Do not fear, my fellow RPG PC gamer. We are here to help you with that so that you can begin collecting souls in this epic game. Note that this helps all forms of launch failure with the game (including directly loading the EXE and black screen or window mode issues).
If the game is already installed, then follow these steps. If it isn't then install + open Steam, then install + open Dark Souls (to verify crash).
Note that these fixes work on all versions of Windows -- Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.
How to Fix: Dark Souls Prepare to Die Edition Crashing
1) Open the Control Panel and uninstall GFWL (Games for Windows Live). There are 2 parts -- uninstall both.
2) Download & install the latest version of Games for Windows Marketplace Client
3) Launch the game
It should now work! The reason it may have caused a crash error message (such as "Dark souls Prepare To Die Edition Executable has stopped working") for you previously is because an old version of GFWL was actually installed instead of the newest version.
Still crashing? Then continue below...
Solve Dark Souls Freeze / Error on Load / Crash
-- If you are crashing because of vsfilter.dll, then try renaming this file (locate it through search). If that doesn't work, then make sure to name it back to the original file!
-- Restart your computer
-- Remove ANY game controllers that are plugged in (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, etc).
-- If you installed a mod, such as DSFix, then disable it (rename it or move it). Old versions of this mod are causing the game to crash after updating it!
-- Similarly, the new version of the DSFix is working fine for people. So if you haven't used it yet and are black screening near the intro / opening of the game, then enable the "Skip Intro" feature
-- Install the latest DirectX drivers! This includes the ones that came with the game AND (if that doesn't help) the newest copy from Microsoft's site!
-- Install the latest .NET Framework!
-- Run DarkSouls.exe in admin mode (right click the exe -> run as administrator)
-- Download xlive.dll and put it in your C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32 folder! You should have this file already somewhere though so you should use the included DLL. Run SEARCH for it.
-- REPAIR (via Control Panel) Windows Live Essentials
Boom shocka locka! The game should now work for you if you followed the troubleshooting tips in this guide. If it doesn't, then maybe the planets are aligned in such a way that the world is working against you! Kidding, I think! Feel free to comment if you need additional help to get this awesome game to run without crashing or freezing or error'ing.
Remember folks -- Dark souls isn't just a game. It's a lifestyle!