Denuvo Anti-Tamper is an anti-tamper technology and digital rights management (DRM) system developed by Austrian software company Denuvo Software Solutions GmbH, a subsidiary of Irdeto; itself a subsidiary of the MultiChoice group. The company also developed an anti-cheat counterpart.

Denuvo Anti-Tamper
Developer(s)Denuvo Software Solutions GmbH
Initial release2014; 9 years ago (2014)
TypeDigital rights management

History Edit

Denuvo is developed by Denuvo Software Solutions GmbH, a software company based in Salzburg, Austria.[1] The company was formed through a management buyout of DigitalWorks, the arm of the Sony Digital Audio Disc Corporation that developed the SecuROM DRM technology.[2] It originally employed 45 people.[3] In January 2018, the company was acquired by larger software company Irdeto.[4] Development of the Denuvo software started in 2014.[1] FIFA 15, released in September 2014, was the first game to use Denuvo.[5]

3DM, a Chinese warez group, first claimed to have breached Denuvo's technology in a blog post published on 1 December 2014, wherein they announced that they would release cracked versions of Denuvo-protected games FIFA 15, Dragon Age: Inquisition and Lords of the Fallen.[6] Following onto this, 3DM released the version of Dragon Age: Inquisition about two weeks after that game had shipped.[6] The overall cracking progress took about a month, an unusually long time in the game cracking scene.[2][7] When asked about this development, Denuvo Software Solutions acknowledged that "every protected game eventually gets cracked".[2] However, technology website Ars Technica noted that most sales for major games happen within 30 days of release, and so publishers might consider Denuvo a success if it meant a game took significantly longer to be cracked.[8] In January 2016, 3DM's founder, Bird Sister, revealed that they were to give up on trying to break the Denuvo implementation for Just Cause 3, and warned that, due to the ongoing trend for the implementation, there would be "no free games to play in the world" in the near future.[9] Subsequently, 3DM opted to not crack any games for one year to examine whether such a move would have any influence on game sales.[10] Denuvo's marketing director, Thomas Goebl, claimed that some console-exclusive games get PC releases due to this technology.[11]

By October 2017, crackers were able to bypass Denuvo's protection within hours of a game's release, with notable examples being South Park: The Fractured but Whole, Middle-earth: Shadow of War, Total War: Warhammer 2 and FIFA 18, all being cracked on their release dates.[12] In another notable case, Assassin's Creed Origins, which wrapped Denuvo within security tool VMProtect as well as Ubisoft's proprietary DRM used for their Uplay distribution software, had its security features bypassed by Italian collective CPY in February 2018, three months after the game's release.[13] In December 2018, Hitman 2's protection was bypassed three days before its official release date due to exclusive pre-order access, drawing comparisons to Final Fantasy XV, which had its protection removed four days before release.[14]

By 2019, several products, such as Devil May Cry 5, Metro Exodus, Resident Evil 2, Far Cry New Dawn, Football Manager 2019 and Soul Calibur 6, were cracked within their first week of release, with Ace Combat 7 taking thirteen days.[14][15][16] In the case of Rage 2, which was released on Steam as well as Bethesda Softworks' own Bethesda Launcher, the Steam version was protected by Denuvo, whereas the Bethesda Launcher version was not, leading to the game being cracked immediately, and Denuvo being removed from the Steam release two days later.[17][18]

A sister product, Denuvo Anti-Cheat, was announced in March 2019,[19] and first used with Doom Eternal following a patch on 14 May 2020.[20] However, less than a week later Doom developer id Software announced they would be removing it from the game following negative response from players.[21]

On 24 August 2023, it was announced that Denuvo had developed "Nintendo Switch Emulator Protection", a new digital rights management solution for Nintendo Switch titles which aims to allow developers to block play via emulators such as Yuzu.[22][23][24]

On 16 September 2023, the game Payday 3 announced that the development team had dropped support for Denuvo following backlash from players.[25]

Technology Edit

Games protected by Denuvo require an online activation.[26] According to Empress, a notable Denuvo cracker, the software assigns a unique authentication token to each copy of a game, depending on factors like the user's hardware. The DRM is integrated with the game's code, which makes it especially hard to circumvent.[27]

