Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

How To Play Your Steam Games Offline

This tutorial is for those folks who, like me, have no interest in online ‘deathmatches’, but prefer to play their games against the computer in Single-player mode. Or .. otherwise do not like Steam. I have not had time to try this yet myself, but a reliable source told me it works. Source ~ It is posted on the Call of Duty Black Ops forum.

[note: this applies to games you own.. and are in your Steam “library”.]

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.

1) Start Steam online – make sure the Remember my password box on the login window is checked.

2) Verify that all game files are completely updated – you can see the update status for a game under the Library section (when the game shows as 100% – Ready it is ready to be played in Offline Mode).

3) Launch the game you would like to play offline to verify that there are no further updates to download – shut down the game and return to Steam once you have confirmed that the game can be played.

[NOTE: Mine never showed “100% Ready”, and I had to download an 8012.4 MB file (which I believe is the entire DVD contents) to complete the update process referenced in Step 3.]

4) Go to Steam > Library then right click on Call of Duty: Black Ops and select Properties. In the Updates tab, choose Do not automatically update this game under Automatic updates.

5) Go to Steam > Settings to ensure the Don’t save account credentials on this computer option is not selected.

6) From the main Steam window, go to the Steam menu and select Go Offline.

7) Click Restart in Offline Mode to restart Steam in Offline Mode.”

And, yes, I am going to implement this mucho muy mas pronto. I am not a fan of Steam, and successfully managed to avoid it for years — until my favorite game title, Call of Duty, required Steam to install.

Call me an old dinosaur if you want, but I do not enjoy running around arenas, getting knifed in gun battles and sniped by campers — and trying to guess if what just killed me was a hack, a bot, or a lucky/good player. I leave online gaming (and Steam tracking everything I do..) to the teenagers-of-all-ages, gladly!

My sincere and profound thanks and regards to the person who alerted me to this. (You know who you are.)

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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February 5, 2011 - Posted by | advice, computers, Gaming, how to, Internet, PC, privacy, software, tech, troubleshooting, tweaks | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

47 Comments »

  1. Thanks Paul.

    I do not like Steam at all, but more than that I am like you, a Single-player mode gamer.

    From a programmers point of view, I enjoy exploring the environment and inspecting the quality of the graphics. It’s much easier to do that if you already know where the “bad guys” are, as you do when you play against the computer.

    I’m very interested in giving these steps a try. Thanks for posting this information…

    Comment by KsTinMan | February 5, 2011 | Reply

    • KsTinMan,
      Well, for me it is not so much a question of “easier” (I find modern game AI plenty challenging) but that I am just not ‘into’ the multi-player arena scene.
      Maybe I just *smell* at it too bad to have any fun… but, whatever, it’s not my cup of tea.

      My main reasons for wanting to implement this will be privacy, and not having a Steam update render the game unplayable.. as happened to me with CoD V…

      Comment by techpaul | February 5, 2011 | Reply

      • I definitely “smell” at online gaming, which is probably one of the main reason I don’t do it. I want to progress through the game without getting nailed around every corner. “Campers” is a good description of the players that irritate me in the online games. I want to have fun, and it just isn’t any fun for me in clans or arena type of play.

        I think a lot of that has to do with my lack of desire to get involved with social networking. There seems to be a lot of drama, personal fighting among players, etc. I have enough drama in RL without adding that to the mix.

        Of course I came from a long line of single-player games on my old Vic-20 and Commodore 64. Bulletin boards were not even a thought back then, let alone a world wide web. Guess I’m a dinosaur too…

        Comment by KsTinMan | February 5, 2011 | Reply

        • KsTinMan,
          I watched my nephew play for hours and hours (he’s 15) and hours and hours and.. I understood why I don’t enjoy playing either against, or with, players like him. He didn’t give a hoot for teamplay (in team matches), would camp with a sniper rifle in some nook (if he could get to the ‘good holes’ first), would do the most illogical (and selfish) things to gain an unlock/proficiency (including a team loss..) and demonstrated very little sense of decency and/or fair play — i.e fragging teammates to get to the bonus drop first.
          And he’s a good kid (a great kid, actually). A real gentleman in RL.

