For as long as games have had copy protection, there have been ways to break said copy protection. In the earliest days of gaming, games often required you to enter a random word or sentence from the manual, or look up a code sequence. For more than 30 years, game crackers and developers have fought a never-ending war with each other. At best, DRM has delayed a crack by a handful of days or a week. Most of the time, it hasn’t even managed that.
According to a prominent cracking group (as first reported by TorrentFreak), that may finally be changing. The Chinese cracking group 3DM has a great deal of expertise in breaking game DRM, including last year’s Dragon Age Inquisition. The group’s founder, Bird Sister (aka Phoenix) recently stated that the team has had no luck cracking the latest version of Denuvo, a fairly niche but apparently extremely effective DRM technology.
In a response to the length of time it has taken to crack Just Cause 3, Bird Sister stated the following:
Recently, many people have asked about cracks for Just Cause 3, so here is a centralized answer to this question. The last stage is too difficult and Jun [cracking guy] 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.
A world in which game cracks couldn’t exist would be a drastic departure from the past 30-40 years, and there would be some significant unintended consequences. While publishers would undoubtedly cheer the move, it would cause real problems for games that relied on online authentication servers that may no longer exist, or titles whose DRM checks caused significant performance issues. Both of these have occurred on shipping titles, and there’s no guarantee they’d stop happening if publishers perfected DRM.
Even if cracking isn’t abolished, it’s possible that it might take progressively longer for titles to be cracked post-launch. From a developer standpoint, this would be almost as good — most games generate the majority of their sales in the first few months, so a game that took six months to crack would likely earn most of the revenue it was going to earn. (Games with subscription costs or microtransaction models are an obvious exception to this.)
With that said, cracking has been the status quo for nearly 40 years. We’ll have to see more evidence of the trend before we declare the decades-long war finally over.
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