Piracy on PC is as old as the PC gaming itself. There are multiple schools of thought and even published research that points to overwhelming evidence that it does not hurt sales. With everything moving to digital distribution on PC due to storefronts like Steam and EGS, as games require consistent updates as well as persistent online features. With companies like EA and Ubisoft periodically removing their games from digital stores, crackers and piracy groups often use this as a pretext for their existence as the only platforms to play/modify and/or keep certain ecosystems and game ‘scenes’ alive. Multiple games being sunset in the past few months has only further fuelled this narrative.
There is a more problematic issue that results in overzealous DRM implementations; DRM modules are overwhelmingly found to be a major culprit in degraded game performance and increased system requirements for platforms that are not deemed innately secure such as PC. A particular anti-tamper technology called Denuvo, which seems to be state-of-the art anti-piracy game protection has often been called out for its impact on game stability and experience for PC gamers as more publishers use it to ‘safeguard’ their digital assets by at the very least multiplying the effort and time taken to pirate or ‘crack’ their titles.
Anti-piracy software solutions are hardly new in town. Publishers such as EA and Ubisoft came under heavy criticism for using extremely intrusive anti piracy measures in the past like StarForce and SecuROM. Despite this, multiple ‘cracker’ groups seemed to always be one step ahead of them. Things took a very different turn however when Denuvo entered the market in 2015 with what seemed to be an impenetrable solution. This however did eventually get figured out by multiple groups who lamented that the cost of removing the DRM was considerably higher than prior solutions. Denuvo’s DRM has come a long way since and has forced multiple cracking groups underground or into retirement, becoming the staple for AAA game releases as publishers seek to ‘protect’ their IP (and debatably) potential sales.
As Denuvo gained popularity as a more durable solution to protect their video games and proprietary software, more publishers flocked to the DRM provider including Sega, Capcom & Warner Brothers which started using the DRM extensively to safeguard their latest titles. This has drawn the ire of hacking group or individual “Empress” which stated that they are focusing entirely on Denuvo content as well as any publishers that use their solutions on a priority basis. In an expletive-laden message address to Capcom, Denuvo and WB, the cracker challenged WB to release Hogwarts: Legacy, easily one of the most anticipated games of the year with Denuvo anti-tamper technology, claiming they would easily crack it within 10 days.
It must be noted that the major selling point of Denuvo is its much-touted ability to delay piracy to the point that it results in more sales and that the brand itself being part of a title makes crackers and potential pirates often purchase (again, debatable) the title instead of spending significant resources cracking it. There is however backlash by multiple gamers and services. GoG for example strives to provide DRM-free content via their launcher. Others such as steam content curator “Shitlisting-service” tend to name and shame publishers that use anti-tamper DRM that is considered intrusive and detrimental to user experiences for certain titles.
Note: There should be more updates as Hogwarts: Legacy nears launch and this is currently a developing story. Team Techdrake will attempt to keep you apprised of any updates that happen regarding the challenge made by Empress to Warner Brothers.
[…] Legacy is one of the most anticipated and famous game launches of recent months. As we previously reported about the game’s controversial inclusion of third-party DRM, Denuvo, and an ultimatum issued […]