Win7 and the case of the broken games

June 27, 2012 - Games, Windows

A frequent- and aggravating- problem that I’ve had with games on my Windows machine is that many of them simply would not start. Inspecting Task manager would show a rundll32 process consuming the CPU and doing nothing useful. Terminating that would terminate the game process as well. This had become aggravating enough that when it happened an hour ago I got sick of putting up with it and decided to figure out what the heck was going on.

Intelligence gathering

First, what do we know about it? the rundll32 process seems to invoke something within GameUX.dll. GameUX.dll is part of Windows Game Explorer library. Looking up what exactly that does online revealed that it is for managing, organizing, and keeping games up to date. That last one stuck out for me. See, my Windows machine has not had a Internet Connection for almost a year. And a LOT of software just assumes it can access the internet without proper error-handling. To test my suspicions, I decided to test something. I deregistered GameUX.dll using regsvr32 /u. Launched a game- and same problem. Interesting. After a bit more flopping around like a fish I realized that I don’t have one GameUX.dll, I have 2, since I’m running 64-bit Windows. so I unregistered the one in SysWOW64 as well. Started the game… and…


It worked, as did all my other old games that had stopped working mysteriously. Seemed the cause was simply that I no longer had a net connection. That seems a bit stupid, since these aren’t online games. Bit of a “woops” on the part of the Game Explorer. I imagine a quick fix could be added to actually handle the situation where there is no internet connection, rather than sit in a loop waiting for one to magically appear, while keeping the game from starting.

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