The newest entry into the iconic Doom game series is Id Software’s Doom Eternal, and like most games, it comes loaded with anti-piracy measures to keep people from just freely copying it instead of buying it. Unfortunately for Bethesda, the publisher of games in the Doom franchise, apparently somebody left an unlocked version of the executable in the first release.
Doom Eternal, in its official version, is loaded with Denuvo anti-tampering software – a somewhat controversial detail, as the software makes game executables much larger than they would be, and actually hogs down some of the system resources that many feel would be put to better use actually running the games.
The DRM-free executable was present in the version of the game provided by the Bethesda Launcher, sitting in a folder labeled ‘Original’ inside the main Doom Eternal. Unsurprisingly, it’s a lot smaller. Apparently the Denuvo DRM software adds quite a bit to the file size.
As soon as they figured out what happened, Bethesda removed the unlocked EXE by issuing a patch that deleted the file, but by that time the horse was out of the barn and doubtlessly findable on the internet for those who care to look. To make matters worse, crackers have already found a way to patch out the requirement to login with your Bethesda account the first time Doom Eternal is run (so you can play the DRM-less version offline, in other words).
This isn’t the first time it’s happened, either. Rage 2 also launched with a DRM-free executable, also by Bethesda, also quickly patched out. In their defense, they aren’t the only ones to suffer this problem. Devil May Cry 5 released on Steam with an unlocked EXE – apparently meant for game testers pre-release – which had no Denuvo protection.
The Denuvo DRM (Digital Rights Management) system is controversial not only because it causes a performance hit, but because it’s often cracked very swiftly by the hacker community. Even when a mistake like this doesn’t happen, crackers sometimes defeat Denuvo DRM very swiftly – like after five days in the case of Metro Exodus. Denuvo also failed the launch of the Resident Evil 2 remake in 2019, and Resident Evil 7 in 2017, both of which were cracked within a week of launch.