A DRM Error Made Major Single-Player PC Games Unplayable

Games including 'Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy,' 'Football Manager 2022,' and 'Yakuza: Like a Dragon' failed to launch on Sunday due to Denuvo.
November 8, 2021, 4:46pm
A DRM Error Made Major Single-Player PC Games Unplayable
Image: Square Enix

Over the weekend, online forums were flooded with reports that numerous video games on PC were not launching. Gamers narrowed the problem down to an issue affecting Denuvo, a DRM solution used by some publishers. 

As noted by PC Gamer and VGC, which reported on the posts on Resetera and Steam, the issue affected many games both old and new. According to players, games that would not launch included major new releases like Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy and Football Manager 2022, but also older games like Yakuza: Like a Dragon, released last year, and 2018's Shadow of the Tomb Raider.  

Many of the affected games were big budget, offline, single-player games, which likely amped up the frustration for players unable to launch their games on a Sunday, no less. Many players already despise DRM, and voiced their frustrations in forum posts.

"Denuvo sucks, the only people that it hampers are paying customers," said one poster. "lmao once again pirates get a superior product. thanks denuvo," said another.

Users speculated that the domain Denuvo uses to authenticate game activations was allowed to expire, which led to the error message that servers were not reachable. In a statement to Motherboard, Irdeto—the Dutch company that makes Denuvo—confirmed gamers' theories and said everything is now back to normal. 

"A Denuvo domain was unreachable yesterday afternoon CET. The problem was fixed after we got notified from our automatic system control," Irdeto spokesperson Sabrina Orlov said in an emailed statement. "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."

Much of players' frustrations can be chalked up to the fact that games are increasingly only available to play online because they are online multiplayer games, or "live service" games that require constant updates. Not being able to play even a single player game because its DRM software can connect to a server shows exactly what people mean when they're worried about "the end of ownership."