Anti-Denuvo Outcry Takes Over ‘NieR: Automata’ Discussions

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by Gabriel Cavalcanti

Slated for release on March 17 on Steam, potential NieR: Automata buyers take over the game’s discussions page with anti-Denuvo threads.

A title that fans have been asking for since 2010’s Nier, NieR: Automata garnered very positive reviews for its PlayStation 4 version, which came out on March 7 in North America and March 10 in Europe. Its release date being officially announced on March 3, the PC version will be fully available in less than a week on Steam. While waiting, fans and potential buyers take over the discussions page with topics regarding the game’s potential performance and its use of Denuvo, the latest DRM trend adopted by major publishers.

Reasons presented by consumers as to why Denuvo is bad vary. Some claim games using the technology will be unplayable whenever its servers shut down, while others rage over how long it will take modders to modify NieR: Automata‘s executable in order to unlock its resolution and framerate. The discussions go back and forth as Steam users argue about the ins and outs of the technology and attempt to dispell misinformation.

NieR: Automata

How it works

Denuvo developers refuse to detail how the anti-tempering tool works. It successfully prevented a multitude of games and software from being pirated within their release windows, but the service isn’t bulletproof. The Chinese group 3DM (popular among video game pirates) revealed in 2014 that Denuvo consists of a 64-bit encryption machine that collects information on each specific hardware in order to generate a unique cryptographic key, thus making the cracking process twice as hard.

In the past, developers who contracted Denuvo and players who were affected by it claimed that the technology hinders a computer’s performance and lifespan by actively writing data onto storage media. The company attempted to dispell those claims by stating on their official website that “Denuvo Anti-Tamper does not constantly read or write any data to storage media.” The accusation died out over the years, barely being mentioned nowadays.

Shutting down

Potential buyers seem awfully concerned with what will happen to games whenever Denuvo servers are shut down. The tool is built in a way that it requires internet access every once in a while to verify files. Although it isn’t clear how often the verification occurs, users claim it has to happen every other day, while others suggest it happens once with every game update.

According to PC Perspective, Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst only allows for four activations on different machines once every 24 hours. As soon as the first activation is made, only three more can be made on different machines within the next 24 hours, after which four more will be possible in four other machines and so on.

Resident Evil 7

Resident Evil 7 (which took pirates five days to crack) potentially connecting to Denuvo servers.

Titles such as GOD EATER 2 Rage Burst (as well as its prequel, GOD EATER Resurrection), which make use of the technology, don’t seem to connect to any servers upon initialization. Other titles such as Resident Evil 7 will attempt to connect to unnamed servers everytime the game is booted up, even if players aren’t connected to the internet.

This need for authentication worries players who think games using Denuvo will become obsolete whenever the servers are shut down. According to them, publishers won’t bother with removing the encryption, making Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Dishonored 2, for example, unplayable on PC.  Contrary to that, a handful of developers has voluntarily removed Denuvo from their games, including ID Software (Doom), effectively proving that the anti-piracy method doesn’t have to be permanent.

First released in 2007 and discontinued in 2013 (with a late update coming out in 2014), Games For Windows – LIVE (GFWL for short) was largely disliked by the gaming community. The fate of the service didn’t affect the availability of many games using it, as publishers and developers offered players the possibility to migrate their progress to other services where the titles were available. Capcom not only supported the progress transference but also allowed Resident Evil 5 owners to reactivate their keys free of charge on Steam.

Should Denuvo come to an end, it’s only reasonable that publishers will remove it from their games if they care enough. Worst case scenario, gamers will have to resort to piracy to replay such games on PC.


Back in August, PlatinumGames gave interviews where they discussed various aspects of NieR: Automata, including the PC port. Controversially, they stated the PC version would be locked at 1080p and 60 frames per second. The community, always craving higher resolutions and framerates, is also furious about this as it might take a while until modders manage to apply modifications.

