And you can try it now.
I’m not going to mince words here, folks. DRM (or “Digital Rights-Management”) sucks. It’s supposed to protect a publisher from ne’er-do-wells illegally distributing their products (read: pirating the game), but as pirates get more skilled at piracy, DRM becomes more aggressive. Often, so aggressive that it hurts people who buy products legally.
Topping the list for worst DRM ever to be implemented in games is technology like StarForce (which could cause physical hardware damage to a PC over long term use), SecuROM (which is now blocked by Windows 10 from functioning at all), and, most recently, Denuvo.
Denuvo, like most DRM schemes, boasted about how long it could prevent piracy. Even DRM companies admit all games will eventually be cracked, but the longer that can be prevented, the better. For Denuvo, a game would go uncracked for months. But as is the case with all DRM schemes, that time began to shorten. The months it would take to crack a Denuvo game eventually turned in to weeks. Then days. Then hours.
Denuvo worked by constantly encrypting and decrypting chunks of data from the hard drive, a practice some alleged could shorten the lifespan of SSDs (solid-state drives) and slow down HDDs (hard-disk drives). If you’ve ever watched my original Sonic Mania video review, you may notice the game occasionally stutter — this, despite the fact that Sonic Mania’s code is so simple it could run practically run on a toaster. It’s likely that Denuvo is to blame for causing this technical hiccup.
Well, no more. As time goes on, more and more game companies are beginning to remove Denuvo from their current releases. It started with Capcom removing it from the PC versions of Resident Evil 7 and Mega Man 11. Sega followed suit with Yakuza Zero, and Yakuza Kiwami launched without any Denuvo to speak of at all. It was only a matter of time before Sonic Mania received the same treatment.
Today, an experimental branch of Sonic Mania (RC 1.06.0503) was made public on Steam that also removes Denuvo. Patch notes can be found on the Steam community forums for Sonic Mania.
Now, it’s worth mentioning that this isn’t fully public yet. You can’t just boot Sonic Mania up right here, right now and instantly have the Denuvo-free version of the game. The Denuvo-free patch is currently in beta, which you can access by right clicking the game in your Steam library, selecting “Properties” and going over to the “BETAS” tab. From the drop down menu, select “community_beta” and enter the access code “sonicmaniabeta”. After doing this, the game will download the Denuvo-free update.
It’s worth mentioning that removing Denuvo from Sonic Mania takes the game’s main executable from a whopping 117mb in size all the way down to a much more digestible 3mb.
If you’d rather not fiddle with the beta version of the game, this patch will likely be pushed to everyone else sometime in the coming weeks.