Humankind dev pulls controversial Denuvo DRM from game before launch

The developer of Humankind has pulled the Denuvo DRM from the game ahead of launch in August.

Amplitude Studios’ Sega-published Civilization-style strategy game was set to use Denuvo in a bid to prevent it from being cracked by pirates – at least in the short term.

Denuvo has always been a controversial digital rights management (DRM) tool when it comes to PC games.

Some have reported a performance impact when Denuvo is being used. Most recently, our own Digital Foundry compared the performance of a pirated version of Resident Evil Village, which had stripped out Denuvo and Capcom’s additional copy protection, against the release version for PC, and found the DRM-stripped version performed far better than the released game.

“… any justification for integrating DRM goes out of the window if a pirated version of the game provides a better experience than a bought-and-paid-for copy,” Digital Foundry’s Richard Leadbetter wrote.

In an impassioned thread posted to the Humankind development forum, a user called Khaar explained why they didn’t pre-order the game on Steam, and pleaded with Amplitude to make a change:

“I avoid games with Denuvo, for reasons other people have already mentioned,” they said. “Performance issues, security issues, no offline play, messes up the system…

“To be fair, I totally understand why Denuvo was chosen (probably by SEGA). I understand how important it is for sales to protect the game around release, but PLEASE Amplitude, PLEASE consider to remove Denuvo after some months!

“Every game you ever made has become significantly better over time, so waiting a bit longer for Humankind is okay for me (and many others), but please just remove it at some point.”

This post sparked quite the debate about the rights and wrongs of using Denuvo with Humankind. Eventually, Romain de Waubert, boss of Amplittude, stepped in with the news (thanks, Kotaku):

“Based on data from our trial during the closed beta, we have decided not to include Denuvo in Humankind at launch,” he said.

“First, let me explain the reasoning behind our initial decision including Denuvo – we work really hard and pour our hearts into these games we make, and pirating really does affect our ability to keep creating games with you guys.

“We’ve been working on this game for more than four years now and personally it’s been my dream project for 25 years. We’ve been one of the most wishlisted games on Steam this year, so we know we’re going to be targeted by pirates, more so than any of our previous games. If Denuvo can hold off a cracked version, even just for a few days, that can already really help us to protect our launch.

“That being said, our priority is always the best possible experience for the players who buy our games and support us. Denuvo should never impact player performance, and we don’t want to sacrifice quality for you guys.

“We believe that it’s possible with the right integration, which is what we wanted to test during the closed beta. However, we found that the way it was currently integrated was not good enough, and it’s not something we can fix before release. So, we are taking it out.”

To clarify, an Amplitude employee who goes by the name Natco followed-up to say “there are no plans to add Denuvo to Humankind after launch”.

As you’d expect, fans have welcomed the decision. Khaar, who started the thread, also expressed their delight:

“After reading Romain’s respond I INSTANTLY opened Steam to preorder Humankind!

“This a very special thing to do for me because for years now I’m preaching people not to preorder games and wait for initial reviews. However, Amplitude has always been the exception of the rule for me since I fall in love with Endless Space 1.”

Chris Tapsell recently went hands-on with Humankind and enjoyed it very much indeed.