After a couple days of apologies and clarifying statements, Sega has confirmed that the PC version of Sonic Mania utilizes Denuvo, the controversial anti-piracy software.
Always On, Always Running
Sonic Mania’s PC release was delayed by two weeks in order to give the development team “a little more time to polish the PC version”, according to a statement provided on Twitter. Additionally, fans who pre-ordered a copy of the title on Steam were given a gift as a small apology – Sonic the Hedgehog 1.
However, the launch of the PC version of Sonic Mania was far from the smooth ride that Sonic fans were expecting after the delayed release. While the original statement regarding the delay cited “more time to polish” the PC release, there are a number of bugs being reported by players including technical issues with controller support and an online check that prevented the game from being played offline.
As of this writing, Sega has announced via a Twitter message that Sonic Mania is now playable offline and the online check was “offline play bug” that has now been addressed. In a separate message posted to Steam, the publisher was candid in their assessment of the issues with the PC port.
The #sonicmaniapc offline play bug has now been patched. Thanks for your patience and let us know if you experience any further problems.
— SEGA Europe (@SEGA_Europe) August 30, 2017
“Sonic Mania is intended to be played offline and we’re investigating reports on that,” the message stated.“We’re also investigating other issues like controller support; these are all PC specific things that Christian [Whitehead, Mania’s project lead] and the team have been working on these last few weeks. Please bear with us while we collate and investigate problems that are being brought to our attention.”
Sega does not dispute that Denuvo was intended to be put in the game, however they assert that there is no link between the anti-tamper software and the previous online-only requirement. Initially, players were angry that there was no mention on the Steam store page about, the DRM and began to assault the page with a flurry of negative reviews that asserted that Sega should have been more upfront about the inclusion of the DRM or remove it altogether.
Notably, Sonic Mania still maintains a “Mostly Positive” review rating on Steam, however, Sega has certainly felt the backlash, as evidenced by their multiple quick statements and solemn promises to fix the game’s most pressing technical issues in a timely manner. The inclusion of the Denuvo software, especially, is a thumb in the eye to many PC players who have long protested that it is nothing more than malware that can often have a noticeable impact on game performance. Sega acknowledged the need for transparency regarding the inclusion of Denuvo, saying in a Steam message “Like you, we’ve noticed an error in the Steam store not mentioning the DRM for Sonic Mania. We’re fixing that now.”
This kerfuffle around the release of the PC port further emphasizes the politics of Steam reviews, in which review ratings are becoming increasingly subject to disagreements that may not directly relate to gameplay. Sonic Mania has become another unfortunate example of what seemed like a preventable launch nightmare and another example of a developer struggling to put together a quality PC port.