Denuvo Returns To Block Some Nintedo Switch Games From PC Emulation

from the it's-baaaack dept

Denuvo is back! While the company only got a single mention in 8 months thus far in 2022, the once-vaunted antipiracy DRM company made quite the splash in the years prior. If you don’t want to go through tens and tens of posts about Denuvo, I can give you a quick breakdown. Denuvo DRM was once touted as a tool that would bring about “the end of video game piracy,” which then was defeated by cracking groups on the order of months, then weeks, then days, then hours. Publishers began stripping the DRM out of games post release once it had been cracked and the company announced it would be pivoting to anti-cheat technology for online games. Very little noise has been made by or about the company since.

But it’s baaaaack! And it’s back in the dumbest possible form, too, announcing recently that it had partnered with several game publishers to protect Nintendo Switch games from PC emulators.

Denuvo, the company best known for its heavily-criticized PC gaming DRM technology, has set its sights on a new scourge: Nintendo Switch piracy. The software maker announced during GamesCom 2022 on Wednesday that it will begin selling a new product called Nintendo Switch Emulator Protection to prevent Switch games from being pirated on PC.

It doesn’t appear to be partnering with Nintendo on the initiative, which instead seems aimed mostly at third-party publishers of multiplatform games. “As with all other Denuvo solutions, the technology integrates seamlessly into the build toolchain with no impact on the gaming experience. It then allows for the insertion of checks into the code, which blocks gameplay on emulators,” the company wrote in a press release. In the past, however, Denuvo’s “checks” have been accused of making some games run worse.

Yes it certainly has. And Denuvo later confirmed that it was working with publishers and not Nintendo directly, which was a big surprising if only due to Nintendo’s longstanding war against emulation websites.

So how much of a problem is Switch emulation? A huge problem… if you think that a group of mostly hobbyists who have legally purchased Switch games are the enemy. The average gamer isn’t going to bother trying to figure out how to configure a Switch emulator on the kind of PC needed to run it to get around buying a console. The average gamer is also not doing all of that and pirating the Switch game/ROM to avoid paying for anything. Some will, but not the majority.

Or, as Denuvo puts it, yes they will and all this hobbyist talk is just an excuse for piracy.

As you know, dumping your bought game for backup purposes is a long-standing argument from pirates that is simply used to justify piracy. The majority of players use emulators with ROMs from pirate sources and are not self-dumped. And if they dump it themselves, they will require a jailbroken console to do that.

Citation needed, obviously. Also, I’d argue that Denuvo is working with game publishers to prevent customers from taking actions with their games that are arguably legal. Which seems pretty shitty and anti-consumer.

I’ll also note that, given the impressive rate and speed of failure by Denuvo in the past, we can probably start a timer to see just how long the company’s anti-emulation DRM lasts before being defeated by cracking groups yet again.

Filed Under: , , , ,
Companies: denuvo, nintendo

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Denuvo Returns To Block Some Nintedo Switch Games From PC Emulation”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Deepaverma (profile) says:

Fenugreek: Amazing Benefits and uses of Fenugreek

Fenugreek is a unique Herb which has many Potential Health Benefits. For Hair benefit, it is used in Hair Growth, Treating Dandruff and makes Hair Shiny. For Skin, Fenugreek can be used for treating Acne and Pores, keeping the skin Hydrated and Moisturized. Fenugreek is useful in controlling and reducing Diabetes and many other ailments.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

sabroni says:

poor hobbyists

Who just can’t handle 1080p as it’s too ugly.
I mean, the people who talk about pirating switch games also seem to have all the snes games in a single blob but I trust you so let’s assume they all went back in time and purchased all of them too, eh?
Good point about PC gaming being an arse to configure though,not sure why you think that only happens during switch emulation.

Anonymous Coward says:


I mean, the people who talk about pirating switch games also seem to have all the snes games in a single blob but I trust you so let’s assume they all went back in time and purchased all of them too, eh?

I know you mostly jump on these articles purely to be a pedantic ass, but how much money do you think a game developer for the SNES back then is going to make now from a bunch of code that’s smaller than modern image file formats? Let’s say for the sake of argument, emulation disappeared overnight. How much money do you propose they’d make? How much new content would they be producing?