          And when I play, there’s always bots.
          And watching myself spawn is only fun for a very short while…

          Yeah, I think I’m “too old” for it. But, hey. To each his own. (And I think they won’t miss me there…)

          Comment by techpaul | February 5, 2011 | Reply

          • “Camp with a sniper rifle” you mean “sniping?” That’s what a sniper is SUPPOSED to do. One shot one kill without being seen. The whole point of using a sniper rifle with a scope is so that you can see them before they see you. Running around the middle of a battlefield with a bolt action weapon while everyone else is using fully automatic assault rifles is just about the dumbest thing you can do in a war game, short of jumping on top of your own grenade. I don’t play online shooters myself, generally, because the communities are what suck, the aforementioned 15 year olds whose vocabulary seems to consist of “F*ggot, N*gger, and F*ck.” But I have an honest question, if you enjoy only the single player games, why on earth are you playing Call of Duty? Their 2 hour instructional mode that they dare call a single player campaign is just ridiculous.

            Comment by Okuma | November 22, 2011 | Reply

            • Okuma,
              Do you think I don’t know how to snipe, or what a sniper brings to the team? (Or that the best sniper rifle in a game still belongs to Far Cry?) What I am talking about is where 11 snipers expect 1 noob to go get the flag/ammo drop/do recon/etc. while letting the other team capture and hold every victory point.. just so they can get another kill, and earn an upgrade. I play to win.

              As for “why play CoD?” I have been at this for a long, long time. When the first CoD came along, it was – hands down – they best FPS available. And I loved it. I have been a “faithful fan” ever since.
              (WW II is my preferred “genre” of FPS’s)

              Comment by techpaul | November 22, 2011 | Reply

  2. Wow, we finally disagree on something! One of my favorite pastimes is playing Left 4 Dead 1&2 in versus mode on Steam (4 against 4). The key is to find a good group of people, the people I play with are just there to have fun like me.
    Nothing like 8 like minded people kicking each others butts and having a good time.

    Comment by Dave B | February 7, 2011 | Reply

    • Dave B,
      Good to see your name here again!

      Perhaps we don’t disagree… What you are describing sounds to me like a “LAN Party” (though I imagine you are using “invite a friend” or something similar), and I do very much enjoy team play with ‘like minded people’, against like minded people.
      But, I don’t have the time in my schedule for arranging game play. I grab a quick game here and there when I can.

      … never have tried Left 4 Dead

      Comment by techpaul | February 7, 2011 | Reply

      • Hey, I have Black Ops, but it won’t work without internet and Steam. Is it possible to install it with internet, then remove internet from the computer, and continue to play the game? I’ve tried this before, the game worked for a while until Steam could no longer support it without internet. So, is there a way to play the game without internet?

        Comment by Nathan Macon | February 17, 2012 | Reply

        • Nathan Macon,
          The method described in this article came from the Black Ops forum .. and I provided a link.

          I have no idea if anything has changed (in the year since this was posted) that would make it stop working.. but you can click the link and check the forum and look…

          Comment by techpaul | February 17, 2012 | Reply

  3. If I want to play an online game, I’ll play WoW. Otherwise, I prefer my games in old-fashioned, single player mode. There are times when you don’t want others around when you’re gaming.

    Comment by Willow | November 9, 2011 | Reply

    • Willow,
      Personally, I never “got into” MMORPG’s (and I for sure don’t enjoy online “arenas”) but I understand WoW has some popularity…

      Comment by techpaul | November 9, 2011 | Reply

  4. @Willow…Thanks for bring this post to my attention. I use Steam. Mostly just for my individual games. So now i can play off line which will help my bandwidth cap. Thanks!

