Anyone who has used Steam is familiar with that feeling of perplexity when you’re sure a game was closed, only for Steam to cough up the disconcerting “Failed to start the game (app already running).”
Although not completely shutting down the game is the prime reason for the issue, Steam has been known to produce it due to factors unbeknownst to even the most versed Steam user.
Here’s what you can do if Steam says a game is running.
Our fixes are compiled in steps, so we recommend starting with the first one and working downwards until the problem is resolved. The ultimate solution is rather tedious and, as such, should be used as a last resort.
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Reliable and easy, a restart does wonders to give Steam a much needed rejuvenating shake when the client has got its wires crossed. We recommend closing Steam via the Task Manager.
- Hit Ctrl+Alt+Del on the keyboard and click on “Task Manager” from the list of options that appear at the forefront of a blue background.
- In Task Manager, navigate down the list of services until you spot Steam.
- Click on it, then hit “End Task” just below.
- For good measure, allow a minute for the client processes to shutdown and then relaunch Steam.
- Launch the offending game.
Close Game In Task Manager
If a restart doesn’t work, this means that the game might be running in the background even though it is ostensibly closed in the Steam client.
- Open up Task Manager as detailed above.
- Locate the executable/service(s) associated with the game. Formats vary, but in general, the name of the game is the most common iteration. Acronyms of the title are also popular. If in doubt, check the name of the executable in the game’s directory in Windows by right-clicking on the game in the Steam Library, selecting “Properties,” then the “Local Files” tab, and finally the “Browse Local Files” button.
- Click on the service, then on “End Task” once again.
- Restart Steam as detailed above to be on the safe side.
- Launch the game.
Close Game Launcher In System Tray
Some titles have a launcher that co-exists along with the Steam client. If a game produces an intro menu that is effectively outside of the game, this is more than likely a launcher, and it will often minimize as an application in the system tray.
Check your system tray and, if you spot a launcher, right-click on it and hit “Close,” “Quit,” “Exit,” or any variant thereof. Restart Steam as above and launch the game as usual.
Restart Your PC
If you’ve had no luck with the three aforementioned methods, a full system restart is the next likely contender to resolve the problem. Not only does it reboot Steam and any associated temporary files/data, but a Windows reset doesn’t go amiss.
Reinstall The Game
Should a restart not fix the problem, move on to reinstalling the game. Note that this method requires downloading all the game files again and, therefore, it does come with a time constraint.
- Load up Steam.
- Click on “Library” and right-click on the game.
- Among the list that pops up, select “Uninstall.”
- When prompted by the “Delete Game Files?” warning, click “Delete.” Steam will remove all associated game files.
- Restart Steam as detailed further up.
- Locate the game in your Library and click on “Install.”
- Click “Next” in the install window, then “Finish.”
- Allow Steam to download the game files in full.
- Launch the game.
By this point, chances are the problem has been resolved. In the unlikely scenario that it hasn’t, we come to our most drastic fix — reinstall Steam.
- Right-click on the Windows Start menu and click “Search.”
- Type “Control Panel” into the search field and select the first result.
- Click on “Uninstall a program” under the “Programs” icon.
- Find and click on Steam in the list of programs.
- Hit “Uninstall” just above the list.
- When finished, download the latest version of Steam here.
- When downloaded, double click on the executable file and complete the installation wizard steps.
- Launch Steam.
- Install the game as above.
- Launch the game.
We hope at least one of these fixes has helped you get around this annoying Steam bug. Check back as we keep updating these articles with new solutions and tips for you.