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Denuvo Slinks Onto Switch

Because the Switch has so much excess processing power, Nintendo has approved “gaming security solution” Denuvo to appear on the console.


The software is best known as the bane of PC gamers’ lives. It requires authentication to work, and often lowers performance. Neither of these things are good on PC, but, if they work in a similar way, will kill the Switch experience.

That’s if the full Denuvo experience is brought to Nintendo consoles – including the Switch 2 when it comes out. The first announced tool is the Nintendo Switch Emulator Protection – a tool that apparently will combat piracy.

Firstly, emulation and piracy is not the same thing. Emulation, while potentially enabling piracy, isn’t illegal and is a vitally important part in preserving an industry that is hellbent on not preserving itself.

Tradition tells us that this software check will probably cause some issues. Tradition also tells us actual pirates will get past the checks almost instantly, and it’ll only hurt paying customers. Money well spent.

Listen, I’m not entirely unsympathetic. It must be annoying to see your new game pirated by a tiny minority. And Nintendo has always been particularly hurt by this. It wasn’t that long ago that every mom in the world was searching high and low for an R4 card. Then getting very uppity that they weren’t able to just walk into GAME and pick one up.

It must be extra annoying, because there’s a sense with the Switch that piracy is okay. If you’re going to make 720-1080p your business model, people will fix that pretty damn quickly. People want to play Tears of the Kingdom (18.5m copies sold…) on their 4K screens. For God’s sake, release a PC version and most of the piracy disappears.

Denuvo and Switch – a Match Made In Hell

But that goes against Nintendo’s business model. And to preserve their business model, they will insert annoying bits of code which they must pay a fee for. It makes no sense to me, but that’s big business. There’s no easy solution that both allows Nintendo to rule over its own walled garden and for gamers to get the high-end experience they really crave.

Ultimately it is an inevitability anyway. Publishers bring their games to PC now. Nintendo will too, sooner or later.

I suppose the final thing to say about this is that it’s obviously pretty short-sighted – if you’re only looking at the Switch. I’m not sure there are any major releases left in the old girl. But it seems pretty obvious that the Switch 2 will come with this technology and, well, that means time will tell exactly the impact it will have on future games.

The best case scenario for everybody – except Nintendo I suppose – is that the code really does have no impact on how the game is run, and that cleverer people than I are able to brute force through the code and get these games preserved for when even Nintendo can’t remaster them anymore. If nothing really changes, all the benefits remain the same.


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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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Twitter: @matgrowcott