In this post, we will learn how to fix the Steam must be running to play this game error on your Windows PC. Steam is undoubtedly one of the most widely used game launchers available for Windows. It is a hub of thousands of free and paid games that you can install, purchase, and play on your computer. However, the platform is not devoid of errors and issues. One of the many errors that users have reported facing is the Steam must be running to play this game error when running a game by clicking on its executable. Most of the affected users have reported experiencing this error even when the Steam app is installed on their computers.
This error might occur if you have downloaded the game from its website and installed it using its standalone installer. As several games require Steam to be installed in order to run, the same might apply to the game in question. Hence, you need to make sure that you are running the Steam app on your PC to avoid this error. Besides that, it might be caused due to running an older version of Steam. Other reasons for the same could be custom mod files, infected game files, and the corrupted Steam app.
Now, if you are encountering this error, you can use the solution we have mentioned here and fix the error.
Fix Steam must be running to play this game error on Windows PC
If you encounter the Steam must be running to play this game error when trying to launch a game on Windows, you can use the below fixes to resolve it:
- Make sure Steam is installed on your PC (if applicable).
- Sign out of Steam and run Steam with administrator privileges.
- Update the Steam client.
- Clear the custom content files (if applicable).
- Verify the integrity of the game files.
- Reinstall Steam.
1] Make sure Steam is installed on your PC (if applicable)
First thing you should make sure that you have installed the Steam client on your computer. This is applicable when you have installed the game using a standalone installer. A lot of modern games require Steam to run correctly and for other services like authentication, multiplayer components, etc. Hence, if the scenario suits you, install the latest version of Steam on your PC. You can download it from its official website and then run the installer to complete the installation process. Once done, run your game and check if the error is fixed or not.
In case you have Steam installed already, you can move on to the next fix to get rid of the “Steam must be running to play this game” error.
2] Sign out of Steam and run Steam with administrator privileges
You can also try signing out of your Steam app, relaunching Steam as an admin, and logging back into your account. See if the error is fixed or not. A lot of affected users have reported that running the Steam client with administrator rights has fixed the error for them. Hence, you can also apply this fix and hopefully, you won’t receive the “Steam must be running to play this game” error anymore.
Here’s how you can do that:
- First, go to Steam and click on your Account drop-down button, and then press the Log out of account option.
- After that, confirm the process by tapping on the Logout button.
- Once done, close the Steam client and make sure no Steam instance is running in the background. You can use Task Manager for that.
- Now, right-click on the Steam app on your desktop and then select the Properties option.
- In the Properties window, go to the Compatibility tab and tick the Run this program as an administrator checkbox.
- Next, press the Apply > OK button to save changes, and then reopen the Steam app.
- Then, sign into your account with the correct login credentials, and then play your game to check if the error is fixed or not.
If the error continues to appear, you can use the next fix to resolve it.
Read: Fix Steam needs to be online to update error on Windows PC.
3] Update the Steam client
This error might be a result of an outdated Steam version. If your Steam app is not updated to its latest version, you are likely to experience the “Steam must be running to play this game” error. Hence, make sure your Steam client is up-to-date. To update Steam, you can use the below steps:
- First, open Steam and sign into your account if you are logged out.
- Now, go to the Steam menu, and from the drop-down options, choose the Check for Steam Clients Updates option.
- After that, if there are updates available, you will be prompted with the same. Follow the onscreen instructions to update the Steam app.
- When done, reboot your computer and then check if the error is fixed or not.
4] Clear the custom content files (if applicable)
The next thing you can do is delete the custom content like mods, scripts, cheats, and more from the game installation folder. So, if you are experiencing this error with a particular error, you can try clearing up its installation folder by removing custom mods and other files. You can simply navigate to the game installation folder on your computer and then manually delete custom files.
You can also perform a clean installation of the game. Uninstall the game and then reinstall it. To uninstall a game on Steam, open Steam and go to the LIBRARY tab. After that, right-click on the game with which you are facing this error and select the Uninstall option from the context menu. Once the game is uninstalled, restart the Steam client and install the game again. See if the error is now fixed.
Read: FATAL ERROR: Failed to connect with local Steam Client process.
5] Verify the integrity of the game files
The “Steam must be running to play this game” error could also be triggered due to bad game files. If your game files are broken or some particular game files that are required to run the game are removed or missing, you might encounter this error. Hence, if the scenario is applicable, you can verify and repair the game files of the game with which you are experiencing this error. It should fix the error for you. Here are the steps to do that:
- Firstly, start the Steam client and click on the LIBRARY tab to go to your games’ library.
- Next, locate the problematic game and right-click on it.
- After that, select the Properties option from the right-click context menu.
- Now, go to the Local Files tab and click on the Verify Integrity of Game Files button to scan and fix the game files.
- When done, open your game and check if the error at hand is resolved.
In case the error continues, there is one more fix you can use to resolve the “Steam must be running to play this game” error. So, move on to the next solution.
See: Fix Steam Missing File Privileges error on Windows PC.
6] Reinstall Steam
If none of the above solutions worked for you, the problem might lie with your Steam app. It might be the case that the installation of Steam is corrupted or certain installation files are infected or removed. And thus, you keep getting the “Steam must be running to play this game” error. Hence, if that is the case, you will have to install a clean copy of Steam on your PC ad see if the error is fixed.
To do that, you will first have to remove the corrupted installation of Steam from your computer. So, uninstall Steam using the Settings app. Open Settings using Win+I and go to the Apps tab. After that, click on Installed apps and then look for the Steam app in the list of your installed apps and games. Next, click on the three-dot menu button present next to Steam and select the Uninstall option. Now, follow the prompted steps and completely uninstall Steam from your PC.
Note: Uninstalling Steam will remove the client from your computer as well as delete your games, downloaded content, and save files from your system. So, if you want to restore your games, make sure to create a backup of all your games and data before uninstalling Steam. You are most likely to find all your Steam games at the C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common location. Copy your games installation folder and paste it into some other safe directory.
When done uninstalling Steam, go to its official website and download the most recent version from there. You will then just need to double-click the installer file and follow the onscreen guide to reinstall it. After that, open Steam, reinstall your games and try playing your game to check if the error is fixed.
How do I fix Steam is not running?
If the Steam app is not opening on your Windows PC, run the app with administrator rights and see if the issue is fixed. Besides that, it might be your firewall preventing Steam from opening. So, you can try disabling your firewall to fix the issue. Other fixes that you can use include deleting the corrupted Steam cache, adding a parameter to Steam Shortcut, and reinstalling the app if it is corrupted.