Copyright

by Timothy Geigner


Filed Under:
copyright, drm, hype, piracy, video games

Companies:
denuvo, irdeto



Denuvo: Every Download Is A Lost Sale For This Anonymous AAA Title We're Referencing, So Buy Moar Dunuvo!

from the or-don't dept

The saga of antipiracy DRM company Denuvo is a long and tortured one, but the short version of it is that Denuvo was once a DRM thought to be unbeatable but which has since devolved into a DRM that cracking groups often beat on timelines measured in days if not hours. Denuvo pivoted at that point, moving on from boasting at the longevity of its protection to remarking that even this brief protection offered in the release windows of games made it worthwhile. Around the same time, security company Irdeto bought Denuvo and rolled its services into its offering.

And Irdeto apparently wants to keep pushing the line about early release windows, but has managed to do so by simply citing some unnamed AAA sports game that it claims lost millions by being downloaded instead of using Denuvo to protect it for an unspecified amount of time.

In a statement issued by Denuvo owner Irdeto (the latter acquired the former earlier this year), the company states that it tracked pirate downloads of an unnamed ‘AAA’ (big budget, major studio) title during the first few days after its release. Without Denuvo protection it was quickly cracked and made available on P2P networks and from there, pirates did their thing.

“Irdeto tracked the downloads of a major sports title on P2P networks after the title, which did not include anti-tamper protection, was cracked on the same day of its release,” the company says. “During the first two weeks, Irdeto detected 355,664 torrent downloads of the illegal copy of the title. Given the retail price of the game, this puts the total potential loss of revenue from P2P downloads at $21,336,283.”

There are, of course, many issues with this statement. First, citing an unnamed title is a bit odd, since the publisher of that title is quite obviously not a customer of Irdeto's. Or, at the very least, isn't a customer for that particular game. Why the need for anonymity, in that case? It would seem only to Irdeto's benefit to name the title that chose not to be protected by Denuvo. And, if this is all publicly available information, keeping that name secret doesn't make a great deal of sense.

From there, we can move on to Irdeto choosing to keep the math simple by suggesting that every download is a lost sale, in order to come up with its $21 million dollars lost figure. This line of thinking has been debunked so many times that it's not truly worth discussing, other than to say that a DRM company citing it as a valid number should tell you everything you need to know about the wider "report."

And, finally, Irdeto is citing a two week release window important for sales of games as though Denuvo hadn't been defeated on timelines much, much shorter than that. This isn't to say that it's always defeated within two weeks, but that often ends up being the case particularly for AAA titles.

It’s worth noting that while Denuvo games are often cracked very quickly, it’s definitely not uncommon for protection to stand up to the first two weeks of attacks. Denuvo can usually hold off crackers for the first four days, so these figures are obvious marketing tools for a technology that has been somewhat diminished after various cracking groups began taking its challenge personally.

But just in case Denuvo only manages a single day of protection, owner Irdeto suggests that the effort is worth it – even dropping down to the importance of standing firm for an hour.

An hour. An hour. When a DRM company has reached the point of touting that it can protect a game for an entire hour, we've jumped the shark. We don't have much information about the cost of using Denuvo for publishers, since everything I've read suggests publishers have to sign restrictive NDAs that prohibit revealing that information, but I'm struggling to understand how making pirates wait an hour for a cracked game can be worth whatever those costs are.


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 9 Nov 2018 @ 2:18pm

    "At least FIVE MINUTES!"

    It’s worth noting that while Denuvo games are often cracked very quickly, it’s definitely not uncommon for protection to stand up to the first two weeks of attacks. Denuvo can usually hold off crackers for the first four days, so these figures are obvious marketing tools for a technology that has been somewhat diminished after various cracking groups began taking its challenge personally.

    But just in case Denuvo only manages a single day of protection, owner Irdeto suggests that the effort is worth it – even dropping down to the importance of standing firm for an hour.

    'Unbreakable'. Months. Two weeks. Four days. One day. One hour... Ah how the mighty have fallen, and desperately scramble to justify shelling out for their garbage product.

    When you reach the point where you find yourself arguing that a single hour of protection is enough for people to infect their product with what you're selling, I think it's safe to say you've reached the point where you might as well give up and try something else.

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

  2. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Nov 2018 @ 3:42pm

    Denuvo deserves to go out of business—not for producing ineffective DRM (whoops, tautology!), but for producing DRM and claiming it would be nigh-unbreakable. That is goddamned false advertising.

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

  3. identicon
    Darkhog, 9 Nov 2018 @ 3:48pm

    If it's unnamed...

