Pirates Say Rime’s DRM Slows Down The Game, But Denuvo Denies It

Pirates Say Rime’s DRM Slows Down The Game, But Denuvo Denies It

A week after release, much of the discussion surrounding Rime isn’t about the ruins or the mystery, but rather piracy. Players claim anti-piracy software slows the game down. Pirates say the newly cracked version of the game fixes that problem. Rime’s producers seem unsure if DRM caused performance hits, but Denuvo itself denies there is a problem at all. It’s a mess.

Denuvo is software protection (DRM) that links each copy of a game to one specific computer. Game publishers make use of the software to prevent players from sharing numerous copies across unregistered computers. While Denuvo initially posed a roadblock to pirates, in the last year, pirates have had an easier time cracking the latest versions of the software. For developers releasing new games, the pressure of piracy is less of a matter of “if” than “when”.

Recognising that reality, a week ago, a community manager stated on the Steam forums that if the game’s DRM was removed by hackers, they would publish a version without the restrictions.

“We are very committed to [our use of Denuvo anti-tamper],” they stated in the forum post. “That being said, if RIME is cracked we will release a Denuvo free version of RiME and update existing platforms.”

Sure enough, five days later, pirates cracked Rime. The mastermind behind the Rime crack is known as “Baldman”. Baldman has been tearing through the anti-tampering protection on numerous titles such as Prey and Sniper Ghost Warrior 3. Baldman claims that the removal of the game’s protections has vastly improved the game’s performance.

“[Rime] is super nice and you should support devs,” Baldman said in the cracked version’s read me document. “But the game will be so much better without that huge abomination called Denuvo.”

Source: Reddit. Click to expand.

Source: Reddit. Click to expand.

The issue in question is loading and game performance. According to Baldman, Denuvo checks for numerous “triggers” when the game is loaded, to ensure that it is a legitimate copy of the game. Baldman said these checks also occur during gameplay with dozens of triggers being called upon per second of gameplay, accumulating “millions” of checks as playtime increased. This process allegedly slows down the game and negatively impacts performance and increases load times.

While we cannot concretely prove the two are related, players have indeed noticed similar issues as the ones described by Baldman. A thread on NeoGaf, for example, looks at the game’s performance and offers tips for maintaining a consistent framerate. My colleague Nathan Grayson, who offered impressions of the game, also noted that the game’s initial load times are quite long.

In a blog post, Rime producer stated that “The only thing that Denuvo is currently doing for us is checking to make certain that Steam’s (or Origin’s) DRM is still attached to the game. There is a small performance hit associated with this, but at this time we do not believe it is causing the problems that are currently being reported. We might be wrong.” Kotaku contacted Rime’s publishers and has received no comment. Denuvo, for its part, deny that DRM causes any issues at all.

“Prior to release, we performed benchmark testing on the protected vs. unprotected versions of Rime,” a representative of Denuvo told Kotaku. “There was no performance impact on the version that is protected with Denuvo anti tamper vs. the unprotected version.”

It remains to be seen if the protections accounts for performance issues. Some players seem to be taking Baldman at their word regarding a Denuvo-free release, judging by conversations on Steam — or are demanding that Rime developers keep their word:

Rime publisher Grey Box Games have since confirmed in a blog post that they will be releasing a version of the game which does not use Denuvo’s anti-tampering protections.

The narrative appears to be that hackers are taking up the battle to fix these supposed performance issues, a task they have been achieving faster and faster with each new game release.

“In Rime, [Denuvo] went out of control,” Baldman wrote. “But don’t worry: millions of protections triggers calls are not enough to stop Baldman.”


  • Well, if there’s anyone I trust to give an accurate comment on whether their DRM software negatively affects performance, it’s surely going to be the developers of that DRM software. Right? I mean, why would they lie?

    • in this case i think it could be a case of of it being poorly implemented as other games that have denvo dont have the same issue (total war hammer for one), but yeah im now about the trust the makers of the DRM software as they have terrible track record in general (starforce, securerom etc)

      DRM is just wasting money on useless bloatware with us steam, uplay, origin etc. sure they get cracked, but they get cracked during the first week of launch, and all Denvo and such do now is just delay the cracking by a week or two.

