Denuvo Strikes Back: The DRM Has Been Patched And Is Working... For Now

from the drms-race dept

The recent saga of Denuvo DRM has been fairly fast moving as these things go. Once thought to be the DRM unicorn that video game makers had dreamed of for years, the time it took for cracks to be released for Denuvo-protected games shrunk to months, then weeks, and finally days. It seemed for all the world like Denuvo was destined for the grave.

But these things don't always progress in linear fashion. The recently released Bioware title Mass Effect: Andromeda was patched recently for a variety of gameplay functions. Unheralded in the patch notes was the updated version of Denuvo included within it. That updated version appears to be setting back cracking groups, forcing Mass Effect pirates into using the older, pre-patched version of the game.

The CPY collective released a crack for version 1.04 of Mass Effect: Andromeda just ten days after its release, making it the latest in a long string ofgames to see its previously unbreakable Denuvo anti-tamper technology quickly crumble. But after last week's version 1.05 update to the game, Reddit user NTStatus noticed that the game's executable now includes a new reference to an "InjectableGTPSteam.pdb" file.

That same file path can be found in games like Dead Rising 4, 2Dark, and Nier: Automata, recently released titles known to use a revamped version of Denuvo, which launched in February and has yet to be cracked. Games like For Honor and Sniper Elite 4 are now approaching two months on the market with this new and improved Denuvo protection intact, showing that Denuvo's latest volley in the battle against piracy seems to be holding for now.

No sane observer expected the Denuvo folks to simply admit defeat and lay down their arms. It was obvious from the outset that the DRM would be updated in an attempt to stave off the cracking groups that had previously turned the security software into so much Swiss cheese. But it's equally obvious that this is an arms race that will continue on the other side as well, making it ultimately a losing proposition. On a long enough timeline, DRM fails. Always. Even game developers and the DRM makers themselves admit as much, with much of the focus and reasoning for using DRM at all turning on the axis of the pivotal early release sales window for games. The reason why the Denuvo stories from months past were so problematic is that a cracking time of mere days destroys that rationale for using DRM. The updated version restores that rationale... for now.

Meanwhile, it's worth repeating that other game developers are embracing better ways to attract both fans and money, typically in the form of fostering bonding connections with fans that keep them from wanting to play great games for free without compensating the creators. It's not as though examples don't abound of DRM-less games raking in huge amounts of money. They do, which makes one shake their head at the DRM arms race all the more.


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  • icon
    discordian_eris (profile), 13 Apr 2017 @ 5:22am

    There is no rational basis for DRM, never has been. It has always - and will always - be about control and power over others. Until we outlaw DRM, people will continue to get shafted and never truly own what they have paid for. Unfortunately for everyone the Democrats are owned by the entertainment industry and the Republicans only care about the 1%, God, guns and abortions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 13 Apr 2017 @ 6:27am

      Re:

      "There is no rational basis for DRM"

      I would add a caveat to that. There is no rational basis on *products you own*. It's quite rational to wish to attach it to rented or streamed products, since they come with extra restrictions that need to be enforced. It doesn't work necessarily, but the rationale is clear. It's the attaching it things you've supposedly bought outright that's the sticking point.

      "Until we outlaw DRM, people will continue to get shafted and never truly own what they have paid for"

      I'd argue that the tide is turning, albeit slowly. There's no evidence that the trend toward DRM-free digital music has caused any direct losses for that industry. DRM-free titles on places like GoG still sell quite well, while their availability doesn't seem to increase piracy by any degree. Meanwhile, when things like Denuvo both cause demonstrable problems for both customers and publishers while doing little to stop determined pirates, I think they will be looking elsewhere to "protect" their products.

