Popular videogame software protection hacked
By Digital News Asia August 11, 2016
- Two PC games protected by Denuvo cracked
- Same method might be used on other games
FOR quite a few months now, the endless game of cat and mouse between hackers and PC videogame publishers had been very quiet. The reason is the digital rights management (DRM) software known as Denuvo.
Despite frenetic attempts by well known hackers on the net, Denuvo had proven utterly impervious to cracks and workarounds. Its protection has been so impressive that a major piracy group actually warned that it may not be possible to crack any game within two years.
After issuing that warning, the same group later announced a very public hiatus from attempting any more hacks. But it seems the respite for PC videogame publishers has not lasted long. On at least a couple of famous PC games that shipped in the past few months, it seems that Denuvo's previously impenetrable protection has been broken.
In the past few days, a hacker identifying himself as 'Voksi' claims to have broken the protection by using the demo for id Software's recent reincarnation of Doom. Voksi has managed to swap the Steam AppID for a pirated copy of the full Doom game with that of the free demo. A similar technique was used for Rise of the Tomb Raider.
Denuvo is not a traditional DRM in the strict sense of the word. The company describes its technology as 'anti-tamper' rather than DRM. It prevents the debugging, reverse engineering and changing of executable files. Instead of being just another DRM solution, it protects DRM solutions, such as Origin Online Access or the Steam license management system, from being circumvented.
Denuvo has now managed to fix the security hole in Doom. But it is still quite an impressive feat by the hacker. But it seems that the breach is not quite fully sealed for all games. A hacker identified as CPY has released a fully cracked version of Rise of the Tomb Raider on popular torrent sites. As things stand, all the other games protected by Denuvo such as Far Cry Primal are now at risk.
The Denuvo breach is just the latest round in a cat and mouse game between PC videogame publishers and hackers. During the early days of PC gaming, when games were distributed on floppy disks, no one even considered the need for a durable DRM solution. But as the industry matured and game development budgets mushroomed, it became necessary to protect software - at least until the 'golden sales period' of 30 to 60 days after launch was over.
But these DRMs were usually broken before the end of the critical peak sales period and many PC publishers simply abandoned these DRMs. Some publishers such as GOG even went as far as promoting their games as 'DRM free' and disparaging other publishers who used DRMs. As you can see in this video below.
For an entertaining video on the history of copy protection or DRM, watch the video below.
Now that the first chink in Denuvo's armour has appeared, it would be interesting to see how many other PC games fall victim to the hackers.
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