By Timothy Geigner
Remember Denuvo? Back in the far simpler times of 2016-2018, which somehow seem light years better than 2020 despite being veritable dumpster fires in and of themselves, we wrote a series of posts about Denuvo’s DRM and how it went from nigh-uncrackable to totally crackable upon games being released with it. Did we take a bit too much pleasure in this precipitous fall? Sure, though our general anti-DRM stance sort of mandated dunking on a company that once touted itself as invincible. Either way, it started to get comical watching publishers release a game with Denuvo, have the game cracked in a matter of days, if not hours, and then release a patch to remove Denuvo entirely from the game.
Due in part to this, Denuvo eventually announced it would be shifting its focus away from producing DRM that didn’t work to making anti-cheat software. So, how is that going? Well, let’s take a look at Doom Eternal, a game which only a week ago added to Denuvo’s anti-cheat software via an update.
Doom Eternal has only had Denuvo anti-cheat software for a week, and already Id Software has agreed to take it out following the backlash from some PC players. The anti-cheat software was added last week in Doom Eternal’s first major post-launch update and was aimed at curbing the use of exploits in its online multiplayer mode, specifically on PC. At the time of the update Id Software also said it would be more aggressive in banning players caught cheating and locking them out of all online content.
There were protests almost immediately. Some players complained that the anti-cheat software was setting off their virus protection programs’ alarm bells. Others took issue with the software requiring kernel-level access to their computers, fearing that it would leave them more vulnerable if the software was later hacked. Although Id Software tried to preemptively assuage players’ fears, saying that Denuvo anti-cheat is only active while the game is on and doesn’t take screenshots or scan file systems, thousands of players still took to review-bombing the game on Steam.
Now, review bombing kind of sucks as a rule, but then so does pushing out software that is as invasive as Denuvo’s anti-cheat software after people had already purchased the game. In fact, given some of the security concerns and holes that Denuvo’s software potentially opens up, one has to wonder seriously about liability here. Either way, you have to work really hard to get a bunch of online gamers for a wildly popular game to not want a tool to stop cheating in that game. And to that extent at least, Denuvo is a success.
For what it’s worth, the folks behind Doom Eternal still want to tackle cheating, but perhaps do so in a way that gives players some more choice.
“As we examine any future of anti-cheat in DOOM Eternal, at a minimum we must consider giving campaign-only players the ability to play without anti-cheat software installed, as well as ensure the overall timing of any anti-cheat integration better aligns with player expectations around clear initiatives—like ranked or competitive play—where demand for anti-cheat is far greater,” Stratton wrote.
Whatever choice is presented, however, it appears that Denuvo will not be an option.