Failures

by Timothy Geigner


Filed Under:
drm, hitman, video games

Companies:
denuvo, irdeto



Hitman 2's Denuvo Protection Busted 3 Days Before The Game's Launch

from the you-were-saying? dept

So, we were just talking about how Denuvo's new ownership, Irdeto, was busily making the case via the example of some unnamed AAA sports game that even when Denuvo DRM is cracked in a few days it's still worth it to protect a game's initial release window. The comments from Irdeto got so ridiculous that it claimed that even if Denuvo kept titles safe for a few hours, that was still worth it. As specious as this claim might be, it's also formulated to be hard to argue with. After all, with this low of a bar, all Irdeto's Denuvo has to do is barely work for any measurable amount of time before the release of game in order for Irdeto to claim victory. So how can it possibly fail?

Well, how about if a game's Denuvo protection is defeated before the game gets released?

This weekend, the technology suffered yet another disappointing blow. The long-awaiting stealth game Hitman 2 – which comes ‘protected’ by the latest variant of Denuvo (v5.3) – leaked online. Aside from having its protection circumvented, this happened three days before the title’s official launch on November 13. It appears that a relatively new cracking group called FCKDRM (more on them in a moment) obtained a version of Hitman 2 that was only available to those who pre-ordered the game. There are some reports of the crack failing at times on some machines but nevertheless, this leak is important on a number of fronts.

Firstly, the game leaked online three days early, rendering the protection when the game finally comes out much less useful. Secondly, presuming the original copy of the game was obtained on Friday when the pre-order copy was delivered, it took just a single day for the group to crack Denuvo’s latest protection. Considering an announcement made by Denuvo just last week, this is a pretty embarrassing turn of events.

That is putting it mildly. This is the destruction of a nonsense argument Irdeto made for itself to try to pretend that Denuvo was worth any amount of investment by game publishers. For the game to be cracked before official release is nearly the ultimate punchline in all the jokes that have been made at Denuvo's expense since the once-vaunted DRM became just another DRM failure. For it to happen to a AAA game, with the name of that game very much in the public eye, just days after it cited an anonymous AAA game as the reason Denuvo was necessary, almost seems like this was a setup job.

But it wasn't. Instead, this is just DRM being DRM, which is to say fallible. And that should be causing other publishers that have used this exact iteration of Denuvo, and have games in early release, to wonder why they bothered.

Given that Denuvo 5.3 was cracked so quickly (some crashing issues aside) it raises questions about other upcoming titles set to use similar technology. They include Battlefield V from EA/DICE, which has its official full release on November 20 but is already available to early access players.

I'll give Denuvo this much: this is the longest death spiral I've ever seen.


Reader Comments

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  • icon
    Killercool (profile), 15 Nov 2018 @ 4:10pm

    It's obvious!

    Since the DRM was broken before release, any sales lost because of it are negative losses! Therefore, if my calculations are correct, Denuvo has saved the company eleventy billion dollars in lost sales.

    Hitman 2 is now the best selling game of all time.

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

  • identicon
    Beech, 15 Nov 2018 @ 4:19pm

    Prediction

    Any bets on a story in the coming weeks that legitmate purchasers of Hitman 2 are being locked out of the game by Denuvo? Thats the only value DRM adds...pissing off the people who gave you money.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2018 @ 4:20pm

    prediction: Battlefield V won't get cracked, but will still fail

    If Battlefield V ends up losing money, it won't be because of Denuvo. When the head of the company attacks his own fans and tells them they're "ignorant" for pointing out the game's blatant historical inaccuracies in a supposedly historically-set game, the huge public-relations failure that follows is going to be a major reason why people refuse to part with their hard earned money and buy the game. Whether the game is any good or not, or gets cracked or not, matters little at this point. The gauntlet has been thrown down, and a large chunk of existing fans of the Battlefield franchise will answer by simply walking away from this release. Maybe someday video game companies will learn that attacking their own customers tends to be a bad business decision.

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

    • identicon
      AricTheRed, 15 Nov 2018 @ 4:23pm

      Re: prediction: Battlefield V won't get cracked, but will still fail

      The only business models I know of where attacking your customers actually pays off is...

      Martial Arts Instructor

      Or...

      American Police Officer

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2018 @ 7:18pm

      Re: prediction: Battlefield V won't get cracked, but will still fail

      Oh sod off. You can have three people riding a horse with a machine gun turret. The game ain't supposed to be realistic, and even if it was, not all the fighting forces were straight cis white male people anyway.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2018 @ 9:18pm

        Re: Re: prediction: Battlefield V won't get cracked, but will still fail

        Far more significant than the game's flaws in historical accuracy, showcased by sticking several big glaring ones in the opening trailer, was the company's "take no prisoners" response to criticism.

