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Capcom adds new DRM to old PC games, raising worries over mods

Resident Evil: Revelations update on Steam is part of a pushback on piracy and mods

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Chris Redfield punches an “Ooze” creature in a screenshot from Resident Evil Revelations Image: Capcom
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Publisher Capcom has been adding file-protection software to its back catalog of games on Steam, seemingly as part of the company’s efforts to crack down on piracy — but also on PC mods, which the company claims are “no different than cheats” for its games.

While the addition of software called Enigma Protector to Capcom’s games has been going on for months, Steam users say, the issue came to a head earlier this month when the publisher updated 2013’s Resident Evil: Revelations on PC. That update caused noticeable performance issues, according to players, and Capcom quickly reverted the change. But Capcom said in an update on Steam that it plans to rerelease that update.

Users on Steam have since pushed back on this, adding “mostly negative” reviews for Resident Evil: Revelations. Many reviews cite the “mod-blocking DRM” as a primary factor in their negative reviews.

Enigma Protector is a third-party software package designed to help protect executable files from user attempts at “hacking, analysis, modification and disassembly,” according to its developers. In practice, the software helps to block game mods in Capcom’s games.

Capcom has identified mods as an issue with its games in recent months. In October, the developers of Capcom’s RE Engine, the game software that powers games like Street Fighter 6, Monster Hunter Rise, and multiple Resident Evil games, said that mods can cause “reputational damage” and become a burden on customer support.

“The image of a product is tarnished when mods are released that violate public order and morals without permission,” Capcom developers said in a YouTube video about anti-cheat and anti-piracy measures for in-house development. “Mods can be mistaken for legitimate implementations and can cause bad publicity.”

Capcom experienced a highly publicized incident of bad publicity with a mod in one of its marquee games last summer: An unofficial Street Fighter 6 tournament streamed footage on Twitch of the fighting game with a naked Chun-Li mod installed. Prior to Street Fighter 6’s release, Capcom also issued a warning to players of a modified version of the game’s closed beta version, saying that they could be ineligible for the Capcom Pro Tour and Street Fighter League if found playing that version.

In December, Capcom also reportedly took down videos from a Monster Hunter speedrunning group’s YouTube channel that featured modded versions of Monster Hunter Rise expansion Sunbreak. According to YouTube channel Team Darkside, “Capcom Japan’s legal team is going after Sunbreak videos on YouTube which feature any kind of mod and issue takedown requests and copyright strikes. [...] Many videos of fellow [Monster Hunter] speedrunners were taken down, some speedrunners even received 3 strikes and their channels were deleted.”

Capcom’s games are frequently modded on PC. Mods for its Street Fighter and Resident Evil games offer alternative costumes for its characters that range from salacious to hilarious. Other mods offer alternative graphics options or robust cheats in games like Monster Hunter Rise.

But it appears that Capcom is ramping up its efforts to block mods in its PC games, with Steam users reporting that at least eight titles have implemented Enigma Protector. An unconfirmed list of Capcom games that use it includes Resident Evil 5, Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, and multiple Mega Man Legacy Collection titles.

Capcom’s use of Enigma Protector is separate from the company’s other anti-piracy measures, which includes the use of DRM product Denuvo. Games like Resident Evil Village and Street Fighter 6 have used Denuvo in an attempt to curb piracy.

Polygon contacted Capcom with a list of questions regarding its use of Enigma Protector to confirm which titles implement the software. We’ve also asked the company about its official stance on PC mods. Capcom had not responded to requests by press time.

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