    ...that probably means it doesn't actually exist.

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

  4. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 9 Nov 2018 @ 3:53pm

    Re: If it's unnamed...

    Unless they want to provide actual details, Hitchen's Razor slices their claim to pieces, yes.

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

  5. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Nov 2018 @ 3:57pm

    Re: If it's unnamed...

    It does, it just works at Nintendo.

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

  6. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 9 Nov 2018 @ 4:17pm

    "Denuvo: Every Download Is A Lost Sale For This Anonymous AAA Title We're Referencing, So Buy Moar Dunuvo!"

    Pay no attention to the fact that paying customers hate our product, screw them you already got their money why care about them?!!?!? Chase those bastards who might DL the game to check it out once and delete it. Give us more money to drive home the point you hate paying customers & care more about people who will most likely never pay you!!!!!

    Keep paying us so that consumers remember their place, to give you money & expect shit treatment!

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

  7. icon
    Rico R. (profile), 9 Nov 2018 @ 4:19pm

    Denuvo has become a bigger economic threat than piracy. One causes the developer to lose an unknown amount of money, and the other is piracy! Game developers need to take a chill pill about potential revenue being lost to piracy when there is actual revenue lost when paying for a DRM software that boasts of protection for only an hour!!

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2018 @ 4:34pm

    I wonder how many sales of games are lost due to the inclusion of Denuvo DRM. I for one refuse to purchase any game that includes Denuvo, no matter how much I may want to buy a game.

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

  9. identicon
    Agammamon, 9 Nov 2018 @ 4:55pm

    Someone should ask the Denuvo guys "if each stolen copy is a lost sale, then how come no one made massively more money when you rolled out Denuvo? How come the sales needle barely twitched? In all the years that you've been 'protecting' that release window, how come titles with DRM aren't seeing massively more sales than titles without?"

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

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2018 @ 5:07pm

    I didn't know John Smith was into game development, too!

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

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2018 @ 5:17pm

    People who pirate are probably either testing before they buy (remember when demos were a thing?) or they weren't going to buy anyways. Denuvo's inclusion wouldn't prevent them from pirating; even if Denuvo were working as intended it would just delay the date the pirating took place.

    Since Denuvo often does have minor to drastic impacts on game performance, its inclusion does cause lost sales. No point in buying a game if the DRM makes it crash so often you might as well not be playing.

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

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2018 @ 6:28pm

    The irony...

    In certain circles, people intentionally download (and then seed via bittorrent), the Denuvo releases simply out of spite, with no intention of ever playing the game.

    I know several such individuals - who "collect" cracked denuvo-protected games and seed them out of sheer spite.

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

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Nov 2018 @ 7:27pm

    Re:

    You forgot about the people that bought the game and then tried to move it to their new computer years later. They have to pirate the game as well.

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

  14. identicon
    Christenson, 9 Nov 2018 @ 8:18pm

    Re:

    Indeed sales are lost when DRM is installed. That is only one cost.

    The other is, besides a payment to denuvo, (and letting a shady company like denuvo learn about your process and/or running their scripts in your build chain), setting up some kind of bulletproof license/authentication server.

    Bulletproof because if it goes down, every paying customer of yours is going to be screaming bloody murder.

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

  15. identicon
    ryuugami, 9 Nov 2018 @ 10:29pm

    Given the retail price of the game, this puts the total potential loss of revenue from P2P downloads at $21,336,283.

    Let's be fair, at least they said "potential" loss.

    In other news, my potential loss of revenue from not buying a lottery ticket is at $10,000,000 or so. Can Denuvo help me with that?

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

  16. identicon
    ryuugami, 9 Nov 2018 @ 10:32pm

    Re: The irony...

    I know several such individuals - who "collect" cracked denuvo-protected games and seed them out of sheer spite.

    Those are the heroes we both need and deserve. Give them my kudos, please!

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

  17. identicon
    ryuugami, 9 Nov 2018 @ 10:40pm

    Re:

    Since Denuvo often does have minor to drastic impacts on game performance, its inclusion does cause lost sales. No point in buying a game if the DRM makes it crash so often you might as well not be playing.

    Performance is not the only reason, being treated like a criminal for buying a game is up there as well. I wouldn't return to a store if after every step taken I had to endure a patdown to ensure I didn't steal anything.

    I'll tolerate Steam DRM, as it's fairly light-weight (and I'm not talking about performance here) and gives me some value as well. However, I personally skipped buying several Denuvo-protected titles on Steam (and several with other DRM types). Didn't pirate them either, though, so I guess it doesn't register as a "lost sale" to their accounting.

