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

Guardians of the Galaxy
(Image credit: Square Enix)

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 and various Steam 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).

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 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 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 with some Denuvo-enabled games refusing to boot on the new processors.

Mollie Taylor

A fresh writer in the industry, Mollie has been taken under PC Gamer's RGB-laden wing, making sure she doesn't get up to too much mischief on the site. She's not quite sure what a Command & Conquer is, but she can rattle on for hours about all the obscure rhythm games and strange MMOs from the 2000s. She's been cooking up all manner of news, previews and features while she's been here, but especially enjoys when she gets to write about Final Fantasy, Persona, The Sims, and whatever other game she's currently hopelessly fixated on. There's a good chance she's boring another PC Gamer writer about her latest obsession as we speak.