The launch of Tequila Works’ Rime last week wasn’t smooth due to some performance issues, some of which seemed to be attributed to the game’s Denuvo digital rights management (DRM) system. Many users complained about its use to the point where one of the developers went on Steam to say that if someone managed to release a cracked version of the game, the developers would create a DRM-free version. The challenge was accepted, and less than a week after the post, a cracked version appeared online. Now Tequila Works is living up to its promise.
The cracked game was put up on Skidrow Games Reloaded by a user called "Baldman," and it completely removes the Denuvo software from the game. According to a post from Cody Bradley, a lead producer from Rime publisher Grey Box, the implementation of Denuvo in Rime allows it to check that Steam or Origin’s own DRM software is also attached to the game. According to Baldman, this constant check put too much stress on performance with about 10 - 30 checks, or “triggers” as Baldman refers to them, per second, resulting in heavily reduced performance.
In his post, Bradley acknowledged that Denuvo’s checks created “a small performance hit,” but he said that the performance issues reported by players are separate from Denuvo’s impact on the game. However, he also acknowledged that this assumption might be wrong as well, and the studio and publisher will continue to monitor the situation.
Other than Baldman’s claim regarding the high number of checks, there’s aren’t any other pieces of evidence that show the high check count within the DRM software. Bradley’s statement mentioned the protocol, but he didn’t divulge specifics as to the number of times it calls for the Steam or Origin DRM.
In any case, Tequila Works acknowledged Baldman’s work, and stayed true to its promise. The studio tweeted that it plans to release a DRM-free version of Rime in the future, saying that "a promise is a promise." In the same tweet, the studio also pushed the blame of implementing Denuvo into the game to Grey Box, saying that “we didn’t implement that protection in the 1st [sic] place.”
In the meantime, there’s still more work to be done in terms of improving other performance issues that Grey Box found among user-reported problems. Bradley noted general gameplay issues for those using AMD’s Radeon RX 580 GPUs. There are also more specific issues for Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 users who might experience problems with super-sample anti-aliasing. Bradley did report that some users with GTX 900 cards have reported improved performance if the game’s V-Sync setting was set to Double Buffering.