Anti-cheat software has been a particularly prickly issue of late, and the latest kerfuffle over the introduction of Denuvo Anti-Cheat to Doom Eternal has been no exception. After Update One rolled out on 15th May, fans expressed unhappiness that Denuvo's Anti-Cheat software (not the same as Anti-Tamper) was being implemented on the PC version as part of the patch. In particular, concerns were raised that Denuvo's software was too intrusive, as it uses a kernel-level driver – while some players attributed performance issues to the addition of the anti-cheat software. And, of course, this was all being added after many players had already purchased the game, with no ability to opt-out.
To address the controversy, Doom Eternal executive producer Marty Stratton posted a statement to Reddit explaining the anti-cheat software would be removed as part of the next patch – but defended the team's reasons for implementing it.
"Despite our best intentions, feedback from players has made it clear that we must re-evaluate our approach to anti-cheat integration," Stratton wrote. "With that, we will be removing the anti-cheat technology from the game in our next PC update."
Stratton explained the decision was motivated by a need to implement anti-cheat before the introduction of more competitive play to Doom Eternal, adding that kernel-level integrations are "typically the most effective in preventing cheating" and that Denuvo's software met their security standards. Doom (2016) came under fire for being slow to implement anti-cheat measures, which Stratton said was a motivating factor for the swift introduction of anti-cheat to Doom Eternal.
"It's also worth noting that our decision to remove the anti-cheat software is not based on the quality of the Denuvo Anti-Cheat solution", Stratton added, explaining that recent crashes had been related to customisable skins, while the performance issues had been caused by a code change around VRAM allocation. "Many have unfortunately related the performance and stability issues introduced in Update 1 to the introduction of anti-cheat. They are not related."
It may not quite be the end for Doom Eternal's anti-cheat saga, however, as it sounds like the team is re-evaluating its approach for "any future implementation". There are some reassurances here for players, however, such as the option for campaign-only players to play without anti-cheat installed, and making sure the software is better aligned "with player expectations around clear initiatives" for where anti-cheat is sorely needed, such as ranked and competitive play.
Stratton also emphasised that the decision had been made by his team alone, as some fans had speculated online that publisher Bethesda had forced the changes. "…Our decision to include anti-cheat was guided by nothing other than the factors and goals I've outlined above – all driven by our team at id Software. I have seen speculation online that Bethesda (our parent company and publisher) is forcing these or other decisions on us, and it's simply untrue."
As for the performance issues and crashes, those are set to be fixed in PC update 1.1, alongside the removal of Denuvo Anti-Cheat. Let's hope that settles the controversy – for now, at least.