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DRM Piracy Software Entertainment Games

Denuvo's DRM Now Being Cracked Within Hours of Release (arstechnica.com) 113

Denuvo, an anti-tamper technology and digital rights management scheme, isn't doing a very good job preventing PC games from being copied. According to Ars Technica, Denuvo releases are being publicly cracked within a day of their launch. From the report: This week's release of South Park: The Fractured but Whole is the latest to see its protections broken less than 24 hours after its release, but it's not alone. Middle Earth: Shadow of War was broken within a day last week, and last month saw cracks for Total War: Warhammer 2 and FIFA 18 the very same day as their public release. Then there's The Evil Within 2, which reportedly used Denuvo in prerelease review copies but then launched without that protection last week, effectively ceding the game to immediate potential piracy. Those nearly instant Denuvo cracks follow summer releases like Sonic Mania, Tekken 7, and Prey, all of which saw DRM protection cracked within four to nine days of release. But even that small difference in the "uncracked" protection window can be important for game publishers, who usually see a large proportion of their legitimate sales in those first few days of availability. The presence of an easy-to-find cracked version in that launch window (or lack thereof) could have a significant effect on the initial sales momentum for a big release. If Denuvo can no longer provide even a single full day of protection from cracks, though, that protection is going to look a lot less valuable to publishers.
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Denuvo's DRM Now Being Cracked Within Hours of Release

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  • within hours / maybe minutes.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      1. Release game
      2. Let 'em copy
      3. Let 'em play
      4. Let 'sm hooked on the game play
      5. Release game extensions, available only through authorized channel
      6. Profit !

      • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

        If that would work, why not sell the game itself "only through authorized channels" that somehow magically make cracking impossible?

        • Because that would involve a modicum of effort and cost and publishers don't even like having to pay their dev teams as it is.

          I had a discussion with a publisher once, and they actually do have ways to make it so you can't pirate their software. The problem is A) these methods are extremely inconvenient to consumers B) the costs involved. It's far cheaper for them to contract out to the companies that make SecuROM or Denuvo for instance than contracting to the companies that require biometrics and dongles (

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <[mashiki] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday October 20, 2017 @01:40AM (#55401761) Homepage

      Well that's not really true. Denovo really held out for a while there like starforce did, think it was right up around a year when it was first released(same with starforce) before the first cracks started showing up. With denuvo v4 there were multiple vulnerabilities because they used someone elses vmware kit, v5 is apparently in-house and several of the latest titles use it. Those games were cracked in under 10 hours no less, they had a good run but CDProjekt showed how wrong the whole DRM scheme is. If you make a good game people will buy it, if you make shit people won't. Ask CliffyB just how well his latest shit game is working out if you need an example though.

      • Good game sell (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Friday October 20, 2017 @05:42AM (#55402235) Homepage

        Those games were cracked in under 10 hours no less, they had a good run but CDProjekt showed how wrong the whole DRM scheme is. If you make a good game people will buy it, if you make shit people won't.

        Yup I totally agree.
        If you've made a good game and there are tons of fan liking it, they'll line up to buy it EVEN if it is DRM-free.

        A cracked game, if the game is good won't necessarily cause a big drop of sales.
        (Some people might decide not to pay for it, but it's going to be a small fraction of the fans. On the other hand another fraction of the fans might finally decide to buy it, now that there's a way to take their legit copies and "disinfect it" from the DRM : that might end up being my case regarding Sonic Mania and Denuvo)

        If your game is shitty, it's a stupid excuse to blame it on piracy.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        "but CDProjekt showed how wrong the whole DRM scheme is."

        You mean the people who champion DRM-free policies, but attach DRM to their own Witcher games for the initial launch? Sure they removed it eventually (And were even up front about their intention to remove it once initial launch sales were over), but they're not exactly puritans of faith so to speak.

        • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

          You mean the people who champion DRM-free policies, but attach DRM to their own Witcher games for the initial launch?

          You mean the people who champion DRM free policies and held to them, while the publishers of The Witcher and The Witcher 2 required that they put them on the games, which were not their decisions but forced? And removed them, even taking a breach-of-contract hit on the Witcher 2 over it?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 19, 2017 @09:39PM (#55401181)

    DRM is like the delusional gambler. No matter how much money he loses he refuses to quit, because quitting would be and admission that he has failed and lost all his money. And, he is convinced that if hes sticks with it long enough he will eventually hit that big jackpot.

    And I don't expect the companies using DRM to change their minds any time soon.

    Denuvo isn't going to just quit and go away. Next year, Denuvo will will promise the game companies them that they have developed a new and improved DRM. It will be a lie. It will be nothing more than digital snake oil, just like all DRM, and the game companies will buy it, because they are just like the delusional gambler.

