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There are a lot of articles and community posts going around mentioning Denuvo and how it's not letting people play games they have already purchased.

I know that it's an anti-piracy company that offers their services for video game companies. But what exactly does it do and why is everyone so pissed when Denuvo is used?

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Great question!

"Denuvo Anti-Tamper, or Denuvo, is an anti-tamper technology and digital rights management (DRM) scheme developed by the Austrian company Denuvo Software Solutions GmbH, a company formed through the management buyout (MBO) of Sony DADC DigitalWorks." - Wikipedia

Too much technical jargon? I'll explain it to you.

What is Denuvo?

Denuvo Anti-Tamper is a DRM solution that protects games from being placed in the hands of pirates (people who obtain video games illegitimately from cracking, reverse engineering, i.e.) This way, only people who bought it can play the game.

Keep in mind that Denuvo itself isn't a DRM.

What Does it Do? How Does it Work?

No one truly understands Denuvo besides the people who made it. The latest discovery on it (2016, you can read more about it here) does not provide enough information to crack the program completely.

According to this user on Steam, Denuvo works like this:

  1. You install a copy of the game that is incomplete and is missing key files.
  2. If the game's DRM software allows the user to play the game, Denuvo is activated.
  3. It downloads the rest of files, encrypts those files, and ties those files to your hardware, making it so only you can play that game on that specific hardware.
  4. When a new major update is released, or there is a change in hardware, Denuvo replaces those files and reties them to your current hardware.

Because of this, Denuvo completes its two objectives:

  • The DRM is not bypassed.
  • The game cannot be reverse engineered.

So Why Is It Bad?

While Denuvo is an innovative approach to software encryption, there are a few drawbacks:

  1. Denuvo will not be around forever. When you download a game, Denuvo requires you to download the rest of your files from the servers. What happens if 20/30 years later, you decide you want to play a Denuvo-title, only to find out you can't because the servers are gone?
  2. Many speculate that performance is affected because of Denuvo.
  3. Activation can be a pain whenever you have to reactivate.
  4. It's a pain in the ass for modders, unless there is official modding support from the game.

There's a lot of downsides and upsides to Denuvo, but now whenever you hear about it, you'll know what they're talking about!

Cheers!

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Denuvo simply put is a form if Digital Rights Management (DRM). Its intended purpose is to prevent piracy. It was developed by Denuvo Software Solutions. It also prevents tampering (debugging, reverse engineering) and cheating. It's proprietary software and the actual specifics of how it works have not been released.

It can be cracked in the sense that the protections are bypassed and not removed. Resident Evil 7 was cracked within five days of release, Tekken 7 was cracked 4 days after release, while some games such as Star Wars Battlefront have not been cracked.

There are many reasons why people hate on Denuvo.

  1. Performance: Denuvo impacts performance of the game you're playing. It makes it worse.

  2. Limits your OS: It only supports Windows, so you can't use Linux or OS X.

  3. Activation/Reactivation: If you haven't played the game in a while or changed your hardware/system configuration, you'll need to reactivate.
  4. You need an internet connection.
  5. If the service shuts down, you're not able to play your game.

There's a bunch of other reasons, but I've hit on the main ones. You can read more here: https://whyisdenuvobad.github.io/

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    I think this is a good answer, but it focuses pretty exclusively on the "why is everyone so pissed when Denuvo is used?" part of the question and could benefit from more clearly addressing the "What is Denuvo and what does it do?" parts. – Kamil Drakari Aug 13 '18 at 19:17
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    I've tried to address the "what" question with my edits. – Ackis Aug 16 '18 at 20:04
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We can't tell exactly what Denuvo does. Some rumors said that Denuvo is read/writing, crypting/decrypting continually on the drive, causing a loss of performance or even shortened SSD's life. But Denuvo keep saying it's a wrong rumor.

Edit : it has been confirmed that it was a myth. Denuvo do not cause damage to SSD. Here's the source : https://web.archive.org/web/20150119041502/http://asidcast.com/index.php/2014/11/new-drm-denuvo-might-damaging-ssd

https://www.reddit.com/r/pcmasterrace/comments/2mtxub/denuvo_drm_does_not_destroy_or_damage_ssds_proof/

Chinese hackers 3DM say that Denuvo is using a 64-Bits key specific to each computer's hardware.

But obviously, Denuvo never told how their system works.

People are pissed of Denuvo because :

  1. it can slow your game (cracked version are faster sometimes, quite ironic). But it's not true for all games. For some, the gap is insignificant. For others, you'll lose ~10% of your FPS (Mass Effect Andromeda and Mad Max for the example).
  2. you need an internet connexion
  3. Activation (and mostly reactivation) problems but I'm not sure

Recently, some games have been cracked the day of their release. And sometime Denuvo is just removed from the game by publisher. Hackers was saying that they'll won't be able to crack games anymore a few years ago because of Denuvo. Now it seems Denuvo lost the war :)

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The most commonly used argument is that the games using Denuvo will cease functioning if the Denuvo activation servers are shut down (there appears to be no fixed authentication span, but Denuvo verifies ownership at least on the first launch and after hardware upgrades). There are two major DRM schemes, SafeDisc and StarForce (some versions of), which aren't compatible with modern Windows operating systems.

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