It appears that Warner Bros and IO Interactive have removed the Denuvo anti-tamper tech from Hitman 2. The changes were noted by eagle-eyed users taking notice of the SteamDB entry changing to reflect the change away from the infamous DRM setup.
For those not in the know, Denuvo DRM has been infamous for the last few years for a variety of developments. The DRM first came into the public consciousness in 2014 after well-known groups in the cracking scene famously declared it would be the death of piracy. The crux of the system was that games protected by Denuvo require an online re-activation for every hardware change every 24 hours and Denuvo limits activations to four hardware upgrades per 24 hours.
This setup allowed game publishers and developers to enjoy weeks or even months of piracy-free sales before cracks were finally released. Chinese cracking group 3DM spent nearly a month cracking Dragon Age: Inquisition for example. Denuvo quickly became locked in an “arms race” against crackers. Every Denuvo game was scrutinized for vulnerabilities, and every time a crack was released, the DRM outfit would release a new patch which changed existing protection or added new layers. Denuvo was eventually sold to Irdeto in 2018, but not before undertaking a legal case against a prolific cracker.
Even before Denuvo came onto the scene, DRM was the stuff of nightmares for pirates and paying customers alike. Always-online protection schemes frustrated gamers in a variety of ways. One of the more infamous examples being the 2015 Simcity which had such a disastrous launch that the publisher behind it, which surprising to no one, was Electronic Arts, ended up lying about the game needing to have always-online functionality in order to function at all. This lie was revealed when the game was patched to remove the functionality post-launch. And even though that particular example was one that was at least partially to blame on the bad reputation of EA, plenty of gamers have stories being frustrated by DRM, often on games they paid for. Denuvo itself was often blamed for performance issues and other problems with games. Some consumers have alleged that Denuvo Anti-Tamper shortens the lifetime of solid-state drives (SSDs). These are claims which are constantly disputed by the DRM maker.
And in the case of Hitman 2, the DRM implementation was cracked before the game even saw release. Ostensibly crackers got hold of a review or preview copy of the game, then reverse-engineered the copy protection setup, leading to cracks appearing for the sequel a full three days before its retail launch.
Now it appears that Warner Bros. Interactive and IO Interactive have decided to pull the trigger on replacing Denuvo entirely, as it offers no real benefit. It seems like an easy way to score brownie points with gamers, at least those who really hate Denuvo and DRM in general. And although there haven’t been any major reports of performance improvements post-update, we’ll surely start seeing them if there does turn out to be performance problems caused by DRM in Hitman 2.