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Denuvo denies claims of Rime slowdown, but publisher removes DRM

Grey Box follows through with promise to drop protection after it's cracked in five days

Indie puzzle platformer Rime has found itself at the centre of another discussion around the divisive protection software Denuvo.

Recognising that piracy is almost inescapable at this point, a community manager representing the Rime team promised that if pirates were able to crack Denuvo, it would be removed from the game. Five days later, a user known as 'Baldman' accomplished this.

Kotaku reports Baldman believes his bypassing of the DRM actually improves the games performance and that the protection software was actually tarnishing the title.

Documents released with the crack indicate Denuvo was checking for numerous "triggers" each time the game loaded to ensure the copy was legitimate. This, in itself, is not a serious issue but Baldman claims there were dozens of triggers activating every second during gameplay.

From previous work cracking Denuvo on games like Prey and Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, Baldman claims the typical number of checks and triggers during start-up is around 1,000, but with Rime it was 300,000. After 30 minutes of gameplay, this had risen to 2m.

This number of checks during playtime allegedly slow the game down, elongate load times and generally have a negative impact on Rime's performance. Several players reports similar issues.

However, Denuvo denies that its software is the cause of such performance issues, telling Kotaku: "Prior to release, we performed benchmark testing on the protected vs unprotected versions of Rime. There was no performance impact on the version that is protected with Denuvo anti tamper vs the unprotected version."

Rime's producer also address the issue in a blog post, claiming: "The only thing that Denuvo is currently doing for us is checking to make certain that Steam's (or Origin's) DRM is still attached to the game. 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."

Nevertheless, publisher Grey Box confirmed in its own blog post that it has stayed true to its word and removed Denuvo from Rime.

In an age of independent studios, the threat of piracy is one being taken increasingly seriously - particularly given how much pressure there is on certain releases to sustain the smaller, low-budget developers. However, offerings such as Denuvo have garnered a reputation as being "anti-consumer" on certain forums, although its difficult to ascertain how many of these complaints are legitimate.

Rime released last week to largely positive reviews. You can check out what the media thinks in our latest Critical Concensus.

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