Over the years, many anti-piracy systems have ruffled the feathers of video game pirates but none have done so to the extent Denuvo has.
Not a DRM technology its own right, Denuvo is software that acts as an anti-tamper mechanism, thwarting the efforts of so-called crackers who want to make games available for free.
Before this weekend, just one Denuvo-protected title had appeared online. FIFA 16’s protection was bypassed, not cracked (a subtle but important detail), by Turk DM. Nevertheless, pirates never take even a bypass for granted – free games are free games, after all.
Then this weekend, the floodgates opened. A cracker known as Voksi found a loophole in Steam which allowed many Denuvo-protected titles to be played for free. It was another bypass, one powered by a secret sauce.
“His secret method for defeating Denuvo was beer, tons of it,” Voksi colleague Royalgamer06 told TorrentFreak.
Royalgamer06 confirms that Voksi hails from Bulgaria and the pair met on a forum where they shared a passion for cracking games.
“Voksi has been cracking for a number of years now. We met each other on [a Russian forum]. We both were releasing so-called ‘Steamworks fixed’, which allowed pirates to play cracked games online through Steam,” he says.
“Somehow he found out about this exploit. At first, he couldn’t believe it himself. But after several tests it really worked. And then he got really excited and released it. This got the whole piracy community excited, which motivated Voksi even more.”
And exciting it was too. After the Doom release came several other titles including Return of the Tomb Raider, Just Cause 3, Homefront: The Revolution, ABZU, INSIDE and Total War WARHAMMER.
“It’s a Denuvo bypass technically,” Royalgamer06 explains
“It relies on an exploit using the DOOM Demo Denuvo activation. Voksi had to make different memory patches for each game to work. But the principle remained the same. So many pirates have been able to play and finish these games.”
Indeed, according to stats provided by Voksi, an estimated 650K people used his bypass method over the weekend. It apparently somehow calls back home to him, hence the figures.
But then yesterday, as thousands of pirates celebrated the surprise fall of Denuvo, misery struck. Voksi’s workaround was defeated.
“Voksi’s exploit has been patched by Denuvo now,” Royalgamer06 told TF last night.
“They disabled activations for the DOOM demo, which the bypass relied on. It took them three days to do it. Seems the Denuvo guys don’t work at the weekend.”
But as the storm clouds gathered over pirate haunts everywhere and the sun beamed down on Denuvo in Austria, even bigger news appeared on the horizon. A single line of text on so-called pre-databases (sites that signal pirate releases) indicated that a big name in the piracy scene had made amazing progress.
‘Rise.Of.The.Tomb.Raider.READNFO-CONSPIR4CY’ references a release by a ‘Scene’ group known as CONSPIR4CY, a reported collaboration between CPY and CODEX.
More than a bypass of Denuvo, this release of the latest Tomb Raider game appears to contain the Holy Grail – a bona fide crack of Denuvo.
Predictably and despite its size, the 31GB file is now hot property on file-sharing sites. It comes updated with the latest patch and includes three DLCs including Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch, Cold Darkness Awakened and Endurance Mode.
But while CONSPIR4CY (whose motto is “Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned) have undoubtedly achieved something amazing in pirate terms, the Denuvo battle is probably far from won.
Thus far only Tomb Raider has fallen, and that was released in January this year, meaning that the title had more than six months clear run at piracy-free sales. That being said, no one knows when CONSPIR4CY began working on Denuvo.
In any event, optimism is high for more Denuvo titles being released soon.
“Who knows what more Denuvo games get released now,” Royalgamer06 says.
“Denuvo’s reputation will get crushed at this rate for sure. First they let this big [Voksi] exploit happen and now their infamous protection gets fully cracked by CONSPIR4CY.
“Seems like there really is no way to beat piracy,” he concludes.