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I want to play a game in an older update, but can't see a way to choose a specific version. Is this possible?

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3 Answers 3

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Megos answer isn't entirely correct, it depends, so I'll expand a bit.

In general, as Mego says, there is no way to do this, but some publishers do provide this option.

For example, the Paradox Grand Strategy games offer the option to roll back to any prior version and play that.

The only possible mechanic to do this is the beta program. Originally this was provided to allow users to opt into a new patch before it was released, but it also got adapted to provide roll backs.

  1. Right-Click your game of choice in your Steam Library. Select Properties, select the Betas tab.

  2. Click on the drop down menu at the top, which should say "NONE - Opt out of all beta programs".

  3. If this menu now offers earlier versions, then your game offers the rollback function you seek, otherwise there is nothing you can do.

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  • 8
    It's a shame you can no longer say "Don't update this game, ever" :/ I understand many of the reasons, but it's still a shame.
    – Luaan
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 9:51
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Almost certainly no. Steam refuses to open a game unless it's the latest version or you're in offline mode, and does not offer any mechanism to download, install, and play older versions of games. The only way this would be possible is if the game developer kept older versions as part of the game content and had some sort of version selection in the game.

In short, your options are:

  1. Play in online mode, with the latest version of the game.
  2. Play in offline mode, with the last version of the game that you have downloaded.
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  • Pretty sure there was a "don't update this game" option but they removed it. I've read a few peoples reviews on GTA San Andreas which complained about it.
    – Gigala
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 10:58
  • "Steam refuses to open a game unless it's the latest version" - is this legal? I know that software is licensed, not "owned" - but aren't there relevant consumer rights laws to protect what people paid for? (e.g. if an update decided to add advertising, or remove features, etc)?
    – Dai
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 19:09
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Steam

Caveats

There is a way to download older versions of games from Steam, but:

  • Some games may not have older versions available (although most of them seem to)
  • It requires quite a bit of manual work, and if the game has content across multiple depots or you'd like to install DLCs, it gets more complicated
  • Even after downloading the older version of a game you'll likely have to do more work to prevent it from being updated to the latest version
  • If you have any save games in Steam Cloud you may bork them depending how you run the game

Steps

ⓘ A depot is a repository containing the files for the game, and a manifest is a specific version of the depot

  1. Find the manifests to download

    1. Go to https://steamdb.info and find the game

    2. Click Patches to see if the game has older builds available

    3. If the game has older builds, go back a page and go to Depots

    4. Look through the depots and figure out which ones you need

      • Some games have all the content in one depot; for example, Return to Monkey Island has one depot per OS:

        https://steamdb.info/app/2060130/depots/

      • Other games have multiple depots you'll need to download. For example, it looks like Civilization V has a couple base depots and another depot for the executable:

        https://steamdb.info/app/8930/depots/

      • Games will also have separate depots for DLC

    5. If you only need to download a single manifest, you can skip this section. Otherwise, you'll need to figure out which depots you want to download and which manifests. This is a bit trickier since you'll typically want to download manifests from the same period of time to make sure they're compatible.

      Unfortunately this seems to be a bit tricky:

      • Sometimes you can go to Patches and click the build number (near the top) and get a list of all changed depots for a specific build. But this will only include changed depots, not all depots
      • Inversely, you can go to a depot and click the Build ID from the depot to list all depots changed in that build, and from there go to each manifest. However this does not seem to list all depots for a build for games that have a large number of depots.
      • As a last resort, you can go through the list of depots and download manifests for the same time or earlier.
  2. Download a manifest

    1. Click on the depot and then go to Manifests

    2. On the manifests page in SteamDB, click the icon to the right of the manifest to copy the command needed to download the manifest

    3. Click Open Steam console on the popup that will show

    4. Steam should open to the Console tab (which is normally hidden)

    5. In the text box at the bottom of the Steam window, paste the command

      • It should start with depot_download, e.g.

        download_depot 8930 282301 5267780777055206315
        
    6. Wait until you see Depot download complete. This will also show you the location where the depot was downloaded

    If any of the above changes for any reason or doesn't work, you can use these steps:

    1. On the game's main page in SteamDB, copy the App ID

    2. Find the manifest you want to download using the steps above

    3. On the manifest page you'll need to copy the Depot ID and Manifest ID

    4. Go here in your web browser; this should open Steam to the hidden Console tab:

      steam://nav/console

    5. Type this command into the text box at the bottom of the Steam window, replacing the app ID, depot ID, and manifest ID you copied earlier:

      download_depot APP_ID DEPOT_ID MANIFEST_ID
      

      (See above for an example)

  3. Make backups

    Back up the depots you just downloaded as well as any save games (which may be incompatible with the older verison of the game)

  4. Lastly, you'll need to figure out how to run the game. Some options:

    • Copy the downloaded content over your game content in Steam. This may work but Steam will probably try to update the game. You could try making the game directory read-only as a potential workaround. YMMV.
    • Add the downloaded game as a non-Steam game in Steam
    • Run the game outside of Steam

    #2 and #3 will probably only work if the game doesn't require Steam to run. If it does, you'll have to replace the game's executable with one that doesn't require Steam.

GOG

The question was specific to Steam, but in case you happen to own the game on GOG as well, GOG has a rollback feature for some games: https://docs.gog.com/gc-rollback/

It looks like you have to install the game with the latest version first, but once it's installed you can choose to roll back to another version, if the game supports it (support seems to be limited).

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