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Intel 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs aren’t playing nice with DRM in some games

Intel warn of compatibility issues with Denuvo DRM, promise fixes

Well, here’s a bit of a bum note in the otherwise upbeat tune of Intel’s 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs: the new chips are apparently tripping up games that use Denuvo DRM. Not all of them, fortunately, but Intel has listed over 50 games that might suffer compatibility issues across Windows 10 and Windows 11 when using an Alder Lake processor. These include big names like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Total War: Three Kingdoms. (Update - Fallen Order has now removed Denuvo completely, so should be fine.)

Unfortunately, the problem seems to be caused by Alder Lake’s most interesting new feature: the mix of Performance cores (P-cores) and smaller Efficiency cores (E-cores). In the affected games, Denuvo is mistaking the E-cores as being from a different system altogether, resulting in crashes and failures to load properly.

Some games will work fine on Windows 11 but not Windows 10, and while some are reportedly affected across both operating systems. Of the latter, some games – marked with an asterisk in the list below – should get better on Windows 11 after a mid-November patch. Intel have also promised to fix the rest, though haven’t offered a timeframe for doing so.

Here are all the Denuvo games that might have trouble on 12th gen chips across Windows 10 and 11:

  • Anthem*
  • Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
  • Bravely Default 2*
  • Fishing Sim World*
  • Far Cry Primal
  • Fernbus Simulator
  • Football Manager 2019*
  • Football Manager Touch 2019*
  • Football Manager 2020*
  • Football Manager Touch 2020*
  • For Honor
  • Legend of Mana*
  • Lost in Random
  • Madden 22
  • Maneater
  • Mortal Kombat 11*
  • Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered
  • Sea of Solitude*
  • Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
  • Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1 and 2*
  • Total War: Warhammer
  • Tourist Bus Simulator

And these are the games that are affected on Windows 10 specifically:

  • Ace Combat 7
  • Assassins Creed Odyssey
  • Assassins Creed Origins
  • Code Vein
  • eFootball 2021
  • F1 2019
  • Far Cry New Dawn
  • FIFA 19
  • FIFA 20
  • Football Manager 2021
  • Football Manager Touch 2021
  • Ghost Recon Breakpoint
  • Ghost Recon Wildlands
  • Immortals Fenyx Rising
  • Just Cause 4
  • Life is Strange 2
  • Madden 21
  • Monopoly Plus
  • Need For Speed Heat
  • Scott Pilgrim vs The World
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider
  • Shinobi Striker
  • Soulcalibur VI
  • Starlink
  • Team Sonic Racing
  • Total War Saga - Three Kingdoms
  • Train Sim World
  • Train Sim World 2
  • Wolfenstein Youngblood

Hoo boy, that’s a lot of games that should work but might not. I say “might” because when I was testing Assassin’s Creed Valhalla on Windows 11 for our Intel Core i5-12600K and Intel Core i9-12900K reviews, it appeared to perform fine throughout, never crashing or failing to load - so too you might get lucky and avoid Denuvo getting confused. Even so, it’s a big shame, given these are otherwise some of the best CPUs for gaming.

While getting busy with actual fixes (alongside Denuvo themselves), Intel have at least suggested a workaround, which involves temporarily disabling the E-cores while you play games. This is supposed to be doable by enabling “Legacy Game Compatibility Mode” in your motherboard BIOS, then tapping the Scroll Lock key to place put the E-cores on standby. However, as PCMag discovered, this mode isn’t available on all Alder Lake-compatible motherboards, and will need to added later via an update. Sure enough, I checked the Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Hero I’ve been using, and couldn’t find any such Legacy mode in the BIOS.

Hopefully this all gets tidied up soon, as although a lot of these games are relatively old and/or have diminished playerbases, the number of games so adversely affected by brand-new CPUs should really be zero.

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About the Author
James Archer avatar

James Archer

Hardware Editor

James had previously hung around beneath the RPS treehouse as a freelancer, before being told to drop the pine cones and climb up to become hardware editor. He has over a decade’s experience in testing/writing about tech and games, something you can probably tell from his hairline.