      It's slow moving, but some publishers do seem to have softened their stances, and as Denuvo is being proven to be nothing like the bulletproof solution they were promised, I think we should be seeing a trend away from it. Wishful thinking perhaps, but here's hoping.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2017 @ 6:38am

        Re: Re:

        There is no rational basis on products you own. It's quite rational to wish to attach it to rented or streamed products, since they come with extra restrictions that need to be enforced

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2017 @ 6:44am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Why, DRM is always a futile attempt to block a few people from copying content, and always punishes either the customers by the inconvenience it causes,and that inconvenience can cost sales. I would like to see research as to which represents the most 'lost' sales, piracy or people not buying DRMed products.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        discordian_eris (profile), 13 Apr 2017 @ 6:53am

        Re: Re:

        "I would add a caveat to that. There is no rational basis on *products you own*. It's quite rational to wish to attach it to rented or streamed products, since they come with extra restrictions that need to be enforced."

        The problem with that is that it leads inevitably to a future in which you own nothing. Everything will be offered for lease or on a rental basis. You already see it everywhere from coffee makers to tractors to various types of software. The history of DRM is replete with BS from contracts of adhesion to in-built kill switches. It's moved from software to hardware and is only accelerating in uptake by corporations. It is always worth remembering that corporations are by definition sociopathic in nature.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 13 Apr 2017 @ 7:25am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "You already see it everywhere from coffee makers to tractors to various types of software"

          You're also seeing a hell of a lot of backlash from people who "own" those products but are unable to use them as they wish. Again, the problem with tractor DRM (for example) is that farmers don't like being screwed on products they bought. Being forced to take a leased tractor to a specific repair shop wouldn't necessarily bother them, not being able to repair their own property such as hell does.

          This is repeated everywhere. People don't really care that Spotify, for example, has DRM because they understand that their money is paying for access to a massive library rather than ownership of individual tracks. But, it was widespread customer demand after people got screwed with MS/iTunes/etc DRM that led to Amazon offering DRM-free music and everyone else following suit on "owned" music.

          I understand the concern about moving more and more toward renting/leasing and away from buying. But, it's wrong to say that there's no rational reason for DRM to be present on those products.

          The actual effectiveness of DRM itself is, of course, a different discussion.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2017 @ 4:17pm

        Re: Re:

        I would add a caveat to that. There is no rational basis on products you own. It's quite rational to wish to attach it to rented or streamed products

        There is no rational basis to believe digital data can be "rented", or that "streaming" is different than downloading.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Champion, 13 Apr 2017 @ 5:32am

    eggpatcher

    an eggpatcher compares old code to new code

    you get the hint

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2017 @ 5:43am

    If gamers weren't so stupid, this would already be over

    If gamers weren't idiots lacking even basic self-control, there would be no DRM to argue over. All they have to is refuse to buy any game with DRM, period. That's it. Just universally boycott it and thus cause the entire development investment to be a total loss.

    But gamers ARE stupid. Gamers ARE weak. Gamers DESERVE to be ripped off, over and over again, because they continue to bow down before the companies that do it to them and can't wait to hand them more money so that they can do it again.

    So while Denuvo are a pack of assholes, I wish them the best of luck: at least they're way smarter than the pathetic loser gamers they're exploiting.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2017 @ 6:16am

      Re: If gamers weren't so stupid, this would already be over

      When did your wife leave you for Mario?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 13 Apr 2017 @ 6:19am

        Re: Re: If gamers weren't so stupid, this would already be over

        That presumes he's ever had any meaningful human interaction, which is not in evidence in his regular posts here.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2017 @ 6:47am

          Re: Re: Re: If gamers weren't so stupid, this would already be over

          Truth really gets you goats doesn't it?

          He is right and you know it.

          If you walk into the slaughter mindlessly.... you get what you get!

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 13 Apr 2017 @ 7:28am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: If gamers weren't so stupid, this would already be over

            "Truth"

            ...has yet to be presented.

            "If you walk into the slaughter mindlessly.... you get what you get!"

            What about the many, many gamers who didn't buy this game, but he insists on attacking? What about the many who refuse to buy DRM products, or who abandoned PC gaming entirely over things like this?

            Oh yeah, they don't count because reality then intrudes on your little hatefest.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Call me Al, 13 Apr 2017 @ 8:44am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: If gamers weren't so stupid, this would already be over

              Or the ones, like myself, who don't get overly impacted by the DRM and so just carry on regardless. I've not had one of those "the DRM is breaking the game and I can't play it" experiecnes for a few years. I still don't like DRM and I wish it would go away but the inconvenience to me is insufficient for me to consider not buying and enjoying the games.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            I.T. Guy, 13 Apr 2017 @ 8:49am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: If gamers weren't so stupid, this would already be over

            Sorry dude, I don't have goats.

