I got an email from Irdeto today, the cybersecurity specialist that recently acquired Denuvo. And, naturally, I wanted to share it with you all. The pair of them have been doing a little data tracking you see. It’s all in an effort to show the world the great service Denuvo is offering to games publishers and just how much money could be lost if they don’t use Denuvo Anti-Tamper DRM.
It’s quite a lot of money, as it turns out. Irdeto tracked the downloads for the first fortnight on peer-to-peer (P2P) networks of a major sports title that launched without anti-tamper protection. Irdeto detected 355,664 torrent downloads of the game by pirates. At full retail value, they pin the “total potential loss of revenue from P2P downloads at $21,336,283.”
Just over $21 million worth of copies of this sports title were downloaded illegally during its first two weeks on sale. Sadly, Irdeto hasn’t named the game but considering all EA Sports titles plus PES 2019 use Denuvo, it doesn’t exactly leave us with many ‘major sports titles’ to pick from. Basically, we’re sideways glancing at NBA 2K19 real hard right now.
Irdeto and Denuvo pinpoint the two-week launch period as the most critical part of any game’s sales success. Up to 80% of total sales often take place in this launch period, with 50% in the first four days alone.
“Piracy is a threat that is firmly established in the games industry and, as our research suggests, it can result in potentially huge revenue losses for publishers if their games are compromised within the 14-day window following release,” said Reinhard Blaukovitsch, managing director of Denuvo, Irdeto. “With this in mind, it is crucial for publishers to implement security strategies that make their games as difficult as possible to crack and reverse engineer. This way they will be able to better protect the revenues that allow them to continue to create such compelling games.”
There are, naturally, some major provisos attached to this statement. First of all, Irdeto is operating under the assumption that all 355,664 pirates would’ve gone out and bought a copy of the ‘sports game’ if it wasn’t available on torrent networks. Here’s the thing - pirates are pirating because they either don’t want to, or literally cannot, spend the money on a game. A few will trot out the tired ‘I was demoing it’ line, an excuse which holds about as much water as a rusty colander when Steam lets us trial literally any game for up to two hours. The vast majority of these pirates were never going to buy the game, this isn’t $21 million lost. NBA 2K18 was cracked on launch day last year and it was still the bestselling sports game of 2017.
The second issue is that Irdeto itself doesn’t even reliably protect games during those first two weeks on sale. Football Manager 2019 was cracked after 4 days. Two Point Hospital was cracked on launch day. Shadow of War, FIFA 18 and Total War: Warhammer 2 lasted under a day. If those first 14 days really are so crucial, it seems odd Two Point Hospital, a fairly innocuous management sim, is still riding high up the Steam charts three months after launch. The flipside is games like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Dragon Ball FighterZ. The former has yet to be cracked while the latter took almost half a year. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, publishers are taking a big gamble on its implementation.
But it has to be said, Irdeto/Denuvo is an impossible position. It offers a service that publishers could want, but it’s impossible to provide concrete as to whether DRM affects game sales, either positively or negatively.
What do you think the real cost of piracy is? Do you believe games can suffer more in lost sales from implementing Denuvo than they do from piracy? Get your pitchforks out below!