On Serial Resellers, and SavyGamer’s Role In Their Use

Recently there has been much discussion of the business model of serial key resellers, and I figured it might be best for me to chime in with my position on this process. How these business operate is that they acquire serial keys for games from somewhere, and then sell those serial keys without explicit permission to do so from the developer/publisher. It is my strongly held belief that this serves to benefit consumers, and it is a pretty fundamental aspect of how markets function. I’ve linked to serial resellers regularly on SavyGamer in the past, I do so whenever I see a serial reseller offering a game at a price that constitutes a good deal, and I fully plan to continue to do so.

If the serial keys that resellers are selling are valid, then there are two possible sources they could have come from. Either a third party outside of the developer/publisher has found a way to generate these serials, which my rudimentary knowledge of cryptography suggests is highly unlikely, or the developer/publisher generated them, and then sold them either directly or through an intermediary to the reseller.

Many of the particularly good reseller deals that I have posted recently on SavyGamer appear to have been for serials that were purchased from a range of bundles. As far as I can tell, these include bundles such as Humble, Indie Royale and Groupees. In addition to these, there’s also been a host of deals that appear to have been for serials taken from retail copies of games, likely bought in whichever market represents the best price.

Reselling these serials almost certainly represents a breach of the user agreement that is included with bundle purchases, or with purchases of games at retail. And yet despite these user agreements, this secondary market for serials persists. It would seem to me that developers/publishers are selling games with terms and conditions attached that they have no practical way of enforcing.

There is of course a question of legality of this trade. Does breaching a user agreement constitute a breach of the law? It’s a good question, one which I am not really equipped to answer effectively. But it’s also somewhat redundant. Even if it could be established in court that breaching the user agreement was definitively against the law, would this fact in and of itself prevent the trade? I highly doubt it. Last time I checked, piracy was illegal and yet The Pirate Bay seems to be operational; despite an increasing crack down on trade of illegal narcotics, there is still a healthy underground drug trade; and just the other day I sold someone a packet of crisps I bought in multipack, despite the “Not for resale” disclaimer on the packet (Please don’t tell Gary Lineker).

In principal, should a shop I buy a thing from be able to dictate what I do with it once I have bought it? I am of the opinion that once I have bought something, it is my property to do with as I see fit. If I want to use it, destroy it, give it away or sell it, that is my decision. Of course, if a shop isn’t happy with what I do with the things I buy from them, they are perfectly entitled to refuse me service in the future.

Publishers have often decried the secondary market for preowned games as something that impacts their bottom line; we’re now seeing developers complain that someone has bought serial keys for their games from them at asking price and then decided to resell them. No one forced developers to flood the market with cheap serials for their games, that was an action they voluntarily engaged in. Perhaps they might not have fully thought through the consequences of doing this; whilst I have sympathy for any developer who feels unhappy about this situation, they should be examining how their actions have led to it before pointing fingers at anyone else.

The promise I have made with SavyGamer is that I will fight for my users to get the best deal. My single primary concern is to get my users the best price on games. It’s nice when this overlaps with helping out developers who I believe are doing good work, but I have absolutely zero intention of ever shying away from informing my users about something that I consider to be a good deal simply because the developer disapproves.

Part of this is bound up in the fact that Steam keys are a strange product. They are a delivery mechanism, they are goods that can be generated infinitely with essentially zero marginal cost, and they very closely resemble a currency. Friction surrounding the market for Steam keys is largely part of the growing pains of digital distribution, and I am of the opinion that the responsibility to ‘correct’ this lies with the developers and the distributors. I don’t feel any obligation to turn a blind eye to these deals simply because it upsets developers; doing so would be failing my users.

Since SavyGamer’s inception I have aimed to treat all developers equally. I have put games from unknown developers side by side with blockbusters, not giving indies any preferential treatment, and letting them compete on a level playing field with the biggest companies in gaming. This is a philosophy that has served me well so far, and I have no plan to alter it.