        When confronted with things like the fact that there were never any female British soldiers fighting in WWII (whether with or without robotic arms), company reps could have employed the standard PR approach and tried to explain it away somehow. Instead, critics were hit with a barrage of insults and ad hominem attacks, critical comments were deleted, and discussion threads were locked if not deleted outright.

        It should go without saying that this is not a good way to treat paying customers, many of them Steam members who clearly owned previous versions of the game. It's was almost as if the people from the bankrupt Amy's Baking Company were now employed in DICE & EA's customer relations dept.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2018 @ 7:29am

          Re: Re: Re: prediction: Battlefield V won't get cracked, but will still fail

          The trailer looked goofy as a whole.

          Yes everything about the woman was ridiculous but you can point out how batshit crazy the whole trailer is without even talking about the woman.

          The real failure is the PR response. It should have been "Battlefield has always stretched what is real, this trailer just more closely relates to the non stop goofy fun battlefield players are meant and expect to experience than any historical accuracy"

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

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 16 Nov 2018 @ 8:24am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: prediction: Battlefield V won't get cracked, but will still fail

            Honestly, the direct PR issue wrt historical accuracy is fairly minor in terms of the game's problems. The bigger problems IMHO are:

            - Soft demand for resales (due in no small part to EA/DICE's own loot box shenanigans with Star Wars Battlefront 2 (they did say they wouldn't be doing that here, but people may well be holding off because no sensible person trusts EA). If people aren't preordering, that doesn't bode well for future popularity in today's market.

            - Even more competition with not only other first person shooters. but games like Red Dead 2 that are taking up time and money people might otherwise be spending on the new FPS

            - This partly due to a release delay to "fix core gameplay issues", which raises suspicions about them having problems changing fundamental design concepts following the loot box outcry.

            - Being behind the game in terms of following the current trend for battle royale modes (which is apparently coming, but not till next year while CoD has it now)

            I think the sales are going to be disappointing, but focussing on the historical accuracy and CS reaction are probably missing the real issues.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2018 @ 9:46am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: prediction: Battlefield V won't get cracked, but will still fail

              Honestly I don't know why people keep buying this garbage after the series peaked at Battlefield 2... or really buying anything from EA.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2018 @ 7:44am

        Re: Re: prediction: Battlefield V won't get cracked, but will still fail

        "not all the fighting forces were straight cis white male people anyway" - you state that as a fact, care to share how you know that?

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

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 16 Nov 2018 @ 8:39am

      Re: tl;dr

      You're vastly overestimating the number of people who give a fuck about...whatever the hell it is you're talking about. Or are even aware of it.

      The thing about online fandom is, fans self-select forums that are filled with people who have strong opinions about particular issues. And then they think, "Man, look at all these people here who are really concerned about this particular subject; that must mean every potential customer for this product must feel the same way, too."

      You can have a hundred people on a forum who are pissed off about something. That doesn't mean they're an accurate representation of the millions of people in the buying audience.

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

      • identicon
        Mike Looper, 16 Nov 2018 @ 9:48am

        Re: Re: tl;dr

        You can have a hundred people on a forum who are pissed off about something. That doesn't mean they're an accurate representation of the millions of people in the buying audience.

        Do you see your own words there as implying that you, "Thad", are "vastly overestimating the number of people who give a fuck about..." Techdirt? There's not even a hundred people here, just a couple dozen regulars as assumed by account names, an unknown number of ACs which are again only assumed to be real, not astro-turfing by site or the above couple dozen, and there IS definitely a zombie brigade here which so far this week one of which popped up after 65 month gap. -- But what I'm asking specifically is whether you're self-aware enough and honest enough to admit that Techdirt is a TINY site, now ranked 10,000 or below in US?

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

        • identicon
          Will B., 16 Nov 2018 @ 3:22pm

          Re: Re: Re: tl;dr

          ...I mean, yes? Techdirt's commenters aren't representative of anyone except Techdirt's commenters, and it's pretty fucking clear that our opinions aren't universal considering the world is still in the state it's in. You'll note that when Techdirt makes claims about, for instance, Net Neutrality and the general public's opinions about it, they cite polls and surveys, ones which take pains to mitigate selection bias.

          Why do you appear to think this is a "gotcha" question?

