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It’s time for Valve to implement a ‘DRM

Jun 16, 2023Jun 16, 2023

With DRM tools such as Denuvo commonplace on many of the biggest PC games, Valve could help Steam users find games that are DRM-free with a simple tag.

Ken Allsop

Published: Jun 4, 2023

Steam remains the primary place most people go for PC games, and for the most part the Valve storefront is fantastic. However, there's always room for improvement, and among an increasing number of the best PC games employing DRM tools such as Denuvo on Steam, one helpful addition to the feature tag system would be very welcome by users.

Listing out a game's features is a great way to help people find games that suit their needs, whether they be looking for the best co-op games they can play with friends, games that have full controller support, or verified support for Steam Deck games. Currently, Valve displays a box below these with requirements such as third-party DRM, and any associated restrictions, but there isn't a way to quickly pull up a list of DRM-free games.

DRM (digital rights management) tools have always been a touchy issue; they’re primarily used to help cut back on piracy, but in many cases have negatively impacted in-game performance. However, some developers also choose to not include DRM in their games as a customer service, because a game with no DRM can be played without needing to log into Steam or even connect to the internet, meaning that were something to happen to Steam or the person's account they would still be able to play that game.

DRM can also have a tendency to cause issues for players using compatibility tools such as Linux players who play Windows-only games via Proton – something Steam Deck users can take advantage of. You may also be planning to travel to somewhere with limited internet – Valve itself is fairly generous with its Steam offline mode, but third-party DRM tools are usually less forgiving.

Following big releases such as Street Fighter 6, Redfall, and Hogwarts Legacy launching with Denuvo DRM, a popular thread on the PC Gaming Reddit has reignited the call for Valve to implement ‘DRM-free’ as a listable feature, which has garnered thousands of upvotes since it was posted.

Staff from the PCGamingWiki, which keeps track of a list of DRM-free games on Steam, say its estimate of around 950 games without any DRM is probably fairly heavily under the actual total, because it assumes Steam DRM is being used by default until verified otherwise. Having an official tag that developers could implement themselves seems like a pretty handy solution to ascertain the truth.

For now, you can't go too far wrong with the best free games on Steam, or you can browse the biggest and best upcoming games in 2023 to see what you’ll be playing later this year.

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