    • They’d lie out their nose because it means loss of revenue if it’s found that their software slows games down (Which has been proven true over multiple games.)

      Denuvo works by triggers. When you reach certain points in the game (Opening a menu etc), the game checks to make sure you’re a legit user. RiME checks 30,000 times every second or so. That’s 30,000 tasks that your CPU needs to handle that wouldn’t be necessary if there was no Denuvo.

      That being said, this one and I think Warhammer seem to be the most egregious offenders of this. Most other games seem to have 2-4 checks every minute or so, which is a lot less and the FPS drop is negligible.

  • They reckon it checks the server 3000 times during the load state, as compared to other games using Denuvo that only check 100 times.

    This would explain the horrendous load times.

  • Let’s use this as an excuse to steal entertainment which nobody is entitled to for free.

    • Pretty sure its more about how it cripples legit customers with average computers and that is what a lot of the people on steam’s forum are complaining about.

      • Yeah but surely its a bit of a catch 22.

        I get that it’s being far more taxing, which I think needs to be addressed, but DRM exists because of pirates.

        I find myself torn.
        On one hand legit customers are getting screwed, but on the other hand the ones behind this are the bloody reason it exists.
        Because I really wonder if any of them are fighting for better DRM lol

        • No, the problem is that in this case Denuvo is checking a LOT more than the average game. Other titles that include Denuvo make around 100 checks to per save/load state, Rime makes 3000. It also happens during general play, which makes it perform really poorly. You can have Denuvo and not have it run like utter garbage, but the 3rd party company that was brought in to include Denuvo pretty clearly either didn’t know what they were doing or didn’t care.

          I am not anti DRM, I am anti game crippling lazy implementation of DRM.

        • Because I really wonder if any of them are fighting for better DRM lol

          It’s not the consumers job to come up with better ways of protecting the thing they’re consuming. I can say “This DRM is shit and unacceptable” without having a better solution myself, because it’s not my job to have something better. Just like I can say that the online ads are a shambles and I use an adblocker because fuck that.

          It’s literally the job of the people developing these systems to come up with, and release, a system that doesn’t harm the consumer. If they fail, I shouldn’t have to come up with a better solution to say fuck that

          • Very true.
            I exercise my rights as a consumer quite liberally and would likely in this case if it was serious enough.

            I’m just stating that pirates showing what’s wrong with anti pirate software is pretty ridiculous.

    • Usual suspects coming in with their downvotes because my opinion threatens their safety bubbles.

      • Why do you think everyone is going to download it from a pirate site all of a sudden? This kind of thinking says a lot about your view of the world.

        • Nah it just means my comments have to be moderated before they can be posted which is a waste of time for Kotaku staff because people’s unrealistic views of society are challenged.

    • If the stolen entertainment provides a better end-user experience than the people who are buying the game legitimately, that’s pretty uncool.

      Not advocating pirating the game – and neither is this article – it’s just a bad outcome for the devs and the players.

  • on one hand I’m really not a fan of DRM, but on the other hand based on my prior experiences as a legitimate consumer of interactive media; a little bit of slowdown isn’t so bad compared to crashing every time you try to access paid DLC (Borderlands), or needing to use save hacks to circumvent game-breaking glitches triggered by protection measures (Beyond Good & Evil), or not being able to play single player games for weeks at a time (pretty much gave up on Ubisoft after reading up on those ones), or having to completely disconnect from network access to avoid locking up an Xbox when starting a single player game (Mercs 2 after servers were shut down) – plus so many devs who said they’ll remove Denuvo after their initial release window have actually been doing so! (even several who didn’t say so patched it out after a few months to a year)

  • Yet another example of how paying customers are the only people DRM screws over.

  • I cant even fathom why people on steam are asking them to keep the copy protection. The game is already cracked! What possible reason could they have for wanting to keep the inferior version of the game?

    • No kidding, right? You think people who BOUGHT the game would want a better version than what the pirates have … but, no, they would rather have big brother pulling all the strings.

  • I don’t like Denuvo because it cock blocks running games under Linux/Wine etc.. I mean having a native port is best but its annoying that it stops wine users from using it, which btw running Vulkan under Wine gives 1:1 parity in performance 😉

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