    I do have friends that play on Steam. I am just not into some of the shooters, RPG etc games they play. They have their own server and play through the night or day. They are all over 50 or more and it is between friends. They like to just play a good game..none of that “bad” stuff. One of the guys is my game mentor. Just tell them you are new and they will help you. They all got together from GOTD and had had some “bad” experiences so that is why they play together. So if anyone is interested and wants to play with some “good” guys, let me know. I can contact them for you.

    Comment by delenn13 | November 9, 2011 | Reply

  5. Yeah right. I pay $80 and have to download updates or whatever at a snails pace before i can start playing? No way will I purchase another scmuck game.

    Comment by Anonymous | November 24, 2011 | Reply

    • Sir or Ms,
      When I first discovered that my game titles had climbed into bed with Steam (and downloaded [again] the contents of the Install DVD), I got so mad I stopped buying new games, and now only pick up older titles (which are quite a bit cheaper than when the were new and cutting edge).
      And I know many out there feel the same way.

      But, game sales are up. Active players on Steam is up. (So I don’t think the Industry much cares about my point of view..)

      Comment by techpaul | November 25, 2011 | Reply

  6. Naw, they don’t care. Trust me.

    The only reason I use Steam is..I have games that were “gifted” to me and then some of the places I buy games adds Steam codes with the downloads. So I actually have the game on my PC as a real game..plus I can play it on Steam and Desura(like Steam). So I have no CC info etc on my account.

    I usually buy the Humble Bundles, The Humble Introversion Bundle (pay what you want and help charity) is their latest offer. I think this is their 6 or 7 bundle. I have bought them all. Then I buy the Indie Royale Bundles. The Difficult 2nd Bundle – IndieRoyale Their next one is coming up next week.

    I, also buy from GOG.com.. Some you have to use DOS Box to play..No problem here. :) (Need help just ask)and then…Download and Play classic PC, online and iPhone games – DotEmu No DOS Box.

    Here is a good place to find sales for a few games sites..Steam, GOG. Impulse, D2D & Gamersgate…all in one place..Didimatic

    Comment by delenn13 | November 25, 2011 | Reply

    • delenn13,
      Thank you for sharing those with us (providing those links), and also for another mention of Humble Bundle.

      Folks, the “Humble” bundle (of games) is a hit with those in the know. Take a look, won’t you?

      Comment by techpaul | November 25, 2011 | Reply

  7. Even @wilw buys the Humble Bundles. :) And he was a big arcade gamer when he was kid.

    I have other sites I buy games..but those are the ones I check out the most. Plus I know lots o sites with free ones..

    Just a heads up..Just got this in my Twitter feed, posted 16 hours ago..

    @indieroyale Indie Royale
    Thanks to everyone patiently waiting, we have just added the launch date to http://www.indieroyale.com Tuesday 29th November (3 days away)

    It’s called “Really Big Bundle” but I think the “Big” is in the quality not quantity from the news letters I get.

    Comment by delenn13 | November 26, 2011 | Reply

    • delenn13,
      I am beginning to think you are a fan of the HB’s..

      Wink

      Comment by techpaul | November 26, 2011 | Reply

  8. will the process given above work for cod mw3 .pls reply fast as i want to buy it.
    and i have slow internet speed ,so will i have a problem playing it.i only want to play singleplayer mode

    Comment by Ojas | February 3, 2012 | Reply

    • Ojas,
      I have not tried this on my MW3.. so I cannot say for certain (and it has been several months since I did the install, so my memory may be faulty), though I have with other Steam games.

      However, it seems that I can share 3 thoughts (opinions):
      * I don’t see why it wouldn’t work..
      * CoD MW3 definitely checks with Steam (and validates the keycode) before even starting the install..
      * Even if it took an overnight download to get MW3 installed, it is (probably) worth it.

      Bonus opinion: CoD MW3 in singleplayer mode seemed to me to be over too quickly (partly because it is so fun) and so I would wait for the price to come down before plunking down my cash.. But I am kind of a tightwad.

      If you need a more specific answer.. you might look to the Steam forum (and if you don’t find the answer, post this question there).

