Game hackers are becoming more sophisticated and are continually adapting their approach to pirate titles from game developers and publishers, and distributing them to suspecting and unsuspecting gamers. It is only natural that game developers are turning more and more towards anti-tamper technology to protect their game experience – and their bottom line.

But how does this technology actually work, and what is its – if any – impact on games’ performance and gamer experience? We answer these questions in today’s article.

What is anti-tamper technology?

Anti-tamper technology prevents hackers from debugging, reverse engineering and changing the application, or to put it simply: it prevents them from stealing a game. It works on top of any digital distribution platform, allowing developers to deploy the technology seamlessly into their games. By doing so, anti-tamper technology provides a crack-free window during the initial sale of a new game, when the most sales are generated.

Conversely, most unprotected games are distributed or shared illegally on or even before their release day – and that means a lot of lost revenue.

After the initial sales period, the publishers can usually decide if they want to keep the protection of their game.

How does anti-tamper technology work?

Anti-tamper software makes it harder for a pirate to modify or crack a game. The measures involved can include hardening the existing DRM (Digital Rights Management) solutions, code obfuscation and deep hardware binding. Importantly, a good anti-tamper product provider will allow you to achieve this with no actual source code modification of your game.

Is anti-tamper difficult to apply?

No. Integrating the leading solutions is easy. For example, Denuvo Anti-Tamper plugs into the build pipeline with no modifications made to a game’s source code. The publisher can add protection before a game is released with little effort, and it can co-exist with additional security solutions. And lastly, anti-tamper is well respected by all major game publishers.

Is anti-tamper expensive?

Contrary to widespread belief, protecting your game with an anti-tamper solution is not that expensive. And if you compare the cost with the potential lost revenue due to players not buying your game or not making the in-game purchases, investing in such a solution is the only logical move.

Does anti-tamper technology cause performance issues and high CPU usage?

That is one of the popular myths. Top anti-tamper solutions are developed with the user experience always on front of mind, so there is no in-game performance impact caused by the addition of such protection.

Note, however, that when a game is cracked, its quality decreases and players experience crashes on a regular basis. Also, 90% of cracked games downloaded via file-sharing or torrent sites are infected with malware. Viruses can range from Bitcoin miners (resulting in high CPU usage) to Trojan horses (gathering and distributing your personal data) and ransomware (encrypting your hard drives). So, you can say that using anti-tamper technology actually preserves the quality of the game and overall user experience.

Does anti-tamper technology decrease the lifetime of Solid-State Drives (SSDs)?

As has been repeatedly proven by the gaming press, anti-tamper technology does not continuously encrypt and decrypt any data on storage media, so it does not decrease the lifetime of SSDs.

Does anti-tamper technology require players to have a permanent online connection?

No, staying online is not necessary to play a game protected by anti-tamper. Gaming platforms require users to be online at the first launch of the game or if the game has been patched and an additional installation is necessary. Anti-tamper uses this initial online connection to re-validate the game license and any subsequent game launches do not require an Internet connection.

Does mobile anti-tamper cause FPS (Frame Per Second) drops or bad performance during the game?

No, the top anti-tamper solutions cause no in-game performance degradation in any way while providing maximum security. This is achieved by using profiling.

Will using anti-tamper protection impact game sales due to the negative backlash from consumers?

Our internal research shows that around 80% of negative forum discussion on anti-tamper is produced by pirates. No wonder, since this technology thwarts them!

Bear in mind that cracking computer games once took hours or days, but now it can be weeks and months. Anti-tamper technology upsets pirates’ presumption that their next game is coming for free, hence the negative comments on the Internet about this technology.

Will anti-tamper work with the latest version of the platform that I’m using to develop my game?

Top anti-tamper technology platforms support a broad range of platforms to provide a high level of compatibility.

At Irdeto, every game title is tested for compatibility with our technology, even for very old devices.

Does anti-tamper have bugs that can crash my game, giving me bad reviews and a lower number of application installations?

If your anti-tamper solution provider takes enough care, this is very unlikely to happen. We, for example, test every game title for compatibility with our technology, even before the publisher does its first protection run.

Since anti-tamper is binding users’ game license to their hardware, will they be able to play my game once they upgrade their hardware?

Don’t worry, if you have legitimately purchased the game, your anti-tamper solution provider will issue a new license for your new hardware configuration.

Is there an activation limit for games using anti-tamper?

Yes, to prevent brute-force attacks on the games, there may be a limit to the number of activations allowed in each period.

For Denuvo Anti-Tamper the limit is five systems within 24 hours, which should not impact legitimate customers.

How does using anti-tamper affect the gaming community?

When you buy a game legitimately, you also get full support from the publisher, meaning that your gaming experience is protected via regular updates and patches. But if you use an illegal cracked version of a game, you get no access to further updates or fixes and the multiplayer mode playing option is disabled for you. Also, you may experience compatibility and performance problems.

Please note that if you just want to give a game a try, you don’t need to risk downloading and playing the pirated version. Some gaming platforms, such as STEAM, offer a ‘try-before-you-buy’ two-week money back guarantee after the purchase, as long as it isn’t played for longer than two hours. This way you can see if you really like it!

Conclusion

If you’re a game publisher, implementing anti-tamper solutions will help protect your games for a longer period, which means getting more revenue on all your hard work. You can then reinvest that money to produce exciting new titles. And if you’re a gamer, anti-tamper makes sure that your experience is secure and fun, just the way the publisher has intended it.

Want to discuss your business’ cybersecurity needs? Reach out to us now!