Denuvo Sold To Irdeto, Which Boasts Of Acquiring 'The World Leader In Gaming Security'

from the what-year-is-this? dept

Any reading of our thorough coverage of Denuvo DRM could be best summarized as: a spasm of success in 2015 followed by one of the great precipitous falls into failure in the subsequent two years. While some of us are of the opinion that all DRM such as Denuvo are destined for eventual failure, what sticks out about Denuvo is just how stunningly fast its fall from relevancy has come about. Once heralded as "the end of game piracy," even the most recent iterations of Denuvo's software is being cracked on the timeline of days and hours. You would be forgiven if, having read through all of this, you thought that Denuvo was nearly toxic in gaming and security circles at this point.

But apparently not everyone thinks this is true. Irdeto, the company out of the Netherlands we last saw pretending that taking pictures of toys is copyright infringement and insisting that a real driver of piracy was winning an Oscar, has announced that it has acquired Denuvo.

Now, however, a new development has the potential to herald a new lease of life for the Austria-based anti-piracy company. A few moments ago it was revealed that the company has been bought by Irdeto, a global anti-piracy company with considerable heritage and resources.

“Denuvo provides technology and services for game publishers and platforms, independent software vendors, e-publishers and video publishers across the globe. Current Denuvo customers include Electronic Arts, UbiSoft, Warner Bros and Lionsgate Entertainment, with protection provided for games such as Star Wars Battlefront II, Football Manager, Injustice 2 and others.”

Irdeto says that Denuvo will “continue to operate as usual” with all of its staff retained – a total of 45 across Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, and the US. Denuvo headquarters in Salzburg, Austria, will also remain intact along with its sales operations.

No terms of the deal are listed, but this is striking in how bizarre it all seems. Denuvo has been in something of a death spiral for going on two years now, so unless Irdeto acquired it on the cheap in order to get access to the underlying security technology to be applied elsewhere, it's hard to understand just what the point of all this is. Even more strangely, Irdeto boasts on its website that Denuvo is 'The world leader in gaming security", which is a bold claim to make of a company that can't keep itself out of the news for its tech failing to do its job.

One clue that may provide an answer is the emphasis Irdeto's press release puts on Denuvo's anti-cheating applications rather than its anti-piracy abilities.

Cheating on gaming platforms is also a challenge which must be addressed, as it can distort virtual in-game economies. This makes the game less enjoyable or even unplayable for gamers, and can be used to manipulate or bypass in-game micro-transactions. Denuvo’s anti-cheat technology prevents hackers in multi-player games from manipulating and distorting data and code to gain an advantage over other gamers or bypass in-game micro-transactions. This prevents dilution of the value of the game for the user and the game studio.

“Hackers and cybercriminals in the gaming space are savvy, and always have been. It is critical to implement robust security strategies to combat the latest gaming threats and protect the investment in games. Much like the movie industry, it’s the only way to ensure that great games continue to get made,” said Reinhard Blaukovitsch, Managing Director of Denuvo, Irdeto. “In joining with Irdeto, we are bringing together a unique combination of security expertise, technology and enhanced piracy services to aggressively address security challenges that customers and gamers face from hackers.”

For what it's worth, Denuvo's reputation for stopping cheating within online games is not nearly as flame-torched as its anti-piracy efforts. Still, much of the talk is about whether or not marrying Denuvo with Irdeto will breath new life into the Denuvo DRM, given the range and resources at Irdeto's disposal. It won't, at least not beyond some temporary situation. DRM will fail, forever and ever, amen.

Still, this union between the world's most hated DRM and a laughably aggressive anti-piracy outfit is not a welcome one.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2018 @ 4:21pm

    Wow...

    Must feel good to sell that sinking ship.

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

  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 24 Jan 2018 @ 4:45pm

    Denuvo is Just Resting

    Irdeto... Was that the name of John Cleese's character in the Dead Parrot Sketch?

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

  • identicon
    Christenson, 24 Jan 2018 @ 6:51pm

    Anti-Cheating

    I think that stopping cheating at games will prove just as sysiphean as stopping piracy, but the lifetime will, unfortunagtely, be a bit longer.

    Here's the problem: Preventing cheating is just like preventing copying -- it depends on depriving the user of knowledge of how the computer works.

    The longer lifetime will come from there being a bit less of a widely-exposed and incentivized attack surface -- meaning I think the audience for cheats is smaller than the audience for cracked DRM -- which may be needed simply to make the game work in the first place.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Jan 2018 @ 6:44am

      Re: Anti-Cheating

      For a single player game -- you're right, but at the same time, cheats in single player games are NBD, as they only impact the player who uses them.

      However, it is cheats in multiplayer gaming that are the problem -- and many of them are quite preventable by proper design practices. Sadly, between market pressure and appearance-focused game development practices, it's very easy for these practices (basically, making the server/host distrust client input) to fall by the wayside, leaving many multiplayer games wide open to a far wider variety of cheats than they should be.

      The remaining cheats (usually robots/automation tools of some sort, although graphical cheats exist too) can typically be controlled through administrative practice, with some aid from gameplay design, without running intrusive software on clients.

