Irdeto didn’t have enough of the PlayStation 5 besides the PC (we already wrote about Denuvo on that); now they’re going after players who emulate Nintendo Switch games (some with much better quality and resolution)…
First, let’s look at the company’s justification: “Nintendo consoles have long suffered from piracy issues, and the Switch is no different. Even if a game is protected against piracy on its PC version, the released version on Switch can be emulated from day one and played on PC, bypassing the strong protections offered on the PC version. This can happen with any of the numerous games available on Switch.
The Nintendo Switch Emulator Protection will ensure that anyone wishing to play the game has to buy a legitimate copy. By preventing piracy on Switch while blocking unauthorized emulations on PC, studios can increase their revenue during the game launch window, which is the most critical period regarding monetization. As with all other Denuvo solutions, the technology integrates seamlessly into the build toolchain without impacting the gaming experience. It then allows for the insertion of checks into the code, which blocks gameplay on emulators.”
Then there’s the statement from Reinhard Balukovitsch, Denuvo’s managing director: “We at Denuvo understand that piracy negatively affects the gaming industry and are working with the industry parties to ensure they have the latest protection technologies available for them. Our team is excited to provide a solution that helps the developers and publishers to help fight the issue of Nintendo Switch piracy.”
We don’t know yet who will use it at all (it’s almost sure that Ubisoft and Square Enix will jump on the bandwagon to waste even more money). Still, it could cause problems for the two emulators, Yuzu and Ryujinx, who have already proven on PC that Irdeto’s claims are nonsense. The unnecessary copy protection does cause performance degradation (if a game is good, people will buy it… Cult of the Lamb came out in August and already sold over a million copies!), which many publishers (such as Ubisoft and Square Enix, for example) refuse to remove from their games even years after the game’s release. These examples would also throw the “release window” defence comment in the bin by Irdeto.
Has Nintendo been struggling with piracy for a long time? In post-communist countries, Famicom clones were rife. It was cheaper and more accessible. We could go on and on with examples of why this move is stupid from Irdeto, but we’ll end with one: what has the games industry come to that you have to put DRM on emulation? The prominent publishers’ executives are out of touch with reality. Not to mention: the Switch was primarily designed for offline play, and Denuvo has to call home. We’re back at 2013 with the initial Xbox One announcement.