On August 15, Sega released Sonic Mania for Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One. The reception it received from the gaming press and consumers was very positive, with the game scoring an average 85-89 across all three platforms on Metacritic. So when the Windows version was released yesterday, the same positive response was expected, but that's not the case.
Initially the reviews on Steam were mostly positive, but then everything changed when it was realized Sega had decided to protect the game using Denuvo DRM. Even worse than that, they forgot to tell anyone they were using it. No mention of DRM or Denuvo appeared on the Steam page, and no reference was made to it in the End User License Agreement (EULA) for the game.
Denuvo is widely despised by gamers due to the way in which it works. The anti-tamper system requires an online activation to check a game is legal, but if you change any hardware in your PC then a re-activation is required. it even limits how many bits of hardware you can change within a 24-hour period. Add to that claims it shortens the life of SSDs and can never truly be uninstalled, and you can understand why it is disliked.
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According to Eurogamer, the positive reviews soon turned to a flood of "Not Recommended" comments with complaints Sonic Mania is an always-online game, that it ships with what is basically malware, and claims that the two week delay for the PC version was simply to add DRM to the game.
Sega responded to the claims of hidden DRM by claiming a lack of DRM warning on the Steam game page was simply an error. However, that doesn't account for missing references to it in the EULA.
For now, if you want to play Sonic Mania, but don't want to install a game that regularly "phones home" to check you are legal, pick the game up on Switch, PS4, or Xbox One. And hopefully this uproar and demands for refunds on Steam will make Sega think twice about quietly adding DRM to a game again.
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