            Its the water. It's gotta be the water there in up-state PA.

            Poor wiLLie. One day that kid of yours is going to look up at you all starry-eyed telling you about the "new" game called minecraft that her friends told her about. And like the semi-proud father you are, you will run right out and get it for her. Well I did because she is an A+/Honor roll student. I doubt whether you, or the sloth that let you impregnate her have the genetic makeup to produce anything better than a food service employee so you may have a few more years than I did.

            Why won't you post as whatevernoticed anymore?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2017 @ 10:03am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: If gamers weren't so stupid, this would already be over

            That rant was a weak breeze not a "slaughter". Try something that wasn't a played out cliche ten years ago next time. Also it's considered bad form to change IPs and pretend to be someone else just because you got your feelings hurt.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 13 Apr 2017 @ 6:18am

      Re: If gamers weren't so stupid, this would already be over

      Ah, the repetitive angry strawman idiocy only took 3 posts this time. If only you were as dedicated to reality as you are to your braindead, hypocritical rants.

      One does wonder what gamers did to you to cause you to be so obsessed with attacking them, but I doubt it's any more insightful than your obsession with posting here to begin with.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2017 @ 6:54am

      Re: If gamers weren't so stupid, this would already be over

      There are Gamers that boycott DRM. It's just that only smaller companies care enough to consider droping it. Smaller companies in the industry need as many customers as they can get, so they please potential buyers.

      This article isn't about a small company. If I recall correctly, Bioware is owned by EA. You know, the company that...

      1. screwed over the launch window of a simcity reboot with a combo of always-online DRM and problems regarding the servers.
      2. Deployed SecuROM, which for a while was known not to uninstall with the game that was using it. The most notable game to use it was Spore. Partly out of user-protest, Spore became the most pirated game of the year.

      Need I say more. Problem is at least half the player-base of the bigger companies either don't know about the problems with DRM, or just don't care.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2017 @ 4:26pm

        Re: Re: If gamers weren't so stupid, this would already be over

        The larger companies were once smaller companies. How did they manage to grow, despite using DRM?

        Because stupid gamers supported them. They bought their products, thus not only providing them with the income necessary to grow, but giving them positive feedback, i.e., "DRM is acceptable to us and you should keep using it".

        Had gamers, as a whole, strictly boycotted anything and everything with any form of DRM, no matter how benign, then the steady stream of articles about game DRM here on TD wouldn't exist, because there wouldn't be any game DRM to write about. I don't blame the gaming companies: yes, they're assholes, but they're vastly smarter than their customers, because they've managed to convince gamers to buy their crap despite the fact that it's crippled garbage. The gaming companies are doing what maximizes profits, and that means using DRM.

        Gamers could STILL change this by starting right now, today, en masse, absolutely swearing off any game with any form of DRM. Give it a year or two, DRM would be gone from the market, because the gaming companies would either pull it or go under. But gamers are too stupid, too weak, too pitifully inadequate to make this very simple thing happen.

        No, instead they'll rush out to stores at midnight to buy the latest game because they are so easily manipulated by the gaming companies, who've turned this bullshit PR stunt into an event. And then they'll buy add-ons, and upgrades, and everything else, and THEN they'll whine about the DRM that they just paid for.

        I'll stop pointing out that gamers are stupid when gamers stop BEING stupid.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2017 @ 5:30am

        Re: Re: If gamers weren't so stupid, this would already be over

        The irony is that Spore is now available on GoG. So it went from DRM infamy to DRM-Free. Now if EA would get on board with the rest of their products....

