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 it 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 prompted an article titled “The day Amplitude broke my heart” on the official Amplitude forum, with a fan declaring his love for Amplitude’s previous strategy games, then expressing his disappointment that Humanity had a Denuvo tag on his 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! “This request aligns with the decisions other game publishers remove Denuvo protections after a PC game launch window has passed.
“We take it off”
Co-founder and CCO of Amplitude Romain de Waubert de Genlis answered the thread Thursday, July 15, with a surprising announcement: the fan would not have to wait “a few months” to see Denuvo deleted. Instead of, 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. more pirates than any of our previous games, ”he writes. “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.
“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 (and 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 lying once Digital Foundry video analysis on the subject went to live.
Representatives for Denuvo did not immediately respond to Ars Technica’s request for comment.