How to Play Age of Empires 3 on Ubuntu Linux using Steam Play – Solving the “Invalid CD Key – Error loading the PID Generator DLL”

This guide is based on one I found here: https://verybadfrags.com/2019/04/14/play-age-of-empires-iii-on-linux/

It was done with the following system:

Date: 2019-04-20
OS: Ubuntu 19.04
Steam Play Version: 4.2-3
Graphics: Nvidia GTX 860m with proprietary driver

This is to fix the error that you get when trying to run Age of Empires III: “Invalid CD Key! – Error loading the PID Generator DLL. The DLL could not be found! Please make sure the file is available in the installation directory and try again.”

  1. Enable steam play for all titles. Go to “Settings” -> “Steam Play” -> check “Enable Steam Play for all other titles”
  2. Launch Steam and install ‘Age of Empires III: Complete Collection’
  3. Run AoE3 for the first time, and let perform the first time setup. One you get to the “Product Key” box, click “Cancel”
  4. You now need to install “winetricks.” See https://github.com/Winetricks/winetricks. The easiest way to install on Ubuntu is to run sudo apt install winetricks
  5. You also need to install “protontricks”, which is a wrapper for winetricks that runs it against Steam Play installations. The version on the original article is out of date, so the newer version is here: https://github.com/Matoking/protontricks. To install this, run:
    1. sudo apt install python3-pip python3-setuptools python3-venv
    2. python3 -m pip install --user pipx
    3. ~/.local/bin/pipx ensurepath
    4. pipx install protontricks
  6. Now install the extra dependencies with protontricks: protontricks 105450 mfc42 winxp l3codecx corefonts
  7. Now you can relaunch the game and enter the CD Key.


Published by Jay Tuckey

Systems Administrator

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