UPDATE 31st August 2017: Sega has said the offline play bug that affected the PC version of Sonic Mania has been patched.
The #sonicmaniapc offline play bug has now been patched. Thanks for your patience and let us know if you experience any further problems.— SEGA Europe (@SEGA_Europe) August 30, 2017
Sega has also added a Denuvo warning to Sonic Mania's Steam page.
In a post on Facebook, Sega said it found a problem within the game code that prevented people playing offline, and denied it had anything to do with the game's controversial DRM.
"We've looked into the DRM complaints and can confirm this was not the cause of the problem," Sega said. "We apologise for any inconvenience any of the bugs may have caused players of the PC version at launch and would like to reassure them again, that as with this particular bug, we are on the case and working on fixes so everyone can have an uninterrupted and enjoyable experience playing Sonic Mania both online and offline."
ORIGINAL STORY 30th August 2017: PC gamers are review-bombing Sonic Mania on Steam over what they believe is an underhanded inclusion of DRM.
Sonic Mania came out on Steam yesterday after a two week delay and users soon discovered the game contained the controversial DRM, Denuvo.
However, there was no mention of the inclusion of DRM anywhere on Sonic Mania's Steam page.
Denuvo has long been a controversial inclusion in PC titles. Critics accuse it of being little more than malware that affects game performance. Supporters point to its solid track record of stalling the release of game cracks - sometimes for months after launch.
Sonic fans say Denuvo makes Sonic Mania an always-online game because it needs to contact a server for authentication. Fans had expected the game to be playable offline.
Here's a snippet of the anger being channeled in the form of negative Steam user reviews:
"I am beyond disgusted that this was installed without any warning," wrote Steam user Miraglyth. "If not removed I shall seek a refund towards the end of my refund period in a week. More urgently, I am trying to find a way to eradicate the malware from my computer presently."
"SEGA delayed the release of the PC version to implement Denuvo and they did it in a way that I've never seen before," XeidiDent said. "This game can't be played offline. At all. And there's nowhere on the Store page informing the customer about this. Lesson learned, Sega."
"Was really looking forward to this game," said wrz. "Now I feel violated because SEGA did not say it was going to have Denuvo. This is the first and last time I preorder a Sega game. I'm done. Now we know why it was delayed for two weeks."
The negative reviews sparked a comment from Sega addressing the concern over the DRM.
Sega said the lack of a DRM warning on the Sonic Mania Steam page was an error, and that the game should be playable offline.
Here's the statement in full:
"Like you, we've noticed an error in the Steam store not mentioning the DRM for Sonic Mania.
"We're fixing that now.
"Sonic Mania is intended to be played offline and we're investigating reports on that.
"We're also investigating other issues like controller support, these are all PC specific things that Christian and the team have been working on these last few weeks.
"Please bare with us while we collate and investigate problems that are being brought to our attention."
The negativity has tarnished what is otherwise a return to form for the Sonic series. Sonic Mania wowed critics when it came out on console earlier this month. Our own Edwin called it essential in our Sonic Mania review, saying: "1992 is alive and well. Christian Whitehead and team turn in a beautiful rewrite of the 16-bit Sonic games with all-new stages."
It's worth noting Sonic Mania's overall Steam user rating remains mostly positive, with plenty of players expressing their delight with the good work done by developer Christian Whitehead and his team. But for those who refuse to buy the game because of the DRM, or for those who have already demanded a refund, will the addition of a DRM warning be enough to spark a second chance?