Fix: ‘Steam Must be Running to Play this Game’ error on Windows

Getting annoyed by the "Steam Must Be Running" message on Windows? Don't worry! This guide breaks down quick fixes that will let you play games again right away.

Many Windows users are having a frustrating problem when they try to run certain game executables and get the annoying message “Steam must be running to play this game.” This problem seems to affect more than one version of Windows. Users of Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10 have reported it. In this guide we showed how to fix ‘Steam Must be Running to Play this Game’ error on Windows.

The fact that this problem is so common shows how important it is, since it makes gaming less fun for a wide range of users. This error makes it impossible for games to start without any problems, so users have to troubleshoot and look for solutions to fix the problem. Since the problem happens with different versions of Windows, it suggests a systemic issue that needs to be fully investigated and fixed.

Users who are affected have to find their way through a maze of possible fixes, such as checking to see if Steam is running and looking at the compatibility settings. This shows how urgently we need a widespread fix to get back to playing video games on Windows without any problems.

Common Causes of the Steam Error

Problems with connectivity:

  • Internet Connection: Download problems, disconnections, and connection timeouts can all be caused by a weak or unstable internet connection.
  • Network Issues: If a router stops working, an ISP goes down, or a firewall blocks access to the internet, Steam may not be able to connect.
Fix: 'Steam Must be Running to Play this Game' error on Windows
  • Background Software: Ad-blockers, antivirus software, and VPNs are just a few of the third-party programmes that could affect how Steam’s network traffic flows.

Issues with Clients:

  • Client that is too old: Using a client that is too old for Steam can cause errors and problems with compatibility. Make sure you have the most recent version.
  • Files That Are Corrupted: Steam files that are corrupted because of incomplete updates, malware, or disc errors can lead to a number of issues. Check that your game files are correct through Steam.
  • Background Processes: Applications that are running at the same time can make Steam not work properly if they are incompatible. Try closing any programmes that you don’t need before starting Steam.

Fix: ‘Steam Must be Running to Play this Game’ error on Windows

You should put the Steam client on your PC.

  1. Visit the Steam client download page.
  2. Click the “Install Steam Now” button.
  3. Run the executable file.
  4. Follow the instructions on the screen to complete the Steam client setup on your PC.
  5. Restart your computer once the installation is finished.
  6. After restarting, launch Steam and run the game displaying the message “Steam must be running to play this game.”

Get rid of game mods

  1. Video game mods are a great way to add more content to an existing game.
  2. While you can download and install mods without breaking the game, sometimes they might stop the game from working.
  3. If Windows only shows this error for a modded game, try uninstalling and deleting any custom mods that you’ve added to the game.

Update the Steam Client to the Latest Version

  1. Start up the Steam client.
  2. Enter your passwords to log in.
  3. From the drop-down menu, click the Steam button in the top menu bar.
  4. Choose Check for Steam Clients Updates from the menu.
  5. If a new version is available, install it on your PC by following the steps shown on the screen.

Prevention Tips: Avoiding the Error in the Future

  • Keep Windows and your programs up to date: Windows and your programmes should always be up to date: Microsoft regularly puts out updates that fix bugs and make the system safer.
  • Use real software: Software that is pirated or not licenced can be unstable and make mistakes.
  • Put in antivirus and malware protection: Malware can lead to many issues, such as mistakes.
  • Do a disc scan: This will find errors on your hard drive and fix them.
  • Try System File Checker (SFC): It can find and fix broken system files.


How to fix Steam is already running on this computer and must be closed?

Start up your computer again. You will then need to run steam.exe from within the Steam installation folder, not from a shortcut that you already have.

Why am I getting Steam error?

A firewall, antivirus software, or a problem with your router or internet connection can make Steam not work properly in many cases. Make sure that your network is set up correctly for using Steam by following the steps in the Troubleshooting Network Connectivity guide.

Why does Steam still think a game is running?

Most of the time, this error happens when you try to launch a game that either closed properly with a silent crash or won’t launch at all. It’s possible that the game is already running on your computer under a different user account.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
The Bollyinside editorial staff is made up of tech experts with more than 10 years of experience Led by Sumit Chauhan. We started in 2014 and now Bollyinside is a leading tech resource, offering everything from product reviews and tech guides to marketing tips. Think of us as your go-to tech encyclopedia!


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