from the hmm dept
Spend any reasonable amount of time looking through all the posts we've done here on DRM -- digital rights management -- and one theme becomes abundantly clear: the whole thing is an exercise in futility. Far from a blanket solution to video game piracy, DRM instead can be best explained as an arms race between game publishers and the hacking groups that best them at speeds nothing short of remarkable. All, mind you, while mostly annoying legitimate customers of the games the DRM is meant to protect from the pirates that crack them.
But one hacking group out of China is predicting that this trend will cease and that cracking games is about to become a thing of the past. 3DM is a group out of China that is fairly well-known for cracking games that have DRM. The group has recently been suggesting that one form of DRM, called Denuvo, is already much more difficult to break than other iterations of DRM, and even predicts that within two years nobody will be able to crack games any longer.
Just Cause 3 is the current hot potato and despite having released an endless supply of cracks for other titles (and having had success against Denuvo in the past), the cracks (excuse the pun) are beginning to show at 3DM. In a posting on her blog, 3DM forum founder ‘Bird Sister’ (also known as Phoenix) has revealed the frustrations being experienced with Just Cause 3.A grave prediction for those wishing to pirate games to be sure, but how realistic of a prediction is it? Again, it's a claim that is up against a trend that has only moved in one direction. As they say, extraordinary claims must be accompanied by extraordinary evidence and I'm not seeing it here. One game presenting more of a challenge than others thus far doesn't seem like enough to be convincing. We've seen in the past new forms of DRM touted as the end of piracy, and even work for a short while, only to be bested and beaten to the point of their being useless. Should we believe this time it will be different, all because one hacking group claims it to be so?
“Recently, many people have asked about cracks for ‘Just Cause 3′, so here is a centralized answer to this question. The last stage is too difficult and Jun [cracking guy] nearly gave up, but last Wednesday I encouraged him to continue,” Bird Sister explains. "I still believe that this game can be compromised. But according to current trends in the development of encryption technology, in two years time I’m afraid there will be no free games to play in the world,” she adds.
But, hey, let's say game publishers get their unicorn and Denuvo is the perfect DRM. Let's say it's never beaten, or that it at least changes the game such that piracy is significantly more difficult, cracking takes far longer such that it becomes less attractive, and all the rest. Pretend it happens. Then what?
Well, then the real fun begins, because we're all going to then get a very good look at exactly how important DRM is for the gaming industry and exactly how much piracy hinders the bottom line for game companies. Because if the DRM unicorn exists and the anti-piracy folks are to be believed, well, then all those lost sales will be transformed into paid revenue and the gaming industry had damned well better completely explode in terms of income. Were that not to happen, then DRM would be revealed to be the false god my side of the argument has always claimed it was: fighting a fight not worth fighting. Because the majority of those who would pirate games likely never were potential customers. Because every download isn't a lost sale. And because there are much better methods for a game company to ingratiate itself to gamers, giving them reasons to buy, that DRM doesn't even touch.
Given that the gaming industry is one that has embraced so many new ways of doing business, a DRM unicorn would almost certainly be a step backwards. I actually hope this DRM unicorn exists so we can finally get some impact numbers to work with. I doubt we get the chance, however.