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'Rime' Developer Keeps Promise, Removes Denuvo DRM After Game Gets Cracked (cinemablend.com) 133

An anonymous reader quotes CinemaBlend: Tequila Works and Grey Box had previously announced that the DRM for the PC version of Rime would be removed if it were cracked. Well, in just five days the DRM was cracked and a cracked version of the game was made available online. So, now the DRM will be removed...

Five days after the PC launch of Rime, the cracking scene managed to get into the executable and spill all of its guts, removing the DRM and putting the exe back together so it could be distributed across the usual sites. One of the things noted by the cracker was that he found Denuvo executing hundreds of triggers a second, which caused major slowdown in the performance of Rime on PC. This form of digital rights management resulted in every legitimate customer having to deal with a lot of slowdown and performance hiccups... The sad reality was that those who pirated Rime and used the cracked file essentially gained access to a game that had improved performance and frame-rates over those who actually paid for the game.

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'Rime' Developer Keeps Promise, Removes Denuvo DRM After Game Gets Cracked

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  • Lesson learned (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 03, 2017 @05:50PM (#54543487)

    Wait a week till DRM is cracked, get a better version of the game. Got it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 03, 2017 @06:01PM (#54543523)

    Digital restrictions management is so much more appropriate.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It manages the OWNERS rights, not YOURS.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Saturday June 03, 2017 @06:02PM (#54543525)

    I remember a certain audio editing program that used to be a standard that actually came with its own virtual machine that ran some of its code which was a bastardized version of x86 assembler code, which was reverse engineered and "cleaned up" by crackers. The net result was that that cracked code, that would now run on the x86 CPU rather than the (poorly written) virtual machine was actually faster and more stable than the DRMified code.

    I also remember quite a few legitimate users who cracked their legitimately bought software because it improved performance and stability...

    • That is a lot of remembering and very few details. Is there any reason you can't be bothered naming the audio editing program?

      The fact that x86 assembler code would run faster native is no surprise. Why someone would bother buying such a program is.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I believe this was Cubase, and the DRM in question was syncrosoft elicenser.

        • Amazing memory, I honestly didn't remember.

          So many copy protection schemes, so many hours wasted getting around them... ;)

    • It goes back further than that even. I remember some games that prompted you to enter "word x on page y" of the manual, which was printed on red paper to foil the photocopiers of those days. It was always nice if one could find a pirated copy somewhere so you wouldn't have to enter a word from the manual every time you started the game.

      Just another example of that old inconvenient truth: DRM harms paying customers while doing very little to prevent piracy.
      • To be honest, that was actually what got me into breaking copy protection. If it wasn't so damn annoying, I probably wouldn't have bothered to learn assembler in my teen years and wouldn't be where I am today.

        Yeah, DRM shaped my career... So who am I to complain about it?

      • by GNious ( 953874 )

        It goes back further than that even. I remember some games that prompted you to enter "word x on page y" of the manual, which was printed on red paper to foil the photocopiers of those days. It was always nice if one could find a pirated copy somewhere so you wouldn't have to enter a word from the manual every time you started the game.

        I got annoyed at one of the SSL games, think Curse of the Azure Bonds or something, where you had to use a wheel to make a word appear based on 2 symbols - made a copy of the game-disc, went in and edited all instances of the words to the same one, just so I could play the damn thing.

        Of course, all of them also had half the dialogue/story bits written in a booklet, so you still had to go look stuff up....

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I have a vague recollection of some game requiring you too look up words. It compared that word to see if it was equal to the word it was expecting. All you had to do was edit the game to effectively convert the "equal to" part to "not equal to". Then anything, except for the correct word, would work. Tada! No more looking stuff up.

      • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Saturday June 03, 2017 @06:56PM (#54543659)

        There's no doubt that some sales are going to be lost to piracy, but it's just stupid to ruin the experience for your paying customers. Being a game development myself, and one who's put years of work into a self-funded indie game (and hopefully released soon), I'm sure it will be disheartening to see people passing it around without paying for it. Hopefully there will be enough people who enjoy the game and would like me to make more of them, and so willingly purchase the product even though they'll have every chance of getting a free copy if they really wanted to.

        The way I figure it (and have heard other game devs more eloquently argue the point) is that people who pirate the game probably aren't my customers anyhow. Or, at best, I should perhaps think of them as potential future customers. At some point, I think you just have to write that off as a cost of doing business on open platforms.

        Instead, game developers need to engender goodwill and support among their customers, especially on platforms where it's easy to make and distribute copies without paying. Hopefully enough people understand that they have to actively support developers whose games they enjoy if they want to see more like that.

        • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

          There's no doubt that some sales are going to be lost to piracy

          There's an argument that NO game sales are lost to piracy because people who pirate your game were not going to pay for it anyway.

          • Some make that argument, but I don't buy it. There are those who simply want free stuff, even if they have the means to pay for it. I believe that some in the industry tend to highly exaggerate those numbers by counting every pirate copy as a lost sale, which is ridiculous. But I think it's equally ridiculous to think that, were the free version not available, none of those pirates would have purchased it. I won't even pretend to guess where between those two extremes the real number lies, as it's essen

            • by Cederic ( 9623 )

              DRM on PC is a fucking abomination. Various DRM schemes have damaged system performance by installing bug ridden, insecure, obtrusive and pointless shit that runs even when the game isn't running, let alone the impact to the player's experience within the game through performance issues or wasting time by demanding some shitty code.

              Then there are the ones that try and prevent you installing the game more than once, or three times, or five.

              I don't buy Ubisoft games any more because of their perpetually shitt

            • There's 3 kinds of gamers:

              1) The kind who will simply buy the game.
              2) The kind who will buy it if they can't copy it and
              3) The kind who will only copy it and simply go without if they'd have to pay for it.

              And copy protection only affects group 2. You'd be surprised how tiny this group it.

              Group one are the fanboys and the "honest gamers". Fanboys will buy the latest installment of their franchise no matter what. And the honest player are either console users or people who use Steam or some similar service to

        • Please support true USB gamepads and not only the PS4/etc gamepads.

          I bought Axiom Verge and I had to play the damn with the fucking KEYBOARD because the single developer seems to think everyone has a fucking last-generation console controller to play games on a computer.

          • the official gamepad for windows is the Xbox one (and tbe clones of it) and that has been the case for years. Besides the console controllers are better than the supposedly pc-centric pads anyway, which is one reason the became the default. The other reason is that a goodly number of people play games on both pc and console and DO have a console controller. Just head out to your local big box and pick one up.

            • Regression (Score:4, Insightful)

              by xarragon ( 944172 ) on Sunday June 04, 2017 @06:52AM (#54545267)

              I don't fully buy your argument. Most games from the Windows 9X era and forward used to have a dialog where you could customize the input on any device, including joysticks and gamepads.

              It was the influence of consoles coupled with Microsoft's push to XInput that really began to make games streamlined control-wise. This strengthened their position as people got used to the Xbox 360 controllers on PC. They got to sell hardware, developers would not bother with any other controllers and users got accustomed to the gamepads. The old lock-in at play again.

              There are some good aspects to this, but it limits your controller inputs and forces people to use the controls in the way the developer dictates.

              This is not progress; it is one step forward and two backwards. A better solution would be to make XInput able to handle any mappings from any controller and make this transparent to the game's being played. Today this requires third-party software emulation.

        • Being a game development myself, and one who's put years of work into a self-funded indie game (and hopefully released soon), I'm sure it will be disheartening to see people passing it around without paying for it.

          The problem with DRM is that it's added after the fact. In some cases like this, it's literally made by a completely different company. The only possible result is a worse experience for the paying customer. DRMs for movies are probably never going to work but for something interactive like a game, I would think it would be fairly simple to prevent piracy. The simplest way to prevent piracy is not tacking on DRM after the fact but design your game so that part of it's code resides on the server. Whethe

          • by Bert64 ( 520050 )

            And a game that becomes unplayable without a centralised server...
            So you can't play it with poor or no connectivity, can't play it after the company shuts the servers down etc. Look what happened recently with simcity.

            • And a game that becomes unplayable without a centralised server...
              So you can't play it with poor or no connectivity, can't play it after the company shuts the servers down etc. Look what happened recently with simcity.

              Most DRM software is not any better. Most of them protect the software by checking in with a remote server. At least if it's integrated with the game, the end user gets some benefit from it. There are plenty of value added stuff you can add to a game while still allowing the game to have an offline mode. A good company should also release the server code if they ever discontinue their game.

            • Really? The Electronic Rats shut down the SimCity servers and now you have a collection of dead code sitting on your computer if you bought it?

              Do you happen to have a link?

        • by djinn6 ( 1868030 )

          Being a game development myself, and one who's put years of work into a self-funded indie game (and hopefully released soon), I'm sure it will be disheartening to see people passing it around without paying for it.

