Bethesda removes Denuvo from Rage 2 following day one crack

Polycount

TS Evangelist
Staff member

Unfortunately, as video game piracy has become more common over the years, developers and publishers have increasingly turned to DRM to ensure their games can't be illegally downloaded for at least the first few days following launch (to protect early sales). Most DRM isn't very effective, though. Games with Steamworks, for example, tend to get cracked on day one (or earlier). Then, Denuvo came along.

Denuvo has proven to be notoriously hard for pirate groups to break through (though it does seem to be getting easier lately), making it the obvious choice for most AAA publishers and developers. Rage 2 was the latest game to feature the technology on launch, much to the chagrin of some fans who claim it degrades performance and (allegedly) refuse to buy it on principle. However, as pirates quickly discovered, only Rage 2's Steam version had Denuvo built-in.

Bethesda.net copies, on the other hand, were Denuvo-free. Whether this was a conscious choice on Bethesda's part (perhaps as an added incentive to get users to buy directly from them) or an accident is unknown. Either way, this decision led to the Bethesda.net version of Rage 2 getting cracked on day one. Perhaps as a result of this, Bethesda has opted to pull Denuvo from Rage 2 entirely just a few days after release.

The company has used the opportunity to generate a bit of positive PR, by stating that the latest patch "Removes Denuvo DRM" due to a "few [fan] requests" (they're clearly being sarcastic with the latter). The community's response to the decision has been mostly positive, with the vast majority of users expressing their gratitude that Bethesda has done the "right thing." Many gamers have said that while they initially avoided purchasing the title due to Denuvo, they will do so now -- whether or not those claims hold any water is another matter, but the sentiment is still nice to see.

If you want to give Rage 2 a shot for yourself you can snag it on PC for $59.99 via Bethesda.net or Steam. It's also available for Xbox One and PS4 at the same price point.

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ShagnWagn

TS Guru
I am almost tempted to buy it because of this to show support (I have done it before), but doubt I would have time to play it. Given that, $60 is a lot of money for a game, plus for something I most likely will not play.
 

psycros

TS Evangelist
I've bought two games with Denuvo built in and both had major problems, mostly the game failing to launch, weird performance issues that made no sense and seemingly corrupt installs. In one case I tried installing a crack..and it immediately fixed all the issues. Now its GoG or nothing, and only when a game is $40 or less. Always-connected DRM is for suckers.
 

Evernessince

TS Evangelist
I've bought two games with Denuvo built in and both had major problems, mostly the game failing to launch, weird performance issues that made no sense and seemingly corrupt installs. In one case I tried installing a crack..and it immediately fixed all the issues. Now its GoG or nothing, and only when a game is $40 or less. Always-connected DRM is for suckers.
From the testing I've seen with Denuvo on vs a cracked exe with no denuvo, the DRM hits the minimums very hard in some instances which would explain the "weird performance issues" you were having. In addition, it does increase loading times anywhere from a small amount to more then double.

That's really just the start of the problems, as Microsoft seemingly does not care if an update breaks a DRM, making programs using it unplayable. For example, Microsoft broke SafeDisc and SecuROM DRM in a 2015 windows update and still has not issued a fix and I doubt they ever will. The only way to fix them is to crack the game and remove the DRM.

If anything, cracking of games is more necessary for the preservation of games then for people to get free copies. At least then you can play the game in spite of microsoft's stupidity when they decide down the road that games released 5 years ago or later don't concern them.
 

TheBigFatClown

TS Evangelist
The article is a bit confusing.

"Bethesda.net copies, on the other hand, were Denuvo-free."
"Either way, this decision led to the Bethesda.net version of Rage 2 getting cracked on day one"

Did you mean to say the Steam version was cracked?

"Denuvo has proven to be notoriously hard for pirate groups to break through (though it does seem to be getting easier lately), making it the obvious choice for most AAA publishers and developers"

I think this is the final nail in the Denuvo coffin.
 
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Polycount

TS Evangelist
Staff member
The article is a bit confusing.

"Bethesda.net copies, on the other hand, were Denuvo-free."
"Either way, this decision led to the Bethesda.net version of Rage 2 getting cracked on day one"

Did you mean to say the Steam version was cracked?

"Denuvo has proven to be notoriously hard for pirate groups to break through (though it does seem to be getting easier lately), making it the obvious choice for most AAA publishers and developers"

I think this is the final nail in the Denuvo coffin.
The Bethesda.net version -- which was Denuvo-free, possibly unintentionally -- was cracked on day one, so the game was freely available for pirates and thus the Denuvo included with the Steam version was worthless. My assumption (and it is just that, an assumption) is that Bethesda pulled Denuvo from the Steam version for that reason. I think they decided "screw it," and took the opportunity to generate some positive PR.

