Update (20 July): I have learned of an alternate solution to fix this problem, which does not require having to download anything and does not appear to cause problems with any other games (e.g. BioShock). As of now I believe this should be the preferred solution. See "Option #1" below for the update. tl;dr:
The "Games Explorer" hub in Windows 7 and Vista is preventing older PC games from launching. Check the list of symptoms below. You can fix it by making a single change in your Windows registry - see Option #1.
In the last few weeks, Microsoft shut down servers related to the Games Explorer
feature in Windows 7 and Vista (possibly related to the end-of-life announcement
for the integrated Internet Games service). As a result, there are a ton
of older PC games that will not run anymore on those operating systems.
When you launch one of these games, the gameux.dll
file in Windows' System32 or SysWOW64 directory tries to contact Microsoft's servers in order to update the game's profile in Games Explorer. The game will not start until the profile update is complete. Since the relevant servers are offline now, the update will never happen.
This problem affects hundreds of popular games. In my testing I have found titles that were released from 1998 through 2006.
The symptoms of this problem are:
- The game window does not appear after launching it, but the game's executable does not crash and there is no error message.
(If you ARE getting an error message, then you have an unrelated problem and these solutions will not fix it.)
- When you launch the game, a rundll32.exe process is started and visible in Task Manager, which is using about 8 MB of RAM and also appears to be frozen.
- If you add the Command Line column to Task Manager, you can see that the target of rundll32.exe is C:\Windows\System32\gameux.dll or C:\Windows\SysWOW64\gameux.dll
There are two ways to fix this: Option #1 (recommended)
The best solution I know of is to modify the Windows registry so that Games Explorer points to a loopback address
- meaning your own computer - instead of Microsoft's servers. I found this solution on GOG's troubleshooting page
, who grabbed it from a user in their forums
Here are the steps to take:
- Open the Registry Editor. You can find it by searching for "Registry Editor" (without quotes) in the Start Menu.
- In the left side of the Registry Editor, navigate to the following folder:
- Create a backup by right-clicking the ServiceLocation folder and selecting Export.
Give it a name like "Games Explorer backup" (without quotes) and save it somewhere on your hard drive, in case you need to undo the changes.
- Now in the right side of the Registry Editor, right-click Games and select Modify.
- In the Value Data box, delete the current entry and replace it with 127.0.0.1
- Then click OK and close the Registry Editor.
- You may need to restart your computer for the changes to take effect.
If Option #1 doesn't work or you'd rather not modify the Windows registry, you can simply disable both of the gameux.dll files instead.
The gameux.dll files are only used for Games Explorer, so disabling them is completely safe. Someone created a batch file in 2012 that will do this easily, and it is reversible by running the file again.
There is at least one game - the original version of BioShock - that won't run if gameux.dll is disabled, so re-enabling the files may be necessary.
I did not find any other other games with this requirement after spending a few hours testing and searching the internet, but if you happen to come across any, please leave a comment to let me know (launching the game should give you an error message that says "Failed to create the GameExplorer object
" or something similar). This is the blog post
that has the needed file (download link is about 2/3 of the way down). Mirror
- Extract GameUxFixed-Ubeogesh.bat from the archive to a temporary folder.
- Run it, then press any key to apply the patch. If you get an error message about not having ownership privileges, run it again by right-clicking and selecting "Run as administrator."
- You might need to restart your computer for the changes to take effect.
- Run the .bat file again to undo the changes, if necessary.
I originally learned about this problem through this thread
on GOG, which also points to a number of other sources with more details. This post
on superuser.com was particularly helpful for me, and I also learned that this has been an issue with Windows since at least April 2010
Here is a partial list of affected games that I have tested on my Windows 7 PC (reports added from other users are noted). Each game was tested using the current build on Steam or GOG:
- Age of Wonders 1, 2, and Shadow Magic
- Arx Fatalis
- Battlefield 2 (reported working by u/Svetimsalis)
- Blitzkrieg Anthology 1 and 2
- BloodRayne 1 and 2
- Call of Duty 1 and 2
- Commandos series (Behind Enemy Lines, Men of Courage, Destination Berlin)
- Dark Messiah of Might & Magic
- Delta Force series (1, 2, Task Force Dagger, Land Warrior, Black Hawk Down)
- Deus Ex GOTY (reported working by u/Svetimsalis)
- Disciples II
- Doom 3 (original release)
- Far Cry
- Full Spectrum Warrior
- Gothic I, II, and III
- Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City
- Ground Control I and II
- Half-Life GoldSrc engine series (Half-Life, CS 1.6, Opposing Force, etc.) (u/MistaX8) (reported working by u/Svetimsalis)
- Heroes of Might & Magic V
- Hitman: Codename 47, Silent Assassin, Contracts, Blood Money (reported working by u/Svetimsalis)
- Just Cause
- Max Payne 1 and 2
- Painkiller: Black Edition
- Quake III Arena
- Rogue Trooper (original release)
- RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 and 3
- Septerra Core
- Shattered Union
- Sid Meier's Civilization III and IV
- Sid Meier's Pirates (2005 remake)
- Sid Meier's Railroads
- Silent Hunter III
- Space Empires IV and V
- Sudden Strike 1 and 2
- Thief: Deadly Shadows
- Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon and Advanced Warfighter
- Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 1 and 3
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell
- Unreal 1 and 2
- Unreal Tournament GOTY and 2004