Mobile Game Protection brings Denuvo DRM to mobile games on Android
If PC gaming is one of your hobbies, then you’ve probably heard of Denuvo at some point. The software company is best known for providing DRM technology for PC game makers in an effort to minimize piracy in the first few weeks after launch. Its efficacy is hotly debated online because of how quickly pirating groups defeat the technology, and it’s also controversial among a subset of PC gamers for allegedly slowing down loading times and worsening “frame spikes.” PC gamers have dealt with Denuvo for years now (whether or not they wanted to), but we may soon be seeing the technology rear its head on Android. Today, Denuvo’s parent company, Irdeto, announced Mobile Game Protection for Android game developers.
In its press release, Irdeto states that Mobile Game Protection “prevents hackers from debugging, reverse engineering and changing the game.” Irdeto states that their solution does not require the source code of the game and that the solution “can be added to the final APK” (the binary) so developers won’t have to manage yet another API or SDK. In fact, Irdeto’s datasheet claims that developers can integrate Mobile Game Protection with “zero operational effort.” Developers can also “profile games before the protection is applied to tailor the protection to the individual game.” This will allow a developer to see if their game’s design and architecture are vulnerable to reverse engineering before deciding to implement Mobile Game Protection.
Key features of the tool include “configurable protection levels, smart detection of protection points, root detection, anti-hooking, virtualization and integrity verification.” Root detection and anti-hooking are aimed at detecting Magisk/SuperSU and Xposed, respectively, while virtualization will help games detect whether they’re running on an emulated Android device. Irdeto also says the technology helps “protect against static or dynamic manipulation of app codes.” Irdeto claims that implementing this technology will have “minimal impact on user’s gameplay experience whilst still guaranteeing no false positives and maximum detection.”
There’s no doubt that piracy is rampant on Android. You can easily find cracked versions of apps and games with quick Google searches, and unlike Apple’s iOS, there’s nothing stopping you from sideloading these pirated versions. With APK modding tools and root access, it’s also possible to tamper with game files to cheat or unlock downloadables you’re normally supposed to pay for. To that end, it’s natural to see software companies like Denuvo swoop in with technologies that promise reduced tampering and piracy of Android games. However, the Android gaming scene is a bit different than PC gaming since most popular mobile games operate under a “freemium” model rather than charging an upfront price. Thus, we probably won’t see the same cat-and-mouse game between pirates and Denuvo on mobile.
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