Denuvo Game Cracked In Mere Hours

from the the-end dept

Denuvo DRM has graced our pages many times in the past year or so. The DRM once thought to be unbreakable and heralded as the end of piracy has taken a precipitous downward path in reputation. Games using the DRM slowly began being cracked in months, then weeks. The ability to crack Denuvo then sped up, with cracking times dropping to a week, five days, a couple of days. Through it all, Denuvo worked furiously to patch its software, all while proclaiming that a week or so’s protection is worth it to game developers as they protect their games during the all important initial release window.

Well, it seems like that ability to make that argument has come to an end, as DRM-“protected” game Total War: Warhammer 2 was cracked in a matter of hours.

Denuvo has suffered its biggest failure yet, with strategy game Total War: Warhammer 2 falling to pirates in less than a day, arguably just a few hours. It was cracked by STEAMPUNKS, a group that’s been dumping cracked games on the Internet at quite a rate for the past few months.

The fall of this game in such a short space of time will be of major concern to Denuvo Software Solutions. After Resident Evil 7 was cracked in days earlier this year, Denuvo Marketing Director Thomas Goebl told Eurogamer that some protection was better than nothing.

That argument is now dead, having been beaten behind the woodshed by the same reality that has faced every other DRM maker out there. DRM doesn’t work. On a long enough timeline, DRM is always beaten. That those timelines are shortening to this degree should only drive the point home to game developers: DRM is no way to do business. It disrupts legitimate customers and doesn’t stop piracy.

It’s worth noting again that Denuvo has publicly stated in the past that it does not offer refunds to its customers. If anything, that stance should make the choice for game developers as to whether or not to use Denuvo on their products all the more clear. Developers certainly can simply throw money away, with no method for retrieving it, if they wish. But I would think that money could be better spent incorporating business models that actually make money and connect with customers.

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Comments on “Denuvo Game Cracked In Mere Hours”

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38 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Took you four days to even report on "cracked in a matter of hours"!

I do like the Pony Express speed of Techdirt, it’s a relaxing change from the hectic pace of internet news.

Also relaxing is lack of surprise that you’re cheering DRM cracked: Techdirt hates any and every attempt to control copies and actually get paid for work. — I’m sure you aren’t controlling copies of your articles so that Masnick has an exclusive, right? Where can we get them before here, then?

@ DRM doesn’t work. — Tell that to Microsoft and Steam! You must have a central server, is all. — Oh, there’s ways around both, but still works to make more difficult and to point up that is theft.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Took you four days to even report on "cracked in a matter of hours"!

Okay… one : I have pirated steam games. Not games on steam but from a different source, actual steam version steam games. So Ill tell steam DRM doesnt work all you like.

Second, any consumer should cheer for being able to get a version of the product they paid for that works as intended, not lagging out because of spastic legitimacy checks and poor optimization of a useless ancillary process unrelated to the game itself or a tantruming online check tjat decides to not let you play your single player game because your internetv weent out. Or your servers went down. Or they reinstalled it on a new pc. Yes, I have pirated games and movies that I legitimately bought… because the pirated copies provided a BETTER EXPERIENCE.

Third, the thought that people only hate drm because it makes free stuff harder to get is antiquated and debunked repeatedly. It really doesnt make free stuff harder to get, and instead makes paying customers wonder why the hell they paid money to be guilt tripped and inconvenienced.

Fourth… if you cant stand the thought of not having complete and unyielding control of your ip baby, your only hope is not to put it out on the market. People are gonna mod your game so they can enjoy what they purchased how they want. People are going to write bad fanfics about your series. People are going to draw art of your characters doing things you as the creator feels completely ruins the moral integrity of your work, and they are going to share all of this widely. That is what it means to put forward a contribution to artistic culture, regardless of whether you do it for the art or the profits.

Fifth, yeah some people are just looking for free stuff, and I am willing to bet even more are just looking to spite whoever thought they were in complete control. You really think actually managing to stop them is suddenly going to get you loads of extra sales?

If any of the above is absolutely unacceptable to you, you have exactly one option.

Dont put your media out on the market.

People will move on, people will find other media to consume, and if you decide later you want to participate after all, you best hope you werent a petulant brat about not sharing your shiney media that was too good to putbout there cause that is going to lead to MUCH more spite piracy than just releasing good media would have.

Machin Shin says:

Re: Re: Took you four days to even report on "cracked in a matter of hours"!

“I am willing to bet even more are just looking to spite whoever thought they were in complete control.”

I have actually been in the process of paying for a game, then saw it was using a particular DRM that I despised. I promptly canceled the checkout process and downloaded the game somewhere else. Of course this particular DRM went above and beyond annoying, it also dived into invasion of privacy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Took you four days to even report on "cracked in a matter of hours"!

I did that with Bloodbowl Legendary Edition years ago.

I was going to buy it, then found out it had additional DRM on it that limited the number of installs. Personally, I think that is the absolute worst DRM technique out there. It even beats out pointless online checks for a single player game.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Took you four days to even report on "cracked in a matter of hours"!

