Fix: Steam Says Game Is Running But It Is Not

Trying to launch a game on Steam but you're greeted with a message telling you that the game is already running? Here's how you fix it.

Despite Steam being, according to many, the world’s best gaming platform, it’s not problem-proof, and users still report bugs while using it every once in a while.

It’s not a secret that launching a game through the Steam client is easy and straightforward, and takes less than a few clicks to get it done, but that is only when users are not experiencing the “game is already running” issue.

If you are experiencing this too, read on to find easy-to-apply solutions and solve the problem right away.

Let’s get started.

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The Problem Explained

Most reports for the “failed to start game (app already running)” happen after a game crash, and here’s why:

  • Steam requires the game to be exited through the main menu because that’s usually what triggers the cloud sync process, which lets the app know you’re not playing anymore.
  • When the game crashes and exits unexpectedly, it takes a while before Steam “scans” and confirms that the process is no longer active on your computer. However, since most users are eager to get right back to playing, they’ll usually try to re-start the game immediately after the crash, before Steam realizes the game is no longer running, which will result in seeing the error message.

But, this problem is sometimes very persistent, so no matter how long the user waits, Steam keeps giving the same error upon trying to re-launch the game.

game still running on steam

This can be quite frustrating, especially if getting back into the action is time-sensitive, which is the case with most multiplayer games. Not being able to re-join a ranked match or something along those lines can result in your account being temporarily banned.

Luckily, there are ways to fix this issue, and all of them are quite easy to apply. Take a look at the sections that follow.

Fix 1: Restart Your Computer

This method is the most time-consuming one and probably the “most difficult” out of all others. But, it always works, and if time isn’t an issue for you, along with the idea that you have to restart your machine, we recommend using it when nothing else helps.

steam game says running but isnt

As stated by other Steam users, when everything else fails, restarting your computer solves the problem immediately.

When you log back into Steam on a freshly rebooted PC, it won’t detect any games as already running, so you can start the one you wish to play and get right into it without any trouble.

But, if you cannot restart your PC due to various reasons, move on to the other solutions.

Fix 2: Terminate The Process Through The Task Manager

One possible solution that many Steam users tried and confirmed as working is the Task Manager approach.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Press CTRL + Shift + Esc on your keyboard at the same time to open the Task Manager. You can also open it by right-clicking on your taskbar and choosing Task Manager from the list of options.
  2. After Task Manager loads on your screen, click on Processes, then search for any process related to the game Steam said is already running. For example, if this happened with Dota2, search for any process that may be related to Dota2.
  3. Upon finding the process, right-click it and choose End Task.

Note: If the game has multiple processes related to it, repeat the same steps for each one of them.

Afterward, you can try running the game once again, and hopefully, it should start without any issues.

steam thinks game is running

However, for some users, this doesn’t work, and if that’s your case, move on to the other solution listed below.

Fix 3: Relog Into Steam And Restart The Client

For many users, logging out of Steam and then logging back in, while also restarting the client, helped them solve the problem. It doesn’t work for everyone but it’s worth trying as it’s quicker than restarting your computer.

To relog, all you need to do is open the client and click Steam in the top-left corner, then click Change Account.

This will log you out and bring you back to the Steam login screen where you’ll need to input your credentials and log into your account once more. You can also restart Steam in the process, as some users pointed out that this does make a difference.

Upon logging back in, you should be able to start the game without any issues.  

Conclusion

Now you know how to fix the issue with Steam thinking your game is running when it’s already exited. It can be a very frustrating issue to deal with, especially for someone who often plays multiplayer games and has to get back into a match quickly after the crash or connection issue happens.

Hopefully, the methods above will be of good use to you whenever you encounter this problem, as unfortunately, it cannot be permanently solved or prevented from happening in the future.

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Bojan Veselinovikj
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Bojan Veselinovikj

Bojan is a video-game developer and a tech enthusiast. Combining these two passions allow him to keep you informed on everything that's new in this fast-paced digital world.