For several decades owners of home computers have been aware of a simple fact. If legitimate software is available, it can be copied for use by someone who hasn’t paid for it.
For years this was as simple as audio-recording a cassette tape or cloning disks of various kinds, but more recently things have become decidedly more challenging. Digital Rights Management, or DRM as it’s more often known, is now a serious thorn in the side of software pirates.
The situation is being felt most acutely in the gaming world, where various protection methods are beginning to take their toll on those who prefer not to pay for the biggest games around.
In particular, the infamous Denuvo DRM anti-tamper system is responsible for keeping games such as Just Cause 3, Doom, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and a raft of other titles out of the hands of pirates. However, partially confirmed rumors emanating from Russia suggest that the cracks (excuse the pun) might be appearing in Denuvo.
Just to be clear, until such time that a working crack appears in the wild, most rumors (and there have been plenty of them recently) should be taken with a generous pinch of salt. However, during the past 24 hours, there have been unusual levels of excitement to suggest a crack might actually be close to surfacing.
The game at the forefront of discussion is the critically-acclaimed Rise of the Tomb Raider (ROTTR) from Square Enix. Like many Denuvo protected titles, ROTTR has thus far proven uncrackable but according to sources on Russian sites MKDev and Exelab, serious progress is being made.
What is causing the most excitement is a video which claims to show a crack of ROTTR in action. With most notation in Russian it’s difficult to follow in precise detail, but from the images alone it seems very likely that the game has been compromised, at least up to a point. (Watch here (low frame rate))
So who is taking credit for this amazing feat? Well officially, no one yet, but various clues suggest that the crack is the product of a collaboration between a Russian hacker known online as Bronco and Scene group RELOADED (RLD).
While RLD is predictably saying nothing, yesterday Bronco gave a shout out to RLD on Exelab’s forums in a posting which included the words “special thanks RLD and v00doo.”
Furthermore, MKDEV (who is also working on Denuvo and was responsible for cracking Football Manager 2016) is indicating on his site (in broken English) that RLD might soon be delivering a crack for Rise of the Tomb Raider.
“SOON THEY ARE COMING … 1 BY 1 NOT BY OUR HAND BUT…RLD…ROTTR…,” his message reads.
Additionally, a hi-res image from the ‘crack’ video appears to show ‘RLD!’ in the near right-hand corner, perhaps more evidence that RLD played a major role in what is currently happening.
In the absence of any ‘official’ announcement some analysis has been provided by an individual known online as RengarSenpai. He has also been working on Denuvo and appears to have gained access to some of MKDEV’s research in the past.
“The truth is that Denuvo is fully cracked for that specific game [Rise of the Tomb Raider], not emulated or worked around,” he writes.
But of course, the proof of the pudding is always in the eating and short of the all-important crack appearing in public, many will doubt it even exists.
Still, that hasn’t stopped the breathless celebrations starting early, especially from those prepared to download mysterious .exe files labeled up as Rise of the Tomb Raider cracks.
Rest assured, they’re all fakes….at least for now.