Denuvo Is Still Claiming It's In The Anti-Piracy Business Even As Games Continue To Strip Out Denuvo Post-Launch

from the useless dept

For a three year period or so, we had a ton of coverage on Denuvo, a DRM platform once touted as undefeatable. That era of invincibility soon crumbled completely, with cracking groups eventually figuring out how to get around the DRM. Cracking times on games went from months, to weeks, to days, to essentially games being cracked at launch. Games started patching Denuvo out of games, which is roughly the equivalent of admitting defeat. In response, Denuvo began claiming that it's platform was still a success because it could protect some games for some number of hours at the time of launch and the company apparently believed that really should be good enough. The company also announced a pivot to providing anti-cheat software for online games, though publishers began ripping that out of their games at record speed as well.

So, where are we now? Well, the new status quo appears to be this: Denuvo still advertises both its anti-piracy and anti-cheat platforms as successes while games that use the software are still having them peeled out via patches. Notably, Denuvo's marketing material now reflects the emphasis on the initial release window, where Denvuo claims its platform can protect a game for 14 days after launch, during which publishers earn "59% of their revenue from their new title."

As with all things Denuvo, this claim should be taken with enormous grains of salt for a variety of reasons. First, that revenue claim seems spurious, given how many games make revenue in how many different ways. Online games make their revenue on an ongoing basis, while single-player only games may make the largest chunk at release. But many single-player games make lots of money on an ongoing basis by embracing their modding community, updating games to keep them relevant to new buyers, releasing DLC, etc. It's also worth noting that Denuvo has failed spectacularly to protect many, many titles for anything close to 14 days.

But most important to note is that this represents the continued moving of the goalposts by Denuvo. The platform was once touted as "the end of gaming piracy." Now the focus is on 14 days of protection. Why? Well, the answer is that games long in existence are still patching Denuvo out.

When Monster Hunter: World launched on Steam in 2018 it came with a DRM system to deter pirates by requiring online activation to launch the game. This is often a source of ire for players because of a perception that it causes higher CPU usage and more frequent utilisation of storage devices that could affect gameplay or damages hardware. Denuvo has denied these claims.

Monster Hunter: World’s latest patch has removed around 500MB of files from the game, and the steam page no longer states that MH:W has some form of DRM.

That post, in addition to noting Denuvo's denial that the DRM has literally any performance impact on a gamer's machine, also goes on to claim that "it is not uncommon for companies to remove the DRM in a patch once it is no longer necessary."

That may be true for Denuvo's anti-piracy platform specifically, but it certainly is not the case for how DRM has been handled generally throughout gaming's history. In addition, think about what is being said in that claim. A DRM that has at least some utility and no performance impact on gaming machines is stripped by publishers like that of Monster Hunter: World because... why? Just because of public perception on gaming performance? A perception that exists at launch? Why, after a couple of years of the game being sold, would the publisher now even bother to strip out the DRM if it has no actual negative downside?

Well, there are three possible answers. One is that the game publisher knows that, in fact, Denuvo does have an effect on the game's performance on a buyer's machine. Another is that the game publisher realizes that the DRM does not in fact have any actual utility. The third option is that the game publisher concludes that both are the case.

Either way, a successful product doesn't get stripped out of games through patching. Unsuccessful products do that. No matter what Denuvo wants to claim for itself in its marketing material.

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Filed Under: denuvo, drm, video games
Companies: denuvo

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2021 @ 2:33am

    Maybe some companies realize there are a few more sales to be made by removing DRM, as some people will not buy DRM encumbered things.

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