If developers are unhappy about this situation, I would suggesting that finding practical solutions to resolve it would be the best course of action. Humble have with recent bundles taken steps to curb this secondary market for keys, by implementing a convenient system where keys are never exposed to the user, but directly activated on Steam. Perhaps encourage other bundles/retailers to do the same before selling through them. This may require lobbying Valve to open up their authentication service to more bundles. You could also lobby Valve to give you the option of generating Steam keys with an expiry date, to prevent resellers building up a huge inventory of keys which will last forever. If you feel strongly enough that you want to prevent this secondary market, you could simply opt out of engaging with bundles that result in it. I think many devs would probably feel that the negative impacts of engaging in these bundles is more than outweighed by the positive ones, but that’s a decision for devs to make for themselves. Finally, I think making noise about it is a perfectly valid course of action too. If you want to make it clear to customers that you disapprove of these resellers, then by all means you should tell them about it. I have a comments section on SavyGamer which I am happy to allow developers to discuss their opinions on deals I have posted in.

SavyGamer is never going to be a service just for providing deals that the organisations or individuals who profit from them approve. That would be boring and terrible. I am going to stick by my policy of informing users about loopholes, misprices, early discounts on games that the creators would probably prefer weren’t happening, methods for bypassing regional pricing discrimination, and secondary markets of which the original creators may disapprove. What guides my actions is an unflinching desire to serve my users; I don’t for a second believe that there is any onus on me to perform inventory & supply chain management for the video games industry.

46 Comments Leave yours

  1. TheTingler #

    Fair enough. I’m glad you addressed your feelings on the matter. The only thing I possibly request/suggest is marking every reseller deal with a disclaimer (simply “Disclaimer: Reseller deal” or something to that effect) the same way you mark out “Preowned” or “Caution: Zavvi”. Not even necessarily because of conscience, but simply because these sites all seem slightly shady.

    • Lewie Procter #

      I’m disinclined to do that, but I will think it over.

      • Heliocentric #

        If the other boot drops and these keys start getting accounts locked you will have met your ethical responsibility to your users. You laid out the warning ‘people disapprove’ and they made the purchase fully informed.

    • Matt #

      I second this. I understand your view, however I personally wouldn’t use these re-sellers. Why not just label them “re-seller site” – that way you are making no judgement at all, just giving the reader information.

      • Chrisj #

        FWIW, I agree with Matt (and Tingler and Heliocentric). I agree with your point of view, but would also prefer personally not to buy from resellers – both because I want money to go to the devs, and because I consider buying from resellers to present a (currently very slight) threat to my Steam account, which I don’t want locked. Clearly, the onus is on me to check who I’m buying from, but it’s useful if you provide the information, as you do with Zavvi.

        • Mejoff #

          ” I want money to go to the devs”
          When it comes to resellers, the money has already gone to the publishers/devs. The product has been purchased, one way or another, and has not been used.

          • PajamasPuppy #

            Not always, that’s the problem.

            Key resellers buy their keys from all kind of people, which includes people collecting promotion material keys (that have a much lower value because they’re tied with a product like an expensive GPU ; turning them into commercial keys is a direct loss for the devs who only got a much less valuable marketing partnership in return) or, as often with G2A, keys bought using stolen credit cards information and hijacked Paypal accounts.

            Most illegal transactions are cancelled by the banks/paypal and it’s the publishers/devs footing the bill in the end, because it would cost them too much money to track down each key reseller and bring them to court (especially when most of them are in Hong Kong, like G2A).

            That’s why the key reselling market is widely known among online traffickers as an easy and secure way to launder stolen CC/money, that’s why the market is still growing and resellers keep offering prices that are not commercially possible (even with russian or brazilian prices).

    • notGorgeos #

      WTF? Whats wrong with zavvi dude? It’s one of the best shop for games.

      • perrob #

        @notGorgeos – I hope you’re just trolling !

        Zavvi / The Hut are a *terrible* company in my experience. Customer service is terrible – from barefaced lies to over-promising resolution to closing un-resolved tickets. The sales service is hardly any better with snail-paced delivery times and 80% off deals with a product that they never originally sold at the prices they claim.

        AND they still send me frickin spam emails no matter how many unsubscribe requests I’ve sent.

  2. slightly76 #

    Valid points, well written

    I pretty much agree with everything you say, although I can fully understand how a small(er) Dev might be upset that the system is currently open to practices that effect their more modest income. The good news is, even though people are purchasing their games via channels that might not feed back to the Devs themselves, they’re *still* buying their games.

  3. Mikebloke #

    The European body for trading practices recently stepped into the issue of digital key redistribution, albeit not from a purchaser intending to resell at a higher price for profit purposes but an end user who has decided to sell a game or service he/she has already used.

