For years, pirates have been cracking pc games just hours after release and have been relatively unopposed, but that all changed when a new piracy protection method called Denuvo hit the market.
Denuvo has been around for a couple of years now, and it is by far the heaviest opposition video game crackers have faced to date.
The software has halted and dramatically slowed the progress of pirates and game crackers, although it has recently begun faltering under the constant pressure applied by cracking groups.
What is Denuvo?
Denuvo is classified as Anti-Tamper and not DRM (Digital Rights Management) software.
According to Denuvo, Anti-Tamper software is different to DRM, as it has no effect on the legitimate consumer but aims to stop the reverse-engineering and debugging of the DRM solution.
The software was first implemented in a number of EA Games titles, including Dragon Age: Inquisition, FIFA 15, and Battlefield: Hardline, after which it became widely adopted among a number of triple-A publishers.
Despite its popularity among publishers, some consumers have expressed concern about the Anti-Tamper software, stating that it is too invasive and could even decrease the lifespan of SSDs.
Witcher 3 developer CD Projekt RED has dismissed the notion of using DRM software, stating that piracy is not a problem for the company and that it prefers “the carrot over the stick”.
Denuvo enjoyed steady success as it started to become adopted by more and more publishers.
Many games took far longer to be cracked, or have simply remained uncracked.
At one point, major cracking group 3DM admitted it had almost giving up on beating Denuvo after battling to crack Just Cause 3.
The founder of 3DM also stated: “I still believe that this game can be compromised. But according to current trends in the development of encryption technology, in two years time I’m afraid there will be no free games to play in the world.”
Denuvo had become so successful at copy protection that cracking groups were predicting the end of piracy.
Cracks in the Armour
Despite it’s recent and long-running success, the Anti-Tamper software seems to finally have been comprised, with more and more Denuvo-protected games being cracked soon after release.
After enjoying six months protected by Denuvo, Rise of the Tomb Raider was finally cracked, and more recently, indie adventure game Inside was cracked in only six weeks.
Both games were compromised by the same cracking group, called Consipr4cy.
We will only know whether Denuvo has been truly defeated after this group tries their hand at other new Denuvo-protected titles.
The group has definitely created a feasible cracking solution for Denuvo’s Anti-Tamper software, meaning that a high prevalence of cracked games may return to PC gaming in the near future.
That said, the majority of Denuvo-protected games still remain uncracked, with only 10 out of 32 titles being compromised since 2014.