Rarely is a system gaining new functionality ever met with negative reactions, but this couldn’t less true for the situation surrounding Denuvo’s arrival on the Nintendo Switch.
The much-hated anti-piracy software has a long history of being more a hazard than a help to legitimate customers due to its software usually having the unhelpful side-effect of performance degradation, among other issues. Thus, games launching with Denuvo’s software have long been lambasted by gamers, primarily on PC where it’s usually found in a variety of releases.
The announcement of Denuvo coming to Switch was made during Gamescom 2022, with its primary target being none other than clamping down on emulation.
Of course, Nintendo itself is not a big fan of unauthorized emulation, as has been demonstrated time and again in recent history. So, it’s no surprise that it’s brought over Denuvo’s toolset to its platform. But, again, considering the extensively reputation that the anti-piracy software has generated for itself, it is strange that Nintendo has decided to let it come aboard so far into the Switch’s life. For instance, Denuvo came to PS5 back in 2021, less than a year after the system was released.
Irdeto, the parent company behind Denuvo, paints itself as a hero in its emphatic press release surrounding the software’s arrival on Switch. It cites how “Nintendo consoles have long suffered from piracy issues, and the Switch is no different.” Thus, the Denuvo toolset is made to ensure that it is capable of “preventing piracy on Switch while blocking unauthorized emulations on PC.”
Of course, it approaches this from the angle of saving studios the threat potential lost revenue that comes with their being a potential piracy issue. But, the real icing on the cake here is that Irdeto outright says that its Denuvo software “integrates seamlessly into the build toolchain with no impact on the gaming experience” — a far-cry from the different situations that have popped up time and again.
So far, no specific Switch releases have been announced to be making use of Denuvo’s tech. But, more news surrounding that is bound to come out as the months go on.
Even though Irdeto positions Denvuo’s tech as being a protection for gamers and devs alike, and while it is true that Switch titles are reaching emulators rather quickly, there also hasn’t been a studio that has complained about their being an outright piracy issue on the platform. Nintendo itself has not made any hard comments about seeing lost business due to Switch emulation. This doesn’t mean the “problem” isn’t there, but it doesn’t seem to be big enough to sound any alarms.
Consoles like the Nintendo DS, Dreamcast, Wii and PSP, just to name a few, were notoriously easy to crack and run unauthorized games on. Not to mention they all had complex PC emulators early on in their lifecycles; so, we have seen a situation where emulation and piracy have raised some concern for a platform. But, by and large, the Switch’s very healthy sales across the board have allowed it to fly higher than such an issue.