    They ruled in favour that digital distribution sites such as steam should be be forced to allow users to resell their games to other users. Steam soon after announced an update, and it was speculated that it was related to the European court case; only for it to be the Greenlight system with some minor improvements to the steam inventory system; no resell of used keys.

    In my eyes, its the role of Publishers/Marketing to decide on rules regarding distribution of their keys. If a website or other company suddenly buys 5,000 keys for a game, they can not be so ignorant to think this is some giveaway system and that it must be as a resale market. If Developers are bothered by this, then they need to negotiate with their Publishing/Marketing team to ensure that T&C’s regarding commercial resale is covered by local laws and to follow through when someone breaks it.

    Its like many of my books say resale is illegal outside the United States (huh?), its not technically a legal breach as European rights guarantee my right to second hand sales, commercially or personally. It is backed up by the fact that no book publisher, to my knowledge has brought up a court case for me or anyone else buying a 40 year old dogear’d book at a boot sale for 50p.

    • PajamasPuppy #

      “They ruled in favour that digital distribution sites such as steam should be be forced to allow users to resell their games to other users.”

      Nope that’s actually poppycock being repeated by ‘tech’ bloggers.

      The court allowed ONCE (and it’s very unlikely we’re gonna get a repeat) an european company to buy and resell extremely expensive professional licences from US companies (such as Oracle, who was the american company suing the european licence-reselling company), to globally allow companies to more fluidly switch from one activity to another – like you externalize or internalize something, you buy/resell the machines, so why not doing the same with the professional softwares? That’s what the court ruled on.

      Non-professional end users buying video game licences have nothing to do with that – the only situation where maybe you could argue that the ruling applies, would be a cybercafe changing (terminating, modifying, adding) its gaming activity and trying to resell its licences. Oopsie, it’s already taken care of: cybercafe licences are specific and time-limited (subscription), so cybercafe professionals wouldn’t have anything of value sitting around to resell (the end-user licences they’re illegally using can’t be sold legally anyway).

      That’s the only situation where you could apply that ruling to video game licences. That’s why no one in the software/gaming industry reacted to that one case, after it was clear it was a one-off, limited to a very specific setting, very likely to just piss off Oracle, who was caught bullying european companies into getting its overpriced licences from them only.

  4. Justin Beever #

    I had excactly the same moral problem untill I realised most of my users were doing it anyway. I just mark the deal with something like this is a “CD Key from an unofficial seller” and get done with it.

    It’s funny how big corporation can outsource core services to India or China paying them in local wages while we have to pay from 2 to 5 times the price of a game just because we are in Europre.

    We get it. It’s called globalization but why should be that only big corporates benefit from it.

    EA for instance can have a studio in India running it with local pretty low wages and selling me the product that the India studio makes 5 times higher than India. Why?

    When they start paying these people the same wages as Americans or Europeans I would consider changing my opinion.

    So as far as I can see, they want to be able to take advantage of low cost markets while we the consumers are locked in regional pricing. Kinda one way and unfair if you ask me.

  5. PJ #

    I’ve mentioned this before, but having G2Play listed as a resource on the right of the page really does undermine Savygamer’s credibility. Please take the thirty-to-forty seconds required to research them and see exactly how bad they are.

    • Lewie Procter #

      Yeah, I’ve been meaning to revamp this section. I have actually researched G2Play, and had no problems when using them myself. I’d never link to a service that I consider to be unreliable without a warning, but I can see how it’s possibly unclear.

      I’ll probably add links to more resellers when I have been able to check them out, too.

      • foo #

        Judging by what people say about getting keys that are already in use (when bought or after a while) it seems safe to say that they sell the same key more than once, hoping that the first user has stopped playing the game. That’s one of the things keeping me far away from key shops, the price difference from normal sites isn’t near enough to keep me happy when somebody else gets “my” key and I have to choose between not having the game any more or going through the trouble of getting another key.

  6. I think you are right to continue as you have been. The digital age seems to have given content producers the idea that once they have sold their good they have the right to dictate how you can use it. This is a new idea and not at all in line with the properly laws that have existed and been accepted for hundreds of years. Just because some bleeding hearts want to put content creators on a pedestal and give them all the rights at the expense of your liberties doesn’t mean they have the moral high ground to tell other people what they can and can’t do with their property. If we follow this mentality through to it’s logical end then content creators can extort and manipulate consumers to no end.

