RiME

Tequila Softworks recently launched their game for the Xbox One, PS4 and PC. The game has digital rights management protection software attached to the PC version, utilizing the Denuvo anti-tamper security suite. Many legitimate customers hate Denuvo due to bad experiences in the past. Tequila Softworks have said they will remove Denuvo, but only if somebody can crack it.

Over on the Steam forums for RiME, the developers made a post explaining why they decided to use Denuvo and that by simply removing it they could risk breaking aspects of the game on PC. However, they end the post by saying that if their game manages to get cracked, they'll remove it.

[...] if RiME is cracked we will release a Denuvo free version of RiME and update existing platforms.

Interesting position to take.

The thing is, it would seem like they would have done this from the start or not have bothered with Denuvo DRM at all. Why? Because it's not a matter of if RiME gets cracked but a matter of when. Various cracker scenes have already managed to crack even the toughest of Denuvo's anti-tamper protection software, even for games that many thought couldn't be cracked, such as Just Cause 3, Rise of the Tomb Raider and even Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

Some games obviously take longer than others, but eventually all games get cracked. Typically, Denuvo's services are good for AAA titles and preserving them from piracy for the first six to eight weeks of launch, which is the most crucial period of a game's release. Usually, the first eight weeks (or two months) of launch is where the game will incur its heaviest sales since most AAA titles are front-loaded on the market due to heavy advertising and hype.

In the case of RiME, though, this makes almost no sense at all since it wasn't heavily marketed, didn't have a whole lot of hype going into its release, and wasn't being strongly advertised across PC or other platforms leading up to release. RiME is the sort of game that seems like the majority of its sales would be on the back-end of its market run due to word of mouth and potentially positive review scores. So, the standard philosophy of using Denuvo seems a bit lost on a game like RiME.

Even still, the developers say that they will be pursuing remedies to remove the DRM as soon as the game is cracked.

Gamers were displeased with this approach, and a small argument broke out on the forums regarding Tequila's decision to even use Denuvo. Users mentioned that the amount of negative press they would receive from the approach would hurt the mind-share of RiME and in turn hurt the game's sales in the long run more than Denuvo would protect their revenue from pirates.

It's true that negative mind-share will go a long way in hurting a game's profits in the same way that positive mind-share will go an extremely long way in helping a game's profits. CD Projekt Red's The Witcher series is a perfect example of a company that has attained extremely positive mind-share by being considered consumer friendly, and they've managed to use that to their advantage. Heck Gamespot reported that CD Projekt sold more copies in the first quarter of 2017 than they did during the same quarter in 2016.

Hopefully Tequila Works keeps the future of their business and their IP in mind when dealing with sensitive business matters like DRM so that they don't hurt their IP more than they try to help it.

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