Hackers are playing a cat and mouse game with the strongest anti-piracy tech in gaming

Doom gameid Software/Bethesda SoftworksA screenshot from id Software’s ‘DOOM.’

You probably haven’t heard of Denuvo, but for the past few months, it’s been the bane of video game pirates’ existence.

The Austrian company’s “anti-tamper” tech has famously held firm against would-be pirates as of late, making it difficult for them to illegally download certain games without paying. (Check this Kotaku explainer for more.)

The tech is still relatively new, but major publishers like Electronic Arts and Square Enix have used it to protect big-name titles in the past year.

Over the weekend, though, the first real cracks in Denuvo’s armour appear to have emerged. As Vice and TorrentFreak report, a 19-year-old Bulgarian hacker going by the name Voksi discovered a workaround that made various Denuvo-enabled games available for free.

Voksi didn’t totally “crack” the software — instead building off an exploit involving a demo of the latest “Doom” game — but he claims that more than 650,000 users were able to use his method before Denuvo fixed the workaround on Monday.

Soon after that fix, however, a pirate group named CONSPIR4CY is said to have legitimately cracked Denuvo’s defences for “Rise of the Tomb Raider,” which was released on PC this past January.

This kind of back and forth is typical among game hackers and the companies trying to resist them, so it’s likely that Denuvo will clear up these latest maneuvers before long. What’s notable here is that it took this long for someone to break the tech in the first place — with normal DRM measures, pirates are often able to develop a workaround within hours.

Now, though, it appears as if Denuvo has been roped into the same cat and mouse game as everyone else. For those charged with thwarting piracy in media, it’s another reminder that this is game without a clear end in sight.

Denuvo was not immediately available for comment.

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