  7. Ricky #

    Why do you list G2Play as “Shady Polish legal grey area serials” on your sidebar? Are they less legit than some of the other key resellers you link to?

    • Lewie Procter #

      I addressed this above, but for more detail, I’ve just never got around to updating that section from when G2Play was the only reliable reseller I was aware of. I will update this section now I think.

      • Ricky #

        Ah, I didn’t notice the previous comment when I posted. Thanks for the info and the great deals 🙂

  8. XBobo #

    Interesting topic. A recent ruling of a German court on the subject states keyselling as a violation of copyright:
    http://spielerecht.de/wp-content/uploads/OC-Publication_-Keyselling-violates-copyright-26.03.2014.pdf

  9. Flappybat #

    Justin Beever’s comment had a good core of an argument, companies want to have their cake and eat it and generally get to so if consumers can put one over them we shouldn’t be disgusted by those not paying full retail prices. Publishers skirted around the legal right to resale with hand waving about providing a service and you can arbitrarily lose access to games forever when servers shut down.

    Resale of bundle keys is the lowest of the low when it’s developers taking a substantial hit to profit margin for charity or awareness. Most indie games are lost in the crowd and it’s sad if a reseller profits off a game that was already sold cheaper.

  10. Alex #

    Well said mate, just because its digital does not mean it cant be treated the same as everything else – 2nd hand books, game cartridges, DVDs, CDs, LPs + tapes (remember them). Though with the keys, there are “as new”, as we are not able to resell games in our digital librarys. Though i seem to remember an EU ruling that we should be able to resell our digital games, as with physical goods, though nothing has happened to address this.

  11. Andrew #

    I’ve taken a punt with the Dark Souls 2 key offer so we’ll see if it works ok or not (hopefully doesn’t get my rather substantial Steam account locked). But I inherently don’t like companies gouging consumers with regional price differences, so instead of paying Adobe £50pm for their creative cloud package, I can pay for it in Indian Rupees and get it for £28 a month instead (same software license included). And paying them £28pm is better than nothing and using a pirate copy as far as I’m concerned.

    • Morville O'Driscoll #

      Unrelated to the article, but…

      If you’re even a little bit wary of your order, then I would cancel it and spend just a couple of quid more. Nuuvem (who are a totally legit Brazilian key store) are selling DS2 for the equivalent of £22, and they went on-record on their twitter as it being World-Wide unlocked (except for Japan). 🙂

      (I generally use Chrome’s auto-translate for their store, btw)

  12. Morville O'Driscoll #

    “Humble have with recent bundles taken steps to curb this secondary market for keys, by implementing a convenient system where keys are never exposed to the user, but directly activated on Steam. Perhaps encourage other bundles/retailers to do the same before selling through them.”

    This won’t really solve the problem, though, because gifting can still occur. Bulk-buy from Humble, sit on the keys, then gift them to the person who buys. Easy.

    More generally, whilst I get where you’re coming from, I also understand the anger that this has generated. Every .nfo for every cracked game ever has the phrase “If you like the game, support the developers and buy it.” What value is there in supporting the developer through a reseller, though? They’ve got maybe 10cents on the dollar, whilst the reseller profits by a large enough margin to keep in business.

    Trying to think of a real-world (that is, physical product) analogy, I’m struck by how close this situation is to Apple/Foxconn paying workers pennies, but charging consumers hundreds of dollars. It’s definitely not a perfect example, but it’s close, and just as emotive – the worker gets little payment for something the corporation over-charges for.

    I would definitely agree that developers and publishers need to enforce stricter legal requirements on bundle companies, but I think (as I imply in my opening paragraph) that that will be bad for consumers in the long-run. I also think ways should be found of keeping track of serials, and this is something which some companies can do already, depending upon the situation – I got a BF:BC2 key from a reseller that was later removed from my Origin account, and the Natural Selection 2 devs got scammed and later deactivated a ton of keys bought with stolen cards.

  13. somedude #

    People seem to kick a fuss all the time about pricing disparity in Europe and in the Uk and most are completely fine with buying stuff off Amazon.com or some other retailer with loose region checks, but that’s a breach of the TOS too, actually more than buying from a reseller is.

