DirectPlay used to be a core API library primarily used to enable multiplayer functionality in computer games. As Microsoft decided to roll our Games for Windows Live, DirectPlay is no longer required for modern apps or games.
However, you can still download DirectPlay on Windows 10. If you want to run games that date back to the early 2000s, it’s most likely still a requirement. In this article, you can learn how to get DirectPlay for Windows 10, troubleshoot issues, and more.
What is DirectPlay?
If you’re a PC gamer, you’ve probably heard about DirectX before. DirectPlay is a DirectX API component that works as a network communication library. It allows video games to connect to the internet, a modem link, or a network to find game sessions for players.
Games for Windows Live was expanded onto computers by Microsoft, which essentially ended DirectPlay’s relevancy in the modern world. Games no longer rely on the library; there’s very little use left for it.
DirectPlay is now a deprecated feature in Windows 10, reserved mostly for running old video games. If you’re feeling nostalgic and want to give your favorite childhood games a run, you’ll most likely need to install or enable it on your device.
Note: Some of the following steps require you to have an administrator account. If you don’t know how to create an administrator account on Windows 10, we recommend watching this video by Polarity.
How to enable DirectPlay on Windows 10
Many users report having an issue with DirectPlay when running older games on a Windows 10 operating system. Here’s a quick guide on how you can enable it and start playing classic games again.
- Click on the Search icon in your taskbar, and type in Control Panel.
- Click on the top result to launch the classic Control Panel application. As opposed to using the new Settings, you have access to turning Windows Features on or off here.
- Change your view mode to Large icons. This enables you to see all Control Panel elements at once.
- Find and click on Programs and Features.
- Look to the left side of the window and click on the Turn Windows features on or off-link.
- If prompted, enter the local account details needed to open this link. This is usually the administrator account password.
- Expand Legacy Components by clicking on the plus icon, then place a checkmark in the box next to DirectPlay.
- Click OK.
Doing these steps should ensure that DirectPlay is downloaded and enabled on your system.
How to fix DirectPlay errors on Windows 10
There’s a possibility that you might run into errors with DirectPlay even if you downloaded and enabled it properly. Pop-ups such as "An app on your PC needs the following Windows feature: DirectPlay" make it impossible to launch an application even if you’ve already enabled it.
While different games need different solutions to run, we’ve compiled some things you can do in order to run older games on a Windows 10 OS.
Solution 1: Use Compatibility Mode
Windows 10 comes with the option to run a game in what’s called Compatibility Mode. Because outdated games were written for older systems, they’re most likely unable to run with the code of the much newer Windows 10.
Compatibility Mode usually fixes this by enabling games to use settings from older versions of Windows, eliminating the issue of not having them present.
Here’s how you can run a game in Compatibility Mode on Windows 10.
- Open the File Explorer. The easiest way of doing this is by clicking on the taskbar icon.
- Navigate to the folder where your game launcher is located. You can usually find this in C:\Program Files by default unless you chose a custom install directory.
- Right-click on the launcher file (.exe) and click Properties.
- Switch to the Compatibility tab from the menu on top of the Properties window.
- Place a checkmark next to the “Run this program in compatibility mode for:” option.
- Open the drop-down menu and select an older version of Windows. We recommend doing some research to find out what was the newest system when the game was released.
- Optionally, check the “Run this program as an administrator” option as well. This isn’t required, however, we recommend it to avoid other issues.
- Click OK and try launching the game again.
Solution 2: Disable your antivirus
Antivirus applications are notorious for making it difficult to run certain video games, especially if they aren’t from a manufacturer directly. Your antivirus application might also block DirectPlay from installing, giving you error code 0x80073701.
To ensure your antivirus software isn’t the cause of your inability to install DirectPlay or to run games associated with DirectPlay, we recommend temporarily disabling it.
- Right-click on an empty space in your taskbar and choose Task Manager.
- Click on More details.
- Switch to the Start-up tab at the top of the window.
- Locate your antivirus application and select it by clicking on it once.
- Click on the Disable button now visible in the bottom-right of the window. This will disable the application from launching when you start your device.
- Restart your computer and attempt installing DirectPlay again.
After you confirm whether or not your antivirus app interferes with DirectPlay, you can enable it again by following the same steps.
We recommend disabling your antivirus only for a short period of time - don’t forget to enable it right after you’re done with your gaming session.
Solution 3: Use Program Compatibility Troubleshooter
Windows 10 comes with a plethora of troubleshooters that automate the process of fixing issues with your device. There’s even one for fixing compatibility issues!
If the sections above weren’t remedies to your DirectPlay error, give the Program Compatibility Troubleshooter a try.
- Click on the Search icon in your taskbar, and type in ”compatibility.”
- Click on Run programs made for earlier versions of Windows.
- Click the Advanced link, then click on Run as administrator. This will re-launch the window with administrative permissions.
- Click Next.
- Select the game you’re having issues with and click Next. If you can’t find it from the list, select Not listed.
- If needed, locate the game launcher (.exe) file by clicking on Browse. When done, click Next.
- Follow the on-screen instructions to fix any compatibility issues found by Windows 10.
Activating DirectPlay and DirectDraw/Direct3D on Windows 10
DirectPlay and DirectDraw/Direct3D features could help run less recent games and other classics. Anyway, below are steps on how to activate them on Windows 10.
To activate DirectPlay:
- Press the Windows key (between Ctrl and Alt) and the R key at the same time.
- In the Open box, type Control Panel and click OK.
- Then, select Programs.
- Finally, click on Turn Windows Features on or off and turn on the DirectPlay feature in this new window.
Note that this feature is automatically activated during the installation of some games.
To activate DirectDraw/Direct3D, consult instructions in the official Microsoft guide.
If you are having trouble activating these features, get in touch with the Microsoft support teams, who are better equipped to troubleshoot this situation.
We hope this guide was able to help you solve issues with DirectPlay on Windows 10. If you need information about Microsoft Windows, need help with troubleshooting, or want to learn more about your operating system, check out our other articles here.
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DirectPlay on Windows FAQ
What is DirectPlay used for?
DirectPlay is a high-level software interface between applications and communication services that allows games to be connected over the Internet, a modem link, or a network. It features a set of tools that allow players to find game sessions and sites to manage the flow of information between hosts and players.
Is DirectPlay necessary?
Yes and No. DirectPlay used to be a core API library primarily used to enable multiplayer functionality in computer games. As Microsoft decided to roll our Games for Windows Live, DirectPlay is no longer required for modern apps or games. However, you can still download DirectPlay on Windows 10.
What is DirectPlay in Windows?
DirectPlay is part of DirectX that allows players to establish a link. While DirectPlay isn't used anymore in most newer games, it is still required for older games. Here's how you can enable or disable DirectPlay on Windows 10 or 11.
How do I run DirectPlay?
Once you download and install DirectPlay, Press the Windows key (between Ctrl and Alt) and the R key simultaneously. In the Open box, type Control Panel and click OK. Then, select Programs. Finally, click on Turn Windows Features on or off and turn on the DirectPlay feature in this new window.
How do I enable DirectPlay on Windows 10?
Click Programs and Features to open the uninstaller utility. Click Turn Windows features on or off. Double-click Legacy Components to expand it, then select the DirectPlay checkbox. Reboot your desktop or laptop after installing DirectPlay.
How do I enable DirectX on Windows 11?
DirectX 12 Ultimate feature will be built in Windows 11. To download and install DirectX 12 Ultimate latest version, you can still use Windows Update. Just click Start -> Settings -> Windows Update -> Check for updates to do it.