      Comment by techpaul | February 3, 2012 | Reply

  9. […] I can understand if some people are afraid of online big brother coming to get them after reading articles like this. For those of you that would like to have virtual bomb shelters in your back yard check out this way to run Steam games online. […]

    Pingback by Do we really own our Steam games? « The Gamer Guy Rants | February 18, 2012 | Reply

  10. thank you very much, i hope the person that developed steam hits his big head.

    Comment by Anonymous | March 13, 2012 | Reply

  11. Steam needs to be kicked out of the gaming industry……asap

    Comment by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 | Reply

    • Sir or Ms,
      While I cannot find anything good to say about Steam, and avoided it for as long as I could, I don’t think it is going to go anywhere — they tell the game producers that using them prevents piracy, and can better deliver patches/fixes.
      But all the game authors/publishers need to hear is “prevent piracy”.

      DRM is a big topic, and it’s currently a big mess too.

      Comment by techpaul | March 25, 2012 | Reply

  12. In the country that i live, data subscriptions are not cheap. I’ve purchased 3 games recently to play in single player mode and i’m unable to play them because i cant afford to update them first. Understandably steps should be taken to prevent piracy but they have taken away the freedom to choose to update or not.

    Comment by Anonymous | March 25, 2012 | Reply

    • Sir or Ms,
      I hear you loud and clear, and I share your frustration.

      .. perhaps, you might try your luck with an honest appeal to Steam support for a “one time exception”, and state your hardship.
      It couldn’t hurt to try..
      But, they are under no obligation to change their policy or make exceptions, as they say the package labeling on the game’s box (aka it says “Steam required”) is quite clear.

      But .. the ‘used game’ places (and eBay) are full of people dumping their Steam Required titles..

      Comment by techpaul | March 25, 2012 | Reply

  13. Can anybody help me ????????
    When i try to start the game ( i.e. click on the Call of duty-Black Ops icon ) ,I get the error “steam must be running to play this game” .
    Does anybody know the solution of this error.

    Comment by Anonymous | March 31, 2012 | Reply

    • Sir or Ms,
      I have to assume that you are trying to play BO “offline”. Follow the steps above to the letter. If you still have trouble, I suggest you post your question on the BO forum (the link is in the article, above). Your fellow Black Ops players may have a better answer.

      Comment by techpaul | March 31, 2012 | Reply

  14. I recently purchased Homefront for PC and I am sorry that I did. I purchased it to play on my private computer without being connected to the internet and this infernal STEAM platform which; unfortunately, I knew little about stubbornly appears. I do not like being forced to go online to play something that I paid for offline. There seems to be no clear workaround from preventing my gameplay, in my private home, from being tracked!

    Some of you having nothing to hide? Soon enough it will be more than your gaming that will be tracked!

    Comment by OnlineSurveillance | April 1, 2012 | Reply

    • OnlineSurveillance,
      I guess the method described in this article does not work for Homefront?

      Here’s the deal as I see it: the abomination *useful service* that is Steam will not go away until enough people stop buying titles that require Steam to play (it says on the box..).
      Since the prime demographic is teenage boys – for whom the choice of playing the latest/greatest game, or worrying about some dead concept called “privacy”, is a no brainer (PLAY! Play ALL DAY!!) – I think it’s safe to say that Steam will only grow and grow.

      Every teenage boy I know wants Steam on their machine.
      And they’re proud of the hours they put in.

      (And it is not a question of “soon”. Every thing you do online is tracked by somebody, somewhere. Been that way for years.)

      Comment by techpaul | April 1, 2012 | Reply

  15. Privacy (meaning “security of important information”) wasn’t actually any better before the internet, it was just more inconvenient, what with all those pieces of paper scattered everywhere with our personal information, in varying amounts, plastered all over them. (There were also certain means of fraud and identity theft that were easier in the past). Now it’s all linked and delineated in CSV formats. Privacy was always an illusion anyhow. The ancient paradigm still holds: any secret that two people know isn’t a secret.