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

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2018 @ 2:51am

    Re:

    They could change their name to Titanic.

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

  19. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2018 @ 3:24am

    Re: Re:

    being treated like a criminal for buying a game is up there as well.

    Also, if they do not trust me to respect their rights, why should I trust them to respect my rights and let them place extra software on my machine.

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

  20. icon
    Wolfie0827 (profile), 10 Nov 2018 @ 5:06am

    Re: Re:

    Don't forget the added cost of extra customer service to help fix the issues caused by both the DRM and by the DRM server going down, as well as the reputational costs of the above mentioned issues!

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

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Cowherd, 10 Nov 2018 @ 5:17am

    Re: Re:

    Me too. I pretty much stopped playing PC games entirely when the always-on internet DRM nonsense started spreading. I also left the Xbox One in the store over the DRM controversy. Bought a PS4 instead.

    That's the real lost sales, not people who would never have bought anything in the first place.

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

  22. icon
    JoeCool (profile), 10 Nov 2018 @ 6:31am

    Re: Re:

    being treated like a criminal for buying a game is up there as well.

    Well, you are! You only bought the game in the first place so you could crack it and sell it to all the other pirate scum out there. You scum-sucking criminal, you.

    /s

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

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2018 @ 12:52pm

    Only $21mln?? That figure is rather low. Back of the napkin calculation: the projected maximum population of Earth (reachable in the next 50 years) is 9bln people, so if they used Denuvo, the maximum profit they could have is 9bln * $60 = $540bln! Of course they have to use Denuvo, otherwise they'll lose all those 9bln potential sales over the next 50 years. This is potentially more than the GDP of Croatia! Just think of the potential sales!

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

  24. icon
    mhajicek (profile), 10 Nov 2018 @ 2:10pm

    Re: "At least FIVE MINUTES!"

    What I want to know is how many dollars they lose due to potential customers refusing to buy a product with Denuvo DRM.

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

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Nov 2018 @ 3:09pm

    Re:

    I remember getting demos on game discs. There were a few times the demo didn't portray the final release but no deal breaker. It appears developers don't want to leave anything to chance anymore and would rather take the money and run with pissed off customers in their wake.

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

  26. identicon
    Professor Ronny, 10 Nov 2018 @ 4:51pm

    DRM Increase Sales

    Is it possible that using their DRM increases sales because all the pirates buy a copy just so they can crack it ;)

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

  27. icon
    Mononymous Tim (profile), 10 Nov 2018 @ 7:11pm

    The reason why just an hour is ok is because, no matter how short, they have the game company's money.

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

  28. icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 11 Nov 2018 @ 7:05am

    Re:

    Wrong. You forgot that they should all be buying one each for the two game consoles, the six cell phones, the four desktops, and the three pads. That makes $8.1 trillion they potentially stole.

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

  29. icon
    Jinxed (profile), 12 Nov 2018 @ 4:34am

    I'm lost here.

    Denuvo claims piracy is the reason for a loss of $21 million.

    However, as I read the reviews of most sports games released today, I see people upset over the use of microtransactions to force players to pay even more for a game which should have been complete upon release.

    These reviews rarely exceed 3 stars (out of 5) or garner a rating of 4 (out of 10), which the majority being disappointment.

    While I will give some credit to Denuvo's claim piracy can affect *some* sales loss, it's blatant fraud to ignore the true factors resulting in a loss of sales.

    True piracy is getting people to pay much more for a game released incomplete.

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

  30. icon
    Thad (profile), 12 Nov 2018 @ 8:52am

    Re:

    I can name at least three lost sales because of Denuvo: I would have bought Sonic Mania, NieR: Automata, and Dragon Quest 11 if they had not been bundled with Denuvo.

    I still might, if the publishers remove it (like Bethesda did with Doom '16).

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

  31. icon
    crade (profile), 13 Nov 2018 @ 8:40am

    They probably left the game anonymous because they don't want to drive sales to the game by letting people know it doesn't include their DRM.

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

  32. identicon
    Potential Loss, 19 Nov 2018 @ 8:21am

    Potential Loss

    These pirates they speak of are people that wont buy it anyway, mostly people without money to spend on stuff like that, priorities. To sit here and say they would for sure buy if there was no other option if to fool ourselves. If you could completely avoid piracy, i believe nothing would change, still no money to spend on games.

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Close
Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Copying Is Not Theft
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.