Hitman 2's Denuvo Protection Busted 3 Days Before The Game's Launch

from the you-were-saying? dept

So, we were just talking about how Denuvo’s new ownership, Irdeto, was busily making the case via the example of some unnamed AAA sports game that even when Denuvo DRM is cracked in a few days it’s still worth it to protect a game’s initial release window. The comments from Irdeto got so ridiculous that it claimed that even if Denuvo kept titles safe for a few hours, that was still worth it. As specious as this claim might be, it’s also formulated to be hard to argue with. After all, with this low of a bar, all Irdeto’s Denuvo has to do is barely work for any measurable amount of time before the release of game in order for Irdeto to claim victory. So how can it possibly fail?

Well, how about if a game’s Denuvo protection is defeated before the game gets released?

This weekend, the technology suffered yet another disappointing blow. The long-awaiting stealth game Hitman 2 – which comes ‘protected’ by the latest variant of Denuvo (v5.3) – leaked online. Aside from having its protection circumvented, this happened three days before the title’s official launch on November 13. It appears that a relatively new cracking group called FCKDRM (more on them in a moment) obtained a version of Hitman 2 that was only available to those who pre-ordered the game. There are some reports of the crack failing at times on some machines but nevertheless, this leak is important on a number of fronts.

Firstly, the game leaked online three days early, rendering the protection when the game finally comes out much less useful. Secondly, presuming the original copy of the game was obtained on Friday when the pre-order copy was delivered, it took just a single day for the group to crack Denuvo’s latest protection. Considering an announcement made by Denuvo just last week, this is a pretty embarrassing turn of events.

That is putting it mildly. This is the destruction of a nonsense argument Irdeto made for itself to try to pretend that Denuvo was worth any amount of investment by game publishers. For the game to be cracked before official release is nearly the ultimate punchline in all the jokes that have been made at Denuvo’s expense since the once-vaunted DRM became just another DRM failure. For it to happen to a AAA game, with the name of that game very much in the public eye, just days after it cited an anonymous AAA game as the reason Denuvo was necessary, almost seems like this was a setup job.

But it wasn’t. Instead, this is just DRM being DRM, which is to say fallible. And that should be causing other publishers that have used this exact iteration of Denuvo, and have games in early release, to wonder why they bothered.

Given that Denuvo 5.3 was cracked so quickly (some crashing issues aside) it raises questions about other upcoming titles set to use similar technology. They include Battlefield V from EA/DICE, which has its official full release on November 20 but is already available to early access players.

I’ll give Denuvo this much: this is the longest death spiral I’ve ever seen.

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Companies: denuvo, irdeto

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Comments on “Hitman 2's Denuvo Protection Busted 3 Days Before The Game's Launch”

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31 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

prediction: Battlefield V won't get cracked, but will still fail

If Battlefield V ends up losing money, it won’t be because of Denuvo. When the head of the company attacks his own fans and tells them they’re “ignorant” for pointing out the game’s blatant historical inaccuracies in a supposedly historically-set game, the huge public-relations failure that follows is going to be a major reason why people refuse to part with their hard earned money and buy the game. Whether the game is any good or not, or gets cracked or not, matters little at this point. The gauntlet has been thrown down, and a large chunk of existing fans of the Battlefield franchise will answer by simply walking away from this release. Maybe someday video game companies will learn that attacking their own customers tends to be a bad business decision.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: prediction: Battlefield V won't get cracked, but will still fail

Far more significant than the game’s flaws in historical accuracy, showcased by sticking several big glaring ones in the opening trailer, was the company’s “take no prisoners” response to criticism.

When confronted with things like the fact that there were never any female British soldiers fighting in WWII (whether with or without robotic arms), company reps could have employed the standard PR approach and tried to explain it away somehow. Instead, critics were hit with a barrage of insults and ad hominem attacks, critical comments were deleted, and discussion threads were locked if not deleted outright.

It should go without saying that this is not a good way to treat paying customers, many of them Steam members who clearly owned previous versions of the game. It’s was almost as if the people from the bankrupt Amy’s Baking Company were now employed in DICE & EA’s customer relations dept.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: prediction: Battlefield V won't get cracked, but will still fail

The trailer looked goofy as a whole.

Yes everything about the woman was ridiculous but you can point out how batshit crazy the whole trailer is without even talking about the woman.

The real failure is the PR response. It should have been “Battlefield has always stretched what is real, this trailer just more closely relates to the non stop goofy fun battlefield players are meant and expect to experience than any historical accuracy”

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 prediction: Battlefield V won't get cracked, but will still fail

Honestly, the direct PR issue wrt historical accuracy is fairly minor in terms of the game’s problems. The bigger problems IMHO are:

– Soft demand for resales (due in no small part to EA/DICE’s own loot box shenanigans with Star Wars Battlefront 2 (they did say they wouldn’t be doing that here, but people may well be holding off because no sensible person trusts EA). If people aren’t preordering, that doesn’t bode well for future popularity in today’s market.

