Windows 10 UWP (Universal Windows Platform) apps have long been the final frontier for crackers. Microsoft’s unique Windows Store app platform has remained uncracked for some time, but now a cracking group has finally delivered a breakthrough and broken the copy protection on Zoo Tycoon Ultimate Animal Collection.

What’s interesting here is that CODEX found that no less than five different layers of DRM have been applied to games on the Windows Store, comprising MSStore, UWP. EAppX, XBLive and Arxan. This complicated array of DRM measures kept these games protected for a long, long time, but like anything, it was going to be cracked eventually.

Microsoft’s Windows Store platform managed to hold out for longer than just about every form of DRM applied to games and has been considerably more successful than Denuvo Anti Tamper. At this early stage, it seems as if Microsoft’s complex methods of layering several stages of DRM on top of one another worked, and I think this sets a precedent. If it’s taught publishers who want to protect their game anything it’s this - layer as many types of DRM in as you can in order to deter crackers and pirates for as long as humanly possible.

The question now raised is whether MSStore, UWP, EAppX, etc, contributes to any significant performance impact on Windows Store games. We’ve only got a tiny and not altogether demanding sample with Zoo Tycoon, but a clearer picture should arrive in the coming weeks.

It remains to be seen what steps Microsoft is going to take now its copy encryption has been hacked; if it’s happy with the current obfuscation or whether it's considering updating its UWP games with even more complex DRM measures.

A breakthrough for crackers then, but does the big picture point towards more complex and invasive DRM methods becoming commonplace outside of the Windows Store? With it now public knowledge that Microsoft is utilising fivefold DRM, where does it all end? Let us know your thoughts!

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"When you invest countless hours in cracking complicated game protection and the game you choose is Zoo Tycoon Ultimate Animal Collection."