Rime, the indie game caught halfway between Ico and Journey, was released last week. With Denuvo DRM. Like a lot of games. But that made some players angry, and prompted the developer, Tequila Works, to state that once the Denuvo DRM is broken, which it eventually always is, the company will release a DRM-free version of the game.
Image credit: Tequila Works
"I have seen some conversations about our use of Denuvo anti-tamper, and I wanted to take a moment to address it," wrote designer Darius on the game's Steam forum page.
We have had discussions about Denuvo internally, and one of the key points of all of those discussions have simply been, we want to ensure the best gaming experience for RiME players. RiME is a very personal experience told through both sight and sound. When a game is cracked, it runs the risk of creating issues with both of those items, and we want to do everything we can to preserve this quality in RiME.
We are very committed to this, but also to the simple fact that nothing is infallible. That being said, if RIME is cracked we will release a Denuvo free version of RiME and update existing platforms.
Denuvo is a particular type of DRM (digital rights management) that tries to lock would-be hackers out of a game, protecting it from being tampered with and, more importantly, pirated, by using online authentication to tie particular digital copies of games to particular hardware. It was effective enough that a lot of pirates worried last year that games were becoming too difficult to hack.
More than two months after release, it's still not possible to pirate Just Cause 3. The same is true for Rise of the Tomb Raider, released for PC in late January. Cracking computer games used to be measured in hours or days, but now, it's turning into weeks and months. The nature of piracy is changing in a big way.
More recently, however, Denuvo has offered less security. Hackers were able to disable Resident Evil 7's anti-piracy controls in the first week after its release. Rime may take longer since the game is on fewer people's radars, but the way Tequila Works has framed their intentions does look an awful lot like a challenge.
Many on the forum even took the statement as something of an insult, claiming that this meant the company would withhold a better version of the game (some believe that Denuvo hurts a game's performance) until the arbitrary date when it is successfully hacked, effectively penalising the game's early adopters. Tequila Works rejected this reasoning, however, with Darius adding later in the same thread,
While you don't have to agree with what I am saying, lets try to remain civil please? We made the decision to use Denuvo to protect the game getting pirated. That is the simple fact of it. Denuvo is not DRM, it is anti tamper software.
As I mentioned in the above post, if RiME gets cracked, we plan to update the versions across all platforms with the Denuvo free version of the game.
In this way, Tequila Works' plans for its anti-piracy efforts are not to dissimilar from Playdead's, the studio behind Inside, which dropped use of Denuvo on Steam in a subsequent update to the game.
You can read Kotaku's take on the long-awaited island adventure game here.