The version of Batman: Arkham Knight currently being given away to users on the Epic Games Store is missing the Denuvo anti-piracy protections still present in the Steam version. But the removal doesn’t seem to have had any effect on the performance of the game, according to an Ars analysis.
Denuvo works by obfuscating and encrypting the code inside a game’s executable, making it harder for would-be crackers to figure out how to get around processor-tied authentication checks. You can see this difference in the .exe files for Epic Games Store and Steam versions of Arkham Knight, with the former clocking in at about half the size (or 50 MB smaller).
For years now, some piracy watchers have argued that this extra code can slow down a game’s performance compared to a Denuvo-free version, and there has been at least some evidence that certain PC games have run slightly better after Denuvo has been removed.
But those Denuvo-removal updates may have come along with their own optimizations and refinements to improve performance absent any DRM changes. Arkham Knight is one of the first cases where the exact same version of a game has been available in Denuvo-enabled and Denuvo-free versions at the same time, and Ars testing shows no difference in the relative performance of the two.
Arkham Knight‘s in-game frame rate benchmark returned exactly the same results on the Epic Games Store and Steam versions of the game (taking the median across three tests on both high- and low-end settings). Loading times for a couple of sections near the beginning of the game were also indistinguishable between the two versions.
Other testers have similarly shown little to no change in frame-rate performance between the versions, though some systems seem to show load time improvements of a few seconds once DRM is removed.
While this direct comparison probably won’t settle the public debate on the overall performance effects of Denuvo protection, it does provide some support for the official position of Denuvo developer Irdeto: “Since only performance non-critical game functions are used in the Anti-Tamper process, Anti-Tamper has no perceptible effect on game performance…”
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