Game Developer: Just Wait Until The Game Is Cracked And Then We'll Patch Denuvo Out; Game Gets Cracked Immediately

from the facepalm dept

By now you likely know that Denuvo, the DRM once thought to be the end of piracy, is in what looks like a losing battle for relevance. The DRM's ability to keep piracy groups from cracking video games went from months to weeks to days over the span of a year or so, with its Version 3 roll-out defeated so quickly that I could barely keep up writing the post about its demise. Reactions among game developers has varied, with some developers refusing to use Denuvo entirely, while others silently patched it out of their games once those games have been cracked. From the perspective of the gamer, of course, this all appears to be every bit as silly as every other DRM that has ever been used. Denuvo tends to annoy legitimate game buyers at best, while the pirates, against whom it is meant to fight, appear to have defeated it completely.

And so the real story now is in watching how gaming companies are going to behave in this new reality where Denuvo has been neutered and gamers are revolting. Tequila Works, an indie developer responsible for Rime, has a take that ought to indicate exactly what the state of Denuvo's DRM is.

“We have had discussions about Denuvo internally, and one of the key points of all of those discussions have simply been, we want to ensure the best gaming experience for RiME players. RiME is a very personal experience told through both sight and sound. When a game is cracked, it runs the risk of creating issues with both of those items, and we want to do everything we can to preserve this quality in RiME.

We are very committed to this, but also to the simple fact that nothing is infallible. That being said, if RIME is cracked we will release a Denuvo free version of RiME and update existing platforms.”

As you may be aware, mere days after putting this statement out there, RiME's Denuvo protection was cracked. There is some additional information, revealed by the person who cracked the game, regarding the performance issues Denuvo's software created as the company desperately tried to keep RiME secure and get itself a win, but we'll leave that to a separate post. For now, we'll focus on Tequila Works' making good on its promise almost as quickly as Denuvo was cracked.

The studio tweeted that it plans to release a DRM-free version of Rime in the future, saying that "a promise is a promise." In the same tweet, the studio also pushed the blame of implementing Denuvo into the game to Grey Box, saying that “we didn’t implement that protection in the 1st [sic] place.”

The time for pushing around responsibility for using Denuvo is long past over. This DRM is so laughably ineffective at this point, and impacts only legitimate customers in a very negative way, that this disaster needs to become an industry black sheep post-haste. Game developers partnering with anyone looking to use Denuvo need to understand that they are almost certainly going to piss off their own customers. That's not a good way to do business.


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  • identicon
    any moose cow word, 2 Jun 2017 @ 3:52pm

    Game studios thinking about infecting their products with Denuvo might as well subcontract their customer service to cable providers. Why settle for a lesser evil?

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

  • icon
    PlagueSD (profile), 2 Jun 2017 @ 3:58pm

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Champion, 2 Jun 2017 @ 4:01pm

    whats not in your article

    that the current form went form aobut 3000 calls to over 2 million

    nice laggy slow loading game
    YUP
    DENUVO dont slow down games it kills them LOL

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

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 2 Jun 2017 @ 4:09pm

    Reporter: "Hi!"

    Gamer: "Zero."

    Reporter: "How long... Oh."

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

  • identicon
    ryuugami, 2 Jun 2017 @ 8:02pm

    We have had discussions about Denuvo internally, and one of the key points of all of those discussions have simply been, we want to ensure the best gaming experience for RiME players.

    We want to ensure the best running experience for runners, which is why we covered our running tracks with molasses, tripwires and landmines.

    But if someone clears an entire track of all that, we promise to clear the rest as well!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jun 2017 @ 11:16pm

    The Sims

    Several years ago I bought one of The Sims games. And yet, 75% of the time when I try to play it, it tells me I'm a pirate and refuses to recognize that I have the DVD in the drive. I have to restart it over and over again until finally it realizes that I paid for the game and actually have the DVD in the drive. Annoying your own customers will never be a good way to drive sales.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 3 Jun 2017 @ 1:14am

      Re: The Sims

      Funnily enough the actual pirates almost certainly wouldn't have to deal with that sort of hassle, making the paid version demonstrably worse than the pirate version.

