Home / Technology / Rime Devs, Pirates Spar Over Whether Denuvo DRM Slows Down the Game

Rime Devs, Pirates Spar Over Whether Denuvo DRM Slows Down the Game

There’s always been a tug-of-war between pirates, developers, and the purveyors of various DRM solutions. Over the years, we’ve seen a variety of DRM schemes come and go, with varying degrees of effectiveness. Over the last few years, one system, Denuvo, has developed a reputation for being difficult to crack. At one point pirates thought the system might be uncrackable, and while that’s since proven untrue, Denuvo is still used by some games for at least short periods of time as a way to boost sales. Now, there’s a three-way argument over Rime, an adventure-puzzle game released on May 26, over whether the Denuvo DRM baked into the title is slowing down the game.

According to the cracker, known as Baldman, Rime implements Denuvo by conducting hundreds of thousands of “trigger” events per second to ensure that the version of the game being used is, in fact, legitimate, as described below:

Denuvo

Click to enlarge.

Rime’s developers, it should be noted, take some exception to this. According to Cody Bradley, lead producer on Rime for Grey Box, there’s only a small performance hit associated with Denuvo, and the only thing the application is doing is ensuring that the copy protection associated with Steam or Origin is still attached to the game. In his words:

The fact of the matter is that we looked at the piracy rate on games that were very similar to RiME, and it scared us.

At the end of the day, our obligation as a publisher is to protect our development team’s intellectual property to the best of our ability. Right now, Denuvo is our only effective option. There is a small performance hit associated with this, but at this time we do not believe it is causing the problems that are currently being reported. We might be wrong. We’re monitoring the situation.

Other reviews of the game, however, have noted that long load times are an issue. So is the problem caused by Denuvo? Maybe, maybe not. The problem with issues like this is that they can be dependent on what kind of hardware you’re testing on in the first place.

Think back, for example, to what used to happen when you ran an antivirus scan while playing a game off the same magnetic hard drive you were scanning. Back in the days of single-core processors, this was effectively impossible. But even after dual-core and quad-core chips were widely available, most hard drives simply couldn’t maintain smooth gameplay and run antivirus scans at the same time. With an SSD, this problem is much reduced and, in some titles, completely eliminated.

I’m not claiming that the Denuvo issue is caused by an equivalent problem. But it’s entirely possible that the issue crops up in some cases, but not others, based on hardware configurations. According to Denuvo, as Kotaku reports, its own pre-release testing revealed no performance issues at all. Again, this can come down to how you measure performance and what your hardware configurations are. It’s entirely possible for an issue to impact load times, but not impact frame rates once you’re in game. (The reverse is also possible, which is one reason why detailed performance profiling is so much “fun.”)

The Rime developers have stated they will release a version of the game which does not incorporate Denuvo now that the protection has been cracked. While Denuvo was an effective shield for multiple titles in the past, often lasting several months, those lockout periods have now shrunk to a matter of days. It’s not clear if the firm will be able to effectively respond to the problem and increase the lockout period before pirates can crack the game again.

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Rime Devs, Pirates Spar Over Whether Denuvo DRM Slows Down the Game

There’s always been a tug-of-war between pirates, developers, and the purveyors of various DRM solutions. Over the years, we’ve seen...

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