No Sound on Steam

Valve’s Steam software platform is a great source for games.  We have a couple of accounts and individuals using games like War Thunder and Sid Meier’s Civilization 5.  The Steam Launcher maintains a library of the games you have licensed and gives you fast access to them.  Something changed recently – I’m guessing it was a recent update to Windows 10 – and it disabled the sound to all of the games in Steam.

It seems to be a common problem and not one that is linked to Windows 10.  Sound in Windows works fine outside of Steam.  As soon as you use the launcher and access an application, no sound occurs.  Making changes to individual game sound settings doesn’t make a difference.

In our case, it was the Steam launcher that was the problem.  Thanks to others who had trod this path before, I was able to identify two workarounds.  One bypasses the launcher entirely and one tweaks the underlying applications so that the launcher works properly.

Start with the Executable

I found this answer on Reddit, where user grahag had found that, in the case of War Thunder, you can run the aces.exe file from the command line.  This is the file the Steam launcher calls for War Thunder and you get the same warnings on startup that you do in the launcher.

In my case, all of the Steam games were located in:

\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\Common\

and there was then a subfolder for each game.  Going into:

\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\Common\War Thunder

and double-clicking aces.exe starts the game.  Sound works fine.    As grahag suggested, you can also use PowerShell or even just the regular CMD for a command line start.  But it’s not necessary.

Make Games Compatible with Launcher

The alternate method was actually suggested on Steam but I only saw it once.  It was to change the compatibility mode that the the underlying executable uses.  Take War Thunder again.  You already know where the aces.exe file is:

\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\Common\War Thunder\aces.exe

Right click on the file and choose Properties from the menu.  The dialog box that pops up will have a bunch of tabs.  Click on Compatibility.

Check the compatibility mode box and choose the latest Windows operating system (8 or 7).  Then click OK.
Check the compatibility mode box and choose the latest Windows operating system (8 or 7). Then click OK.

In our case, we didn’t need to make any other changes to the compatibility settings.  Once I made both the War Thunder aces.exe file and Civilization 5’s launcher.exe file compatible with Windows 8, the problem was fixed.  We can start both games from within the Steam launcher and both games have the correct sound.