      But no matter, I'm sure that sort of treatment of paying customers has never resulted in anyone deciding that as long as they're going to be treated like they didn't pay they might as well not do so in the first place...

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

      • identicon
        Machin Shin, 3 Jun 2017 @ 7:31pm

        Re: Re: The Sims

        I used to have this issue with Windows. Upgrade some parts in your computer and suddenly your a pirate and the OS throws a fit. Ended up cracking my legal copy to get it to shut up.

        Now Microsoft has hit on the perfect DRM though... Windows 10 is so shitty I won't even pirate it. No way in hell I will pay for that shit.

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

        • identicon
          Thad, 5 Jun 2017 @ 11:43am

          Re: Re: Re: The Sims

          Yeah, the point when Windows XP stopped booting on my grandmother's computer because I'd taken some basic troubleshooting steps (unplug a piece of hardware, restart the machine, repeat until problem goes away) was the point I started telling everyone in my family to buy Macs.

          Apple's got its share of problems too, of course. But OS-level DRM isn't one of them (at least, not on the desktop).

          I've used Linux as my primary OS for over a decade, but I've kept a Windows-based HTPC in my living room for games, Blu-Rays, etc. Win10 is the point where I decided enough, no more, and switched to Linux on my HTPC too. Yes, there are games that won't work at all, and games that are a pain in the ass to set up (in WINE or what-have-you). But we've reached a point where there are more than enough excellent Linux-native games to take up all my free time and then some. (I'm a little late to the party but I'm really enjoying Tomb Raider '13.)

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

          • icon
            Roger Strong (profile), 5 Jun 2017 @ 12:17pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: The Sims

            Apple's got its share of problems too, of course. But OS-level DRM isn't one of them (at least, not on the desktop).

            You have that reversed. It's Apple that has the OS-level DRM, not Windows.

            Which is why Windows can run on a VERY wide variety of hardware - including Apple's - but Mac OS / OS X runs only on Apple's hardware.

            The big problem with Windows XP - from back in 2003 - is that people keep using it because today's apps still run on it. My iMacs from the same year were fully obsolete - no new software available - by 2008.

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

            • identicon
              Thad, 5 Jun 2017 @ 5:22pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: The Sims

              You have that reversed. It's Apple that has the OS-level DRM, not Windows.

              I've never replaced a component in a Mac and had it refuse to boot because it didn't think it was running on the same hardware.

              Which is why Windows can run on a VERY wide variety of hardware - including Apple's - but Mac OS / OS X runs only on Apple's hardware.

              I wouldn't classify that as DRM at all; I'd call it driver support. If you install compatible kexts and a compatible bootloader, OSX will run on arbitrary hardware; it's just unsupported.

              (Its licenses and suit against Psystar are a separate issue. I'm not a fan, but they're not DRM, they're something else.)

              You can burn a MacOS installer to a disc or a jump drive and it'll install on any Mac with hardware support for it; no license key, no online authentication, no check of any kind to confirm the purchase (and this was true even before they went to free-as-in-beer OS updates).

              If a lack of hardware support is DRM, then certainly MS's decision to disable Windows Update on Win7/8 installations running on Kabylake processors would qualify as such too.

              The big problem with Windows XP - from back in 2003 - is that people keep using it because today's apps still run on it. My iMacs from the same year were fully obsolete - no new software available - by 2008.

              Yeah, I've got an '06 Mac Pro that won't run a modern Mac OS because of its 32-bit EFI. It's infuriating. I'm not defending Apple's pattern of planned obsolescene, I'm just saying it's not the same thing as DRM.

              But what I'm talking about, specifically, is XP's hardware check. If too many components in your computer change, it flags it as a different computer and refuses to run. Again, this happened to me some years back during simple troubleshooting steps -- I didn't even change components, I simply unplugged them, booted, shut down, plugged them back in, and booted again, but that was enough to trip up the "you're running on unauthorized hardware" detector.

              I don't know if Windows still does that or not; I wouldn't be surprised if Win10 dropped it given that they were pushing adoption so hard they gave it away for free. But it was certainly an issue when WinXP first came out.

              At least, the retail version. As far as I know, MS never pulled that crap with volume licensing.

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

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 5 Jun 2017 @ 5:28am

      Re: The Sims

      Dude, download the crack and be happy. Piracy: letting you actually play your purchased game without hassled for ages.