    • by Z80a ( 971949 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @09:48PM (#55401211)

      Which is quite sad, as it goes against the very thing that is working for em, that is the online distribution.
      Before steam/gog/etc.. acquiring a pirate game was a lot easier than getting the legal copy, as it didn't depended on convoluted mail schemes or having to hope the physical store have the game you actually want etc.. which made the pirate games "better" than the legal copies.
      But with online distribution, now it is actually easier to get the legal games than it is to pirate it, which makes the legal copy better than the pirate, unless the game have some horrible DRM that decrease the performance or make modding impossible or add a "expiry date" to your game, which pushes the pirate cracked version without those issues back to the top.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        some horrible DRM that decrease the performance or make modding impossible or add a "expiry date" to your game

        You forgot: Infects your PC with some root-kit like software that conflicts with other software you use, such as virtualization software, mounting CD images or even (in one case) drivers for CD burners.

    • by lucm ( 889690 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @10:19PM (#55401333)

      DRM is like the delusional gambler. No matter how much money he loses he refuses to quit, because quitting would be and admission that he has failed and lost all his money.

      DRM doesn't work as a bullet-proof system to prevent motivated people to use commercial content for free, but it does work in making it difficult enough that mainstream users will pay for it.

      For instance, as a casual gamer I'm not going to fuck around downloading cracks (that are probably lost in an ocean of fakes infected with malware), I find it easier to pay for the game on Steam. In fact almost all games I play come from sales on Steam or PS4. Meanwhile, I have many gamer friends so if there was no DRM whatsoever I'd probably do like I used to in the 90s, use shared copies.

      It's the same with any kind of software. I don't recall ever paying for MS-DOS 6 or Windows 3.1, but today if I needed Windows I'd probably buy a copy at Best Buy rather than deal with the endless patching and cracking.

      Doesn't mean I endorse DRM, but it works.

      • Even if the games had no DRM other than Steam you would still end up buying from from Steam instead of going to crack sites and hoping you don't get infected with something. The costs are low enough on steam that the risks of trying to get the games illegally is just not worth it for many people.

        How many of the games that you have bought on steam have you ever checked if they have DRM? About the only thing I started checking is that they don't have Denuvo because I have had problems with some games that use

        • I say that myself quite often, so on seeing these games I went to Steam to see if I would buy them (I played the earlier versions of both of them and they were both decent games) £45 and £50 for the games, totally outrageous price. I'd rather pirate than pay that much out of principle.
          • There will be a huge steam sale soon for Black Friday in the USA. That is a good time to get games.

            I pretty much only buy games on steam that are on-sale. I think the last full price game I bought was Fallout 4 and the next one I buy at full price will probably be Elder Scrolls 6 or Fallout 5.

            There are two games I will probably get in the next steam sale but I have no real interest in going to the pirate sites to try and find them, hope nothing gets infected etc.

            • by gfxguy ( 98788 )

              You are a shining example of ethics and morality. I can't believe how many people justify violating copyright laws for games... if you think it's too much, then you wait for the price to come down, or you don't buy it at all. There's no justification for "stealing" games. I am completely on board with how you go about buying games - I have a steam account with over 100 games from Humble Bundles and sales.

              • The sad thing is that this should not qualify as a shining example of morality. There are so many fun games available that you can never play more than a tiny percentage of them. If you try to get a game illegally and get infected from it and have to rebuild the machine and restore from backups you easily lose far more in time than the game was worth.

                My general view is that you are free to set any price you want for your product. If I don't like the price I will go somewhere else. I don't have the right to

                • by gfxguy ( 98788 )

                  I agree with you - and it is a shining example of morality and ethics... things that are far too rare in this age of entitlement.

      • For instance, as a casual gamer I'm not going to fuck around downloading cracks (that are probably lost in an ocean of fakes infected with malware)

        1: Search thepiratebay.org, sorting results by date (for new releases) or by size, and look at the entries that have a pink or green skull.
        2: Click the magnet link to download the torrent, then either read the.nfo or the comments (if any) on TPB.
        3: Follow instructions in .nfo or comments to install & launch your WaReZ.

      • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday October 20, 2017 @03:13AM (#55401935)

        A casual gamer will go to steam, click "buy it", click "finish and install" and play it. Not because it's honest, not because it's the right thing, not because he doesn't know about the crack but simply because it's easier and he doesn't give a shit about the 5 bucks the game costs.

        Honestly, the only time I actually notice a game has DRM is when the damn crap keeps me from playing because the "you have to be online all the time" servers are unreachable again. Which is coincidentally also the only time when I have to fire up IDA anymore...

        • At this point, I pretty much just refuse to buy any game that has a 3rd-party EULA. Almost all the time developers have an extended EULA, it's to explain the extra DRM.

