the copy process will corrupt the files and you will have to re-download the entire content over again. Only proceed with this solution if you are sure that your computer won’t be interrupted.

  1. Navigate to your Steam directory. The default location for your directory is C:/Program Files (x86)/Steam.
  1. Locate the following files and folders:

SteamApps                                  (folder)

Userdata                                      (folder)

Steam.exe                                    (Application)

Ssfn                                               (Number sequence)

  1. Delete all other files/folder and restart your computer.
  2. Re-launch Steam and hopefully, it will start updating itself. After the update is complete, there won’t be any type of problem with the Steam client.

Kamil Anwar

Kamil is a certified MCITP, CCNA (W), CCNA (S) and a former British Computer Society Member with over 9 years of experience Configuring, Deploying and Managing Switches, Firewalls and Domain Controllers also an old-school still active on FreeNode.