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No more pirated games in two years, cracking group warns


Hyperbole and frustration?  Or real concern?  I got out of the cracking scene years ago, but I still pay attention to the goings on.

In the past most games would be playable for free before their official debut but increasingly pirates are being made to wait for big titles to have their protection defeated, or ‘cracked’ as it’s more commonly known. In fact, aside from many dozens of dedicated piracy forums, there’s even an entire sub-Reddit community dedicated to providing the status of cracks.

One of the hottest topics involves the Avalanche Studios/Square Enix title Just Cause 3. Released on December 1, 2015 and despite massive demand, the game has still not been cracked. The problem appears to lie with the robustness of the technology protecting the game.

Just Cause 3 uses the latest iteration of Denuvo, an anti-tamper technology developed by Denuvo Software Solutions GmbH. While its secrets are best known to its creators, Denuvo is a secondary encryption system which protects existing and underlying DRM products.

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Another source for the same info:

But what is Denuvo?  A blurb from their site:

272 days! That's how long one of the latest Denuvo-protected games from CI Games (Lords of the Fallen) has gone without being cracked. That’s simply unprecedented and it’s a testament to one of Denuvo’s core principles: always keep innovating. Our latest innovation, Denuvo Anti-Tamper, allows publishers to reap the benefits of stamping out all piracy attempts in the crucial first weeks of a title’s release. We’d love to do the same for you.

Denuvo Anti-Tamper and SecuROM can be ordered through our close partnership with Sony DADC.

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An old, but relevant article on Denuvo, and the difference between it and DRM.

What protected Dragon Age: Inquisition was Anti-Tamper technology by an Austrian company called Denuvo. It's tech that acts as a forcefield around whatever DRM the game has - such as EA Origin. To use Denuvo's language, it prevents "debugging, reverse engineering and changing of executable files". Literally, it stops tampering. Exactly how it works is Denuvo's trade secret.

But, as Denuvo was at pains to point out to me, "It is not a DRM solution." There's no rights management (as in Digital Rights Management) or licence management going on.

"Anti-Tamper is fundamentally different from DRM," I was told. "For example, if you add anti-tamper to a title without a DRM such as Steam, then Anti-Tamper is completely inert. Anti-Tamper only works in combination with an existing DRM system."

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Interesting bit of a coda:

"Due to our recent success in the past two years, some publishers are even considering releasing console-only titles for the PC platform," he said.

It's naive to believe game piracy is about to be stamped out, because I don't believe it ever will be, but Denuvo's Anti-Tamper technology has achieved the most significant victory against it that I can remember.

"On a side note," Thomas Goebl aadded, "one other complaint we've heard is that since our solution keeps a game crack-free during the initial sales window, players cannot use a cracked version to test whether the game will run on their system prior to buying it. However, we believe that most consumers can test games they want to buy without resorting to cracks (either via official demos or via convenient refund policies most platforms now offer)."

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Is this security by obscurity (no one really knows how it works) going to work?  It seems that the bar is also low for it currently, as most legitimate sales for major games happen within 30 days of release, and so publishers may consider Denuvo a success if it meant a game took significantly longer to be cracked. (link to similar story on Ars)

Stoic Joker:
While Denuvo is no doubt proving a difficult nut to crack, two years is an awful long time in technology and things are always prone to change. Furthermore, Denuvo is only used on a limited number of gaming titles, reportedly due to its relative expense.-The Article
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Pyric victory much?

Here's an excerpt from an interesting article (which is somewhat related to this topic) about the copy/crack protections used in the Playstation 2 title Spyro: Year of the Dragon (emphasis added):

So you've worked 10- to 12-hour days for the past two years, trying to make your latest game the best ever. You even added copy protection to try to stop the pirates, but within a few days of release there are already crack patches flying around the Internet. Now anyone can help themselves to your hard work, without so much as a "please" or "thank you."

This is what happened to Insomniac's 1999 Playstation release, Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage. Even though it had good copy protection, it was cracked in a little over a week. So when we moved on to Spyro: Year of the Dragon (YOTD), we decided that something more had to be done to try to reduce piracy. The effort was largely successful. Though a cracked version of YOTD has become available, it took over two months for the working patch to appear, after numerous false starts on the part of the pirates (the patch for the European version took another month on top of that). The release of patches that didn't work caused a great deal of confusion among casual pirates and plenty of wasted time and disks among the commercial ones.

Two months may not seem like a long time, but between 30 and 50 percent of most games' total sales occur in that time. Approximately 50 percent of the total sales of Spyro 2, up to December 2000, were in the first two months. Even games released in the middle of the year rather than the holiday season, such as Eidetic's Syphon Filter, make 30 percent of their total sales in the first two months. If YOTD follows the same trend, as it almost certainly will, those two to three months when pirated versions were unavailable must have reduced the overall level and impact of piracy. On top of this, since YOTD was released in Europe one month after the U.S., those two months protected early European sales from pirated copies of the U.S. version.-
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The above excerpt is taken from a Gamasutra article titled Keeping the Pirates at Bay. Definitely a recommended read. :Thmbsup:

3DM probably isn't the group with the most skilled reversers - and we've heard this song before, anyway.

As long as the software can run, the protection can be defeated, it's only a matter of time. And then the groups will have developed knowledge + in-house tools, making the next release stripped faster. Thus the cat-and-mouse game continues.


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