Denuvo is an anti-tamper technology used to protect video games from being copied or pirated. It works by encrypting and obfuscating the game’s executable code to make it difficult for hackers to crack the game’s copy protection.
Denuvo encryption algorithm
The specifics of Denuvo’s encryption algorithm are not publicly known, as Denuvo considers its technology to be a trade secret. However, it is known that Denuvo uses a combination of advanced encryption and obfuscation techniques to protect the executable code of games from tampering or reverse-engineering.
One key aspect of Denuvo’s encryption is its use of a virtual machine, which executes the game’s code in a virtual environment that is extremely difficult to analyze or manipulate. This virtual machine is designed to be highly obfuscated, with numerous layers of encryption and anti-debugging measures to prevent hackers from accessing or tampering with the game’s code.
Additionally, Denuvo uses a range of other obfuscation techniques, such as code splitting, to make it more difficult for hackers to understand the structure and flow of the game’s code. It also employs various anti-debugging measures, such as memory scrambling, to prevent hackers from attaching a debugger to the game and analyzing its behavior.
While the specifics of Denuvo’s encryption algorithm are not publicly known, it is clear that it is designed to be extremely robust and difficult to crack. Despite numerous attempts by hackers to bypass Denuvo’s protection, it remains one of the most effective anti-tamper technologies on the market today.
A more detailed explanation of how Denuvo encryption works
Hardware check: When a game that uses Denuvo is installed on a user’s computer, Denuvo first performs a hardware check to determine the unique hardware configuration of the system. This information is used to generate a unique key for that particular installation of the game.
Code encryption: Denuvo encrypts certain parts of the game’s executable code, such as the game’s main functions and algorithms, using both symmetric and asymmetric encryption. This makes it difficult for hackers to reverse-engineer the code and bypass the anti-tamper protection.
Code obfuscation: Denuvo also uses various obfuscation techniques to make it more difficult for hackers to understand and analyze the game’s code. For example, it may use code obfuscation to make the code more difficult to read or debug, or it may use anti-debugging techniques to prevent hackers from analyzing the code while the game is running.
Dynamic code decryption: When the game is launched, Denuvo dynamically decrypts the protected parts of the code using the unique key generated during the hardware check. This allows the game to run normally on the user’s computer.
An example of how Denuvo encryption might work in practice
Let’s say a user purchases a game that uses Denuvo anti-tamper technology. When the user installs the game on their computer, Denuvo performs a hardware check to determine the unique hardware configuration of the system. Based on this information, Denuvo generates a unique key for that particular installation of the game.
Denuvo then encrypts certain parts of the game’s executable code, such as the game’s main functions and algorithms, using both symmetric and asymmetric encryption. It also uses code obfuscation techniques to make the code more difficult to understand and analyze.
When the user launches the game, Denuvo dynamically decrypts the protected parts of the code using the unique key generated during the hardware check. This allows the game to run normally on the user’s computer, while still providing protection against piracy and hacking attempts.
Overall, Denuvo encryption is a complex and sophisticated system that is designed to provide strong protection against piracy and tampering, while still allowing games to run normally on legitimate users’ computers.
A list of games use Denuvo encryption
Denuvo is a popular anti-tamper technology used by a variety of game developers and publishers. Some of the games that have used or currently use Denuvo include:
- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
- Resident Evil Village
- Hitman 3
- FIFA 22
- Far Cry 6
- Death Stranding
- Marvel’s Avengers
- Doom Eternal
- Mass Effect Legendary Edition
- Resident Evil 3
- Mortal Kombat 11
- Cyberpunk 2077 (initially, but later removed)
- Just Cause 4
- Monster Hunter: World
This is just a small selection of the many games that have used Denuvo over the years. It’s worth noting that some games may use Denuvo only for a limited time or in specific regions, and that Denuvo may be removed or updated in response to feedback from developers and gamers.
Denuvo has faced criticism from some gamers and industry professionals for a number of reasons, including:
Impact on game performance: As I mentioned earlier, there have been concerns about Denuvo’s impact on game performance, particularly in terms of frame rate and loading times.
Effectiveness: While Denuvo is designed to be difficult to crack or reverse-engineer, some critics have argued that it is not an effective solution for preventing piracy in the long term, as it can be cracked by determined hackers.
Anti-consumer practices: Some gamers have criticized Denuvo for its perceived anti-consumer practices, such as requiring an online activation to play the game and limiting the number of times a game can be installed on different computers.
Additional costs: Publishers must pay Denuvo to use its anti-tamper technology, which can add to the overall cost of developing and releasing a game.
Impact on modding: Denuvo’s anti-tamper technology can make it more difficult for users to create and distribute mods for games, which can limit the potential for user-generated content and community engagement.
Denuvo Software Solutions filed a lawsuit against a Bulgarian hacker named Voksi who had cracked several Denuvo-protected games in 2018.
In May 2020, Kaspersky Anti-Virus detected Denuvo Anti-Cheat in Doom Eternal as malware.
In November 2021, many recent games using Denuvo were unplayable due to a domain name expiration and a compatibility issue with Intel 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs. However, the Alder Lake incompatibility issue was addressed in January 2022.
In August 2022, Denuvo faced criticism for its “Nintendo Switch Emulator Protection,” which some worried would negatively impact game performance. Denuvo claimed that Nintendo was not involved and that there was strong demand from software publishers for the solution. The announcement was met with skepticism from the Switch modding community, and the developers of Switch emulator Ryujinx stated their intention to continue developing the software.
It’s worth noting, however, that Denuvo has also had its defenders, who argue that it is an effective solution for preventing piracy and protecting the revenue of game developers and publishers. Additionally, Denuvo has continued to update and improve its anti-tamper technology in response to criticism and feedback from the gaming community.
Denuvo encryption performance analysis
There have been various performance analyses conducted on Denuvo encryption over the years, with mixed results.
Some studies have shown that Denuvo can have a negative impact on game performance, particularly in terms of frame rate and loading times. For example, a 2017 study by Overlord Gaming found that games using Denuvo had an average 15% reduction in frame rate and a 30% increase in loading times compared to the same games without Denuvo.
However, other studies have found little to no impact on game performance. A 2018 study by Wccftech, for example, found that Denuvo had no impact on frame rate or loading times in several tested games.
It’s worth noting that the impact of Denuvo on game performance can vary depending on a number of factors, including the specific game being played, the hardware configuration of the user’s computer, and the version of Denuvo being used. Additionally, Denuvo has been known to release updates that improve performance and address issues that may be causing performance problems.
Overall, while there have been concerns about Denuvo’s impact on game performance, the extent of this impact can be difficult to measure and may vary depending on a number of factors.
How to decrypt Denuvo
It is hard to decrypt Denuvo-protected games or bypass its anti-tamper protection completely. Denuvo is designed to be extremely difficult to crack or reverse-engineer, and it uses a range of encryption and obfuscation techniques to prevent unauthorized access to the game’s executable code.
That being said, there have been instances where hackers have been able to bypass Denuvo’s protection and release cracked versions of games online. However, these cracks are often only temporary, as Denuvo frequently updates its anti-tamper technology to patch any vulnerabilities that have been discovered.