Is there a way I can play without having Steam running in the background?

  • 1
    Some Steam games don't check to see if Steam is there before starting, but they are the minority Jul 20, 2011 at 1:57
  • I'm going to assume it's the older games that it doesn't check for
    – Samjus
    Jul 20, 2011 at 14:11
  • 1
    @Samjus not always. CoD4 multiplayer does not require it, but singleplayer does. Jul 20, 2011 at 23:51
  • Have you tried in Windows: Program Files/Steam/SteamApps/common and Mac: ~/Library/Application Support/Steam/SteamApps/common­? The games executable are all there ;)
    – zanona
    Nov 1, 2013 at 14:39

3 Answers 3


There is no way to do so. Even if you navigate to the folder where the game is installed and run it directly, it will start the Steam client.

The closest you can get is to use the offline mode:

Offline Mode allows you to play games through Steam without reconnecting to the Steam Network every time you wish to play - this is particularly useful if you do not plan on playing over the internet and would prefer not to download new updates for your single-player games.

Please note that you must connect to the Steam Network and test each of the games you would like to use in Offline Mode at least once to set up your account and configure Offline Mode on your machine.

  • 4
    A pretty sad fact considering the memory usage for an application such as Steam is very high, and people with critically old computers have sometimes been forced to use no-steam pirated versions just for the sake of getting a few more FPS. +1 for saying the inevitable.
    – Bugster
    Nov 2, 2012 at 20:42
  • 1
    Planetside 2 doesn't need Steam.
    – iono
    Dec 29, 2012 at 21:11
  • 1
    @Bugster: ...have sometimes been forced to use no-steam pirated versions How so? Non F2P games you own on STEAM you pay for, that would indicate you do have the money when you purchase them on STEAM. If you are now looking for an alternative you might find that Amazon for example sells most games cheaper than STEAM. Not only that but Amazon will also give you the STEAM key for most games as well as let you download a physical stand-alone copy of the game. I do not ever see a legal justification here for pirated copies!
    – Nope
    Dec 5, 2013 at 9:20
  • KSP is another example a game you can play without steam by navigating to the folder where the game is installed and running it directly. That statement doesn't hold true.
    – HEGX64
    Feb 23, 2019 at 9:49
  • Just wanted to add that in steam you do not own the games. You do not even own your copies. Test of ownership is. Can you lend your copy? No. Can you sell your copy? No. Can you give your copy to someone else? No. When you die, would can you give your games in your will? No. Thereof you own NOTHING on steam. You are just buying a ticket to play a game at your convenience.
    – rxantos
    9 hours ago

If you go to the Steam folder and try to launch the game from there, it usually also launches Steam together with the game. There are few exceptions, though:

  • DOSBox and ScummVM games can be launched from outside Steam.
    • In case it doesn't work, at least you should be able to download and run DOSBox or ScummVM by yourself, and then load the game data from the Steam folder.
  • Some Flash games might also be launched without Steam, but that's not guaranteed.
  • Bora user mentions that you can run all Quake games without Steam.
    • Quake I uses DOSBox.
    • All Quake games have had their source-code released. So, in case they start requiring Steam in order to run, you can get a Quake port or compile your own Quake and run it, while grabbing the data files from the Steam folder.
  • Maybe a few other games...

Update: I tried grabbing the data files for a few point-and-click games in order to run them inside ScummVM, but is seems the format is slightly different and they do not work outside Steam.

  • And don't forget older games like Quake (QII, III Arena), which never really require Steam to start.
    – DrFish
    Jul 20, 2011 at 8:44
  • Quake I runs under DOSBox. I didn't experiment running the other Quake versions. Jul 20, 2011 at 15:32

Since games are using the steam library for achievements and so on, you basically just can't.

You have two options though:

  1. Patch you game to "free" it from steam, when it's available (some manufacturer provides them) This will not provide you with achievements and steam services though.
  2. Play in offline mode (but steam will still be running).

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