Criticism Edit

Denuvo has been criticised for high CPU usage and excessive writing operations on storage components, the latter potentially causing significant life-span reductions for solid-state drives (SSDs). Denuvo Software Solutions has denied both claims.[28] In the case of Tekken 7 and Sonic Mania Plus, Denuvo caused a significant decrease in performance in several parts of these games.[29][30] Sam Machkovech of Ars Technica reviewed in-depth how Denuvo was causing performance penalties, releasing an article on the matter in December 2018.[31] In December 2018, Joel Hruska of ExtremeTech compared the performance of multiple games with Denuvo enabled and disabled, and found that the games tested had significantly higher frame rates and lower loading times when Denuvo was not used.[32] Richard Leadbetter of Digital Foundry compared the performance of a pirated version of Resident Evil Village which had stripped out Denuvo and Capcom's additional copy protection against the release version for Windows, and found that the DRM-stripped version performed far better than the released game.[33]

In July 2018, Denuvo Software Solutions filed a lawsuit against Voksi, a 21-year-old Bulgarian hacker who had cracked several Denuvo-protected games.[34] Voksi was arrested by Bulgarian authorities, and his website, Revolt, was taken offline.[34]

In May 2020, Kaspersky Anti-Virus detected the now removed Denuvo Anti-Cheat implementation in Doom Eternal as malware, possibly due to its kernel-level access.[35]

In November 2021, many recent games using Denuvo were rendered unplayable, reportedly due to a Denuvo owned domain name expiring.[36] The same month it was discovered that many Denuvo games would not work with Intel 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs in either Windows 10 or Windows 11.[37] However, as of 12 January 2022, the Alder Lake incompatibility issue has been addressed.[38]

In August 2022, Nintendo Switch owners on social media widely criticized the announcement of the "Nintendo Switch Emulator Protection" intended to prevent play of Switch games on emulators, expressing concerns that it would hinder software performance, citing Denuvo DRM's history of being reported as impacting PC gaming performance.[23][39] However, Denuvo said in statements to the press that it would not negatively impact performance of Switch games for those playing on real console hardware.[40] Denuvo declined to disclose the names of any other companies involved, but claimed that Nintendo was "not involved" and said there had been "strong demand" from software publishers for such a solution, to preclude piracy of Nintendo Switch games enabled through emulation.[40][41] The statement of Nintendo's non-involvement was met with skepticism from the Switch modding community.[41] The developers of Switch emulator Ryujinx responded to the announcement in a tweet, stating their intention to continue developing the software.[41]

