Returnal Denuvo And The Confusion Surrounding It Explained

Returnal Denuvo

In recent years, the debate over digital rights management (DRM) has become a hot topic within the gaming community. And with the release of the much-anticipated game Returnal, the topic of Returnal Denuvo quickly became the hot topic of discussion in the majority of the forums related to gaming, such as Steam and Reddit. 

Whether or not Denuvo Anti-Tamper technology was implemented in “Returnal,” a highly anticipated PlayStation 5 and Microsoft Windows exclusive developed by Housemarque, has sparked a lot of debate among players. This article aims to delve into clearing up the confusion surrounding Returnal Denuvo, exploring the arguments from both sides and discussing the implications for developers and consumers.

Before we go into understanding what Returnal Denuvo is, we need to get a better understanding of what Denuvo is.

Understanding Denuvo

Denuvo, developed by the Austrian company Denuvo Software Solutions GmbH, is a form of digital rights management (DRM) software. It is primarily used in the gaming industry to protect video games against unauthorized copying and distribution.

Denuvo works by employing various techniques to prevent piracy and tampering with the game’s code. It uses an anti-tamper technology that encrypts and obfuscates critical parts of the game’s executable file. This makes it difficult for hackers and crackers to reverse engineer the game or bypass its security measures.


The main goal of Denuvo is to delay the release of pirated versions of games, typically during the initial launch period when sales are most significant. By making it harder to crack the DRM protection, game publishers hope to encourage players to purchase legitimate copies of the game instead of downloading illegal versions.

However, Denuvo has faced criticism and controversy within the gaming community. Some players argue that it negatively impacts game performance, causing increased loading times or decreased frame rates. Others claim that it restricts the rights of legitimate game owners, as it requires online verification or limits the number of installations.

It’s worth noting that Denuvo is not infallible, and determined hackers have managed to crack some games protected by Denuvo, often after a certain period of time. In response, Denuvo continues to update and improve its technology to stay ahead of cracking groups.

As mentioned earlier, the implementation of this feature has its considerable drawbacks, which is what led to the intense discussion of whether or not Denuvo is implemented in Returnal. The next section of this article will answer exactly that.

Returnal Denuvo

Sony, the publisher of the game Returnal, to the relief of many players, does not make use of the Denuvo feature, nor does it implement this in any of their games. Since Sony published the game, we can say with complete certainty that Returnal does not make use of Denuvo. 

This has had the fans divided as some fans are all for not having Intrusive DRM systems in place, while others are saying the hatred for Denuvo is based on outdated information. Let us take a look at why Denuvo gets so much backlash.

The Backlash from Players

Denuvo Issues

Denuvo has generated considerable backlash from a portion of the gaming community. One of the primary concerns raised by players is the potential impact on game performance. Critics argue that Denuvo’s implementation can lead to increased system resource usage, potentially causing frame rate drops and overall instability. Furthermore, some players believe that DRM restrictions can hamper their ability to modify or customize their gaming experience, limiting the game’s longevity and replayability.

Another complaint revolves around the belief that DRM negatively affects legitimate consumers while failing to deter pirates effectively. Critics argue that DRM primarily targets law-abiding players who have purchased the game legally, subjecting them to unnecessary restrictions and inconveniences. Additionally, they claim that determined hackers often find ways to circumvent Denuvo’s protection measures, rendering the DRM solution ineffective in combating piracy.

Developers’ Perspective

From the developers’ standpoint, implementing DRM solutions like Denuvo is an attempt to safeguard their creative work and protect their investment. Developing a high-quality video game is a complex and costly process that involves the efforts of numerous individuals and studios. With the potential for rampant piracy, especially during the initial release window, developers rely on DRM measures to mitigate revenue loss and ensure a return on investment.

In response to concerns over performance degradation, developers argue that the impact of Denuvo on gameplay is negligible or even imperceptible. They claim that the benefits of DRM in terms of piracy prevention outweigh any minimal impact on performance, especially given the fast-paced technological advancements and the capabilities of modern gaming hardware.

However, many fans also argue that one does not need a DRM implementation if they make quality games, like in the case of Sony, with games like Returnal that don’t make use of Denuvo.

Finding a Middle Ground

Returnal Gameplay

With a lot of games that implement Denuvo getting low ratings by fans and critics and with games that do not use Denuvo, like Returnal, getting rated highly, it is important to find the perfect balance between developers’ needs for protection and players’ expectations. 

It is crucial for developers to explore alternative solutions that address piracy concerns without negatively impacting player experiences. This may involve refining DRM implementation to minimize resource usage or seeking out alternative anti-piracy measures that strike a more favorable balance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Returnal use Denuvo?

No, Returnal does not use Denuvo. SONY does not use Denuvo for any of its PC ports.

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With the release of the game Returnal, the question of whether Denuvo is implemented in Returnal has ignited a lot of discussions about Returnal Denuvo and the role of DRM in modern gaming. While developers aim to protect their investments and combat piracy, players voice concerns over performance degradation and restrictions on their gaming experience. 

Striking a balance between the two sides is crucial for the industry’s future, as it involves maintaining the integrity of the creative work while satisfying the demands and expectations of the gaming community. As the industry evolves, it is essential for developers to explore alternative DRM solutions and engage in open dialogues with players to find a middle ground that benefits all stakeholders.

This article has covered everything that you need to know about Returnal Denuvo and the implications DRM implementation has on games and gaming in general, along with all the different perspectives for and against Denuvo. 

Hopefully, you have been able to get a clear understanding of the topic of Returnal Denuvo so that you can be well informed and contribute to various discussions in forums the next time the topic of Returnal Denuvo pops up!

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