    In order to buy off Amazon, you need to put a fake US address, and you avoid paying sales tax/VAT. When buying from a reseller though, you are just buying a second-hand product— the keys come off retail versions of the games which went on sale, have been bought (thus giving developers and publishers their due share), and are being resold to you. I don’t think there’s really anything a publisher or developer could do to stop that, as such a sale is not really against the law.

    If they’re really irked about their games being sold at less than their desired price (and mind you, their games ARE being sold and they ARE seeing a profit off the sale, although from a different and possibly less lucrative market), then they can sell different and incompatible versions of the game to different markets… Like many already do (with Ubisoft, EA, Activision and others selling editions of games like Splinter Cell, Battlefield and COD in markets like Russia that run on different servers for authentication and sometimes multiplayer, and don’t even have languages available in the European/US versions).

    • Morville O'Driscoll #

      The problem with your solution is, it starts a tit-for-tat that only harms the consumer. “Different and incompatible versions” is just region locking by a different name. Do we want that, as consumers? And do we want to force devs to do that, because we’re so concerned at saving a few quid here and there?

      • somedude #

        I don’t really WANT region locking on games, or any kind of content, really— I was just stating that as things stand now, any and all mid-to-big sized publisher can (and do) region lock their content to preserve their sales in the richer regions. They do so because they can’t do much else— the resale is not illegal, so they can’t do much to curtail it. Also not selling the titles in those regions, or selling at higher prices, is counterproductive, as it will only encourage further piracy and lost revenue for them.

        And honestly, it’s not “a few quids here and there”. It’s 50€ at retail for PC games, up to 75€ for console releases, when they’re even stocked (PC games almost never are) versus 15-20€ off a resale site. For me, it’s either the cd-key or no game at all, so all in all I’ve ended up buying many more games that I wouldn’t have even touched otherwise.

        Another thing that many (I think UK-residents) are not considering is that it’s always been common practice for many gamers in other countries to shop around for better prices, even ordering titles overseas. I’ve bought most of my Xbox games off Uk retailers because, even with shipping, and even with the disadvantageous exchange, I still ended up paying 10-15€ less than buying local. Why the hell should I pay more when there’s a legit alternative?

        If they want me to buy games in my own region, they have to start charging reasonable prices. If I have to choose between buying a physical copy of Thief for PC for 50€ (I’m not making this up, that’s the price), or a key for the game for 15€, what am I going to do?

        I’ll get the key every day of the week, and I honestly don’t care if it hurts their bottom line.

        • Morville O'Driscoll #

          From the outset, I think it’s useful to mark some lines in the sand. An issue the article has is that it deals explicitly with bundle keys/indie devs, but implicitly what is said covers *all* games.

          So, my off-hand comment of “a few quid here and there” is aimed at the bundle-side of things – do we really want indie devs to feel they have to region-lock their games so that bundle keys aren’t taken advantage of? I think everyone can agree that that would be a bad thing. But what about the big pubs? There’s no difference between the two, but human nature is to side with the underdogs and hate The Man, so would people feel differently if it was EA that was being conned out of a few quid? It’s an issue the article ignores (for whatever reason).

          On the flip-side, you’re right, the big/mediium sized pubs are region-locking/region-pricing of their own accord (for one reason or another). But they’re also the companies than can most easily track retail-keys (if only because they have the funds to do so), so buying their keys through resellers is it’s own riskiness.

          The main issues I have with buying AA/AAA games through resellers is that the prices aren’t that much cheaper – generally speaking – than legitimate stores, and the consumer protection is far more limited than buying from an authorised seller. For example, I note above that the the Fast2Play price for DS2 is only a couple of quid cheaper than Nuuvem. Nuuvem is totally legitimate, will be region-free, and up-to-now hasn’t been dodgy. AMD Never Settle coupons for Thief were available on Ebay for £8, couldn’t be blocked, and were region-free. Both purchases are – I feel – more secure than G2Play, which has… lots of issues. And let’s not forget that Fast2Play is owned by the same company as G2Play, so they’re tarred with the same brush.

          Certainly, I can’t argue with the core of your argument – that games are to expensive through the obvious legitmate channels, and they can be bought for cheaper. But I honestly don’t believe that giving hard-earned cash to “dodgy” resellers helps. I think what we need is to take a step-back and ask what we can do to promote official (but foreign) companies.

