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.