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Games do not run after 'Preparing to Launch'

When launching a game, the "Preparing to Launch" message comes up but the game does not launch and/or the message never goes away.

Basic Troubleshooting for Windows

  1. Update Windows

    Please visit Windows Update and make sure that your system is fully up to date. This also includes the Microsoft .NET framework (all versions) that is available through Windows Update, as ATI drivers and certain games require the framework to be installed and fully updated.

  2. Update Drivers for Your Computer

    If the issue persists, see the Updating Drivers topic for instructions to update video, audio, and other drivers. Make sure to install the "Other Drivers" which include DirectX, PhysX, and Visual C++  from the bottom of the page.

  3. Verify Your Game Cache Files

    This error is often caused by corruption in your extracted game files. See the Verifying GCF Cache Files topic for instructions to verify your game cache files.

  4. Disable All Background Applications

    Please disable all of your background applications by following the guide in the Disabling Background Applications topic. Internet Security software such as Zone Alarm, CA Internet Security Suite and Norton/Symantec Internet Security have been known to cause these issues. If you suspect that an Internet Security application is the root cause of the issue, you may want to consider fully uninstalling the Internet Security application.

  5. The Problem Only Occurs for Source Engine Games

    If you are experiencing this issue only with Source engine games like Team Fortress 2, Portal and Half-Life 2: Episode 2, then please see the New Source Games Crash while Preparing to Launch topic for further instructions.

  6. Secondary Installers

    Many Steam games include installers for features and services required by the game. These include installers for DirectX, PhysX, Games for Windows Live, C++ components, or Windows updates required by the game.

    Steam is designed to run these installers when the game is first launched. If an installer is canceled by a user or prevented from running by another application on your system, the game may not launch correctly.  If this occurs, these installers will need to be launched manually.

    These installers are found in the game's installation folder, or a subfolder, found in the following location by default:

    C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps\common\<game_name>\

    Note: Your installation path may differ from the above location.

      

Advanced Troubleshooting for Windows

Note: these instructions are for advanced users only and only apply to Windows XP. If you are not comfortable with editing your registry, please do not attempt the steps below.

There's a chance that your Windows Installer Service is not correctly configured or needs to be reinstalled. If you recently installed a third-party game on Steam and you were not prompted to update DirectX or install a C++ Redistributable, then there's a chance this is the issue.

Please follow these instructions to make sure your Installer Service is configured correctly: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315346

 

Basic Troubleshooting for Mac OSX

  1. Verify Your System is Updated

    Make sure your operating system and drivers are fully updated:

    • Click on the Apple in the upper left corner of the screen
    • Select Software Update...
    • Any updates available will be listed and able to be downloaded or you will be told your software is up to date
  2. Verify Your Game Cache Files

    This error is often caused by corruption in your extracted game files. See the Verifying GCF Cache Files topic for instructions to verify your game cache files.

  3. Disable Background Applications

    Please disable all of your background applications that could be causing interference with Steam. Internet Security software such as Little Snitch, Peer Guardian and Norton/Symantec Internet Security have been known to cause these issues. If you suspect that an Internet Security application is the root cause of the issue, you may want to consider fully uninstalling the Internet Security application.

Problem with Steam?

Contact Steam Support