–lack of surprise that you’re cheering DRM cracked

Lack of surprise the you’re pointing out the futility of DRM. FTFY

DRM is no different than storing a spare key for your front door under a rock. It will never work and always be crackable.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Reporter: Dare I ask?

Gamer: Zero. As in "0-day."

Gamer: Look. Read up on High Frequency Trading. Stock market traders shaving milliseconds, even microseconds off their automated transaction times can use that to make $millions. They’re using more efficient code, higher speed links between stock exchanges and other techniques.

Gamer: By New Years the different cracking groups will be using these techniques just to be the first to announce the latest Denuvo crack.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Not using it removes that challenge, and may well keep pirated versions from appearing for longer than using it.

In at least one case that wasn’t a ‘maybe’, it was confirmed.

There is an interesting detail to this story. Like all GOG.com games, the version of The Witcher 2 released in 2011 shipped without DRM – pirating it would have been little more complex than sharing the file. However, it was also published in the US as a boxed, on-disc game by Atari. This version shipped with SecuROM copy protection. "Most people in the gaming industry were convinced that the first version of the game to be pirated would be the GOG version (as it was DRM-free), while in the end it was the retail version, which shipped with DRM," notes GOG.com’s Managing Director, Guillaume Rambourg.

Two versions, one without DRM, where it would have been trivial to put it up on file sharing sites, another with DRM, where it had to be cracked first, and the (formerly) DRM infected version was the first to hit the sites.

Anonymous Coward says:

That argument is now dead, having been beaten behind the woodshed by the same reality that has faced every other DRM maker out there. DRM doesn’t work. On a long enough timeline, DRM is always beaten.

That won’t stop them from trying. Next up, hardware-backed DRM, yet again. Or making the games available only through streaming. Or something else.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That won’t stop them from trying. Next up, hardware-backed DRM, yet again. Or making the games available only through streaming. Or something else.

Hardware Backed DRM: mandatory SecureBoot verified OS, curtained memory (Protected Media Path), only able to launch approved applications, TPM encrypting all user data locking them into the platform.

Of course the key here is verification, aka remote attestation. Any system that relies on it is doomed to fail as far as trust goes, so it will still be broken regardless, but that’s not the point. The point is to make it impossible to get a general purpose computer that will do what it’s owner wants. Why? Because that goes against the interests of the Rights holders. Who have the exclusive right to create.

Streaming: Difficult to implement. Not likely to happen anytime soon due to a desire by bloated monopolists to pocket all of their subscription fees rather than maintain and upgrade their network infrastructure. May happen if the forced obsolescence of general purpose computing takes too long, as they need more capacity to push large data sets for "bigger and better experiences" to the masses. (A.K.A. The latest call of duty paint job.) Pointless in the long run due to the death of general purpose computing making the need to hide the data (and therefore bare the cost / effort of running enough servers) mostly irrelevant. The few hold outs that still matter will be happily hunted down and dealt with by local LEOs for the terrorist act of running an unapproved computer.

The only way DRM works is to prevent you from doing anything to circumvent it. It’s mostly a decentralized mess right now, but given enough time, it’ll become a global bureaucracy used for far worse purposes than it’s original mandate.

Anonymous Coward says:

So Mike, et all… where is even the token coverage, let alone any coverage of Google now allowing pay-walled sites to rank as high as they damn please in their "search engine" (influence engine)? If ever there was a mentality that was conducive to anti-net-neutrality, this is it. Yet, where is the coverage? Don’t tell me to "submit a story". There has never been a "submitted" story that would portray Google in a negative light that was actually ever used. We won’t hold our breath as you continue to bow down behind the scenes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

First, What problem do you have with Mike and this blog and why are you so dishonest? Go to the top right corner of the webpage and click the box that says “Search Techdirt” Then type Google and hit enter. You will find there is a mix of positive and negative articles about Google.

Second, “Yes,”? Talking to yourself, Ok. Answering yourself though, perhaps you should seek help.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I must say, your obsession with Google and your blatant dishonesty never ceases to be amusing.

Google decides to modify how search ranking works(assuming this is a new change anyway) in a way that you don’t like, and because TD isn’t immediately covering it clearly there’s something nefarious going on, followed by the oft repeated lie about how no articles critical of Google could ever be posted on TD.

Truly, you are a never-ending font of entertainment.

NeghVar (profile) says:

financial losses

I continually wonder how much money could have been saved if they made no investment into DRM. The DRM is pointless because it is broken so quickly. Those who want to pirate it will pirate it whether it has DRM or not. Those who want to buy it will buy it or have second thoughts if the DRM is too draconian. DRM that is too draconian has led to people to take the pirate option and leave the legitimate user with all the headaches of the DRM.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Mixed feelings

What I’m worried about, however, is that it’s much more likely that the industry will transition to on-line only games as a "fix."

Only if people accept it. For now they are, just like they’re accepting DRM. (Some aren’t, but not enough to matter.)

I’d prefer this adversarial "industry/player" dynamic to go away. The large publishers want as much money as possible, but the people making games really just need people to pay them while they do so. And then it shouldn’t be a problem if people copy them.

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