Pirates Are Worried That PC Games Are Becoming Too Hard To Crack

Pirates Are Worried That PC Games Are Becoming Too Hard To Crack

Some of the world’s most notorious video game pirates, denizens of Chinese hacking forum 3DM, are worried that over the next couple of years video games anti-copy protection will have gotten so good that they will be out of a job. As TorrentFreak report, the forum — normally at the forefront of cracking open PC games for illegal download — has been frustrated by several high profile releases over the past 12 months.

First there was Dragon Age: Inquisition, whose defences took a month to overcome (an eternity in this scene), but that was followed by both FIFA 16 and Just Cause 3, which both remain uncracked.

All three games use a form of security called Denuvo, which its creator’s stress is an “anti-tamper” measure, and not a form of Digital Rights Management, or DRM (though its exact operations are kept a secret). When 3DM were able to crack it for Inquisition, they were initially very proud of themselves, but in the intervening months Denuvo have gone back to work and clearly improved things to the point where two of 2015’s biggest PC releases remain out of the hands of pirates.

In a post on 3DM, the forum’s founder says (translated by TF) “Recently, many people have asked about cracks for Just Cause 3, so here is a centralised answer to this question. The last stage is too difficult and [Jun, our cracker] nearly gave up, but last Wednesday I encouraged him to continue.”

“I still believe that this game can be compromised. But according to current trends in the development of encryption technology, in two years time I’m afraid there will be no free games to play in the world.”

Well, there will be. They will just be, you know, the ones that are legally free.

Some other recent games to have used Denuvo include Arkham Knight, Mad Max and Metal Gear Solid V. The upcoming Rise of the Tomb Raider also uses it; if it too goes uncracked (or at least long enough for people’s interest to wane in the face of newer titles), then you can bet Denuvo’s measures — which work across both Steam and Origin — will get a lot more popular.


    • lol yeah. I don’t see the point of getting pirated games, steam gives me most of what I want to play easily and I can usually wait for a sale to get a good price

  • Interesting they used the same protection on the PC version of Arkham Knight. By all reports, that wasn’t even worth playing for free.

    • Mark Hamill returning as Joker made the game worth playing for me. If you enjoyed the other Arkham games, you should still have a reasonable time except for the Batmobile parts. Just don’t play it on PC I guess.

  • In other news, bank robbers have downed tools and commenced industrial action pending the removal of new safe technology that makes banks “too damn hard to steal from” in the words of one disgruntled former locksmith.

  • It’s all a matter of time and interest. Mad Max and MGS5 got cracked on/or around release. Fifa isn’t cracked because no one really gives a shit since it’s only single player, no FUT. Dragon Age 3 used the same software and got cracked a month after release. That ripoff Dark Souls game from Bandai which used Denuvo only recently got cracked because no one gives a shit about the game. It’s funny that Ubisoft games haven’t used Denuvo yet.

    • it’s also because as far as I know, the pirates don’t make money from cracking games. They’re basically doing it for free.

      Give them some cashola for their efforts and they’d get a lot more motivated.

      • That’s the thing about pirates, they aren’t going to pay for it no matter what. If I can’t afford or justify a game that I know I want (based on Youtube lets plays, TBs port report and Twitch vods/streams, I haven’t read a review in years) it goes on my Steam wishlist and I wait for a sale.

        Pirates actually feel entitled to other peoples work for free.

  • Since we now have a decent way to get games – Steam, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

    Netflix is filling the gap for a lot of TV and movies but there are still big gaps there.

    Music no longer needs to be pirated either, widely available at reasonable prices.

    • This is my thoughts exactly. The few things I pirate are those that are not provided in a timely manner in our region at a reasonable price. Everything else I cough up the dough.

    • Not just GET games, but to register protest – returning them.

      Piracy as protest has been the one really positive benefit to pirating something as opposed to simply boycotting it.

      If you don’t buy a game, publishers can very easily just claim that it sold poorly due to lack of interest because the game is bad, as opposed to anything wrong they might have done. But if it’s heavily and enthusiastically pirated, then they can’t really claim that there was a lack of interest.

      That gets the dev studio off the hook for the quality of the game and puts the focus back on publisher-blame things like overpricing, region restrictions, inappropriate marketing stunts, or DLC-gouging-related shenanigans.

  • DRM is shite, I hope the crackers keep breaking it otherwise quite a few games will be lost to time.

    There are quite a few games that would be impossible to play today without cracks because malware like starforce does not work on modern systems.

      • It appears to be an access control technology used to protect against copyright infringement; effectively serves the same function as DRM.