– Even more competition with not only other first person shooters. but games like Red Dead 2 that are taking up time and money people might otherwise be spending on the new FPS

– This partly due to a release delay to “fix core gameplay issues”, which raises suspicions about them having problems changing fundamental design concepts following the loot box outcry.

– Being behind the game in terms of following the current trend for battle royale modes (which is apparently coming, but not till next year while CoD has it now)

I think the sales are going to be disappointing, but focussing on the historical accuracy and CS reaction are probably missing the real issues.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: prediction: Battlefield V won't get cracked, but will still fail

There’s no way to prove it one way or another. But given any large population of males you’d expect a certain percentage to be gay.
And here’s at least one example of not a straight cis male
https://nypost.com/2017/03/29/transgender-wwii-veteran-comes-out-as-a-woman-at-90/

Thad (profile) says:

Re: tl;dr

You’re vastly overestimating the number of people who give a fuck about…whatever the hell it is you’re talking about. Or are even aware of it.

The thing about online fandom is, fans self-select forums that are filled with people who have strong opinions about particular issues. And then they think, "Man, look at all these people here who are really concerned about this particular subject; that must mean every potential customer for this product must feel the same way, too."

You can have a hundred people on a forum who are pissed off about something. That doesn’t mean they’re an accurate representation of the millions of people in the buying audience.

Mike Looper says:

Re: Re: tl;dr

You can have a hundred people on a forum who are pissed off about something. That doesn’t mean they’re an accurate representation of the millions of people in the buying audience.

Do you see your own words there as implying that you, "Thad", are "vastly overestimating the number of people who give a fuck about…" Techdirt? There’s not even a hundred people here, just a couple dozen regulars as assumed by account names, an unknown number of ACs which are again only assumed to be real, not astro-turfing by site or the above couple dozen, and there IS definitely a zombie brigade here which so far this week one of which popped up after 65 month gap. — But what I’m asking specifically is whether you’re self-aware enough and honest enough to admit that Techdirt is a TINY site, now ranked 10,000 or below in US?

Will B. says:

Re: Re: Re: tl;dr

…I mean, yes? Techdirt’s commenters aren’t representative of anyone except Techdirt’s commenters, and it’s pretty fucking clear that our opinions aren’t universal considering the world is still in the state it’s in. You’ll note that when Techdirt makes claims about, for instance, Net Neutrality and the general public’s opinions about it, they cite polls and surveys, ones which take pains to mitigate selection bias.

Why do you appear to think this is a "gotcha" question?

Anonymous Coward says:

If I’m going to pirate a game, I need my cracks at release time! I am not prepared to wait a few hours or a few days for a crack to come to light. I might – gasp – actually buy it instead! And if I buy it because the pirates are slow, the pirates will go out of business.

No seriously, does anyone actually believe that small (or large or non-existent) window between release and crack actually makes a difference to piracy rates?

Anonymous Coward says:

If a few hours of protection is good, how do they justify all those sales that come in 6-8 hours after release because the would-be purchasers had better things to do (jobs, school, sleep) than camp the stores waiting to buy the game at the first minute it was on sale? The argument was stretched when they claimed that a few days was good enough. It’s just absurd to claim that a few hours is worth it.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Yet another example of how hard it is to parody insanity

Funnily enough I was making a hyperbolic joke when I claimed that they’d reach the point where five minutes was good enough, but now that they’ve had a game cracked before release I really don’t know where to go from here.

‘Infect your product with our DRM: We can probably keep it secure at least most of the way through development!’

PaulT (profile) says:

So, yet again, the DRM only affects people who bought the game, paying for an inferior product, while the pirates get a more reliable product.

What’s interesting is that despite all the early leaks and cracks and the fundamental problem with DRM not affecting people who pirate, the excuse had been that even a short window is essential to protect pre-orders and first week sales. Yet, preorders have been generally softening – not because of piracy, but because gamers are faced with a crowded marketplace and want to make sure they’re getting value for money. They want to ensure they’re not buying a game that’s going to demand they pay several times the price in DLC and loot boxes just to play the thing properly, and that means not preordering.

Rabbit80 says:

Re: Re:

Not only that, but with so many games requiring GB’s of day 1 patches and taking months before they are actually reasonably bug free (if ever), many gamers wait for the reviews and reports of bugs to surface before they part with their money. Time after time we see online servers crumble in the first days/weeks or performance in single digit frame rates on hugely powerful gaming rigs.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

True, it does seem that for some games early adopters are almost beta testers for some releases. One of the many reasons that I rarely buy new releases nowadays, but the industry probably chalked that lost income down to “piracy” rather than someone willing to wait to pay a 50% discount for a game that’s actually finished rather than 100% for a preorder that might not get online on release day.

Anonymous Coward says:

denuvo still has customers?

Full Disclosure:
Last night, for the first time, I took a shower with my glasses still on AND I LIKED IT!

That being said,
I’m glad denuvo still has customers. It’s kind of a win-win: the publishers can tell their stock holders that they (the publishers) are “committed to preventing piracy” (wink)
and
the gamers can continue to remove the denuvo drm and mod the games.
Merry Christmas

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