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2017 @ 7:54am

      Re: If gamers weren't so stupid, this would already be over

      Entirely disagree with you. I don't buy many games but if I do, I expect to be able to play it without a problem. If DRM doesn't interfere with that, then the DRM is fine. If the DRM does interfere, then I will find a way around it. DRM will only hurt the company more than the consumer in the long run. I do find it annoying that there is DRM in games but 90% of the value of any game for me, is the first play through. So sure, I am one of the gamers that won't boycott, but I also haven't felt that I have ever been ripped off if I get a full play through of at least 8-10 hours. I feel far more ripped off if I can play through a game in 3-4 hours. Hopefully your feeble mind can comprehend that value can be seen differently from other gamers rather than your black and white view.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      AC720 (profile), 13 Apr 2017 @ 1:44pm

      Re: If gamers weren't so stupid, this would already be over

      it's not just gamers but people in general who dutifully line up to see remake movie after remake movie and watch the same tired sitcom themes that have been on TV for years, and they do this and fork over lots of money especially in movie ticket sales for absolute crap.

      And then they ask why Hollywood isn't making good movies.

      Because you lined up and bought into the last Spiderman remake, so they KNOW you will fall for it again. Why make new when you can remake and pocket the same cash?

      The public has to stand up and refuse to play along. But they won't. They think being used like this is fine.

      Gamers do the same thing, paying again and again for games that are basically the same as the previous version. But damnit the will line up on release day to drop $60 on it so why would any game maker tell them to stop?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2017 @ 4:47pm

        Re: Re: If gamers weren't so stupid, this would already be over

        Exactly.

        Because gamers aren't the only ones who are stupid and can't control their own impulses. For example:

        Hollywood made a Transformers movie -- recycling an old cartoon because Ideas Are Hard. And the movie is absolutely awful: not merely bad, but hideous. Idiotic plot, terrible acting, ridiculous effects, inane dialogue, random direction, and the kind of cinematography one would expect from an eight year old with severe ADD.

        It's crap. But they made another one, and another one, and...

        Why? Because people paid them to. More precisely, stupid people paid them to. Stupid people bought tickets to this or bought it on DVD and thus told Hollywood "yes, please, make more of this crap", so Hollywood did exactly that.

        And Hollywood will keep making more of them and more Avengers and more X-Men and more Fast And Furious and more of all these franchises that are utterly worthless garbage because stupid people will keep paying them.

        Want better movies? Stop paying for the shitty ones.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 13 Apr 2017 @ 6:41pm

          Ah those delightful double-standards...

          Because gamers aren't the only ones who are stupid and can't control their own impulses.

          And yet I don't seem to recall offhand the last time an article covering the movie studios or one covering the major music labels got the 'Because movie/music fans are idiots' treatment.

          An article about games? Oh yeah, it's practically a given that there will be someone talking about what morons gamers are, yet that same treatment never seems to appear when talking about anything else.

          Talk about the abusive practices of the studios and nary a peep about stupid movie-goers(your comment and the one above it very much being the exception). At most it's stupid people that keep going to the movies.

          Discuss the absurdities and predatory practices of the major labels, and you'll be searching high and low to find a comment bashing those idiot music fans in particular, as clearly it's idiots in general that are the problem.

          Yet when it comes to games the 'people can be stupid' generalities go out the window, and it's those stupid gamers that are at fault and deserve everything that happens to them, because clearly the issue isn't that people can be stupid, it's that gamers are stupid.

          When I start seeing people called idiots and/or stupid simply because they happen to enjoy movies, or books, or music, then I might buy the idea that it's not unfairly labeling an entire group(it will still be stupid mind, but at least it will be consistent stupidity), but as that only seems to crop up when talking about games any such 'Oh you stupid gamers' comment will be seen and treated, by myself and others as a cheap excuse to bash those that enjoy games.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2017 @ 1:25am

            Re: Ah those delightful double-standards...

            1. Your memory fails you.

            2. There's far too much stupid around DRM for me to address all of it. So let me make a general statement: anyone purchasing anything with any form of DRM is a moron and fully deserves any/all pain that they suffer as a consequence.

            3. I single out gamers in particular because they're the ones simultaneously doing the most to support DRM while whining the most about it. They're also simultaneously the ones best positioned to end it and the ones doing the least about it.

            4. Want to shut me up? Okay. Here's the deal. Get gamers to end DRM. I've already told you how. It's simple , easy and relatively quick. So go make it happen. And IF you do, I'll sincerely congratulate you.