        Regardless of hair splitting, publishers have not been in the habit of removing access control technologies for the preservation of digital entertainment. There will come a time when numerous titles are completely lost because of apathy and the rhetoric around copyright infringement.

        • That’s true, and the issue of making old games available beyond their commercially-viable lifespan (or the lifespan of their host platform) is something that the industry as a whole needs to get together and find a solution to (something like GOG is a good starting point).

          But I have a hard time placing much faith in those who use this kind of “archiving” argument to justify piracy of brand new games. If they were going around and cracking 5 year old games that were no longer selling and were mainly just of interest to collectors and historians, that might be different. But when I game has only been out for a few weeks / days / hours and they’re going around cracking it and distributing it, that’s nothing to do with archiving gaming history, it’s just people trying to get a new release video game for nothing i.e. theft.

  • You know what, I bet that they will notice a decline in sales because of this as a lot of people pirate because they can’t afford every game out there and then subsequently buy the ones they actually want. With the market the way it is I don’t think stopping piracy is going to generate more sales for AAA titles as they cost too damn much.

    Oh I didn’t mean it justifies piracy, and I agree that people shouldn’t pirate. I just don’t think that piracy hurts developers as much as people say it does, in some aspects it would be beneficial to them. This excludes indie developers.

    • … but if people can’t afford the game then they shouldn’t be playing it. Developers don’t owe us anything.

      • My 500+ games steam list would be empty if I didn’t pirate stuff first to many shit games burn people with no way to try before you buy. Better now with steam refund tho.

        • There are many ways to find out if a game runs like balls without buying it or pirating it. Port reports, decent reviewers (there has to be some out there) and at the very least a few minutes of watching it on Twitch. Many streamers post their rigs specs on their channel page so you can easily compare. Then there is doing a bit of reading on the games forum pages (official and unofficial).

          I absolutely argee that there are “to(o) many shit games” out there, but saying that justifies pirating is just false.

      • Steam, GMG and GOG (and others including CD Keys from the likes of Ozgameshop) means that you never really have to pay for full priced PC games. You just have to be patient. I’m always about 2 years behind in PC games haha.
        For single player games, once you get over all the insta-hype around release time, is fine.

        • I HONESTLY cannot remember the last time I paid full RRP for a game? The most I pay these days is 68 dollars. That’s it.

          • I reckon it’s easily been a few years since I paid full price for a PC game, even the few games I’ve bought on or before release day have been discounted. The only time I pay “full price” for games is my Wii U and 3DS games.

          • Yep, I managed to pre-order Dark Souls 2 at 40% off. Anyone who pays full price is just lazy imo.

          • I thought I was really pushing my limits paying 45 AUD for Fallout 4, 68 dollars sounds like pure madness!

          • lol that’s for console games I’ve bought. PC games are a different matter. I’ll generally wait for it to hit 50 max. FO4 cost me around that.

    • I honestly don’t see how by your logic, people who weren’t buying the game before, and will still not buy the game after, somehow results in a decline in sales?
      And before the “I only pirate to try before I buy” I am sure the number of people who just pirate and are now forced to just buy will well and truly outweigh the bastions of pirate goodness who “support” those well made games by purchasing (what 2% of the games they pirate?)

    • Why would it cause a decline? The ppl already paying are the ones that can afford to pay, they’ve already made that decision.

      it will drastically cut their losses though.

      • What losses are being reduced?

        People who infringe copyright and don’t ever purchase a game don’t count as a loss because they were never a potential sale.
        People who infringe multiple games and end up purchasing a few aren’t a loss for the same reason, but they do increase revenue.

        • I doubt those people who currently never purchase a game will stop playing games if piracy is no longer an option for them. They’ll just start paying for a few games rather than pirating a lot of games. Either that or they’ll go play free to play games and not use any of the microtransactions 😛

  • It both annoys and amuses me to see somebody complaining about a game on the forums when it’s blatantly obvious they pirated it.

  • Hopefully modding and piracy die at the same time. Could lead to a renaissance in Open Source game development as pirates/game modders move onto other projects.

      • I think they are refferring to things like aimbots and the likes. Bad mods that ruin the game for others

        • Hopefully otherwise he or she has been smoking crack… mods have aided games in having such long lifespans. Look at Morrowind????

  • “in two years time I’m afraid there will be no free games to play in the world.”
    That guy must have a serious entitled view of the world.
    He probably steals his food too. Coz he deserves it.

    • Oh well of course he’s being silly! There’s tonnes of free games (nice ones too I’m serious).

