Game Developer Goes Postal On Denuvo Saying DRM Unfairly Punishes Consumers

hero postal guy birds
The topic of DRM in PC games has always been a contentious one, but no company has drawn more ire from gamers than developer Denuvo. Its anti-tamper technology serves not only to keep gamers from pirating their software, but also keeps them from modifying the games and making effective backups. Not only that, but folks have accused Denuvo's software of increasing the system requirements of PC games—a claim the company has rejected repeatedly.

Well, you can add the voice of Postal series developer Running With Scissors to the chorus of gamers opposing Denuvo and its anti-piracy technology. In a tweet, the long-lived studio simply calls out the inclusion of Denuvo DRM as "a choice that yields an unfair punishment to the consumer." The developer goes on to preach that game companies should "respect the consumer," a novel concept if we've ever heard one.

rws denuvo tweet

Running With Scissors doesn't actually raise any specific complaints against Denuvo, but that's okay, because we will. To be clear, Denuvo's anti-piracy and anti-tamper software is good for the short-term bottom line of game publishers because there are only a few people in the world capable of breaking it. It's very complex polymorphic encryption, and not only is it extremely difficult and labor-intensive to crack, it's also quite literally illegal to do so in the United States thanks to misguided laws against breaking encryption.

However, DRM is bad for the industry as a whole. Even if we set aside complaints of performance losses caused by Denuvo—something we'll talk about again in a moment—it is a matter of fact that Denuvo's technology limits or prevents some types of game modding and also hampers game preservation. Once a company stops supporting a title, it can very easily become simply unplayable if the Denuvo protection isn't removed. That game you loved in the past? Once the Denuvo servers go down, it can't be played anymore due to the restrictive DRM.

postal switch
The original Postal is available on Switch with four-player multiplayer!

Denuvo's software also has a reputation for causing poor performance in games. The company has repeatedly attempted to shed this notion by presenting benchmarks, but third-party testing has been inconclusive either way in aggregate; some games on some systems do seem to run worse with Denuvo, while other systems or other games seem to have no problems. Considering the extra memory load and the extra processing required by the technology, we expect that most gaming PCs can probably just absorb it with no real impact, but there remains the possibility of performance losses on lower-end and older systems. It also might cause extra battery drain on mobile platforms.

Running With Scissors' tweet advises other developers to "make a game [consumers] want to play and you'll never feel the need to fight piracy." Indeed, two of the biggest game launches this year, being Bethesda's Starfield and Larian's Baldur's Gate 3, don't use Denuvo's DRM, and in fact the latter title has no DRM whatsoever. Despite that, both games are pushing sales in the millions, although it wouldn't surprise us if Baldur's Gate 3 is actually more profitable thanks to the lower production cost.