I've spent the past the past three weeks in super-rage-mode over the fact that neither GTA 4 nor The Sims 2 will run on my computer.
At first I believed GTA 4 no longer ran because of a corrupted install, so I reinstalled it. No biggie, I wanted to start over anyway.
Still doesn't work. Since it's partially dependent on the now-defunct Games for Windows Live, I believed that to be the true cause, which left me with no solution.
Then I tried TS2, and it didn't work either. I'd already seen the fury whipped up about the broken launcher, but was able to find a workaround. Even that didn't work. I immediately suspected EA of foul play; some killswitch they'd planted in the game to force players into buying the newer, Origin-dependent Sims 4.
Then I noticed something. Both games require a disc to play. Both die just as the disc is spinning up. And that's when it hit me.
THE DISC DRIVE.
The drive itself plays movies just fine, but that's because they're sequential discs; the data is all laid out in a straight line. Game discs have their data scattered all over the place, meaning the read head has to move all about the disc. This means that the read head in my computer's optical drive is either dirty or failing.
EDIT: It's not the drive, meaning this is some ridiculously cryptic software issue.
I'm taking it in for a more professional inspection tomorrow.