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Crash FIX: GFWL Won't Launch - Can't Play DiRT3, Batman, etc.

Posted on April 18, 2013

With the impending launch of GRID 2 (detailed here), Codemasters' upcoming racing game, I decided to revisit DiRT 3 and other racing games to tide me over. Excited to get back behind the wheel of a WRX, I soon found my dreams smashed as I became embroiled in about 2 hours of troubleshooting. This quick post is just a series of ways to fix your problems with Games for Windows Live crashing upon launching your games (via Steam or otherwise).



The Symptoms: Games for Windows Live Won't Launch (Closes Immediately)

Games For Windows Live (GFWL), DiRT's DRM, won't launch and DiRT 3/Batman/Dark Souls crashed after a few seconds of the GFWL splashscreen. I'd click "play" in Steam, DiRT 3 started to launch in the background (evidenced by heavy lag for a few seconds), my profile icon turned green to indicate the executable running, and then the Games for Windows Live splashscreen would pop-up. That stayed on the screen for a number of seconds before disappearing (no login prompt or error message), at which point the executable terminated and the system was returned to the pre-launch state.

Error codes (like "xlive.dll is missing") are an issue for some people and should also be resolved by these steps, but I did not experience any error codes. The same issues will inhibit your ability to play some other popular Games for Windows Live-enabled games, like Batman:ArkhamCity, Dark Souls, Bulletstorm, F1 2010/2011, DiRT 2, Fable, Section 8, Lost Planet 2, and Warhammer 40k titles.

The Step-by-Step DiRT 3 & GFWL Crash Fix

There are a lot of reasons GFWL could be crashing on you, so for sake of ensuring we're all on the same page, these steps will start everyone off with a clean slate. Some of these steps aren't entirely necessary, but are still recommended to ensure a clean start.

  1. Completely uninstall Games for Windows Live. You can do this through the Programs & Features panel - search for "Live" and locate "Microsoft Games for Windows - LIVE Redistributable." Remove the program. You can leave other Live programs installed.
  2. Download the new version straight from Microsoft, found here.
  3. A restart isn't required, but is recommended if you're having trouble getting the uninstall or clean install to work.
  4. Install the application.
  5. Ensure your error still exists -- attempt to launch the game in question. It should still fail, but if it doesn't, then it sounds like your problem was easily fixed! Assuming it's still failing with the symptoms I described above...
  6. Go download the 2011 version of Windows Live Sign-in Assistant, found here.
  7. Install the Assistant application. You may need to go through Task Manager and search for residual GFWL or game processes that failed to close properly. If you have trouble installing the Assistant (like I did), I've detailed some solutions below.
  8. Try to launch Games for Windows Live (separately from your game). Go to the Start menu and search for "Games." You should be prompted with a sign-in. If that fails, attempt to launch your game. And if THAT fails, then continue below. It should be working at this point, though.


Help! Windows Live Sign-in Assistant won't install!


If you're getting the below error message:

"There is a problem with this Windows Installer Package. A program run as part of the setup did not finish as expected. Contact your support personnel or package vendor."

Then it's either an issue with the downloaded file itself (make sure it is the most recent version - as of this writing, that's the 2011 version) or potentially your security settings. Try re-downloading the file to ensure it's not an issue with corruption. If that doesn't work, turn on Windows Update (just for the duration of this fix) and that should resolve the Sign-in Assistant installation issues.

I still can't install Games for Windows Live and/or the Sign-in Assistant. What now?

If you're not receiving error messages when attempting to install either GFWL or the Sign-in Assistant and need an error in order to troubleshoot, you can force the installation to create a log file by running the following command in an elevated command prompt:

Msiexec /i wllogin_64.msi /l*v C:\setupLogs.log NOMU=1

Run this if you can't install Games for Windows Live or the Sign-in Assistant. Change wllogin_64.msi to wllogin_32.msi if you're on 32-bit. This command will create a log file in your root directory (C:\) under the name "setupLogs.log." Some users have reported that forcing a manual install resulted in success.

While I didn't need to go this far, I also noted while searching that other users were able to force Microsoft's Games for Windows Live to self-activate by running the following line in the Start menu (legacy "run" menu):


You'll receive a "DllRegisterServer in C:\Windows\System32\WUAUENG.DLL succeeded" message. Try launching your game again.

And finally, some older Steam/GFWL games may not be as modern as we'd like in terms of 64-bit support. You can also try the following steps for resolution as a last-ditch attempt (this worked on one of my other systems):

  1. Navigate to C:\Windows\SysWOW64.
  2. Copy the following items to your clipboard (do not cut):
    1. Directory: xlive
    2. Files: xlive.dll,, xlivefnt.dll, xliveinstall.dll, xliveinstallhost.exe.
  3. Navigate to C:\Windows\System32.
  4. Paste the files in this directory.


This should bypass 32-bit compatibility issues.

Hopefully that helps some of you! If you still can't get your game to run, I can do my best to assist you in the comments below. Please post details on your error message or issue symptoms if you do ask us for help, as that'll aid me in aiding you.

Additionally, please let us know which solution resolved your problems so other users can save time!

- Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.