Arkham Knight Launch Disaster: Performance Issues Abound

Batman Arkham Knight's launch is one of the worst handled this year, setting a terrible precedent for future games in the upcoming year.


[Updated: Warner Brothers has sus­pend­ed all fur­ther sales of Batman: Arkham Knight un­til fur­ther no­tice. See this post for fur­ther de­tails. It has also been up­dat­ed to pro­vide an ed­i­tors note on Denuvo stor­age re­lat­ed is­sues be­ing iso­lat­ed and is­sues with it be­ing mis­at­trib­uted to Denuvo in­stead of poor game dev programming.]

It is com­ing to light that those who have pre-ordered the high­ly an­tic­i­pat­ed Batman: Arkham Knight on PC are com­ing away with a sour taste in their mouths. Several hun­dreds of users — pri­ma­ry AMD users but not lim­it­ed to them — are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a host of prob­lems at launch.

Micro-stuttering caus­ing gen­er­al un-playability from vi­su­al slow­ness and the game’s om­nipresent DRM Anti-Circumvention Software Denuvo are ru­in­ing game­play, en­joy­ment, and hard dri­ves — in that order.

Were this only an is­sue on AMD graph­ics cards, it would be easy to say this was the re­sult of NVIDIA GameWorks™ and use of pro­pri­etary code in Arkham Knight it­self. However, it is re­port­ed in the Steam fo­rums that users with cards as pow­er­ful as the Nvidia GTX 980 are fac­ing the some of the same per­for­mance is­sues, mak­ing the game unplayable.

Another is­sue that has come up is that Arkham Knight is locked at 30 FPS. This can be fixed via an INI tweak, but this shouldn’t have been capped in the first place. This al­ready push­es the play­er ex­pe­ri­ence in fa­vor of the PS4, with ev­i­dence that there were ab­solute­ly zero PC copies of Arkham Knight pro­vid­ed to any­body be­fore launch for re­view. Other graph­i­cal is­sues, such as tex­tures load­ing im­prop­er­ly, mas­sive frame rate drops, and oth­er per­for­mance is­sues are be­ing re­port­ed, again across both AMD and Nvidia plat­forms, prompt­ing Rocksteady to is­sue a state­ment to turn off SLI as this was re­port­ed­ly adding to the per­for­mance is­sues, rather than help­ing to fix them as advertised.

It’s look­ing like Iron Galaxy, a PC Port spe­cial­ist was cho­sen to han­dle the PC port, as they are list­ed in the cred­its as “PC Support and ad­di­tion­al engineering.”

So why is Batman Arkham Knight Such A Heaping Mess?

Were a ba­sic PC re­view copy pro­vid­ed be­fore launch to any out­lets, this may have al­lowed the con­sumer to make the de­ci­sion to not to buy the game. However, there was a gen­er­al black­out across me­dia plat­forms which favoured a PS4 Exclusive re­view sys­tem where­in Warner Brothers Software did not give any jour­nal­ists a PC re­view copy.

The Denuvo DRM, or Anti-Circumvention Software as they pre­fer it to be called, is in­fa­mous in the gam­ing com­mu­ni­ty for con­stant­ly read/writing the hard dri­ve for games un­der their du­bi­ous pro­tec­tion. This can to hard dri­ve deaths, as the disk or — heav­en for­bid — an SSD has their lifes­pan re­duced by the con­stant read/writes. This sys­tem isn’t dis­played in the store page de­tails on Steam ei­ther, where it nor­mal­ly should be list­ed. As of this writ­ing, Denuvo DRM has yet to be added to the store list­ing as a “fea­ture.”

An at­tempt by Gameworks™ to ob­fus­cate, and in­deed, lock-out AMD users was not­ed as well. Arkham Knight’s store page orig­i­nal­ly had only the Nvidia pre­ferred cards avail­able for its re­quire­ments. This has been changed in the last Steam page up­date, and can be cor­rob­o­rat­ed by an archive of Nvidia’s Arkham Knight page here. What’s worse, is the re­quire­ments for AMD’s cards jump­ing quite high, due to the ver­i­ta­ble black­out Nvidia has on new games us­ing Gameworks™.

General per­for­mance is­sues are be­ing cor­rob­o­rat­ed across the Steam plat­form, from the fo­rums to the, now thou­sands, of bad re­views placed on the page it­self, in­clud­ing but not lim­it­ed to the following

Judging from how this game was han­dled, there very well may be more is­sues crop­ping up in the fu­ture. This is a shame for Iron Galaxy, a con­sole and PC port spe­cial­ist com­pa­ny with many ports un­der their belt. A shame be­cause they have han­dled oth­er ports quite ex­cel­lent­ly in the past. [Note: This is a Wikipedia link, take with salt.]

