Why does Denuvo affect PC gaming performance?

Denuvo affects the performance of games on PC, it is not a statement that I have taken from my sleeve, it is a reality that we have been able to confirm on countless occasions, and that shows that this system of protection against piracy is, by far, one of the worst things that has happened to PC gaming in recent years.

I understand that some of our readers may have been lost, and you may have doubts as to what exactly Denuvo is. Well, rest assured, you will find all the information you need by following this link. If after reading it you have any questions, you can leave it in the comments and we will help you solve it.

Going back to the main topic of this article, saying that Denuvo affects PC gaming performance is nothing new. However, the recent performance analysis that has been carried out on Resident Evil Village with and without Denuvo has rekindled the controversy, and in what way.

At the time, I had the opportunity to analyze the game, although I preferred to focus on a more technical approach. My conclusions were very clear, the game was well optimized and had really good elements, but there were things that could be improved, and it showed, in certain scenes, such erratic behaviour that it was clear that it was not an optimization problem, but that they seemed to be « bugs »or errors that occurred at specific times.

There were also, at very specific times, small microtirons that, in my case, I barely noticed because I ran the game on a powerful Ryzen 7 5800X processor. Apparently, both the FPS drops and those microtirons were more marked on computers with less powerful processors, which suggested that Capcom had been able to screw up with the use and management of CPU resources. However, this was hard to square, as Resident Evil Village has such low CPU usage that even at very modest settings (quad-core, for example), the game runs with really good fluidity.

The fact is that, after removing Denuvo from Resident Evil Village, not only did the microtirons disappear, but also the performance of the game improved so much that, in those scenes in which a swarm of flies appeared and the frame rate per second plunged at unacceptable levels, there are no longer any serious performance issues.

This is not the first time Denuvo has affected game performance, and it won’t be the last

Denuvo gaming performance

We have seen many comparisons that point in that direction. For example, the version of Mass Effect Andromeda with Denuvo records averages of 89 FPS and lows of 46 FPS, while the version without Denuvo achieves averages of 92 FPS and lows of 67 FPS. In this case, the key is in the minimum FPS, since those 46 FPS will translate into microtirons and “stuttering”. Ideally, to avoid these problems is that the minimum FPS rate is kept above 60 FPS.

In the video that you will find just below these lines you can see an in-depth analysis of several games running with and without Denuvo, and the conclusions are very interesting. Denuvo affects game performance, and it can do so in many different ways. To understand why Denuvo can have a major impact on gaming performance, you need to know a key pair first.

This protection system works in a very simple way, but at the same time its implementation is complicated. When a game is installed, a kind of validated identifier is generated that is associated with the computer where it has been installed, and therefore where we are going to run it. When starting the game, Denuvo makes multiple call requests to carry out periodic checks associated with that identifier, that unique fingerprint that serves to confirm that the game has not been compromised.

So far all clear, the problem occurs when the implementation of Denuvo is carried out in an overly aggressive way, as has been the case with Resident Evil Village. According to the information I have had access to, the version of Denuvo that uses this game is identified as “v11”, and is capable of carrying out massive checks every 10 minutes with the aim of checking even the smallest error in the usual checks, that is, in the normal checks that are performed on that identifier we referred to.

When so many call and answer operations are carried out, it ends up producing a saturation of the CPU that, together with the poor distribution and management of the resources available at the processor level, gives rise to all those performance problems that we have mentioned above, and which can end up having a considerable impact on other aspects of the game as well, like load times and latency, for example.

The Denuvo-free version of Resident Evil Village doesn’t have microstuttering, and it also doesn’t suffer severe performance losses that make the title unplayable. This leaves us a huge difference between the version with Denuvo and the version without Denuvo, and only leads us, once again, to wonder how this technology can continue to be a “benchmark” in the fight against piracy on PC. Frankly, I would rather pay a little more for a game without Denuvo than for that same game with performance problems due to said protection system.

Resident Evil Village
Resident Evil Village

Not all versions of Denuvo are implemented the same, and they do not affect in the same way

This is something very important that we must take into account. Yes, Denuvo affects the performance of the games it is integrated into, but in the end, this is something that depends a lot on the implementation that is made of it. Not all developers carry out the same type of integration, and in fact some choose to combine it with another additional protection mechanism, remember the case of AC: Origins, which means that, in the end, we have two protection systems working and consuming resources.

The implementation of Denuvo that each developer makes will ultimately determine the impact it will have on performance. The most aggressive and poorly optimized implementations will consume a greater amount of resources, will have a much more marked impact on the performance of each game, and will end up causing major headaches. In this sense, it is important to note that, when enjoying a game, not only the frame rate per second of the game matters, but also the absence of stuttering and microtirons problems, two failures that, when concurrent, they can turn our experience into an ordeal, even when the game runs at 144 FPS.

Denuvo does affect performance, but it doesn’t have to be clearly noticeable in FPS rates. As I have said, the most serious problems generated by this protection mechanism lie, in most cases, in these “stuttering” and microtirons problems, and also in load times and latencies.

Unfortunately, there is no way to overcome these problems. If you are unlucky enough to find a game that uses this protection system, and it turns out that Denuvo affects performance significantly, the only thing you can do is wait for the developer or publisher to decide to eliminate said system of protection.

Personally, I am clear that the ideal would be for publishers to forget about Denuvo forever, although at the same time I understand that it is a very complicated request, since for them, launching a game is an important investment that they have to make profitable, and keep it protected (impossible to hack) during the first weeks after launch is extremely important, as this is when a game generates the most interest, and when it is most exposed to piracy.

I understand it, and I respect it, but in my case it has a clear consequence and that is, except for very specific cases, I avoid buying new games at the time of their launch. In most cases, what I am doing is waiting for a game to have been on the market for a reasonable time, or even for it to drop in price, before proceeding to purchase it.

I don’t want to spend $ 60 on a game to check for stuttering because the publisher found it more important to avoid all-risk piracy than to offer me a good product, and they didn’t care about the fact that Denuvo affects performance, and it can ruin the user experience.

I know that Denuvo is here to stay, and I, as a consumer, have the right to reject it whenever possible, and to make the purchasing decisions I deem appropriate. In the cases of developers and publishers who have given me headaches for that issue, I am clear about it, I will not buy games for them again at their launch price.

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