Austrian company Denuvo Software Solutions had pirates on the ropes at one point with its Denuvo anti-tamper technology. It was just too hard to break and bootleggers were about ready to give up. Then came CONSPIR4CY’s crack of Rise of the Tomb Raider and it was game on again. It almost seemed like hackers had made a contest out of who could crack the latest Denuvo-protected game the fastest.
Once the Tomb Raider DRM was defeated, other Denuvo games fell quite quickly. It only took notorious cracker Baldman eight days to break the protection on Prey. Games like Nier: Automata and Tekken 7 didn't fare much better.
The copy-protection company has tried to gain back its once rugged rep among the torrent-sharing community but with little success. The best it has done recently is when horror game 2Dark lasted about a month before being dismantled.
Now, within the last month or so, pirates have beaten the protection mechanism in less than 24 hours on several recent releases.The latest crack was last week’s release of South Park: The Fractured but Whole. Middle Earth: Shadow of War, Total War: Warhammer 2 and FIFA 18 were also all broken on day one of launch according to Ars Technica.
“Our goal is to keep each title safe from piracy during the crucial initial sales window when most of the sales are made.”
When Denuvo was getting cracked in under a week last summer, the company defended itself by telling Eurogamer that, “Given the fact that every unprotected title is cracked on the day of release—as well as every update of games—our solution made a difference for this title.” This comment was specifically referencing the pirating of Resident Evil 7 less than a week after its release.
To that end, the company has something of a point. Considering that most sales of new releases happen in the first few days after launch, holding pirates at bay for a week is enough time to at least move those initial units to legitimate buyers.
However, with the algorithms giving up the goods on day one, publishers don't have much incentive to pay to use a scheme that may not even cover its own costs. This dilemma does not spell hot water for Denuvo – more like lukewarm at best.
Software piracy has been (and always will be) a big game of cat and mouse. Software makers come up with better copy protection, then crackers come along and figure out a way in. It's an endless cycle.
Rumors are that Denuvo should be just about ready to release “version 5” of its software. When it does, crackers will be back at work trying to find its secrets and game makers will have that brief window to make some decent sales.