    Besides, if you really have something to hide, then you have to make choices hinging upon that need. If you have to forgo the pleasure of gaming to protect some hideous secret that could be revealed by such activity, that’s the price you pay. Every decision has consequences.

    Steam does piss me off, though, because it never seems to be properly “updated” when you want to play offline, and my connection can be iffy, so it can take an hour or more to get going even with a small update.

    Comment by Lo Sbandato | April 26, 2012 | Reply

    • Lo Sbandato,
      You may not believe it, but I am – for the most part – going to agree with you. I just have two.. um, let’s call them “rebuttal points”

      • data mining
      • It is nobody’s, and I truly do mean NO person’s, business how many hours I play games (see, I happen to know a little about how facts can be.. misused, misrepresented, and twisted).

      I can further say, that I prefer to inconvenience the identity thieves as much as possible. And that a government run database, on obsolete software, and managed by non-technical people, well, that’s kind of like just handing the stuff away. But, you’re right. There is no privacy online.

      Comment by techpaul | April 26, 2012 | Reply

  16. too bad the only players on Steam are little whinny children that dont know the destructive path DRM and steam has taken the pc gaming industry

    Comment by painkiller1961 | August 11, 2012 | Reply

    • painkiller1961,
      I don’t think knowing would matter. I think it largely boils down (for them) to That Is Where The Games Are.

      It is up to the game authors to Just Say No. (The adults in the room, so to speak.)

      I’ll give you a “for instance”. Way back in the day, they released a FPS called Call of Duty that – finally – was what FPS’s were supposed to be, and it won every award, and I became a fan. CoD 2 was just as good, if not better, and I was hooked and Call of Duty became a “franchise”. Somewhere along the line (CoD 5, if I remember correctly, tho it may have been 4) they hooked up with Steam and I either had to give up my fave game series (return it to the store) or sign up with Steam to even install it.
      So I pinched my nose and signed up.

      If I was the type who enjoyed the “online” matches (and getting knifed by bots) playing against other 12 year-olds.. I probably would think Steam was pretty “cool”, because their servers are almost always up, (not always the case in other online services) and there’s never a shortage of players.

      .. but, Steam proves you can get away with a lot if you follow Biz Rule #1 (Give the people what they want).

      Comment by techpaul | August 12, 2012 | Reply

  17. znuoglckptqz

    Comment by qkuvdsnfxoyo | April 9, 2013 | Reply

  18. sffylnmaxrls

    Comment by ldodbihgyyor | April 9, 2013 | Reply

    • I really think both of you should really considering locking the cat out of the room where your PC is(My cat called 911 once). Or you both fell asleep on your keyboard. Not sure which….

      Comment by delenn13 | April 9, 2013 | Reply

      • delenn13,
        Thank you for the much-needed laugh!

        I appreciated it SO much, I removed their referral links, and am going to leave the spam comments in place. (Maybe a few people will appreciate seeing the behind-the-scenes view of the Internet webmasters get to see. [ such as greedy amoral *idiots* attempting to trick Google using bots. ] I have received 16 others already today..)

        Comment by techpaul | April 9, 2013 | Reply

  19. It strikes me that Steam’s “Subscription” service isn’t a subscription at all. It’s Rent. When you hand over your money, you aren’t buying the licence to use the software, you are renting it for an undisclosed period of time until Valve says you can’t. ie bans your account (for whatever reason they see fit; and not tell you) or the company dissolves. Even with a subscription you have the right to transfer that subscription to another person.

    It is also concerning that Valve is considering to expand to beyond just game titles, given that the infrastructure isn’t able to cope with the current demand as it is. Can you imagine downloading Creative Suite? How long would it take to download 29+gig, and how reliably?

    The anti piracy thing gets to me too. I would have thought that with Google’s search tracking that publishers would realise that Steam hasn’t stopped piracy at all. It’s like when they look at the data, they put 2 and 2 together, and instead of getting 4, they say “We don’t like that answer.”

