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Doom Eternal to be purged of controversial anti-cheat software

Leaving none in its place

As you may or may not have noticed, there is a bit of a hoo-ha going down about kernel-level anti-cheat software. This is software that peeps at what Windows is up to using administrator privileges, which some people are understandably unhappy about. Happily, then, Doom Eternal developers Id Software are going to rid their game of Denuvo Anti-Cheat. The purge will come in an update planned for "within a week". They only added Denuvo-Anti-Cheat last week.

Unhappily, that also means going back to no anti-cheat software at all for the time being.

Id make no mention of an immediate replacement. Instead, executive producer Marty Stratton says:

"As we examine any future of anti-cheat in Doom Eternal, at a minimum we must consider giving campaign-only players the ability to play without anti-cheat software installed, as well as ensure the overall timing of any anti-cheat integration better aligns with player expectations around clear initiatives – like ranked or competitive play – where demand for anti-cheat is far greater."

You'd think turning anti-cheat software off for campaign-only players would be a no-brainer, but this seems to be wrapped up in talk about the upcoming "Invasion" mode. That's going to smush multiplayer into the campaign, and it sounds neat - but Id's hesitance still doesn't make sense to me. I'd rather they gave solo-players a button that turned off the thing they don't care about.

The post also spells out their reasoning for introducing Denuvo-Anti-Cheat in the first place, which boils down to 'it works' while meeting their "standards for security and privacy". It's worth noting that Denuvo-Anti-Cheat is different to Denuvo-Anti-Tamper, and thus attached to different concerns about its impact on performance. I'll leave Alice to explain that whole mess.

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The post also quells some rumours that publishers Bethesda have been pulling the strings, clarifying that all of this was decided by Id. I'm not sure why people were speculating along those lines, but there you go.

Stratton's post also clarifies that the performance issues some people have faced since Update 1 had nothing to do with anti-cheat. Those were actually "based on a code change [they] made around VRAM allocation", which will be reverted with the next update. They've fixed other crash-causing bugs, too, which were to do with memory-leaks and customisable skins.

Elsewhere in kernel-land, Riot Games recently boasted about banning nearly 9000 Valorant cheaters - at least partly thanks to their very own kernel-level anti-cheat software, Vanguard. Vanguard is even worse because by default it boots up when your computer does. Riot recently made it easier to stop it from doing that, but it's still odd that it doesn't just launch alongside the game.

It's good that Id removed software people had valid security concerns about, but offering an invasive solution followed by no solution is frustrating. Personally, I'm willing to take the devil's bargain that means opening up more of my computer so I'm less likely to run into cheaters. I get why other people wouldn't want to, though, and it sure would be great if we didn't have to make a trade off between privacy and effective cheat-prevention.

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