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

  • icon
    wereisjessicahyde (profile), 3 Jun 2017 @ 5:12am

    Playing Devils Avocado..

    But to fair I've bought plenty of Denuvo protected games and have had no problems with it whatsoever. I don't know anybody that has had problems with it. It was no more inconvenient than Steam, you could argue less so.

    Nobody has ever proven, or even provided reasonable evidence that any problems they have had with their games has anything to do with Denuvo.

    As DRM goes it was pretty benign, it made no difference if you bought it. As for the publishers, well they did get the best part of a year on a good run before it started getting cracked quickly. And they probably got a few more sales out of it.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 3 Jun 2017 @ 5:50am

      Re: Playing Devils Avocado..

      Nobody has ever proven, or even provided reasonable evidence that any problems they have had with their games has anything to do with Denuvo.

      It might have been relatively harmless as far as DRM goes in the past, but according to the article mentioned in the chat bar, this doesn't seem to be the case this time around, likely due to Denuvo getting desperate to slow down the people cracking their DRM(for all the good it did them).

      'But according to the cracker, the 300,000 calls to triggers was a mere “warmup” for Denuvo. After just 30 minutes of gameplay, the count rose to two million, a figure he delivered with shocked expletives.

      One of the main points of criticism for protections like Denuvo is that they take a toll on both game performance and gaming hardware. Baldman, who speaks English as a second language, reports that in RiME things have got massively out of hand which negatively affects the game.

      “Protection now calls about 10-30 triggers every second during actual gameplay, slowing game down. In previous games like Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3, NieR Automata, Prey there were only about 1-2 ‘triggers’ called every several minutes during gameplay, so do the math.”

      Only making matters worse, the cracker says, is the fact the triggers are heavily obfuscated under a virtual machine, which further affects performance. However, thanks to RiME’s developers making good on their word, any protection-related problems will soon be a thing of the past.'

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

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 5 Jun 2017 @ 5:20am

      Re: Playing Devils Avocado..

      Since you are playing the avocado I'd like a guacamole please.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jun 2017 @ 5:48am

    Ars has an article on this, and the featured comment provides anecdotal evidence of the damage Denudo did to gameplay.

    https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2017/06/crackers-say-denuvo-drm-caused-slowdown-on-rime/

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

  • icon
    John Snape (profile), 3 Jun 2017 @ 11:16am

    80s replay

    As a highschooler in the 1980s (1980-1984) I have experience in the Apple II DRM BS. There were many companies who implemented DRM in their games and we spent many hours calling various BBSs to find the "cracked" versions so we could have a backup if our 5.25" disks bit the dust (which happened with frequent regularity). It was cheaper, even with a dialup service in a different state, to download it DRM-free.

    But there was one company, here in San Diego, who proudly stated their software was DRM-free, Beagle Bros., and everyone I knew bought their software in the stores for two main reasons:

    1. They had great software with great manuals.
    2. They didn't hate their customers by implementing DRM.

    Learn from history, software companies, it can save you a lot of headaches (if you'll listen!).

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

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 3 Jun 2017 @ 1:49pm

    As a highschooler in the 1980s (1980-1984) I have experience in the Apple II DRM BS.

    I had a C64, so I mostly had friends who also had Commodore machines. One of them was an older gentleman who liked Flight Simulator II and golf games. He bought pretty much every golf game on the market. One of the Jack Nicklaus games included a sheet of golf hole diagrams composed of black printing on a dark maroon sheet (to prevent copying). Not only was it hard to read, you were supposed to match the diagrams with a much cruder illustration in the game. It was hard enough for me to make out, but my friend had a hell of a time trying to start the game.

    Luckily the protection routine was simple enough that I was able to crack it with my limited skills (really just patched out the instruction that kept the game from starting if you made a wrong guess) so that he could more easily play the game that he had paid for. I kept a copy for myself, although I wasn't crazy about the game. I preferred Leaderboard. :)

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 5 Jun 2017 @ 5:26am

    As more people decide to go without because of DRM it is going to be toxic enough that game devs will simply stop using active DRM. But then we have always online modes that can be more annoying than DRM itself. I'm actively avoiding those too.

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


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