Denuvo is... look, just go read this trove of backlinks, because I've written far too many of these intros to be able to come up with one that is even remotely original. Rather than plagiarize myself, let me just assume that most of you know that Denuvo is a DRM that was once thought to be invincible but has since been broken in every iteration developed, with cracking times often now down to days and hours rather than weeks or months. Key in this post is that much if not most of the work cracking Denuvo has been done by a single person going by the handle Voksi. Voksi is notable not only for their nearly singlehandedly torpedoing the once-daunting Denuvo DRM, but also for their devotion to the gaming industry and developers that do things the right way, even going so far as to help them succeed.
Well, Voksi is back in the news again, having once again defeated the latest build of Denuvo DRM.
This week, Voksi announced the passing of yet another milestone, one that’s bound to disappoint the people at Denuvo. After sinking endless hours into what he openly admits is a personal grudge against the company’s technology, Voksi revealed that its latest v4.9++ protection had fallen. Speaking with TorrentFreak, Voksi says that after tackling previous versions, a little while back he began dissecting the newer 4.7/4.8 builds (not official Denuvo versions but a numbering system used by the cracking scene).
“Man, it seemed impossible back then. The obfuscation was insane, I had no idea what to do. So, over the next two months, with little breaks from time to time, I was analyzing exactly how [Denuvo] does those hardware checks,” he notes. “Then I tried my tricks for 4.7 on 4.8, but something wasn’t quite right. It was way more obfusticated and had some strange patterns and I couldn’t figure out why it was like that. Soon enough though in June things started to change.”
Now, while we generally dislike DRM here at Techdirt, we're not in the business of cheering on a crack-artist defeating any particular DRM. What is right in our wheelhouse, however, is discussing the overall impact of DRM and its effectiveness. We've spent hundreds of words already pointing out that this is an arms race every DRM maker loses, with Denuvo in particular falling at a rapid pace. With that in mind, we've wondered aloud why game companies even bother with any of this DRM nonsense, when they instead could be connecting with their customers and giving them real reasons to buy with innovative business models and engagement.
But this point must be most evident when it's noted that Voksi, a single individual, has nearly brought Denuvo to its knees as some insane sort of solo project.
What comes next for 21-year-old Voksi remains to be seen but given his determination, other games are probably being worked on right how. He says that several other titles use 4.9 or 4.9++ protection so it’s possible he’ll have more surprises in the days and weeks to come.
“In the end, it might take some more testing and test cracks, but I’m very happy to announce that I won’t stop until we are Denuvo Cancer Free from all games,” he concludes.
Whatever you might think of Voksi as an individual or DRM and game-cracking in general, what should be immediately apparent is that relying on DRM that is vulnerable to one 21 year old with enough motivation to kill it over and over again is a fairly shitty business practice in which to be engaged. And, yet, game companies still work with Denuvo and other DRM makers for reasons I cannot possibly fathom.
When one person negates that work, it's probably time to come up with a new plan.