Denuvo DRM is making the rounds again, thanks to new games that have been cracked, in addition to some hints from the hacker groups behind the cracks that they may have figured out how to unlock all Denuvo version 3.0 protected games in one go. The current group heading up the war against Denuvo is called Steampunks (in partnership with “ReLOADED” and someone called “Baldman”), and they’ve recently claimed to have cracked the protection behind Total War: Warhammer, Dawn of War 3, Dead Rising 4, ABZU and Planet Coaster.
According to users on a Reddit thread, the latest tool released by the group to crack Dishonored 2 is actually a key generator that works on more than one game. The key generator will generate the private key used by Denuvo to encrypt game files and protect the game’s executable from being tampered with. The generated key unlocks the Denuvo license by including a .ini file that includes the license key inside, forever unlocking the game for pirates. This is… surprising, given the extreme levels of secrecy Denuvo puts up around its project to prevent people from figuring it out.
This opens the floodgates for other games to be tampered with and activated. If it works retroactively, then all previous games can be unlocked without patches or editing the executable itself. If it somehow will work for all future Denuvo titles, then that’s a major problem for the company and its customers. Games that will rely on it like Far Cry 5, Assassin’s Creed Origins, or Call of Duty WWII may be at serious risk because these games will look like legitimately activated titles. We’ll see a lot more “zero-day” cracks as a result if this is the case, especially because it’s possible to download the game files from Steam’s servers without paying for it, and then cracking it offline on another machine.
Hopefully this is a signal to developers that even when you try your hardest to protect your game software, there will always be someone that cracks that protection in order to allow others to not pay for it. Piracy discussions aside, this should be a rallying call to get developers to price their games to be more accessible in regions that can’t afford it as easily, and to not make use of third-party copy protection that also prevents games from being archived for record purposes in the future. Quite a few games have been cracked already, but the developers do not have the original .exe files that are not protected with Denuvo to seed to owners of these games should they decide to remove it, and they remain at the mercy of people pirating the game out of spite.
This month alone, DiRT 4 and Tekken 7 were cracked in less than a week, with DiRT 4 being done in a matter of hours. In response to the issue, it appears that I/O Interactive has recently removed Denuvo DRM from their hit episodic version of Hitman, which bodes well for its adoption on Linux through the Wine project, as many others are still affected by the problem.