How to Fix Steam Error Code 51

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Steam error code 51 can disrupt your gaming experience on Steam. To fix the problem, follow the steps in this guide.

Are you a gamer who loves to play games on Steam? If so, you might have encountered Steam error code 51, preventing you from launching your favorite games. This error message will appear when you launch a game, telling you that the “Game failed to start (error code 51)”.

It’s obvious what this error means—you can’t play your favorite games. However, it’s less clear what the cause behind this error might be. To help you troubleshoot the problem, here are some steps you can follow to fix Steam error code 51 on your PC.

What Causes Steam Error Code 51?

There are a number of possible causes behind Steam error code 51 on your Windows PC. The first is that you have corrupt or missing game files. If your game installation is corrupted (for instance, by a botched update or a hardware failure) or hasn’t been installed properly, it won’t run. You’ll need to verify the game’s files. If that doesn’t work, remove and reinstall the game.

You may also find that a third-party application or service is interfering with Steam or your game. This is more likely with multiplayer games, where VPNs, antivirus software, firewalls, and other services can block your gameplay entirely.

It could also be due to missing software libraries. Two of the most important you’ll need for Windows gaming are DirectX and the Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable. Many Windows games require this software library—if missing or outdated, it might stop them from running.

Finally, Steam itself might be at fault. If your Steam client is too outdated, it probably won’t work, and you might see the Steam error code 51 appear. Whatever the cause, you can try and resolve it by following the steps below.

How to Verify the Integrity of Game Files

If your Steam game won’t launch, you’ll need to check that the game has all of the necessary files. You can run an integrity check in Steam on your game installation to check that your files are intact and the game is up to date.

To verify game files on Steam:

  1. Open Steam and click the Library tab.
  2. Right-click on the game that’s giving you the error and select Properties.
    Open Steam game properties
  3. On the Installed Files tab, click Verify integrity of game files.
    Verify Steam game files button
  4. Wait for Steam to scan and fix any issues with your game files. This may take a few minutes to complete.
  5. Once the game integrity check is complete, exit the Properties menu and try to launch your game again.

How to Stop or Remove Conflicting Applications

Several third-party services and applications could stop your game from running properly, causing a Steam error code 51 in the process.

The most obvious are those that can impact your internet connection. For instance, a virtual private network (or VPN) connection will protect your privacy but could block Steam server access.

Similarly, a firewall (like the built-in Windows Security) could block crucial connections to Steam or your game developer’s servers to stop it from working. You’ll need to stop or remove these services to get the game to work again.

A good way to test this is to stop them one by one and test whether your game runs. If disabling your VPN allows your game to launch without a Steam error, you’ll know you can’t use it while you want to play.

You should also consider removing apps or services that are causing you trouble. You might want to remove them if you can’t play with them.

How to Manually Install the Latest Versions of DirectX and Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable

Windows gaming relies on libraries like DirectX and the Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable to run properly. If these components are missing or outdated on your computer, you might encounter errors like error code 51 on Steam when you’re launching games.

To fix this, you can try manually updating them. DirectX is a Windows system component, so you’ll need to check Windows Update for the latest DirectX updates on Windows 11. The Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable, on the other hand, can be installed manually via the Microsoft website.

To update DirectX and Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable:

  1. First, right-click the Start menu and select Settings.
    Open the Settings menu on Windows 11
  2. In Settings, click Windows Update > Check for Updates.
    Check for Windows updates
  3. If any updates are available, click Download and install to begin the installation process.
    Install Windows update button
  4. Wait for the updates to download and begin the installation—this may take some time. When prompted, restart your PC.
  5. After restarting, open this Microsoft support page and download the latest version of Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable for both your PC architecture (likely to be x64) and for your game.
    Download MS libraries
  6. Once downloaded, run the installer and follow the on-screen instructions, then restart your PC. After restarting, try launching your game via Steam to see if it works again.

Update Your Graphics Drivers

Having the latest GPU drivers is essential if you want your games to run smoothly and without errors on Steam. If your drivers are outdated or corrupted, you might see Steam error codes like error code 51 appear.

To fix this, you can try checking for driver updates manually via Device Manager or by installing them from your manufacturer’s website.

To update your graphics card drivers:

  1. Right-click the Start menu and select Device Manager.
    Open Device Manager in Windows 11
  2. In Device Manager, open the Display adapters category.
  3. Right-click on your graphics card or chipset and select Update driver from the menu.
    Update graphics driver option
  4. In the Update drivers menu, click Search automatically for drivers.
    Update Windows drivers automatically
  5. Wait for Windows to find and install the best driver for your device. If no updates are found, check your device manufacturer’s website for the latest graphics drivers to download and install.
    Download page for NVIDIA graphics drivers
  6. After downloading a new driver, run the installer file and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the installation. Once the driver is installed, restart your computer and try to launch your game again.

How to Reinstall the Game

If none of the above methods work, you might need to try reinstalling the game. A fresh installation can work wonders, leaving you with a fresh configuration that (with any luck) will allow your game to run.

To reinstall your Steam game (or Steam itself):

  1. Launch Steam and click Library at the top.
    Open Steam library
  2. Find your Steam game in your library.
  3. Right-click the game and go to Manage Uninstall.
    Uninstall a Steam game
  4. Accept any on-screen instructions to complete the process. Once the game is removed, right-click the game again and select Install.
    Install a Steam game
  5. Confirm the installation location and other details are correct before clicking Install.
    Installation options for a Steam game
  6. Once the game is installed, launch it to check that it’s working again.

Managing Steam Error Codes

Steam error code 51 is a common problem that can prevent you from playing your games on Steam. Thanks to the steps above, however, you should be able to bypass and fix the problem on your PC.

Did a fatal Steam error code appear instead? You can troubleshoot this problem by repairing Steam and checking your Windows installation for problems. Other error codes, like Steam error code 118, can also be fixed on your PC by following common troubleshooting steps.

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