According to many PC gamers, Denuvo prevents modifications to a game’s executable. Steam user Erebus the Inexorable states that “It doesn’t fully block mods, but anything meaningful (say, long-term community fix type stuff, hex edits, and the like) is impossible as long as Denuvo is in place.” 2B <<This cannot continue>> further clarifies by saying “you can use things such as .dll hooks, but nothing more, making higher quality mods such as the Dark Souls fix for PC seemingly impossible if […] the game has Denuvo.”

On their own thread titled “Denuvo doesn’t affect you unless you’re a pirate,” Steam user Vit starts by saying “it doesn’t affect you at all and doesn’t prevent modding.” They say modifying Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is perfectly possible and also mention a Just Cause 3 multiplayer mod that injects changes to game files beyond the main executable.

The future of DRM

Whereas the 3DM group claims that piracy won’t exist in the near future thanks to the advancements made in anti-tempering and DRM technology, the community and some developers would like to think otherwise. As pointed out by Marcin Iwiński, co-founder of and CD Projekt RED, DRM doesn’t work. Not only will games using protection be cracked sooner or later (with Resident Evil 7 beating pirates’ Denuvo records, its crack being developed five days after its release), but they also hurt potential consumers who may not be capable of purchasing a $60 title right away.

The practice is embraced mostly by big publishers who have been in the business for decades. As gamers and critics like to point out, such choices are made by corporate individuals to benefit the corporation regardless of what the public desires. Practices such as DRM, season passes, meaningless DLCs, and microtransactions won’t end as long as the community continues to buy these products. Whatever people say on discussions means close to nothing to those in charge when compared to sales numbers and how successful the game, season pass, or microtransactions were.

NieR: Automata

Whether Denuvo is consumer-friendly or not, those bothered by its existence and wishing to play NieR: Automata on PC can only hope that Square Enix will decide to remove the technology sooner or later. The game’s Day One Edition can now be pre-purchased on Steam. It will become officially available on Friday, March 17.

Filed under: Action, Discussion, JRPG, News, NieR: Automata, PC, RPG, Square Enix, Steam
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  1. Sorry but I stopped reading your article after these bits
    “a handful of developers has voluntarily removed Denuvo from their games, including ID Software (Doom), effectively proving that the anti-piracy method doesn’t have to be permanent.”
    “Should Denuvo come to an end, it’s only reasonable that publishers will remove it from their games if they care enough.”
    Firstly, the developers that removed Denuvo, only did so because their Denuvo was cracked while their games were still in a post-release ‘development’ phase.
    Secondly (yet still pertinent to the first part) If denuvo comes to an end, this likely won’t be tomorrow. It could be 10 years from now, and by that point there could be nothing left of the companies that made them. Leaving no one to remove the copy protection. Even if the company still exists, after 10 years, they won’t do anything.
    And Finally! “Worst case scenario, gamers will have to resort to piracy to replay such games on PC.” – Ummmm, how exactly are they going to do that when Denuvo is stopping it from being cracked in the first place?

    Aaron W on March 12 | Reply
    • Well, the fact that it might be cracked in the future? Denuvo isn’t uncrackable, it just takes some time to do it.

      A person on March 12 | Reply
    • I’m sorry but i just want to correct you on something.
      “Firstly, the developers that removed Denuvo, only did so because their Denuvo was cracked while their games were still in a post-release ‘development’ phase.”
      Just want to say that Homefront The Revolution removed Denuvo less then a week ago despite the game not having been cracked yet.

      Lucy on March 12 | Reply
    • Wait. How come you stopped reading after those bits and you still quoted the end?

      I think you’re missing a lot of points here. Yes, those developers removed Denuvo because their games were cracked too early, but did anyone force them to? What I meant to say with that is that Denuvo can be removed if developers/publishers care to remove it.

      I never said it would happen tomorrow. No one is saying it’s gonna happen tomorrow. Could be 5, 10, 20 years for all we know. There’s no reason for these companies not to exist. Should they cease to exist, the rights to their games will be transferred to someone else–another publisher, or the developers themselves. But seeing as how Nintendo exists since 1889 (they entered the video game market in 1974 and made success with video games in 1979), I don’t see why other companies couldn’t be around for two decades more.

