Denuvo is middleware intended to prevent unauthorised copying of games which incorporate it. While it isn’t uncommon for game publishers to remove the software after the launch window has passed, or to remove it from older, back-catalogue titles that pirates have long plundered (like the previously mentioned Tomb Raider outings), NME noted that it is unusual for the software to be removed from a game like Nier Replicant, which pirates have yet to crack.
NME suggested Square Enix is moving away from using the software because of either potential compatibility issues with Intel’s imminent “Alder Lake” CPUs or due to its licensing expiring. This isn’t the first time Square Enix has removed the anti-cheat software from one of its high-profile video games. It removed the software from Life is Strange: True Colours back in September, just four days after the game launched.
Denuvo has gained notoriety as a migraine in software form among PC players due to its frequent need to authenticate with security servers before allowing games to launch, even for single-player experiences. More annoyingly, players often report that the software causes performance issues like stuttering, due to the software utilising the PC’s CPU resources to continually run its anti-cheat checks.
This past year, a cracked version of Resident Evil Village was found to run significantly more smoothly than the game’s official release, which suffered from serious stuttering issues. Capcom created a patch to “optimise the anti-piracy technology” of Resident Evil Village back in July.
Nier Replicant’s PC port launch saw PC players, myself included, having issues with stuttering. This led to players “becoming as gods” and creating their own workarounds to run the game as smoothly as Yoko Taro intended. Hopefully Square Enix’s movement away from the unpopular DRM, anti-cheat software will help future PC ports run better and with fewer hassles. I’ll be getting my prayer circle for a possible Drakengard 3 port started soon.