Enlarge / Maybe Sonic and his friends are looking at an incoming, Denuvo-related crapstorm headed their way. (credit: Sega)
I had high hopes of returning to Sonic Mania and slapping an Ars Approved sticker on my early-August review once its PC version launched.
I figured, by then, the console editions would have received patches to a few noticeable glitches and a tidy PC port would seal the deal on an easy game recommendation.
Then I tried loading the Windows version of Sonic Mania while my Steam account was offline.

That’s when Sonic Mania informed me, in no uncertain terms, that “Steam user must be logged in to play this game.”

Sonic Mania PC version launches with Denuvo, online requirementThe error message shown when trying to boot Sonic Mania’s PC version in offline mode on its launch day.
In this case, Steam had previously booted, and thus authenticated, the game online.

Turns out, Sega has applied the much-maligned Denuvo copy-protection system to Sonic Mania‘s PC version—and this Denuvo implementation won’t unlock the game for players so long as Steam is operating in “offline mode.” Until the game receives an update, Sonic Mania fans hoping to play the PC version in an offline capacity are out of luck. (Your backup option, should you want to do something like board a plane, is to boot the game while connected to Wi-Fi, then disconnect from the Internet and leave the game running in the background until you’re ready to play.
It’s not necessarily an ideal workaround.)
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