      The only scenario where no one will have the rights to games with Denuvo is if the world ends. There will always be someone in charge to take care of IPs unless they become zombies or something. But if it comes to that, no one will be worrying about Denuvo.

      And finally: “Ummmm, how exactly are they going to do that when Denuvo is stopping it from being cracked in the first place?”

      Games with Denuvo ARE crackable. Some take longer than others, but they end up being cracked sooner or later. The most recent one was Resident Evil 7, which as I mention (and I even leave a link to one of the many articles that mentioned it originally), it took them about 5 days or so.

      Gabriel Cavalcanti on March 12 | Reply
      • Nice reply Gabriel. You dun messed up A-A-Ron.

        Load map DE_stroyed

        C wilham on March 12 | Reply
      • I think it’s incredibly optimistic to assume that in 10 years, someone at SE (or maybe a place like THQ would be a better example given the state of some of their IP’s) is going to have any motivation to touch old games with Denuvo. Their most beloved titles? They’ll get a remaster so they can sell it again. Cult classics and smaller titles (and terrible games that people are still curious about or are nostalgic for) could realistically be lost to time if they can’t be cracked easily. Think something like Steep. I really believe that trusting devs/publishers (particularly the large publicly traded entities who use this protection in the first place) is a dangerous move. We can hope that all DRM is (eventually) crackable, but again, you’re depending on third party groups, who may not be motivated to touch smaller/less desired games.

        With that said, Denuvo obviously protects a lot of day one purchases. That has a lot of value. I really wish we could see expiration dates on these protection schemes, something like 2-5 years. I know technically that’s probably difficult, but it seems like there should be some compromise.

        All that said, I recently went through 3 original Xbox consoles just so I could play Jet Set Radio Future as intended (the 360 BC is a slideshow at many points). There’s no other way to do that, and nobody is tripping over themselves trying to make it happen 15 years later. It’s likely not realistic, but I really want to see games preserved while still making sure the people who make them don’t get screwed due to piracy.

        Mike on March 17 | Reply
      • This is the biggest pile of hogwash i’ve ever seen. You know damn well companies go out of business, and NO, they do NOT automatically transfer 10+ year old intellectual property to some other company upon bankruptcy. And if YOU paid attention to his post (he clearly read yours all the way through, which i can’t say for you as you can’t even discern his obvious true points about this) you’d realize that the entire point here is that very few companies will ever care enough about 10-15 year old games to go back and remove Denuvo from them. We saw this same thing happen with Borderlands 1 and many other games upon a company shut-down. You know what happened to borderlands? THE ENTIRE SERVERS SHUT DOWN! They don’t work anymore! And it’s far from the only game effected by it, there were dozens of games iirc. And there was no change to it. We saw the same thing when GFWL went defunct, luckily a FEW of the games were saved by steam modifying them to use steam DRM (a.k.a. dark souls) but MANY games were not because the dev’s wouldn’t co-operate.

        And Denuvo changed it’s entire MO, they beefed everything up. So you can not say that every Denuvo game WILL be cracked. You’re making ridiculous claims here in defense of bullshit invasive software that hurts paying customers just to stick it to pirates who would’ve never bought the game anyway! Just laughable…

        Andrew on March 19 | Reply
  2. The worst part is people hearing 3DM . . . . lol

    3DM doesn’t know anything , they just said that because they can’t crack Denuvo.

    CPY is destroying denuvo.

    The only thing that can defeat piracy are good games and accessible prices.

    Myself on March 12 | Reply
    • i love it how 3dm is mentioned twice and CPY is not mentioned at all. i get it tho, CPY is staying under the ‘public radar’ whereas 3DM makes public statements.

