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Fans ask PC game to ditch Denuvo – and developer agrees, blames “performance impact” [Updated]


Enlarge / the Humanity hand slams Denuvo in this week’s latest story on the woes of DRM.

For years, PC gamers have wondered aloud if anti-piracy solutions like Denuvo hurt game performance, as the solutions tend to run in the background looking for indicators related to piracy. Game tests related to Denuvo in the wild range from inconclusive to overwhelming.

This week, that debate escalates for the creators of Denuvo: A video game developer made the rare move to ditch the DRM platform for the PC version of its next game – and he blames the related performance issues squarely. to Denuvo for the decision.

Amplitude Studios, a French studio known for PC-exclusive 4X strategy games, previously announced that its upcoming game, Humanity, would ship with a Denuvo implementation in August 2021. This sparked an article titled “The Day Amplitude Broke My Heart” on the official Amplitude forum, with a fan declaring his love for previous Amplitude strategy games , then expressing his disappointment that Humanity had a Denuvo tag on its Steam page.

After pointing out their disagreement with Denuvo’s practices, including blocking offline-only gameplay, the fan made a reasonably balanced plea: “To be fair, I fully understand why Denuvo was chosen (probably by [Amplitude studio owner] Sega). I understand how important it is for sales to protect the game around release, but PLEASE Amplitude, PLEASE consider removing Denuvo after a few months! ”Passed.

“We take it off”

Amplitude and CCO co-founder Romain de Waubert de Genlis responded to the thread on Thursday, July 15, with a surprising announcement: the fan would not have to wait “a few months” to see Denuvo withdrawn. In place, Humanity will launch on August 17th with no actual Denuvo implementation.

On his company forum, de Genlis admits that commercial considerations played into Amplitude’s initial decision: “We’ve been one of the top-rated games on Steam this year, so we know we’re going to be the target. pirates, more than any of our previous games, ”he wrote. “If Denuvo can hold back a cracked version, even for a few days, that can really help us protect our launch already.” (This is precisely Denuvo’s sales pitch to game publishers, even in a market where its flaws only lasted a day, not to mention negative periods.)

But ultimately, his teammates felt they couldn’t justify his inclusion after running into problems. While de Genlis admits there is a chance his team could have added Denuvo to the game without affecting PC performance, testing during the game’s closed beta in June showed performance to be too high – and that it’s “not something that we can fix before release. So we take it out.”

In other words: when given the choice between delaying the game to optimize a Denuvo implementation and running the game without Denuvo at all, Amplitude opted for the latter.

Humanity gameplay demo, March 2021.

“Our priority is always the best possible experience for the players who buy our games and support us,” writes de Genlis. “Denuvo should never have an impact on player performance, and we don’t want to sacrifice quality for you guys.” After that, the thread’s creator changed the title of the thread to read: “The Day Amplitude Broke My Heart (& How They Went It Up).”

Interestingly, this post came a day after Capcom admitted that its May 2021 game Resident Evil: Village worse on PC with anti-piracy protections enabled, which combines a mix of Denuvo and Capcom’s own proprietary DRM system. While Capcom did not initially respond to our July 12 report on the matter, which included firm confirmation of the performance gap between the retail and cracked versions of TOWER on PC, the developer ended up confessing once Digital Foundry’s video analysis on it went live.

[Update, July 22: On Thursday, a Denuvo representative replied to Ars Technica’s questions, but the response did not include any answers. Instead, the representative CC’ed two outside parties—one from Amplitude Studios and one from Sega—writing, “There seems to have been a misunderstanding on what was said” and suggesting the CC’ed parties should “clarify” their position. The Denuvo representative did not acknowledge that the original Amplitude announcement included an allegation that directly tied Denuvo’s DRM system to Humankind‘s in-game performance.]