Good point about PC gaming being an arse to configure though,not sure why you think that only happens during switch emulation.

The point being that Denuvo doesn’t believe it, despite the fact that the average user is not going to emulate purely for the sake of getting something for nothing. For what it’s worth, I’ve attempted emulating Shadow Hearts: From the New World and simply cannot get a PS2 emulator to run on my high-end rig without lagging the machine or the ROM. At that point I’m simply not going to get another archaic PS2 or spend several thousand dollars on a new machine just to get my legal copy to run. None of these options results in Nautilus, XSeed Games or Sony getting any money regardless.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5

To be fair – children and grandmothers was a predominant strategy among copyright maximalists and their enforcement goons because they were the least capable of fighting back. Children and grandmothers were always a vector for someone else: someone who pays the Internet bill.

Of course, even armed with that information, copyright maximalists can’t resist fucking up every so often – see the army veterans Malibu Media has consistently sued, and the grief they put William Mullins through.

Naughty Autie says:

That’s brilliant. I actually have very few NSwitch games due to the lack of manuals (available on the cart in 3DS games), but now I’ll be able to ‘pirate’ them and have the games and manuals on the same device. I only need to purchase a legal copy to cover myself, but that can stay in its case whilst I play the copy the anti-DRM guys have made.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

This is going to be completely pointless.

Sure, there’s some emulator inaccuracies – when I first heard this news I theorised one in about 30 seconds and confirmed it within ~5 minutes.

The inaccuracies that get used in this “anti-emulator” solution, will just get fixed by the emulator devs.

Keroberos (profile) says:

Switch Emulation Requirements

Some of your information is out of date regarding switch emulation on PC. It used to be difficult to get running and needed some beefy specs to work decently, but that has changed within the last six months or so. Valve’s Steam Deck does a great job emulating Switch titles, and it’s easy to get the emulator installed and configured. The Switch emulator has matured enough that it can run well on a potato — The Steam Deck is a PC running a midrange AMD CPU with integrated graphics, and the Switch is essentially a 6-7 year old tablet so it’s not particularly hard to emulate hardware wise. This is the reason Switch developers (and Nintendo) are crapping their pants about this. The only reason this probably wont be a big issue is the fact that the people most interested in emulating the Switch already have one, and the games to go with it (myself included), and are only interested in having all the games they already own on one portable platform. It’s easier to lug around my Steam Deck where I can play almost anything, than grabbing whatever handheld console that I may or may not want at the time I start wanting to play.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Candescence (profile) says:

Denuvo neglects to consider a couple of problems with this approach:

1) If it’s based on emulator accuracy, all it takes is for emulator developers to just… Make their emulators more accurate, which they were doing anyway, to defeat the checks.
2) Backwards compatibility when it comes to future hardware. There will be a Switch 2 sometime within the next two years, if the DRM is based on existing hardware, and developers neglect to patch their games to run on new and revised hardware, there’s a good chance games with this DRM will be straight up incompatible, which Nintendo won’t be happy about.

This is just Denuvo trying to make a quick buck, I struggle to imagine that Switch piracy is such a big problem considering how much Nintendo has been aggressively trying to stamp it out themselves.

Ninja (profile) says:

Thank you for the info!

I never knew you could emulate Switch, thank you for the info. Considering I loathe Nintendo for the way it deals with copyright but I’d like to try some of their exclusives this opens new possibilities. Or not, I’m not sure if any effort is worth it. This kind of fuckery has taught me to go without just fine.

Candescence (profile) says:


Yeah, Switch emulation has been around for some time. The two notable ones are Yuzu and Ryujinx, though I’ve tried only the former, which updates fairly regularly. I personally just prefer to buy and rip my games using homebrew on my Switch, if partly because it’s actually easier and less of a hassle than looking for actual working downloads that aren’t riddled with sketchy ad bullshit putting hurdles in your way.

Naughty Autie says:

Re: Re:

I actually found a website that allowed me to download Dragon Quest VI for the SNES (the DS version doesn’t seem to be available in the UK, and I’m not pirating it just in case it is). No adverts, no interrupted download. The website’s named after Nintendo’s first console in the UK and an old word for a Japanese spy if you’re interested.

