Sometimes, you just need a little bit of external validation to prove you’re not crazy.
PC gamers have been raging about the impact of DRM technology Denuvo for aeons. Publishers and developers have an obvious interest in protecting against piracy, but the deployment of Denuvo has often led to complaints about reduced performance and, in some cases, PCs not being able to launch games at all.
And it’s something that developers are increasingly aware of. In a post on the Humankind forums, Amplitude Studio head Romain de Waubert said the developers would not be using Denuvo in the final version of their Civ-like 4X.
“Based on data from our trial during the Closed Beta, we have decided not to include Denuvo in Humankind,” Waubert posted. He explained the logic behind using Denuvo initially — “If Denuvo can hold off a cracked version, even just for a few days, that can already really help us to protect our launch” — but the feedback from the recent beta was so strong that they won’t use Denuvo, at least for release.
Denuvo should never impact player performance, and we don’t want to sacrifice quality for you guys. We believe that it’s possible with the right integration, which is what we wanted to test during the Closed Beta. However, we found that the way it was currently integrated was not good enough, and it’s not something we can fix before release. So, we are taking it out.
We usually hear about publishers patching Denuvo out after a game is shipped, generally once the launch window is closed and the DRM software has done its job. But that often creates friction with real users who have to suffer a performance penalty. It creates friction for developers too, who have to sift through community feedback and evaluate how much is genuine concern versus how much is anti-Denuvo rhetoric from users who may not have purchased their game at launch regardless.
The race between Denuvo and cracking groups has waxed and waned over time. A few years ago, Denuvo was massively in front: games like Rise of the Tomb Raider remained uncracked for over a full year, and the 2016 reboot of DOOM kept Denuvo in for a full six months. DOOM Eternal, on the other hand, pulled the Denuvo DRM in mid-May, just over a month after the game’s release. Crackers have also gotten far more proficient at smashing through Deunvo’s walls. In an interview with WIRED, Empress — one of the most prolific forces in the cracking scene, although it’s not clear whether Empress is an individual or a collective — talked about cracking Total War: Three Kingdoms in four days, Planet Zoo in a week and two days for Red Dead Redemption 2.
“Wanting to preserve something you ‘Buy’ should NEVER be a ‘Crime.’,” Empress told WIRED.
The war between Denuvo, cracking groups and publishers/developers looking to protect their games will never end. But the most crucial weapon in Denuvo’s arsenal is the developer support. If the performance impact of Denuvo is too great, developers will have to look for other solutions. Humankind might just be one title in a never-ending list of releases, but the anti-Denuvo crowd will take any win they can get.