A few hours ago, in regions that had already ticked over to March 20 (Australia, for example), people began downloading the game from official sources.
Given that the game was already revealed to be using the infamous anti-tamper technology Denuvo, no one really expected a fast ‘pirate’ release. However, a user on Reddit quickly dropped a bombshell.
The player revealed that after paying for and downloading the official Bethesda.net version’s game files, he opened up the main folder and spied the main executable – a 368MB file named DOOMEternalx64vk.exe. However, a secondary folder (located in Doom Eternal\original\) contained a second much smaller .exe file (67MB) with exactly the same name.
What followed is barely believable. According to now numerous reports, it is possible to replace the .exe file in the ‘original’ folder with the main executable and the game still runs. The theory is that the smaller file is the source .exe without Denuvo, while the highly-bloated version is the one ‘infected’ with Denuvo.
This appears to suggest that someone in the supply chain managed to place a DRM-free executable in the purchased game, put it in a folder clearly marked as ‘original’, then served it up for one of the first-ever purchasers to stumble across, apparently with minimum effort. This has led to jokes that the developers have effectively cracked their own game.
As a result, copies of the game are now being shared online and a number of people are reportedly playing the game with no issues. Initially, there was talk that the game crashed after level 3 but that appears to have been driver-related with an update fixing the problem. A Bethesda account is reportedly needed but a solution to that is already being shared on a Russian forum popular with game pirates.
There is still some work to be done before the pirate release appears in the mainstream (repacker ‘Fitgirl’ lists it as ‘coming soon’) but it seems pretty likely that will be today, the day the game was released. Denuvo didn’t even need to be cracked or disabled to make this happen which is unsettling some, who feel it might be some sort of cunning stunt to give pirates a time-limited demo or something similar.
Time will tell…