References Edit

  1. ^ a b Dietrich, Martin (2 August 2017). "Kopierschutz im Faktencheck – Wie schlimm ist Denuvo wirklich?" [Copy Protection under Fact Check – How Bad Is Denuvo Really?]. GameStar (in German). Archived from the original on 30 December 2018. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Purchese, Robert (19 December 2014). "Don't call it DRM: what's Denuvo Anti-Tamper?". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on 15 April 2019. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  3. ^ Taylor, Haydn (29 August 2018). "Denuvo: "There is no uncrackable game. What we do is protect the initial sales"". Archived from the original on 11 January 2019. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  4. ^ Taylor, Haydn (23 January 2018). "Irdeto acquires Denuvo in bid to beef up security for the games industry". Archived from the original on 25 February 2018. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  5. ^ Parkin, Simon (27 April 2016). "Can 'hard to crack' Denuvo win the cat-and-mouse game of PC piracy?". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on 12 December 2016. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  6. ^ a b Iwaniuk, Phil (10 February 2016). "We speak to Denuvo, whose Anti-Tamper Tech may have left piracy dead in the water". PCGamesN. Archived from the original on 2 December 2017. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  7. ^ Plunkett, Luke (6 January 2016). "Pirates Worried That PC Games Are Becoming Too Hard To Crack". Kotaku. Archived from the original on 8 April 2019. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  8. ^ Orland, Kyle (7 January 2016). "Major piracy group warns games may be crack-proof in two years". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on 8 January 2016. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  9. ^ Good, Owen S. (9 January 2016). "Piracy group nearly gives up on cracking Just Cause 3, warns of bleak future". Polygon. Archived from the original on 15 April 2019. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  10. ^ Orland, Kyle (9 February 2016). "Game cracking group takes a year off as a "genuine sales" experiment". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on 11 April 2019. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  11. ^ Purchese, Robert (8 January 2016). "Finally, tide turns in war with PC game crackers". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on 9 May 2019. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  12. ^ Orland, Kyle (19 October 2017). "Denuvo's DRM now being cracked within hours of release". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on 15 April 2019. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  13. ^ Boudreau, Ian (4 February 2018). "Pirates claim to have finally cracked Assassin's Creed Origins". PCGamesN. Archived from the original on 15 April 2019. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  14. ^ a b Orland, Kyle (12 November 2018). "Hitman 2's Denuvo DRM cracked days before the game's release". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on 1 May 2019. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  15. ^ Fenlon, Wes (15 May 2019). "Denuvo DRM cracks seem to be happening faster and faster". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on 9 June 2019. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  16. ^ Thubron, Rob (15 May 2019). "Denuvo-protected games are being cracked faster than ever". Techspot. Archived from the original on 9 June 2019. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  17. ^ Jones, Ali (16 May 2019). "Rage 2 devs "saw a few requests" to remove Denuvo, so they did". PCGamesN. Archived from the original on 19 May 2019. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  18. ^ Grayson, Nathan (17 May 2019). "Rage 2 Drops Denuvo DRM In Record Time". Kotaku. Archived from the original on 20 May 2019. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  19. ^ O'Connor, Alice (22 March 2019). "Do vu no? Denuvo making Anti-Cheat". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Archived from the original on 18 May 2019. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
  20. ^ Blaukovitsch, Reinhard (14 May 2020). "Denuvo Anti-Cheat goes LIVE! A message to DOOM Eternal fans and gamers". Irdeto. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  21. ^ Lee, Julia (20 May 2020). "id Software will remove Denuvo anti-cheat from PC version of Doom Eternal". Polygon. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  22. ^ ""Nintendo Switch Emulator Protection" Announced by Controversial Anti-Piracy Company". Retrieved 25 September 2022.
  23. ^ a b Shepard, Kenneth (25 August 2022). "Denuvo Launching Switch Emulator Protection at Behest of Publishing Partners". Fanbyte. Retrieved 25 September 2022.
  24. ^ "Denuvo security is now on Switch, including new tech to block PC Switch emulation". VGC. 23 August 2023. Retrieved 24 August 2023.
  25. ^ Contributor, Graham Smith; Smith, Graham (16 September 2023). "Payday 3 will "no longer" use anti-piracy software Denuvo, devs announce days before launch". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 21 September 2023. {{cite news}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  26. ^ Frank, Allegra (12 October 2017). "It took just 24 hours to crack Shadow of War's DRM". Polygon. Archived from the original on 15 April 2019. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  27. ^ D'Anastasio, Cecilia (22 February 2021). "The Woman Bulldozing Video Games' Toughest DRM". Wired. Retrieved 4 July 2022.
  28. ^ Lemon, Marshall (4 September 2018). "Two Point Hospital no longer uses Denuvo DRM". VG247. Archived from the original on 28 October 2018. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  29. ^ Vazquez, Suriel (15 April 2018). "DRM Software Causing Performance Issues In PC Version Of Tekken 7, Says Producer". Game Informer. Archived from the original on 21 May 2018. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  30. ^ Leri, Michael (20 July 2018). "Sonic Mania Plus DRM Protection Slowing Down Legitimate Copies". GameRevolution. Archived from the original on 28 July 2018. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  31. ^ Machkovech, Sam (26 December 2018). "Evidence continues to mount about how bad Denuvo is for PC gaming performance". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on 10 April 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  32. ^ Hruska, Joel (26 December 2018). "Denuvo Really Does Cripple PC Gaming Performance". ExtremeTech. Archived from the original on 9 November 2019. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  33. ^ Ivan, Tom (14 July 2021). "A version of Resident Evil Village which reportedly removes DRM runs better, analysis shows". Video Games Chronicle. Retrieved 14 July 2021.
  34. ^ a b Cito, Arne (26 July 2018). "Denuvo files lawsuit against DRM Hacker "Voksi"". GameZone. Archived from the original on 26 July 2018. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  35. ^ "Doom Eternal's Denuvo anti-cheat is being detected as malware". Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  36. ^ Taylor, Mollie (8 November 2021). "A great day for DRM as Denuvo lapse renders tons of games temporarily unplayable". PC Gamer. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  37. ^ "Intel 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs aren't playing nice with DRM in some games". Rock Paper Shotgun. 9 November 2021. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  38. ^ "Alder Lake's incompatibility issue fixed". Irdeto Insights. 12 January 2022. Retrieved 17 February 2022.
  39. ^ Hagues, Alana (24 August 2022). "New Denuvo 'Switch Emulator Protection' Tech Launches, And Players Are Worried". Nintendo Life. Retrieved 25 September 2022.
  40. ^ a b Gach, Ethan (24 August 2022). "Notorious DRM Company Takes Aim At Switch Piracy [Update]". Kotaku. Retrieved 25 September 2022.
  41. ^ a b c Doolan, Liam (26 August 2022). "Nintendo Is Apparently Not Involved In The New Switch DRM Initiative". Nintendo Life. Retrieved 25 September 2022.

External links Edit