      Wah on March 12 | Reply
  3. Anything that basically puts a potential expiration date on your game? Is BS. Yes, even mmo’s are BS. When an mmo is no longer supported by a company, the server software should really become public domain, for the game to potentially continue to function if someone would care to support it.

    MMOs are always given some slack though of course, but with Denuvo crap, we’re talking about plenty of single player games that could potentially become unusable someday, simply because internet addresses change, or servers are completely taken down.

    If anybody here thinks publishers will invest a penny in to making your game playable again with an update of some sort? Think again. In the day and age where selling the same game, over and over and over and over again on successive hardware platforms, is a viable source of more revenue? You can be they know the pitfalls of Denuvo, and likely even bank on them.

    It’s incredible how stupid people are, with the foresight of a blind person, to not see that turning every game in to a potential “Dark Spore” situation, isn’t good. Not only that, they actually defend this garbage as “good”, because some random Joe Blow in some country can’t play it for free. As though that is doing them some favour somehow. People honestly believe that companies will enhance their lineups, due to any potential decline in piracy.

    Welcome to the human race, you must be new here, with lots, and lots to learn.

    JiffyB on March 12 | Reply
    • I could be wrong but I distinctly remember hearing about the fact that the new law had been passed in either South Korea or Japan about how they handle outdated software. Specifically video games. They made mention saying that if any online only video game discontinued their services, then after 2 years, the rights to that become public domain. I’m sure there is more to it to specify certain things such as copyrights and what not. I do l, however, remember reading about it.

      Felix Craig-Martinez on March 13 | Reply
  4. Some of my friends are so poor that they can’t even afford pc which had power to play games in 1080p and they did not buyed a single game which has denuvo so denovo doesn’t make a single penny from this peoples , I had buyed metal gear , witcher 3 , GTA , shadow warrior 2 and recently resident evil 7 so even if some games contains denuvo I still buyed them but not on day one like witcher 3 and metal gear , I buyed them on sale except resident evil which tempted me to buy it on full price , if I would had known re 7 would cracked too soon than I would had played it on friends pc for gameplay testing which I was disappointed after playing it and I had no intention to play it again and I lost my hard earned money , this Is where denovo wins , but it won last time , from onwards no denuvo games unless they provide 2 days full game demo or it get cracked .

    Shehzad Rangoonwala on March 12 | Reply
    • so? Your only going to pirate games? If it has denuvo amd you dont like it kist like any other steam or whatever game just try to refund it. Denuvo doesn’t necessarily “win” as you say, its the dev and publisher to win. What you should be doing is trying to get devs/publishers to release demos like they use too. Besides, there already was a demo for resident evil 7 a week before release for “gameplay testing”, so ypur not maling alot of sense?

      C wilham on March 12 | Reply
  5. You speak about MGSV & JC3 modding ?
    try the MSGV fov mod with the lastest MGSV denuvo => it doesnt work, try the SAME mod, with the “denuvo free MGSV” guess what, it work

    Try the no into mod for JC3 Denuvo => doesnt work, try the same mod ( just adding the “denuvo free” files on your JC3 steam version the mod DO WORK

    ===> Denuvo can prevent many modding

    Robert on March 12 | Reply
  6. 3DM is full of shit

    Just4Me on March 12 | Reply
  7. I have plenty of money to purchase games, but I only buy games on Humble Bundle, GOG, or DRM-free games (with a very few exceptions). If a game is on Steam with DRM like Denuvo, I will more than likely pirate it because if I buy a game, I want to own that game, not be owned by DRM.

    Real customers are not acceptable collateral damage in the war against pirates and if the companies are ok with fucking real customers over, I’m ok with pirating games.

    Mike on March 12 | Reply
  8. Simple, we need law that after a year or so Denuvo must be removed from game to preserve future compatibility.

    kummik dera on March 14 | Reply
  9. this is irrelevant.

    the games coming out nowadays are awful

    denuvo wont save the inevitable decline of this industry…

    look at dead rising 4 as an example.

    P on March 14 | Reply

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