This was the start of my problems - Denuvo on a Steam game failing
to activate when I clicked "Play" for the first time

DRM And Denuvo

Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I like games and I'm not a fan of DRM in any form (I even think copyright is often too restrictive). I’ve had bad experiences with DRM in the past – from not being able to play games or watch a film, to having to send a projector back. Often DRM creates backdoors and insecurities in your system. You may not notice these. I also like to be able to back up my games in case the company goes bankrupt or disappears or just stops supporting the game. DRM such as Denuvo prevents games from being run on Linux. Finally, I turn off the router when we lock up at night. Sometimes I still play games or use my PC. Things which require periodic online connections then stop working. There are other reasons. It's why I go out of my way to support DRM-free games and their publishers (you should see my list of games on GOG!) while avoiding games with DRM. So adding DRM costs publishers sales, and costs them extra money in ongoing licences and support. It’s not automatically true that digital padlocks = more profit.

I thought I'd mention an experience I had recently with Denuvo DRM, since when I ran into problems I couldn't find useful help online. In fact, one source told me: "Sounds kinda fishy. More like malware on your system." So even the normal behaviour of Denuvo when it kicks in resembles malware to some users. That's rather telling. Yet it’s what happens if the game can’t connect to their servers when it wants to (something you have no control over). Because there was so little documentation of what happens I thought I'd write this. If you end up in the same position as me then this might at least explain what is going on.

My Experience With Denuvo In The Resident Evil 7 Demo

It began when I heard about a free Resident Evil 7 demo on Steam. I've always been a fan of Resident Evil games, so thought I would try the demo out and see what the new game was like. I've avoided ever buying a Denuvo game. I only bought Doom 4 recently because they've now stripped Denuvo out of it. But I saw this demo included Denuvo and thought "What the hell, it's free, how bad can it be?"

Getting to play it was a nightmare.

"What's this?" I wondered, as I followed the game's link

I managed to download the game, but when I first went to play it I was having Internet problems. So instead of running it popped up a box with hundreds of random characters in that I was supposed to paste into a "" web page. Of course, I couldn't access that web page on my PC because my Internet connection was down. I could maybe use mobile Internet on my phone, but there was no way I could type in all those random characters and symbols, to get another page of hundreds of random characters I'd then have to type on my PC (presuming that would work). I used my phone to try and find out what this thing is - nowhere does it mention DRM or Denuvo, it was later that I realised that's what it was, but they try and hide the fact from you. You can't even truncate the URL to get to a homepage - it gives no information at all.

The Denuvo codefusion pages if you don't let them
run scripts in your browser - not very helpful ...

Days later I got the router and Internet problems sorted. When I eventually got to the web pages they were blank. Yet more hassles until I worked out that it was trying to run some scripts that were rightly blocked by my browser as security risks. I had to enable those. Then the button to get the code I needed didn't work due to Adobe flash errors, and requests to install new versions of that. Lots of time was wasted along the way. I eventually got it working. All that just to play a demo. Needless to say, the experience left me bitter, and it negatively affected my enjoyment of the demo.

It would not be easy to type all that in by hand.
Note that the button to copy the text didn't even work
without updating third party software

Never Again, Denuvo, Never Again

There is no way I'd ever pay for a game with Denuvo in. So much wasted time and hoops to jump through if you have this kind of problem.

Anyway, these are examples of the pages Denuvo sends you to: one, two, three, four. Beware the hassles of any URL which contains

I'm surprised gaming sites haven't written more about Denuvo and how it works, and what problems it can cause, since it seems to be used a lot more now. Maybe because it's one of those things where - if there are no problems - you don't notice it and assume it is fine. But as soon as you hit a snag (e.g. Internet access problem) it becomes a massive headache. My first experience of Denuvo will be the last.

Update: 30th January 2017
It turned out that Denuvo on the full Resident Evil 7 game was cracked in less than a week: so it made little difference to pirates, while putting off people who would otherwise have bought it (such as me). Read more here, here, and here.

Update: 14th October 2017
It turned out that the game Abzû also included the (presumably) Denuvo DRM. There was no warning on the Steam page or I'd have never bought the pile of crud. My refund request was refused even though the game I'd bought wouldn't work. The publisher and Steam should always list when games have intrusive activation DRM - if the Steam store labelled the Denuvo games consistently this wouldn't have happened. The only way to be sure is to get games from GOG instead of Steam, wherever possible.

Gabe Newell had said Steam Support would improve - but it hasn't. This menu is a good example. It contains a limited number of options, none of which were the one I wanted to report, and no option for "Other" or "Contact Steam". So you have to click an option that isn't the correct one, and hope it provides a way to contact Steam. Often it is a dead end. Sometimes you are lucky and find a link to send Steam a message - but then the request is flagged as the wrong issue and gets deleted by Steam. Or you go in circles through all their menu options, that keep looping back to the first one again in a frustrating manner. If you try to contact Steam through other means, such as Twitter, you get ignored. It is one of the worst support systems I have ever encountered, and that's saying something. It could be easily fixed by just providing an email address, or generic contact form.