How to Fix Games That Crash on Start-up in Steam

bioshock_logoI played Bioshock on Xbox shortly after it came out several years ago, and although I was blown away by the opening sequence, I had trouble getting into the rest of the game. I probably put about five or six hours into it before getting distracted by something else (Mirror’s Edge, probably), and soon forgot all about it. I hate leaving things like movies, books, and video games unfinished, however, so while I was between games recently, I decided to buy Bioshock through Steam and give it another go (ever since I built a new gaming PC, my Xbox has been relegated to nothing more than Netflix duty). With an open mind, and determined to assume a totally fresh perspective, I got the game downloaded, started it up, and watched it promptly crash.

Unfortunately for Bioshock, rather than troubleshoot the problem, I played Mass Effect 2, instead. But a few days later, just for fun, I decided to try again. I’ve had good luck playing older games in the past by changing the compatibility mode of the application to an older version of Windows, so I decided to start there. The problem, however, is that it’s a little bit harder to find games’ executables when you install them through Steam, but if you know where to look, you’ll see that they are installed just like any other binary on your machine. I found Bioshock under:


(Note that the first part of the path will obviously be different on your machine since you probably have Steam installed somewhere else.)

To change the compatibility mode of a Steam game (or any executable, for that matter), simply:

  1. Right-click on the game binary (application file).
  2. Go to Properties > Compatibility.
  3. Check the box that says “Run this program in compatibility mode for…”
  4. Select whichever compatibility mode works for the application you’re trying to launch.

In the case of Bioshock, I found that “Windows Vista (Service Pack 2)” worked, though I’ve used other modes for other games (depending on the age). Just click “Ok” and your game should launch properly through Stream the next time you start it up.

Update: If you’re having trouble with the sound, especially after Bioshock’s intro, see this thread on the Steam Users’ Forums.

1 thought on “How to Fix Games That Crash on Start-up in Steam

  1. For the odd game, you sometimes need to run in Administrator mode. I believe Witcher 2 is one of them. Same technique is used.


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