          • Well, it's a 50/50 tossup on if it's for the DRM or for the publisher's own multiplayer service because for some reason all of these developers and publishers keep reinventing the wheel instead of using either Valve's matchmaking service or one of the other main ones you can license to use.

      • by Wulf2k ( 4703573 )

        > but it does work in making it difficult enough that mainstream users will pay for it.

        It also works the other way around.

        I enjoyed South Park: the Stick of Truth. It was a fun enough game that the sequel was going to be an instant purchase on release day.

        Instead, I load up the page on Steam and see that it's protected by Denuvo. I did not purchase the game.

        Maybe I'll grab it on another system, maybe I'll wait and see if the protection ever gets removed, I dunno.

        What I do know is that I "could" easily

      • All DRM can be cracked and will be cracked. They sell the idea of DRM to game company executives by saying that they've got this uncrackable encryption, they just don't tell them that they have to give the user the private key or paying customers can't play the game, they just "hide the private key really good". And that's the thing, as soon as the cracking teams figure out where you hid the key it's game over. And once they know the pattern it's ever easier to find it in future releases.

        All DRM is broken b

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      This is an excellent analogy. And, of course, that delusion is being carefully kept alive by those that stand to win most of it: The purveyors of copy protection schemes.

    • "DRM is like the delusional gambler."

      No it isn't, drm was part of the agenda to take control of game software away from end users and they have been very successful at conning people into paying for software they don't control. MMO's and Steam are biggies. The reality is the end goal for all game companies is to stream games via encryption once broadband becomes fast enough and everywhere, they want you to ultimately stream games from their servers so they have total control of the game.

      MMO's are the firs

    • Counterpoint - most of the total sales happen in the first couple of months after release. Crack protection can delay for about that.

      Incidentally if your game contacts a server, the server can request checksum checks from the clients and kick ones that have get the answer wrong. So you can ban cracked copies from online play. I.e. the current popularity of online multiplayer makes it easier to do crack detection because you've got a trusted server doing the checks rather than potentially cracked client code

    • and yeah, Denuvo isn't doing that right now. I'm pretty sure Ubisoft's system is though. Their solution is to download the game in chunks as you get futher along. It's also why their games are often barely playable at launch. It works, and the 'barely playable' part doesn't seem to hurt sales. Me? I won't buy an Ubisoft game until 6 months after launch. I did that before I knew about their DRM scheme too. It had nothing to do with principle, I just knew too many people who couldn't play the game until month
      • I have refused to purchase their games ever since they first decided to use Starforce DRM and it trashed some of my very expensive at the time DVD-RW drives. The Starforce driver was notoriously unstable to begin with and caused issues for regular optical drives, once version 4 of Starforce hit those shifty Russians went too far and decided to tamper with drive firmware itself. They attempted to overwrite your drive firmware with a custom version in which they set the region flag and to disable the ability

  • by Phylter ( 816181 ) on Thursday October 19, 2017 @09:44PM (#55401201)
    Maybe DRM is important to ensuring people buy their products but I won't bother buying anything with DRM. I've got software purchased that I can no longer use, not because the software is not compatible with my computer, it's the DRM that is no longer compatible. I don't pirate games or software. I'll do without if DRM is involved. It's a huge pain in the neck.
    • You're not the target audience then, and voting with your dollars affects almost nothing. Also, preaching to the choir probably doesn't do a lot.

      Lots of people spend money on DRM products, and probably don't even know what DRM is, or if it can be worked around. These are the targets, they are plentiful, and have money.

  • They are probably thanking Denuvo for providing them one!!

  • Reading this makes reading some of the snippets from Denuvo's main site [denuvo.com] rather amusing:
    * "Recent release of [Denuvo-protected] Just Cause 3 has pushed the Chinese piracy group's (3DM) cracking abilities practically past their limits. "In two years' time I’m afraid there will be no free games to play in the world."
    * "Chinese hackers have admitted defeat in their attempt to pirate a new video game release and warned that increasingly sophisticated software could wipe out

    • by Cederic ( 9623 )

      I hate DRM and I'm delighted Denuvo is no longer fit for purpose.

      I do acknowledge that they created a product that had a remarkably long lifespan for its market. That's impressive.

      If only their engineers could turn those talents to good use instead.

  • Why do these idiots still bother? It doesn't make any sense, it costs money to develop and support those who actually try to work with DRM, and eventually it will be cracked and leads to press about how incompetent you are at this.

  • The core problem with the idea of DRM is that it assumes a false premise. It assumes you can somehow provide software to the user in such a way that they simultaneously both can and cannot read it.

    Encryption is the art of getting information from Alice to Bob such that Charlie can't read it.