            But I doubt you can. I doubt anyone can. You're dealing with a population of weaklings and losers who can't wait to hand money over to their abusers, and as long as they keep doing that things will never change.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2017 @ 2:36am

              Re: Re: Ah those delightful double-standards...

              "There's far too much stupid around men for me to address all of it. I single out women in particular because they're the ones simultaneously doing the most to support rape while whining the most about it. Want to shut me up? Okay. Here's the deal. Get women to end rape. I've already told you how."

              WTF?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2017 @ 9:00am

              Re: Re: Ah those delightful double-standards...

              While the solution is simple, it is not easy or relatively quick. Unless easy to you means nearly impossible and quick is several years. Even the largest publishers only release a few games a year. Game publishers would likely just stop releasing games on the PC while continuing to release on other consoles. You know what is far easier? Buying the game and cracking it.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 19 Apr 2017 @ 12:05am

        Re: Re: If gamers weren't so stupid, this would already be over

        What I find fascinating about this kind of argument is that it assumes that everyone's making the same purchases and making the same complaints.

        This is completely untrue. The people whining about the new Transformers movie, for example, are often people who haven't paid for the last 3 but still see a new one getting made while their favoured movie type is not. The people whining about the bad movies are not the people paying for them.

        Hell, look at the facts. Transformers 4 made nearly $100 million less at the US box office, but it's deemed a success because it got a huge amount of business from China. The guy who refused to buy a ticket in the US is not the person to blame for the next one.

        You argument is a lie so long as you pretend that everyone you're complaining about is a single group with the same opinion. It's easy, but it's completely false. Just because a popular trend goes one way, that doesn't mean that there's not the same number of people fighting against it. The guy who blindly buys a Transformers 5 ticket is going to have his voice heard more than the guy who decides to avoid that crapfest and do something else.

        "But damnit the will line up on release day to drop $60 on it so why would any game maker tell them to stop?"

        Again "them" includes people who refuse to do this, never pay full price, never buy on launch day and never buy from any outlet that uses DRM. But, you still blame them for the problems with the industry and attack them when they say they're tired of the industry going against them

        Stop lying about people, maybe they won't annoy you so much when you start dealing with real opinions.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 13 Apr 2017 @ 5:58am

    Reporter: "How long do you think it'll take to crack this DRM?"

    Gamer: "Ten,"

    Reporter: "Ten what? Ten months? Ten weeks?"

    Gamer: "Nine..."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2017 @ 6:09am

    DRM versus Cracking has always been like the real arms race, the weapon will always win over a long enough time.
    you make a weapon, they make armor. You make a better weapon, they make better armor, and so on and so on. armor is always trying to play catch up with weapons and "armor" makers tend to grow complacent after they beat the last weapon.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2017 @ 7:58am

    DRM never really works. The only thing it does is hurt the people who buy your product. The people cracking your game really do it more so for the challenge of cracking then anything else. The people who play that cracked game, most all would have never paid for it in the first place so its not really a lost sale.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2017 @ 10:00am

      Re:

      I used to play cracked games all the time. I purchased them and cracked them so that I wouldn't deal with DRM. That was back when you required the CD to play. Haven't had to really do that since Steam though. The convenience of Steam has outweighed the negatives of their DRM.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 13 Apr 2017 @ 10:26am

    I still remember the good old days when actual companies did the cracking. If you weren't around computers in the 80s, it might seem hard to believe, but breaking the protection on software wasn't illegal (although making/distributing copies without authorization was). There were companies that sold copy programs with "parameters" designed to copy and/or break the protection on commercial games for the purposes of making backup copies. Of course they were hugely popular with pirates.

    Often a company would use the exact same protection on multiple games, so a single parameter would make working copies of all of them. The parameter for the C64 version of Marble Madness worked on pretty much every EA title that came out after (and a few before). A lot of games from Epyx could be copied with the same parameter.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2017 @ 3:06am

    Update: version 4 has been cracked on the game 2Dark (see Torrentfreak for info)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Apr 2017 @ 5:07pm

    Denuvo continues fighting their own 'customers'.

    Don't buy their shit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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