          Think of it this way, of the hundreds of other things people could be doing, whether it be lurking on Facebook, hanging out with friends, watching movies, going for a hike, or playing one of the thousands of other game titles out there, they chose to play your game. If they like it, they will sink days, weeks or even years into it. As a creator, you should be proud when you see someone sharing it, not disheartened. You made something great, and people recognized your creativity and hard work, so much so tha

          • Without a way to try the game, I doubt the developers would've gotten any of those sales. If everyone had to buy before they could find out whether they like it, most of them would go for the well known AAA titles that their friends are raving about. For most indie titles though, word of mouth really doesn't work, since everybody has their own niche they like.

            I know I'm not the only one to remember when game demos were real. When you could get freeware or demo disks in the mail, or they came bundled with magazines because game developers wanted you to try their latest games.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Don't forget to put a donate button in the game. That way both paying customers that loved the game and want to give you more money get an easy way to do it, and pirates can pay for it if they liked it. Under game options and during credit it should be viewable at least. I don't know why more devs don't do this.

      • Many copy protection schemes on the Commodore 64 floppy drive usually involved writing a deliberate error to one of the sectors. This would cause the read/write head to attempt to re-align itself and bang against the stop to attempt to read the bad sector. Over the course of time all of this hammering would cause the read/write head to go out of alignment, a common problem on 1541 floppy drives.

        I've also heard of (but never personally seen) a floppy disk with a hole punched in it in an unused location so

        • Going from memory here so be gentle, but as I recall the idea was to write a bit that was sort of half magnetized and neither a one or a zero. The original disk would read different values if you read it several times, a copy would always give the same value. I recall it also got cracked.

          I also recall a friend who's boss had a new-fangled C64 for his small business. He had an accounting package for the C64 which he had bought from a local software house. One day the software's copy protection errore

        • The laser-hole wasn't designed to tear your drive head off. When you stick a disk in the drive, you don't necessarily know where the head will be, so a deliberate damage setup like this would have a good chance of destroying legitimate user's drive as well.

          The burn was there to prevent a successful write attempt to that sector. The protection would write something there, and then read it back. If it read back what it wrote, the damage wasn't there and it's a copy. Of course it would check to make sure you d

      • One of the monkey island games on the Amiga had something similar, the cracked version did not.
      • Yep, and that was actually one of the simpler schemes. A lot of the copy protection back then relied on having to use feelies, or browse through long texts or lists of stats to answer obscure questions on the subject matter.

        It's amazing that a full three-plus decades later, the software industry still hasn't realized the staggering stupidity of inconveniencing or even punishing your paying users for buying the software, in your hopeless goal of even slowing down the pirates.
    • VM/interpreter/pseudo-code protections have been around for a long time.

      Denuvo
      SecurROM 7+
      Solidshield
      StarForce ...
      All the way back to Electronic Arts' fat-track scheme on the Commodore 64, which used a VM to obscure the upload of the drive code and check the return value. This was 1983.

      • I really envy you for your memory.

        I never bothered to learn the names of my victims, it humanizes them and makes the work complicated.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Long before virtual machines, 68000 code was encrypted on systems like the Amiga and Atari ST. The software would use the CPU's debugging features to effectively single step the loader code, decrypting one instruction at a time, executing it and then re-encrypting it. That way there was never more than one plaintext instruction in memory at a time.

      It was really slow of course, but typically only used for the loader code so didn't have too much impact.

  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Saturday June 03, 2017 @06:42PM (#54543631)

    What they actually said was "we will be replacing the current build of RiME with one that does not contain Denuvo".

    This is absolutely NOT the same as saying what they will replace it with will be DRM-free.

    • by Chris Katko ( 2923353 ) on Saturday June 03, 2017 @07:13PM (#54543709)

      Except that's the entire fuckin' point of Denuvo. To prevent cracking.

      If the game is already cracked, why would you shit on your existing users?

      This sounds very much like a case of "The Publisher DEMANDED us use Denuvo and we hate it."

      Why the hell else would they go out of their way to ENCOURAGE crackers to crack their game by telling them "As soon as it's cracked, we'll get rid of that thing you hate."?

      Next time, before you tell the world your genius insight, spend an extra 5 seconds and thinking it through.

      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

        What is your point, or the logic behind it? you making no actual sense. You're not even addressing what I actually said.

        • How about you first? Are you just being mindlessly pedantic?

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Let me try helping explain, in case you actually don't understand and aren't being deliberately obtuse.

          The reason you release with something like Denuvo or some other DRM is to prevent piracy. But pirates don't go through copies of Rime one at a time, crack them, upload them to a single user and delete them. They take the pirated copy and serve it to a bunch a people.

          Let's imagine for a moment that they did release a new copy with different, non-Denuvo DRM. What would be the point? It's not like the pirate

      • by Z80a ( 971949 )

        It's very foolish to have your original product worse than the pirate one.

