Denuvo, the company that slaps digital rights management (DRM) and anti-tamper code onto games like Assassin’s Creed Origins and Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, says that there is no such thing as an “uncrackable product.”
Speaking to Haydn Taylor of gamesindustry.biz, Denuvo sales director Elmar Fischer says that pirates crack games as a matter of sport, competing to see who can crack games the quickest. In that light, Fischer says the anti-tamper tech they employ is far from impenetrable. To that end, the company doesn’t guarantee games will never be cracked, but makes protecting early sales their ultimate goal.
"Games will be cracked at certain points; there is no uncrackable product," Fischer said. "But what we do is protect the initial sales... Our goal, and it's still the goal, is to protect initial sales. Of course we would like to have it uncracked forever, but that just doesn't happen in the games industry."
So while some games remain uncracked for months on end, such as Lords of the Fallen which lasted nine months, other more in-demand games like Rise of the Tomb Raider didn't make it past three weeks. And that’s why Denuvo can’t guarantee perpetual protection. “We did have bit of a rough patch in Autumn last year especially with some quick cracks."
Fischer added that it's become increasingly difficult to tell how many people who choose to pirate games would choose to be paying customers in other circumstances. If a game takes several months to be cracked, for example, then the delay may encourage them to consider buying instead. But if a game is cracked in just days, then it becomes all too convenient to opt for a pirated game.
More advanced protection measures on games has drawn Denuvo much flak though. Players allege that their technology has caused performance issues in games like Tekken 7, Rime and Sonic Mania. Fischer suggested to GI.biz that the Tekken 7 issue was down to the game's complexity, but was unable to offer a satisfying explanation for why Sonic Mania was affected.
You can read the full interview at gamesindustry.biz here.