For those unfamiliar with the subject, Denuvo is the latest in the line of the many attempts at combating video game piracy. The specifics of how these particular DRM functions have not been revealed, but that has not stopped the dedicated hacker groups such as the Chinese 3DM from ultimately cracking the code, even if it took them over a year to do so initially.
While many of the games which first used Denuvo took over a year to crack, subsequent titles were cracked in as little as one to three months, with the most recent releases being cracked open in under two weeks, some of them in a matter of mere days. The latest in line to be cracked was Sega’s Sonic Mania, which had been cracked during the very launch week, and some other AAA titles such as Tekken 7 and Resident Evil 7 were cracked even quicker.
Out of the 71 games released so far that use Deneuve, as many as 50 were cracked, which means that Deneuve is roughly 70% ineffective. What’s more, the games that are still uncracked are all either the less popular games or those which focus on multiplayer, thus implying that they are simply a lower priority for the hacker groups currently working on dismantling Denuvo. Moreover, several games which initially used Denuvo had dropped this protection after it was cracked, and other dropped it immediately as they realized that its failure was inevitable.
So, what does all this mean for Denuvo and DRM technology in general? To put simply, ever since always-online DRM technologies were first introduced, they mostly had something to a cobra effect to them. Namely, rather than preventing piracy, all that these DRM technologies did was alienate player bases and actually encourage them to steal from the industry giants such as EA and Ubisoft, which were the ones to most commonly resort to such anti-piracy measures. Denuvo was the only such technology which actually protected certain titles from being pirated, if only for a limited amount of time until it, too, was overcome. To an extent, it was actually effective, as people undoubtedly bought games which they wanted to play but did not want to wait indefinitely for a crack that might never be released.
Ultimately, however, it served more as a testament to the talent and persistence of the likes of 3DM and proved that software can always be hacked, regardless of its complexity or levels of protection involved. It also spells a sour note for developers, as it also proves that software piracy is a trend that definitely won’t end anytime in the foreseeable future. At this point, only large companies still use Denuvo in their attempt to boost launch-day sales, but it is unclear for how long this will go on, seeing as Denuvo-protected titles are all being cracked in a matter of days at this point. In the end, only time will tell for how much longer Denuvo will last, but one thing is certain – its days as a pirate’s worst nightmare are over.