      • by borl ( 586949 )

        That reply really is disingenuous as fuck. It must have taken the reading comprehension of a two year old to so thoroughly misunderstand and misrepresent the post you're replying to.

        +5 Interesting. Slashdot in 2017 folks.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Except that's the entire fuckin' point of Denuvo. To prevent cracking.

        If the game is already cracked, why would you shit on your existing users?

        Because the point of Denuvo and any other DRM scheme isn't to prevent cracking. It's to prevent sales. All DRM is intended to prevent sales and has no other use. Why shit on existing users? Because they paid! They weren't supposed to pay. If you want them to pay, then you don't use DRM. DRM is how you get your game onto the crack sites so that pirates will know th

  • Sigh. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ledow ( 319597 )

    Question:

    Was the cost of adding and then removing that DRM really worth the "extra" sales (even if fabricated statistical anomalies) that it supposedly makes possible?

    I'm guessing not.

    The problem with DRM is not "wanting to protect our sales". It's that it is universally, always, completely counterproductive.

    Performance concerns aside, just the hassle associated with licensing that stuff must surely be more than any potential lost sales from piracy if it only buys you a week of grace. Pirates aren't payin

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You'll notice it's never the developers that make their own DRM. DRM is sold to people through rather impressive levels of FUD sales tactics.

      Your business is under attack. YOU are under attack. The only hope to keep you off the streets is *our product*.

      It's security theater, and if it worked for an entire country's airports, it sure as heck was going to work on people whose entire job is selling the stuff that's pirated.

  • Insanity (Score:4, Interesting)

    by duke_cheetah2003 ( 862933 ) on Saturday June 03, 2017 @07:55PM (#54543837) Homepage

    DRM is pure insanity. Insanity is often defined by doing the same exact thing and expecting a different result.

    Will they ever learn? DRM is not useful. It does not protect your content. It annoys your legitimate users, and does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to curtail, hinder, or even discourage piracy. Hell, I'm going to go as far as to say it ENCOURAGES PIRACY. Those cracker dude, they just love a challenge. Nothing to crack? Borrringgg..

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      DRM isn't about preventing piracy. That's just the marketing line to make it palatable to the larger audience. DRM is really about vendor lock in and controlling what the legitimate user does (or doesn't do) with software that they've purchased.

      There will always be piracy, and the developers and publishers know this. But there will also always be a majority of legitimate users that can be locked down and forced to do the developers/publishers bidding, because the DRM forces them to. Oh you want software Y t

    • DRM has worked pretty well for WoW. It's taken pirates years to make a somewhat close copy of server code.

      If your willing to dish out server time to host most of your code, and have players willing to deal with latency and internet issues you can have working DRM. As a bonus, you can use non-Affero GLP code.

      PS I don't advocate the use of DRM, I'm just pointing out that it isn't 100% broken.

  • by duke_cheetah2003 ( 862933 ) on Saturday June 03, 2017 @08:04PM (#54543885) Homepage

    In any other industry, something that fails to perform it's claimed function is often called fraud, snakeoil, a ripoff.

    Does Denuvo's creator guarantee this crap is going to work? Why do publishers keep falling for this snakeoil? DRM has NEVER worked, not even once. EVER.

    Are they really that stupid?

    • Nobody expects a system to provide protection forever. Most of a game's sales occur within a window that starts at the release date. I'm not sure what that window is these days, maybe a month? So if you can protect the game from being copied for at least a month, the idea is that you'll sell more during that critical window.

      And to this end, some protections have been successful. FIFA 17 was released 7 months ago and hasn't been cracked yet, although with Denuvo being cracked now, it probably won't be long b

    • Stupid? No. But they want to say they took reasonable steps to maintain profitability. No one wants to be named in a lawsuit alleging failure to perform due diligence, and at this point that's the only function of DRM. Not preventing piracy. Lawsuit prevention.

      With it cracked, no one can claim it would have prevented piracy, so they can remove it without fearing lawsuits.

  • Did they make a mistake in how they implicated Denuvo? I heard it is a pretty tricky beast to crack, I was following Syberia 3 and heard the only reason the game got cracked eventfully was that it was not implemented correctly.

    • by ezdiy ( 2717051 )
      It is merely time consuming to remove Denuvo (and VMProtect, for that matter) "correctly". That is, find all the jump targets and magic constants computed by VMized code, and patch those into the exe. But there's also a trivial route - emulate exactly what the VM code expects (mainly cpuid and bunch of direct windows syscalls), ie keep the exe untouched. The thing is, warez scene won't accept emu based emu cracks (there was even huge drama about things steamapi.dll shims).

      There are currenly at least 3 em

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