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 20 Nov 2018 @ 6:50pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: tl;dr

            Because the post you're responding to is the same dumb cunt who keeps track of accounts obsessively, on a site he says nobody reads, and thinks of it as some rousing achievement.

            blue just can't stand it when due process is enforced.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2018 @ 4:22pm

    And once again...

    The crackers are likely just doing this for funsies...

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 15 Nov 2018 @ 6:33pm

      'Challenge Accepted'

      That and the prestige of cracking the 'uncrackable' quicker than other groups/individuals. I mean really, when you've got a DRM company throwing down the gauntlet by claiming that they can stop pirates cold(okay maybe only for a few months. Week. Days. Hours...) what did they think would happen?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2018 @ 4:25am

      Re: And once again...

      The venerable Voksi also needed to be avenged. FCKDRM, it certainly keeps the spirit up.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2018 @ 5:17pm

    This is the longest death spiral?

    No, the longest death spiral was the death of the music industry. They were supposed to be killed off by home taping. It's been, what, four decades? Five?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2018 @ 5:20pm

    If I'm going to pirate a game, I need my cracks at release time! I am not prepared to wait a few hours or a few days for a crack to come to light. I might - gasp - actually buy it instead! And if I buy it because the pirates are slow, the pirates will go out of business.

    No seriously, does anyone actually believe that small (or large or non-existent) window between release and crack actually makes a difference to piracy rates?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2018 @ 6:27pm

    If a few hours of protection is good, how do they justify all those sales that come in 6-8 hours after release because the would-be purchasers had better things to do (jobs, school, sleep) than camp the stores waiting to buy the game at the first minute it was on sale? The argument was stretched when they claimed that a few days was good enough. It's just absurd to claim that a few hours is worth it.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 15 Nov 2018 @ 6:37pm

    Yet another example of how hard it is to parody insanity

    Funnily enough I was making a hyperbolic joke when I claimed that they'd reach the point where five minutes was good enough, but now that they've had a game cracked before release I really don't know where to go from here.

    'Infect your product with our DRM: We can probably keep it secure at least most of the way through development!'

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2018 @ 11:40pm

      Re: Yet another example of how hard it is to parody insanity

      Good plan! You never know when one of the developers themselves might try to play it before it's finished. That would be a lost sale.

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

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 16 Nov 2018 @ 12:32am

    So, yet again, the DRM only affects people who bought the game, paying for an inferior product, while the pirates get a more reliable product.

    What's interesting is that despite all the early leaks and cracks and the fundamental problem with DRM not affecting people who pirate, the excuse had been that even a short window is essential to protect pre-orders and first week sales. Yet, preorders have been generally softening - not because of piracy, but because gamers are faced with a crowded marketplace and want to make sure they're getting value for money. They want to ensure they're not buying a game that's going to demand they pay several times the price in DLC and loot boxes just to play the thing properly, and that means not preordering.

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

    • identicon
      Rabbit80, 16 Nov 2018 @ 2:37am

      Re:

      Not only that, but with so many games requiring GB's of day 1 patches and taking months before they are actually reasonably bug free (if ever), many gamers wait for the reviews and reports of bugs to surface before they part with their money. Time after time we see online servers crumble in the first days/weeks or performance in single digit frame rates on hugely powerful gaming rigs.

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 16 Nov 2018 @ 2:53am

        Re: Re:

        True, it does seem that for some games early adopters are almost beta testers for some releases. One of the many reasons that I rarely buy new releases nowadays, but the industry probably chalked that lost income down to "piracy" rather than someone willing to wait to pay a 50% discount for a game that's actually finished rather than 100% for a preorder that might not get online on release day.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2018 @ 8:01am

    This article provided me a reason why it's necessary to pre-order games in this digital era, when previously, I thought the practice to be incredibly stupid.

    Congratulations, FCKDRM. However, relish your victory quickly for once DRM is finally removed, I will return to my opinion pre-ordering games is a stupid thing to do.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2018 @ 9:18am

    denuvo still has customers?

    Full Disclosure:
    Last night, for the first time, I took a shower with my glasses still on AND I LIKED IT!

    That being said,
    I'm glad denuvo still has customers. It's kind of a win-win: the publishers can tell their stock holders that they (the publishers) are "committed to preventing piracy" (wink)
    and
    the gamers can continue to remove the denuvo drm and mod the games.
    Merry Christmas

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

  • icon
    Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), 16 Nov 2018 @ 1:11pm

    Denuvo is easier to crack...

    than whatever nasty substance it is that hold Donald Trump's hair in place.

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


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