Cracking down on cracking
DRM (which stands for ‘digital rights management’) has become a sore point for gamers in recent years. Perhaps one of the biggest offenders is Denuvo, which is said to be a major factor in reducing game performance, especially on PC. It’s become so controversial that studios have been known to remove the anti-theft software post-launch.
However, in a recent interview with Ars Technica, the Chief Operating Officer of Irdeto, the company that brought Denuvo in 2018, has said they’re aware of the reputation the anti-piracy tool has. COO Steve Huin admitted that “we’re seen as evil,” in this modern era of gaming, particularly as they are “helping DRM exist,” and “ensuring people make money out of games.”
Huin then goes on to say that technologies such as Denuvo are to the benefit of players as well as the companies behind the games themselves, as it means “publishers can then invest in” subsequent projects. The intention, according to Huin, is to make the video game industry better. Given such a reputation, it may be difficult to convince a lot of people.
What’s the deal with Denuvo?
Primarily, Denuvo and other DRM software are used to crack down on video game piracy. At the surface level, this seems like it would be a good thing. However, Irdeto’s tech is notorious for causing detrimental drops in overall performance.
One example relates to Arkane Studios’ Deathloop. When it launched in 2021, it received a fair amount of backlash due to stuttering issues on the PC version. Many people pointed to the use of Denuvo as the major culprit. A patch was sent out which attempted to fix some of the issues, though Denuvo still remains part of the game.
Modders have attempted to remove DRM unofficially, with reports that suggest this improves performance noticeably, though Irdeto denies that its tech is the root cause of the problem. Additionally, Ars Technica noted that comparisons between Denuvo and non-Denuvo copies of Batman: Arkham Knight did not yield any differences in terms of performance.
That aside, digital rights management software is still unpopular, though it remains a constant. Huin acknowledges that some will not be convinced that Denuvo is a force for good, saying, “our voice is unfortunately not sufficient to convince people because we’re not trusted in their mind as a starting point in that debate.”