Fixing an ‘Initialization of SteelSeries Engine failed’ error

Initialization of SteelSeries Engine failed. Please reinstall Engine and try again.

Yesterday morning when I booted up my PC I was greeted with this error message:

Initialization of SteelSeries Engine failed.
Please reinstall Engine and try again.

Not again! I thought. I’d experienced this before and had needed to get help from SteelSeries tech support to resolve it. I suspected that it had been caused by a recent Windows 8 update, but I don’t know for sure.

Here is how I resolved it:

  1. Clear temp files
    In Windows Explorer I typed %temp% into the address bar and pressed Enter. This is a shortcut to C:\Users\[USERNAME]\AppData\Local\Temp. I selected all files and deleted them. (A few files are still in use so just skip past these.)
  2. Close SSEngine.exe process
    The next step is to make sure the SteelSeries Engine process isn’t still running. Ctrl+Shift+Esc brings up the Task Manager. If the SSEngine.exe process is still running (under the Processes tab) then close it.
  3. Uninstall
    In Control Panel > Programs and Features uninstall the SteelSeries Engine application.
  4. Clear AppData\Roaming\SteelSeries
    In Windows Explorer, in the address bar, type %appdata%. This is a shortcut for C:\Users\[USERNAME]\AppData\Roaming. Locate the directory called SteelSeries and delete it.
  5. Clear AppData\Local\SteelSeries_ApS
    Do the same at C:\Users\[USERNAME]\AppData\Local. The directory there for me is called SteelSeries_ApS. Delete it.
  6. Unplug mouse
    Unplug the mouse from its USB port. Wait 10 seconds then plug it back in.
  7. Download drivers
    Now download fresh drivers from SteelSeries support. Do not rely on previously-downloaded drivers.
  8. Install as administrator
    Right click the installer and select ‘Run as administrator’, then follow the on-screen instructions and install the drivers.
  9. Reboot
    You should now find that your computer reboots without any initialization error message.

As well as reinstalling the Engine drivers I also took the opportunity to upgrade the mouse’s firmware.

It was then just a case of recreating my custom profile to make my mouse behave as much like a Microsoft Intellimouse Optical as possible (left-hand side buttons: back; right-hand side buttons: forward), as well as setting two sensor speeds (red 1600 dcpi for me, blue 800 dcpi for the children).

It worked.

Published by

Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 46 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Latterly, web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall. Currently on sabbatical. I am a priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir.

18 thoughts on “Fixing an ‘Initialization of SteelSeries Engine failed’ error”

  1. Thanks, this actually fixed the problem completely.

    After following directions the engine was finally able to open up again without a system restart.

    1. I’m sorry it didn’t work for you. For my set up it took me two or three attempts before it all finally worked. You may need to poke around a little more to get it working.

      I should have written down exactly what I did in which order and how often but I didn’t. Sorry I can’t be any clearer.

  2. I’m using Win 8.1, I’ve done this process three times but still get the same error. Getting real tired of this mouse, seems like they boycotted SteelSeries Engine 2.

  3. Just bought the Sensei original, but it wont work on the steelseries engine 3.
    So i tried the engine 2 and it worked for 1 week. Then all kinds of problems
    – can’t start engine 2 anymore even after reinstalling
    – doesn’t change anything when i try a firmware update for my sensei.
    – now according to this site http://www.garethjmsaunders.co.uk/2014/02/14/fixing-an-initialization-of-steelseries-engine-failed-error/
    i could manage to start eninge 2 finally again after several attempts.
    But now engine 2 won’t even recognize my Sensei mouse
    so my oppinion is just fix a smooth running software for the Sensei mouse hopefully engine 3 will be that software.
    But i doubt it they do fix this…

    so this Sensei mouse is now useless without its software
    thanks Steelseries!

  4. Thanks, it worked with windows 8.1 OS. At the beginning it did not work after following instructions but I updated mouse fimware on SteelSeries support and i clicked on ‘reinstall driver’ from the same pannel and now it’s working. In first you have to follow Gareth J M Saunders instructions and after update firmware device.
    Sorry for my English!!

  5. Usually this happens when the internal memory of the device get damaged (which unfortunately happens really lot in SteelSeries devices) so what you have to do is run Firmware update tool (which is installed with Engine), reset your device’s firmware and then disconnect it and reconnect to force it to load the new firmware. By reinstalling the driver from Update tool does not hurt.

    In most cases, you don’t need to delete your game profiles!

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