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Rime’s makers issue strange challenge to crack their DRM

Break Denuvo and they’ll launch a DRM-free game

Rime - boy looking at tower Tequila Works
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

The puzzle game Rime, which launched last week, is one of a few games to acknowledge that it uses Denuvo anti-tampering digital rights management protection. But the game's makers say they will remove the DRM — if someone cracks it.

This bizarre challenge/promise surfaced in Rime's Steam forums from a staff member of Tequila Works, Rime's developing studio. Tequila Works argued internally over whether to include the DRM, ultimately choosing to do so because "we want to ensure the best gaming experience for Rime players.

"Rime is a very personal experience told through both sight and sound," wrote Dariuas, the Rime community manager, on Steam. "When a game is cracked, it runs the risk of creating issues with both of those items, and we want to do everything we can to preserve this quality in RiME."

OK. Whatever the reason, it's their prerogative to include the DRM. But what the hell is with this?

"We are very committed to this, but also to the simple fact that nothing is infallible. That being said, if RIME is cracked we will release a Denuvo free version of RiME and update existing platforms."

Again, it's Tequila Works' prerogative to include or strip out DRM from things it makes. I just don't get why, if they think it's so important to protecting the user's experience, the studio would effectively challenge everyone to crack the protection.

Denuvo isn't infallible, as Tequila Works points out, but it is supposedly a tough nut to crack. Denuvo admits its product can be broken; subsequent updates address that. The product’s overall goal is to make the cracking process so long and painful that hackers ultimately give up.

Games protected by Denuvo include Mass Effect: Andromeda, which updated its DRM after launch and effectively locked pirates out of the wave of major updates brought to the game. Last year, a group of Chinese pirates bemoaned the difficulty of cracking Just Cause 3, though that may have been a disinformation campaign to lower developers' and Denuvo's vigilance.