How to fix Steam must be running to play this game error on Windows 11

Steam is a popular game distribution platform with a huge library of games. However, you may see the error “Steam must be running to play this game” when launching a Steam game. This error will mainly knock on your door if Steam is missing on your computer or if your installation folder is corrupted.

Fortunately, it’s a piece of cake to remove this error message. This guide introduces all the working methods to fix “Steam must be running to play this game” error in Windows 11. So, let’s get started.

1. Install Steam on your computer

As mentioned above, the “Steam must be running to play this game” error usually appears when Steam is missing from your computer. Many AAA titles require the Steam client for authentication. Therefore, you will need to keep the Steam client installed on your computer. If you have removed it or it is missing. you will need to download and install the Steam client on your computer to fix the error. This is how you do it:

Step 1: Head over to the official Steam website using the link below.

Step 2: Click on the Install Steam option at the top right corner.

Install Steam option on Steam home page

Step 3: Click Install Steam.

Install Steam Button on Home Page

Stage 4: After downloading the executable file, open it.

Then choose your default language, location, and other options in the setup wizard. Lastly, check the Run Steam box and click Finish.

Run the Steam option in the installation wizard

Now, enter your credentials to log in to your Steam account. After login launch the game throwing the error and check if it appears again.

2. Start Steam with administrative rights

Another effective solution to get rid of the error message is to start Steam with administrative rights and then open the game through the game library. To do this, follow the instructions below:

Step 1: Right-click on the Steam client and select Properties.

Steam properties option

Step 2: Switch to the Compatibility tab.

Compatibility option for Steam

Step 3: Check the Run this program as an administrator box.

Run this program as a Steam administrator option

Stage 4: Click Apply and OK.

Step 5: Double click on the Steam client to open it. If the User Account Control window opens, click Yes to grant administrative privileges.

Head over to the Steam Game Library, launch the game and check if the issue persists.

3. Download the latest Steam client update

If you are facing the issue even after launching Steam with administrative privileges, then there is probably something wrong with the Steam build on your computer. You will need to download the latest Steam client update to remedy this. Follow the steps below to do that:

Step 1: Launch the Steam client and click on the Steam option in the top left corner.

Steam option in the Steam client

Step 2: Choose Check for Steam Client Updates from the context menu.

Check Steam client's Steam updates option

The Steam Self Updater window will appear and download any available updates. After that, restart the client and check the problem.

Steam client Self Updater option

4. Verify the Integrity of the Problem Game

The error “Steam must be running to play this game” may appear if the game you are trying to launch is missing important files. Fortunately, you can use Steam’s Verify Game File Integrity feature to download the missing files. Here’s how to do that for your game:

Step 1: Open the Steam client and go to Library.

Steam client library option

Step 2: Right-click on the game that is throwing the error and choose Properties.

Steam client game properties window

Step 3: Choose Local Files in the left sidebar.

Steam client local files option

Stage 4: Click the Verify integrity of game files option in the right pane.

Verify the integrity of the game files option of the Steam client

The Steam client will now begin to scan the game files and compare them with those present on their servers. After that, it will automatically download the missing game files.

5. Unsubscribe from Steam beta account

You can use a Steam beta account to get access to upcoming features before anyone else. But sometimes, using an unstable beta version can cause various issues like the one at hand.

As a solution, you will need to cancel your Steam beta account. You can do it by following the steps below:

Step 1: Open the Steam client, click on Steam in the upper left corner and select the Settings option.

Steam client configuration option

Step 2: In the Settings window, choose Account in the left sidebar.

Steam client accounts option

Step 3: Click the Change button in the Beta participation section.

Change Steam Client Option

Stage 4: Click the dropdown icon, choose NONE: Opt out of all beta programs, and then click OK.

NONE – Opt-out of all Steam client beta programs

6. Delete custom files

Another main reason behind the error can be any custom files you have downloaded for the game that is throwing the error. For example, if you downloaded any mods or applied any cheat codes in GTA 5, chances are you’ll encounter the error when launching it.

To get rid of the error message, remove any mods, hacks, or any other custom files you have installed in your game.

7. Reinstall the Game

If you are still facing the error Steam must be running to play this game, then you have no choice but to reinstall the game. This is how you do it:

Step 1: Open the Steam client and go to Library.

Step 2: Right-click the game in the left sidebar, scroll to Manage, and choose Uninstall.

Steam client uninstall option

Step 3: Click Uninstall again.

uninstall option again in steam client

After uninstalling the game, go to the Store and download the game again.

Enjoy uninterrupted gaming

Nobody likes to face interruptions while playing their favorite game. But if you are facing that Steam must be running to play this game error, now you know what is causing the error and how to get rid of it.