LostInLoDOS (profile) says:

Just about nobody is dumping switch ROMs to “save money”.
The only stable working emulator library is for Linux and BSD (+MacOS) and runs on risc processors.

RISC and CISC simply don’t translate well. No amount of skill solves some very specific issues that have plagued cross-chip emulation since the PDP.

The only usable Switch emulator I’ve seen footage of is Swatch. Source, compile to Risc V or M2 editions. And I’m not sure it’s even out there yet.

I have a feeling the reason they didn’t go to Nintendo directly is because Nintendo isn’t concerned on this aspect. And would tell them where to stick their high costs.

That may change down the line when (er, it’s still an if) more companies make the switch to ARM and RV, and AMD64 looses ground, but today it’s a non-issue.
Because what’s more likely? $500 for a switch and doc? Or $5000+ for a RISC system? Because after 5 years of work, the release of AMD64->ARM translator from Microsoft, arguably the second best translator available, isn’t playing 2022 games on Arm.

**The only viable platform today aside from an actual switch is a Mac Studio decked to full load. That’s gonna set you back SEVEN GRAND! Plus a TB4 breakout Tegra board in a PCIe dock! And a Developer/cloud account for Xcode. **

Denuvo Is getting sort of desperate here.

Rekrul says:

I’ll also note that, given the impressive rate and speed of failure by Denuvo in the past, we can probably start a timer to see just how long the company’s anti-emulation DRM lasts before being defeated by cracking groups yet again.

And yet there are still Denuvo protected games that have never been cracked. OK, maybe that’s more due to a lack of interest by the Denuvo crackers, rather than any technical limitations in those games, but the fact remains that there are no pirated copies that I can find. If Denuvo had fallen to the point of being easy to crack, some group would have done them. There’s only a small number of people able to crack Denuvo games, and if they don’t decide to crack a particular game, it doesn’t get pirated.

Naughty Autie says:


Any uncracked game with Denuvo still on it not only doesn’t get pirated, it also doesn’t get bought in the huge numbers developers claim to desire. Why was the Myst series only a cult classic? DRM stopped it being hugely popular. I remember being unable to load up Myst IV because of the DRM, and the patch that Ubisoft eventually released didn’t work because it had to be applied to the loaded game. (-_Q)

Christenson says:

Re: emulation

you could make emulation illegal, but it’s kind of like outlawing encryption or outlawing piracy. It’s not effective. Moore’s law means that in a few years any open platform will be able to do it.

Also, with that state granted monopoly called copyright, the bargain as traditionally practiced with paper books does not allow you to go and make it completely unavailable, there are libraries…Disney’s vault and certain out of print books notwithstanding.

You want to ask yourself just what is in the general understanding of the contract when you buy a game. Denuvo has a tendency to intefere with a purchaser’s enjoyment of the game, but pirates aren’t bothered.

Rekrul says:


Wouldn’t it just be simpler to make emulation illegal?

That would be a double-edged sword for console makers. While they don’t want people pirating their games through emulation, it has also been useful to them.

Emulators for older systems like the NES, Genesis, and even the Atari 2600, have existed for a couple decades at this point, and if it wasn’t for them keeping interest in older games alive, I don’t think there would be a market for all these “classic” and “mini” consoles that the companies have been releasing. Nor would there have been a market for Nintendo’s Virtual Console.

And if you outlaw emulation, that would technically make all the mini consoles, the Virtual Console, as well as the backwards compatibility mode in many consoles, illegal as well, since they all use emulation.

NightStar says:

You are lying

“A huge problem… if you think that a group of mostly hobbyists who have legally purchased Switch games are the enemy.”

That… is an objectively wrong and false statement.

Entire whole pirated Switch games are extremely widespread and entire sites which are easily accessible on internet sites by merely searching for the letters “NSP” are devoted to letting thousands, maybe even millions of users freely steal every single full game ever released for the system without any trouble at all.

Right now, you can steal the entire library of every Switch game ever made within moments of a google search leading you to any of at least 3 sites where you can download every single game for the system for free from upload hosts.

Why are you literally trying to protect the piracy scene by blatantly lying in your article?

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...