      Well… of course nobody seems to be playing them… talking about them here…

      except for, y’know, the ones that aren’t really free, because they are built on unethical systems we spend endless articles lambasting.

      What I’m saying is, while there’s some nice varieties of free games available for people who can’t afford to buy them, they’ll end up like that kid in school who couldn’t afford to see that new movie, having to wait until it was on TV. Nobody wants to hang out with them they’re not ‘cool’ they don’t play the same games ‘we’ do.
      That or get on the F2P treadmill.

      I know that doesn’t make anyone entitled to free things, but what I can see that cracker was saying is that all that illegal free stuff their cracks enabled provided a positive social value even if it provided a perceived negative financial value for the creators. There’ll always be free games, so he’s got some hyperbole there. However: with piracy theoretically gone, free games ‘as we know them’ would be also gone.

      *Edit* Public libraries are good. Free borrows there for people of all financial situations. Definitely need to support local libraries.

  • Piracy being stopped would be amazing. They keep telling me that video games are only so expensive because they have to charge us so they don’t lose all the money they would have earned without the filthy pirates! That means that when there is no more rampant piracy, games will be cheaper! right?

  • Let’s all shed a tear for fuckwits who spend their time and talents facilitating theft.
    Also let’s play a violin for all the infantile losers who insist on limply justifying piracy so they can feel better about being tantrum throwing children who can’t have all the things for free.

    • Well this group being discussed is based in China where the average game is a weeks rent and that’s if the game is available there at all.

      Don’t take it so personally. Its easy to judge when you live in a wealthy society. Piracy dropped in Russia when games were priced to fit their cost of living.

        • But its all relative though isn’t it? You can’t compare to AUD when they aren’t earning AUD. A week’s rent could be over 50% of their wage.

          • But if they can afford the hardware to run games like DA:I then surely they can afford to buy them?

    • Then lets cry verily for all the games that may become lost thanks to these systems.

      After all there would indeed be many had we condemned all the crackers.

      Hell, P.T. is one in the making…

  • There was a time when all locks could be picked… That is no longer the case. With added investment into the DRM/Anti-Tamper industry, game piracy will be a thing of the past, just like pickable locks…

    P.S. Most locks are still pickable because pickable locks are cheap, if you want a completely unpickable lock they cost a lot of money so are rather rare in the consumer space.

  • This isn’t just important for pirates. This is also very important for preserving abandonware as time moves on. It’s important that we can still use and learn from this as time moves on.

    • I can’t upvote as a guest… But… A thousand times this. As a person who loves video games and haphazardly collects them, this is somewhat terrifying.

      The major issue is there’s no common courtesy of leaving us the keys once a developer decides they’re done. No source code, no server code and no unlocking the DRM. All could be easily released under any one of the open-source licence structures available.

  • Every game will be cracked. EVERY game. It just takes time. Remember, there are 6 BILLION people on this planet. 6. It only takes a handful of people to get it done.

    But me? I could really care less. I pay for my games. Not on Origin. On Steam. Only reason i dont buy on Steam as often as i could… is not due to money, but rather time. I wont live long enough to play everything i will be interested in playing. I purchased Dragon Age Inquisition (full Inquisitor’s Edition too) so i have no need of a crack.

  • Pirates arnt all bad.
    A lot of the time when articles are published about exploits or secrets hidden away in games are often results of ‘pirates’ pulling apart games and stumble across these hidden goodies.
    Compared to 10 years ago, I see piracy of games have gone down dramatically not just because of DRM but because of availability.
    Good examples are hotline miami 2 (awesome devs), Postal 2 (till recently), syndicate and more are all epic games but all ‘un-buyable’ to lots of people who often resort to piracy so they can experience

  • Oh don’t worry game-makers. One day, many years after your studios have closed, I’ll find the time to play some ‘new’ games and you’ll get my few dollars in a Steam sale or something.

    Not to sound mean or anything, just… it’s not really worth the effort and money with stuff like DRM when what your actually banking for is the attention of gamers while it’s worth them giving a damn.

  • lol, ‘pirates’, or just these guys? For every person that says you can’t do something, there’s about 100 more trawling the web who are determined to try, and given a long enough time line, they always succeed.

  • I suspect what will happen is that cracking will still continue but it might just happen years later when hardware has improved to speed up the cracking process. Immediate cracking of AAA titles however seemingly could be a thing of the past.

    Then there’s also as the author subtlety mentioned is the rise of F2P games which has obvious implications for crackers as it grows in popularity.

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