    DRM is the art of getting information from Alice to Bob such that Charlie can't read it, Except with the further constraint that Bob IS Charlie.

    • DRM is about delaying the inevitable copying. If you get months, it is a success. Weeks would be well worth it. As we see here, just a few hours can make the presales worth it.

      You are misrepresenting the purpose to paint it as a failure, when this article clearly says otherwise. When that happens, look for a different purpose.

      This particular DRM team ran out of variants, another one will become more popular and suffer a similar fate. Meanwhile, publishers make money.

      Do not argue about DRM free games making

    • Technically, no. Charlie isn't Bob, but Bob is living in Charlie's apartment. Bob may try to lock some doors, but Charlie can make Bob hand the keys over.

  • The others will not, whether they get the game cracked or do not get the game at all. The whole model used for the economics of copy protection is wrong. It is inspired by greed and a deep desire to control. It is not based on facts. The facts are that most people have a certain budget for entertainment and they cannot really exceed that. At the same time, they also have a time-budget. In the end, except for some special cases, copy protection loses you sales and loses you quite a bit of money.

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday October 20, 2017 @03:23AM (#55401959)

    That shit again? Please.

    What does someone do who is a die-hard fan that wants the game more than anything? Preorder. Without even knowing what DRM the game will have or if at all. Because he doesn't give a shit. I wanna, shut up and take my money!

    Anyone who gets convinced by reviews and information from peers will get that information a few days after release. When the crack is already available. So if this person so pleases, he can get the cracked version instead.

    So tell me again, who does that DRM keep from getting the cracked version? Yes, it's true that most sales happen in the first few days. But not because of DRM but because of fanboys who preordered.

    • A big part of total sales is day-1 probably due to preorders, but the first week or so (http://steamspy.com/app/594570; unless it's a flappy bird or something) is very important. If there's a crack already available during this time, it's pretty logical that some people who would've bought it would instead pirate. Good luck proving that either way though.

      • People willing to wait one day won't mind waiting 4 more. Those that really, really, really want the game preorder it or buy it right when it becomes available in the odd case that you cannot preorder it.

        With the game you mention, you can also see that half the owners bought it at release (200k) with another 200k being sold in the first week and another 50k units sold over the course of the next 2 weeks.

        If DRM had any influence in sales, we'd see most of the sales happen on day 1 and 2, before the protectio

    • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )

      What does someone do who is a die-hard fan that wants the game more than anything? Preorder. Without even knowing what DRM the game will have or if at all. Because he doesn't give a shit. I wanna, shut up and take my money!

      Most of my friends don't mind doing that, paying full price, getting the pre-order bonuses and trying to get the game early because if it's trash, we have a "good game" guarantee that allows us to return a game if it's shite.

      Yes, it's true that most sales happen in the first few days. But

  • by sirv ( 4898197 )
    there are no good games produced anymore .. or maybe I have PTSD and cannot enjoy them .. I don't know .. help me find out .
    • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )

      there are no good games produced anymore

      The production of Star Citizen seems to be looking pretty good so far. The end result will either be great or an epic disappointment.

      don't know .. help me find out .

      Would you like a referral code to wait and see with me?

  • How much money could have gone into development? Or paying their staff better? Or rolled off into the budget of another game?

    • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )

      How much money could have gone into development?

      An estimate would say four hours development time. But developers are paid a salary, not hourly.

      Or paying their staff better?

      Since it's publishers that are licensing this software and doing so out of their own profits, I guess it's possible their marketing team might get paid better. It certainly wasn't going to the dev team.

      Or rolled off into the budget of another game?

      Generally speaking, these decisions are made on profit and losses, so they would under norm

      • The money for Denuvo is taken out of the dev budget, as per several dev teams under the EA umbrella and other similar organizations. It runs about $150k for the base license + any extras.

  • Nothing has changed... a game was out for C64 or Amiga, a few days later you had the cracked version on some BBS then circle friends...

  • by null etc. ( 524767 ) on Friday October 20, 2017 @08:18AM (#55402929)

    But even that small difference in the "uncracked" protection window can be important for game publishers, who usually see a large proportion of their legitimate sales in those first few days of availability.

    "Oh, I was going to find a cracked version of this game on launch day, but because I can't find one, I'll pay the full retail price of $40 to $60 right now, instead of waiting a few more days for the cracked version", said no pirate ever.

  • I've been saying for YEARS that any sort of 'DRM' or copy protection you can spend any amount of time developing, someone will have cracked within a matter of days. It's always been this way, it'll always BE this way, and they're wasting their time and money. Just accept that there's going to be some copying going on and get over it.

"Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit, Kill the Wabbit!" -- Looney Tunes, "What's Opera Doc?" (1957, Chuck Jones)

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