There are so many prob­lems with this launch, it’s dif­fi­cult to fig­ure out where to be­gin: Proprietary tech from NVida block­ing out AMD dri­ver devs un­til af­ter launch, Denuvo DRM Anti-Tamper Technology, no PC re­view copies be­fore launch, and Arkham Knight’s PC port be­ing han­dled by a port­ing com­pa­ny nor­mal­ly well known for their con­sole ports. It is like­ly with all these is­sues com­bined, that end­ed up ground­ing this much an­tic­i­pat­ed launch.

Thankfully, some­one at WB has their head on their shoul­ders and it seems that the com­pa­ny is aware of all these prob­lems. Community man­ag­er CODA re­lease a state­ment on their fo­rums which will be re­pro­duced ver­ba­tim.        


Hi all

We’re aware that some users are re­port­ing per­for­mance is­sues with the PC ver­sion of Batman: Arkham Knight. This is some­thing that Rocksteady takes very se­ri­ous­ly. We are work­ing close­ly with our ex­ter­nal PC de­vel­op­ment part­ner to make sure these is­sues get re­solved as quick­ly as possible.

We’ll up­date this thread when we’ve got more info to share.



What This All Boils Down To

Pre-orders are in­creas­ing­ly for those with too much mon­ey and/or ter­ri­ble plan­ning skills. With each new game that comes out pre-ordering be­comes a hit or miss af­fair, where one may re­ceive some in-game trin­kets in ex­change for be­ing a late beta tester for the de­vel­op­ers. What is worse, these trin­kets of­ten be­come part of the Game of the Year copy re­leased sev­er­al months lat­er. It is be­com­ing clear one must be pa­tient in this mar­ket and hold out un­til those brave (or per­haps fool­ish) users help out the de­vel­op­ers in iron­ing out all the kinks and breaks present in the game it­self. Iron Galaxy will have a lot to prove af­ter this mess of a launch, with them slat­ed to run Killer Instinct Second Season.

It is also be­com­ing clear that Nvidia is be­com­ing anti-consumer, block­ing out their erst­while ri­val AMD from work­ing on dri­vers for new games, as well as at­tempt­ing to use their new  mo­nop­oly to be­come lazy. Proprietary tech­nol­o­gy locks out com­peti­tors who may be able to do bet­ter, and Gameworks™ is just a trans­par­ent at­tempt to cap­i­tal­ize on a pre-launch mo­nop­oly to push Nvidia tech­nol­o­gy such as the Titan (which still can­not run Arkham Knight prop­er­ly as of this writ­ing). While AMD are made fun of for hav­ing no dri­vers, they are at the very least open sourced, and have the fastest turn-around for dri­vers de­spite the dis­ad­van­tage they have when they are locked out of code pre-launch.

[Editors Note: Since pub­lished, it ap­pears that is­sues with stor­age degra­da­tion can be at­trib­uted to ei­ther poor im­ple­men­ta­tion of ear­li­er ver­sions of Denuvo, poor pro­gram­ming of the game in ques­tion, or a com­bi­na­tion of the two. We can find no oth­er re­ports of games ex­ces­sive­ly per­form­ing stor­age op­er­a­tions since pub­lish­ing this piece.]

Also, the DRM Anti-Tamper Technology Denuvo added a third tier of prob­lems, re­quir­ing con­stant reads/writes of the HDD to make sure that the game it­self was not pi­rat­ed while it is be­ing played. Despite hav­ing been bro­ken al­ready months ago, Warner Brothers still in­sist­ed on its use. This hard­ware based DRM adds yet more com­plex­i­ty to an al­ready busy, hard­ware in­ten­sive, and tech­no­log­i­cal­ly vi­brant game.

Where is stands now, we feel it would be best to stay away from this game for a while on PC, at least un­til all the de­ter­mined — and jus­ti­fi­ably an­gry — con­sumers help the game devs out of this mess. Which could be a while at this point.

The fol­low­ing two tabs change con­tent below.
My name is Michael Campbell. I am a bud­ding writer, pro­duc­er, and the content-manager for off-site opin­ion pieces. I fo­cus on Early Access Game Reviews, Traditional Games Media (Primarily Pen & Paper Role-playing Games), Steam Games, Origin, and Indie Titles. My in­ter­ests in­clude draw­ing re­al­ly ter­ri­bly, run­ning far too many RPG games a week and hor­ri­fy­ing my co-workers and friends. I also get re­al­ly an­gry on Twitter at in­jus­tice. I am also like­ly go­ing to be­come a fix­ture in the ed­i­to­r­i­al sec­tion of this site, due to the above anger. You can reach me at if you have ques­tions or com­ments; As well, you can reach me @EvilBobDALMYT on Twitter to see some of that anger in motion.

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