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

      • identicon
        Christenson, 25 Jan 2018 @ 9:54pm

        Re: Re: Anti-Cheating

        In any *reasonable* multiplayer game, my personal machine transmits messages to other computers...that supposedly reflect me playing the game. If I actually control my computer, it's an impossible problem for anyone else to tell if I enslaved my turing-tested AI to play instead of myself, thus cheating; the messages could be the same.

        I'm estimating the lifetime of Denuvo's intrusive software by looking at how the dynamics change, assuming they can find buyers (that problem alone might also prolong the process), not claiming that good game design and administrative controls and generally being awesome to the players aren't more effective tools; that's usually Techdirt's job!

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

    • identicon
      Less-than-Anonymous Reverser, 27 Jan 2018 @ 5:43am

      Re: Anti-Cheating

      Yet, anti-cheating stuff possibly can cause even more security issues.

      Most anti-cheat code has a component that runs in kernel mode. This component can be heavily obfuscated.

      I've said before that all obfuscated code in kernel mode should be considered malware. I'm sure the NSA and co. loves such things, though, it just means it's less likely that others will rediscover their bugs...

      Of course, even when anti-cheat drivers are not obfuscated, they can be horribly broken. Like CAPCOM.SYS, of which the sole purpose was to open a backdoor for anyone to execute code in kernel mode...

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

  • identicon
    Unanimous Cow Herd, 24 Jan 2018 @ 6:55pm

    They say..

    that there is a sucker born every minute. Oh wait, it hasn't been quite 30 seconds and here comes another one. If only someone would create a program to stop suckers from being born, I'm sure nobody would figure a way around that.

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

  • identicon
    Clockwork-Muse, 24 Jan 2018 @ 10:10pm

    Denuvo’s anti-cheat technology prevents hackers in multi-player games from manipulating and distorting data and code to gain an advantage over other gamers or bypass in-game micro-transactions. This prevents dilution of the value of the game for the user and the game studio.

    Yeah no. Certainly there's any number of cheats accomplishable - and some of them rely on the fact that clients for some games talk directly to each other, rather than a server, during gameplay. But I really can't think of any case where you'd be able to subvert microtransactions. Not with any of the effects applied that I know of.

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

    • icon
      The Wanderer (profile), 25 Jan 2018 @ 9:00am

      Re:

      The in-game micro-transactions are presumably intended to provide players with an in-game benefit in exchange for real-world money.

      If players can get either those same benefits, or other benefits which match them or make them irrelevant, without having completed such micro-transactions, then players can bypass those micro-transactions.

      If cheating makes doing that possible, then cheating makes it possible to bypass the micro-transactions.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2018 @ 11:37pm

    Drowning

    "Still, this union between the world's most hated DRM and a laughably aggressive anti-piracy outfit is not a welcome one."

    Oh, I dunno - one drowning man trying to same himself by standing on the shoulders of another drowning man seems likely to hasten the demise of the lower without providing real, long-lasting relief to the upper.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jan 2018 @ 2:25am

    Don't these idiots realize that any DRM business that's up for sale certainly isn't a "world leader" worth bragging about acquiring?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Jan 2018 @ 4:49am

      Re:

      There's something about copyright enforcement, intellectual property and DRM technology that simply makes any cognitive function go crashing out the window, prompting those who fall under its spell to make the most boneheaded moves.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Jan 2018 @ 6:29am

      Re:

      The people who make these decisions have the attitude that they own things, and that DRM allows them to enforce their ownership. Also, the failures of DRM matter less to them, that its ability to extend their ownership where customers buy and accept DRM laden products.

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

  • icon
    Jinxed (profile), 25 Jan 2018 @ 4:14am

    "Still, this union between the world's most hated DRM and a laughably aggressive anti-piracy outfit is not a welcome one."

    This statement reminds me of people who attack companies for making a product used in an undesirable action.

    When will this thought process ever end?

    Who cares about this union. This isn't the issue. It's just a tool.

    The bigger issues fall upon those who keep using it and those who keep buying products with it.

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

  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 25 Jan 2018 @ 5:05am

    "so unless Irdeto acquired it on the cheap in order to get access to the underlying security technology to be applied elsewhere"
    And by applied I read that as sue anyone that does any thing close to their newly purchased IP.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jan 2018 @ 7:12am

    "Grumpy Cat Wins $700K in Copyright Lawsuit: 'Memes Have Rights, Too'..."

    Your argument is invalid.

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

  • icon
    Mononymous Tim (profile), 25 Jan 2018 @ 9:38am

    Much like the movie industry, it’s the only way to ensure that great games continue to get made

    BAAAAAA!!! Wrong answer, Reinhard. But hey, you're not trying to snow the smart people, just the narrow minded ones blinded by greed.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Jan 2018 @ 1:57pm

    How the HELL can Denuvo continue to exist when it's massively MASSIVELY in debt?

    Every contract it signs, when their 'protection' is cracked, they have to pay the money back. so they make nothing.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Jan 2018 @ 3:17am

    Doesn't Denuvo just kill your computer thanks to the Intel flaw?

    Seems like Denuvo, which makes millions of calls to disk would basically make game frame-rates drop like a lead balloon. Maybe they know this and are selling before the crash?

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


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