A great day for DRM as Denuvo lapse renders tons of games temporarily unplayable

Guardians of the Galaxy
(Image credit: Square Enix)
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Update 08/11/2021: Denuvo has sent a statement to PC Gamer, confirming that domain issues are behind the downtime over the weekend. It didn't explicitly state that the problem domain had expired. 

"A Denuvo domain was unreachable yesterday afternoon CET. The problem was fixed after we got notified from our automatic system control," a spokesperson said. "After the fix, there was no whatsoever restriction or limitation for the gamer. Denuvo is working to implement further improvements to avoid such downtime in the future."

Original story: If you tried to fire up a game on your PC this weekend, you may have run into the teeny tiny issue of it refusing to boot. It seems as though Denuvo's servers had a bit of a hiccup on November 7, rendering tons of games with the DRM technology temporarily unplayable.

Reports began flooding in on ResetEra (opens in new tab) and various Steam (opens in new tab) community pages, with many getting a "server not reachable" error when attempting to boot various games. The issue plagued recent big releases like Guardians of the Galaxy and Football Manager 2022, as well as games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, and Persona 4 Golden (thanks, VGC (opens in new tab)).

There's no clear reason for exactly why Denuvo crapped-out, but some are speculating that the company simply forgot to renew its domain used for verifying game activations. The registration for the Codefusion (opens in new tab) domain expired on September 24 this year—yesterday seems to have been when the grace period for renewal ended, booting it off DNS. It seems a likely scenario, considering the domain has now been renewed and everything is back to normal. I've contacted Denuvo to clarify if this was the reason for the downtime, but have yet to hear back.

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For a bit of tech that is already fairly well-hated, situations like this don't help Denuvo's case. Both the ResetEra and Steam threads were filled with discontent for it, and the frustrations are incredibly valid when hiccups like this prevent you from playing your single-player, offline games.

Earlier this year saw even more disdain for Denuvo when it was discovered that pirated versions of Resident Evil Village apparently ran better (opens in new tab) because the lack of DRM was fixing its stuttering issues (Denuvo denied its software was the cause). More recently, Intel Alder Lake has run into issues (opens in new tab) with some Denuvo-enabled games refusing to boot on the new processors.

Mollie Taylor
News Writer

Mollie's been gaming as early as she could clutch a controller or mouse in her tiny little hands. The main games she remembers playing are Killer Instinct, Toontown and Audition Online, which still perfectly capture her gaming personality two decades later. She joined PC Gamer in 2020, poking around the weird and wonderful corners of the internet for news. She can probably be found AFKing in Limsa Lominsa for hours on end, using that expertise to write neat things about Final Fantasy 14. When she's not staring at her bunny girl, she can be found sweating out rhythm games, fighters or playing through a JRPG for the fifth time.