Sonic Mania Plus DRM Protection Slowing Down Legitimate Copies

It’s hard to fault publishers for wanting to protect their games from pirates. But it gets easier once that protection starts messing with legitimate owners of the game. And that’s what’s happening with the Sonic Mania Plus DRM, Denuvo. Users have found that Denuvo, an anti-tamper program, causes slowdown, crashes, and freezes in legally purchased copies of the game. Sega has not yet responded.

This all started on the game’s Steam forums. Multiple users cried out about the aforementioned slowdown, crashes, and freezing. All three threads — along with a few others — came to the same conclusion: Denuvo.

While it could seem like people were jumping to conclusions ready to rip Sega a new one for hurting paying customers, more reputable sources added validity to those claims. Voksi_RVT, a user on the piracy news subreddit, r/CrackWatch, posted his findings with some cross examination from their own efforts.

Voksi_RVT found this loop when making a crack of the game on their own. Problems seems to pop up more during the time attack levels and doesn’t stop until the game is closed. They claimed that there “is an insane amount of bloated Denuvo code” and that “can cause all kinds of issues if not handled properly.” They went on to break down the problems in more detail.

“This slowdown is caused by a trigger in the time attack menu when you scroll down till the last levels, which is not closed properly, which causes Denuvo to continue writing in its section until the game is closed, which causes massive game slowdown,” they explained.

Denuvo has been a hot topic for many years as more and more games have implemented it and created more and more headaches. Assassin’s Creed Origins ran into some issues, although Ubisoft denied that Denuvo was the cause. Tekken 7‘s PC version had some stuttering, but game director Katsuhiro Harada acknowledged the issues in a tweet. Sonic Mania‘s original release even fell into hot water when it didn’t initially disclose that it was using Denuvo and then forced users to play the game online (although that requirement was later patched out).

Denuvo is a tricky topic because it demands that paying customers bend around sometimes draconian rules while pirates usually find their way around the DRM and have a more functional title. Despite the issues, it’s not showing signs of slowing down. The upcoming Resident Evil 2 Remake and Monster Hunter World PC port are both using it. And while some games have removed it before launch, like The Evil Within 2, and others have patched it out after launch, like Rime, it’s not clear how the Sonic Mania Plus DRM debacle will be fixed.