    Comment by Anonymous | April 17, 2013 | Reply

    • Sir or Ms,
      You’ll get no argument from me.

      Steam is vile. I will never, ever buy another title that “requires Steam”. (I’m missing out on the latest release of my fave series due to this conviction.) They randomly break what was working (sometimes breaking your computer in the process). Make you download setup files you already have. Minutely track (and record) what you do. And show you ads. Kind of hard for me to figure a more repugnant way of doing things.

      But, a pre-teen, or teenage, boy is not going to let such trifling matters get between him and the latest Big Name Game, (or beta of a coming release) so the rest of us are stuck with it.

      Comment by techpaul | April 17, 2013 | Reply

    • Everything is going digital. It’s that simple. It’s not about anti-piracy (though, that is going to be a factor in HOW these things are implemented), it’s about convenience. This is a platform that manages all of my games, so I can store, save, uninstall, and reinstall them as I see fit, and I like it.
      As far as renting the software goes… huh? I don’t mean to mock your silliness without mercy, but I’m going to. When you buy the game, you download it. Your connection with that game and steam can end at that moment. The license you receive is a product key for the game. You got it through steam, but beyond that, that code is to validate to the game manufacturer that you obtained it legally. You’ll notice you need this code, and receive it, from places like… well… any place you buy a game. Back up your games to a disk, and you can install them any time with that product key, without steam’s help.
      In regard to download speed, if that’s a problem, contact your ISP. If you don’t like digital delivery for content, fine. You’re allowed to be old fashioned. Just don’t look at everyone else and go “HAAAA! In my day we kept our games on DISKS! Y’all are stupid for not wanting to keep track of all those DISKS!”
      Get off of the porch, grandpa! There’s a beautiful world out there.

      Or don’t. Just stop shouting at the rest of us.

      Comment by Steve | July 22, 2013 | Reply

      • Steve,
        Nobody’s shouting from the porch, and I never called those who like Steam and/or gaming “stupid”.

        And my preference not to give up “Ownership” and “Privacy” for “Convenience” does not make me a grandpa. And in Steam’s case, Just Saying No was an easy choice, as I did not find having to rebuild my computer after Steam “updated” a game – TWICE – very “convenient” at all.

        What might make me a grandpa is I do not enjoy online gaming, preferring to play against the AI.

        I hope you continue to like and enjoy Steam — that you never experience them telling you your game isn’t licensed all of a sudden; or simply won’t play after an update (like my CoD 5); or have to reinstall the OS, and all your programs all over again because Steam files corrupted your machine; never have to live with a slow, or throttled, Internet; and that the fact that someone knows exactly how many hours of your life you’ve invested in video games never comes back to bite you. Enjoy. Live long and prosper.

        But I don’t think you should dismiss what others (and myself) have posted here (and elsewhere) about Steam as untrue. And spending a few minutes in the Steam Support forum will tell you that Steam is hardly without flaws, nor my technical troubles experienced rare.

        Comment by techpaul | July 23, 2013 | Reply

  20. ive been playing manger2013 and then computer woudnt load so i pressed f11 to recovery and when went back into play game it just went into black screen with store,libary.community, can anyone tell me what to do no my steam account details but just wont play games?

    Comment by lee | June 23, 2013 | Reply

    • lee,
      … you pressed F11 to restore your computer to factory condition?

      All I can suggest is searching the Steam forum (you’ll find lots on this) and maybe doing one of your searches there with the keyword “store.libary.community”; and also contacting Steam support (email). I do wish you good luck, but this is the wrong place to post your question — the Steam gamer forum is.

      Comment by techpaul | June 23, 2013 | Reply

  21. Thank you for your post! You’re hardly a dinosaur; it’s proper gaming that’s looking at extinction. :D

    Comment by Anonymous | June 1, 2014 | Reply

    • Sir or Ms,
      Couldn’t agree more. Thank you for taking the time to let me know you found my article helpful.

      Comment by techpaul | June 1, 2014 | Reply


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