Fix: Steam Thinks Game Is Running

Are you getting the "App already running" on Steam? Does Steam think that a game is already running but it isn't? Here's how you can fix it very easily.

Closing a Steam game shouldn’t take more than a few seconds, but there’s a known bug making this simple action slightly more difficult than it needs to be.  

Although this doesn’t seem like a problem at first, it can be quite frustrating to experience if the reason behind you exiting the game was your plan to start it again immediately after. Obviously, you won’t be able to, as Steam believes it is still running.

Luckily, we’ve experienced this bug enough times to know all the workarounds for it, and you can learn about them as well in the guide below.

Table of ContentsShow

The Problem Explained

The problem shown in the image below occurs when a user tries to re-start a game after recently closing it, only to be greeted by an error indicating the game is still running. The rest is pretty self-explanatory.

When such a scenario plays out, the user:

  • Won’t be able to start the same game until the problem resolves
  • Cannot start a VAC-secured game if the previous one was also protected by Valve’s Anticheat
  • May have trouble closing Steam without using Task Manager 
Steam Error Failed to start game app already running

As we can imagine, this is a frustrating thing to experience you’ve lost power or the game crashed, and now you can’t quickly get back into the match due to this bug. In competitive, online multiplayer games, which is what the majority of Steam users are playing, this can be the difference between winning and losing.

With that being said, we can all agree that this situation calls for urgent action, so without further ado let’s take a look at some of the proven, working solutions for this problem.  

Fix 1: Close The Game’s Launcher

Some games, including very popular ones such as Cyberpunk 2077, GTA V, and almost all titles from Ubisoft, have their own standalone launcher.

The Elder Scrolls Online Steam

What this means is that upon starting one of these games from the Steam client, their standalone client will launch as well.  

Upon exiting the game, you’ll also have to manually close the launcher.

If the game in question doesn’t have a standalone launcher, feel free to skip this fix and move on to the next ones.  

Fix 2: Wait Until Steam Cloud Finishes Syncing

Upon exiting a Steam game, if the game supports Steam Cloud and uses it to store your progress, you need to wait until the sync between your local progress and the cloud servers is complete.

This usually takes just a few seconds, but depending on the game and other factors, such as the speed of your internet connection, it may take slightly longer.

Usually, it’s best to just wait until the sync is done. If it seems to be stuck, which is rarely the case but can sometimes happen, you can force close Steam and re-start it.  

You’ll notice that you won’t be able to click the “Play” button on Steam until the “syncing” text is gone from right next to the game’s title.  

Fix 3: End All Processes Using Task Manager

Sometimes it’s not enough to exit the game through the main menu, as it may not always fully close. It may sound strange, but games sometimes fail to fully close, especially if there are many online services related to them.

So, to ensure you can re-start it without Steam telling you it is still running, open Task Manager and end all processes that may be somehow connected to the game.

Windows 10 Task Manager End Task
Closing Processes in Task Manager – Windows 10.

Use Task Manager to close any launchers, stores, browser-based authentication windows, or anything else that may be a part of the game you had opened.

After ensuring the game is not running on your PC anymore, start it again from the Steam client. It should launch as usual.     

Fix 4: Exit Steam And Run It As Administrator

If the problem is on Steam’s end, which can sometimes happen, the easiest fix is to restart the client. This is easy to do and doesn’t take much time, which is one of the main reasons why a lot of users attempt it as their first fix when encountering this issue.

Make sure to run Steam as administrator the next time you start it up, as this helps you avoid a few other, smaller problems.

Fix 5: Restart Your PC

If you are unable to locate the process that’s keeping the game running and preventing you from closing it, it’s best to just restart your PC, as this will ensure all processes end.

restarting PC
System restart – Windows 10.

After your system reboots, start Steam as administrator and launch the game once more. It should start normally without Steam giving you the error message that the game is already running.   

Conclusion

We often restart games upon experiencing an in-game glitch or a performance-related issue such as a memory leak, therefore it shouldn’t be a difficult and problematic thing to do.

Thankfully, you can now apply the fixes listed above and prevent Steam from thinking your games are running even though you ensured they’re closed.

If you can’t solve the problem even with all the above-mentioned methods, do not hesitate to contact Steam Support for further assistance, as it might be a critical bug on the platform’s end and has nothing to do with you.  

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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.