Does Starfield have DRM or Denuvo?

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

Does Starfield have DRM or Denuvo?

Starfield has basic Steam/Windows Store DRM that ties the game to the account you purchased it with. However, it does not have Denuvo Anti-Tamper.

Starfield DRM explained: What is it?

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(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

If you've played lots of games, there's a good chance you've heard people mention DRM before. But what is DRM, anyway? And why does it get added to games?

Put simply, DRM — or digital rights management — is a tool that publishers and platform owners use to combat piracy. When you buy a game on a platform, what you're really purchasing is a license you can use to access that game on that platform with your account. DRM, then, is what's used to verify that you're using the account you got the license with. Steam DRM, for example, checks to see that Steam is running and that you're logged in before allowing a game to start.

There are DRM-free games on storefronts like GOG, but in general, most digital games have some type of DRM attached to them. Thankfully, though, most forms of DRM have zero impact on the actual experience of playing games, as they're simply there to validate your license each time you launch them. Starfield has this kind of unintrusive DRM on all of the platforms you can play it on, including Xbox, Steam, and the Windows Store.

One particular type of DRM has proven to be controversial, though: Denuvo. We'll go in-depth about why in the section below.

Don't worry about Starfield having Denuvo

(Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

While most forms of DRM are considered fine by most gamers, one that often draws a lot of ire is Denuvo Anti-Tamper. This third-party software uses file encryption and other techniques, such as more aggressive account checks and an internet connection requirement, to both strongly safeguard from piracy and to make it harder for cheat developers to create hacks that give you an unfair advantage in multiplayer gameplay. It also detects and reports instances of cheating to a game's developers.

While Denuvo seems harmless on the surface, there are several reasons why it's often frowned upon by players. Firstly, players fear that if Denuvo's authentication servers went down, they would be unable to access any games that use the software until it's patched out by their developers. Also, Denuvo is often blamed for long load times and performance issues, and there's at least some evidence of a correlation with certain implementations (Resident Evil Village, for example). Notably, TEKKEN 7 Director Katsuhiro Harada publicly stated that it caused a problem with the PC version of that game in 2018. 

Denuvo also makes it exceptionally difficult to mod games it's been added to, which is a big concern for the massive modding community that's formed around Bethesda games. Fans don't need to worry about Denuvo in Starfield, though, because the game's store pages don't indicate that it will be installed when you download it. They would do so if Denuvo was present.

Starfield is finally here, and it's undoubtedly one of the best Xbox games and best PC games for lovers of space exploration, deep RPG gameplay, and the sci-fi genre as a whole. 

Starfield Premium Edition

Starfield Premium Edition

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Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.