I believe I know where your confusion is coming from, though. A lot of outlets are incorrectly implying that Denuvo was cracked in this case, which is not (as far as I can tell) accurate. It's an easy mistake to make; you assume a publisher will include DRM across ALL versions of a game, but Bethesda didn't this time around for some reason.
 

TheBigFatClown

TS Evangelist
The Bethesda.net version -- which was Denuvo-free, possibly unintentionally -- was cracked on day one
My confusion is how you crack a game that has no DRM protection? The hackers cannot remove or crack DRM on a game if it is not there. So, they must have cracked the Steam version which was released with Denvuo?
 

Polycount

TS Evangelist
Staff member
My confusion is how you crack a game that has no DRM protection? The hackers cannot remove or crack DRM on a game if it is not there. So, they must have cracked the Steam version which was released with Denvuo?
I don't know that it's DRM-free on Bethesda.net, I just know it doesn't have Denuvo.
 
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TheBigFatClown

TS Evangelist
I don't know that it's DRM-free on Bethesda.net, I just know it doesn't have Denuvo.
Ah okay. So, they used 2 different DRM flavors. The mystery continues...When I read the words "Denuvo-free" I assumed no DRM on the Bethseda.net version.

When you say "possibly unintentionally Denuvo free" that sounds like it got released DRM free.

I also assumed that since there was another article on TechSpot just recently about Rage 2 being cracked that it was the Denuvo version they were talking about which is the Steam version.

In other words, Bethesda.net version is Denuvo-Free so the Steam version is using Denuvo and Rage 2 just got cracked and we know that the cracked version used Denuvo. My head hurts now. :)
 
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Polycount

TS Evangelist
Staff member
Ah okay. So, they used 2 different DRM flavors. The mystery continues...When I read the words "Denuvo-free" I assumed no DRM on the Bethseda.net version.

When you say "possibly unintentionally Denuvo free" that sounds like it got released DRM free.

I also assumed that since there was another article on TechSpot just recently about Rage 2 being cracked that it was the Denuvo version they were talking about which is the Steam version.

In other words, Bethesda.net version is Denuvo-Free so the Steam version is using Denuvo and Rage 2 just got cracked and we know that the cracked version used Denuvo. My head hurts now. :)
I completely understand. I didn't write the other article, but I definitely can see why it combined with this one could cause some confusion.

To be fair, it's a very confusing situation!
 

pcnthuziast

TS Evangelist
Allow me to expound. To the best of my knowledge, Denuvo has been a part of my gaming experiences for many years. PC gaming has never been a perfect experience for me or using computers in general, but I always manage to get by. Out of the plethora of times I saw games stutter or lag and have performance issues or even crash, I never immediately thought Denuvo was to blame when it was on whatever game because I know of many games I played that definitely did not have it and some of those games exhibited the exact same issues. Whatever any drm is doing, I've never seen any evidence that it eats up more than 1-3% resources in the worst case scenario and only for a limited duration, not any given entire session.
 

Evernessince

TS Evangelist
Allow me to expound. To the best of my knowledge, Denuvo has been a part of my gaming experiences for many years. PC gaming has never been a perfect experience for me or using computers in general, but I always manage to get by. Out of the plethora of times I saw games stutter or lag and have performance issues or even crash, I never immediately thought Denuvo was to blame when it was on whatever game because I know of many games I played that definitely did not have it and some of those games exhibited the exact same issues. Whatever any drm is doing, I've never seen any evidence that it eats up more than 1-3% resources in the worst case scenario and only for a limited duration, not any given entire session.
There are many concrete examples of denuvo making games worse. This video is a good summary:

When you have game developers themselves pointing the finger at denuvo for it's performance issues, I think it's safe to say they aren't lying. Then again what did you expect, Denuvo takes a 38 MB exe file and turns it into a 398 MB exe file.

If you want not just words from developers, you can get numbers here:

Mind you the games he tested were the good implementations of denuvo, not the bad ones.
 

BSim500

TS Evangelist
I've never seen any evidence that it eats up more than 1-3% resources in the worst case scenario and only for a limited duration, not any given entire session.
Then you're not looking hard enough. Even simple point & click adventures like Syberia 3 had ridiculous disparities, eg, startup times fell from 48s (on an SSD) to just 7s when Denuvo was removed. It's not just FPS figures that it impacts but startup / save / load times, which are just as irritating. Other games like RIME were even worse - after 30mins of play, the guy who cracked it counted 2 MILLION trigger calls.
 

seefizzle

TS Evangelist
The number one effect of DRM protections is that it causes headaches for paying users. A more minor effect of DRM is that it may block some amount of piracy for a short period of time.
 

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