          Alllllll imooooooooooooooo of course. 🙂

  14. fish99 #

    TBH I don’t use the sites listed as ‘unauthorized resellers’. My digital libraries are just worth too much to risk losing them. I stick with the likes of Greenman Gaming, Simply CD-Keys, Get Games, GameFly, Gamersgate etc. I’m even hesitant to use Amazon US (I’m in the UK) or Nuuvem.

    Honestly though I think it’s up to the publishers (and not Lewie) to fix this problem. By now every publisher entering into a bundle knows there are resellers out there.

    • BBG #

      Simply CD-Keys is also an ‘unauthorized reseller’ 🙂

      • fish99 #

        Ah. I thought they were legit since they sell boxed games too.

    • John Peat #

      SimplyCDKeys gets most of it’s serials from countries where games are much cheaper (e.g. Steam’s Russian Zone) – so there’s no real different in how they work from companies like G2Play and no difference in what you’re buying over Amazon(US) or Nuuvem (e.g. keys from other territories)

      • PJ #

        One difference between them and G2Play would be that Simply don’t have a history of selling stolen keys, so you’re less likely to have the police involved!

  15. John Peat #

    I think, at the end of the day, a deal is a deal.

    If someone only wants to deal with ‘authorized’ resellers, only wants ‘own region’ keys or wants to buy from resellers they already trust – it’s upto that person to decide whether to take advantage of that deal.

    It’s not upto Lewie to decide for you – nor is it his job to determine whether someone is ‘authorized’ or where a key comes from etc. etc.

    He can, of course, pass on his and his reader’s experiences and help people discover good deals from good sellers – but at the end of the day, you choose what you want, from where you want and pay the price you want.

    It’s a tough world – no-one is holding your hand anymore – keep your eyes and ears open and all that…

  16. Zahpeter #

    I think it’s amazing that some people actually sell their games in cheap bundles, and then have the audacity to ask people not to buy from resellers. The gaming industry should stop being greedy, in no other medium people would expect to sell their product and then decide what the buyer does with it. Wake up devs, it’s 2014, the market is free and you have to live with your economical decision, however good or bad they might turn up to be.

  17. KieranD #

    I’m not going to complain about your stance because I don’t have a particular problem with it, but I think it would be helpful if you included a standard line of text in the post for deals from such code resellers that let users know the situation, possibly linking to this post on it. Just in the interest of clarity, I guess.

  18. BBG #

    To be honest I find this whole key reselling drama a bit saddening as it looks like indie devs are every bit as out of touch with consumer-side realities as big publishers often seem to be.

  19. Rack #

    Personally I think if we want bundles to continue without being crippled by DRM and use restrictions we have to respect they shouldn’t really be resold. SImilarly I think it’s entirely fair that prices are determined by what people in that region can afford and I wouldn’t like to see a global pricing that makes it impossible for people from certain regions to buy games. I can honestly respect other takes on this matter but I’d appreciate it if SavyGamer as an advice site informed me of the nature of any deals offered.

  20. Jonno #

    RE: Simply Cd-Keys, I have bought from them a number of times because of this site following the link from here to them. I mostly bought slightly older games like Tomb Raider at just below market prices and really didn’t know they were ‘dubious’ and thought they were fully ‘legit’ they have a call centre and sell boxed copies. I think S/G has to provide more information on these sites when it advertises deals.

  21. ridebird #

    It’s 2014 and we have to wait for physical releases to reach shores before we can purchase digital products, and prices worldwide are incredibly different for something that can be accessed anywhere via the Internet. This is idiotic and of course not acceptable. I’ve saved a lot of money by using keystores for years, but GMG used to be my go to before they stopped selling in dollars and effectively hiked their prices 30-50% for me in Sweden.

    Globalization goes two ways. I don’t see how this is controversial at all. I will continue to purchase keys from “shady” sites as Simply CD Keys, Fast 2 Play and even G2Play, as I have never had any issues and I refuse to pay about 50 instead of 25 euro. For me, the difference is massive and absolutely worth it.

    Thanks for the deals Lewie and also good on you for adressing this. I see Savygamer as the best consumer advocate for gamers really, simply because you always will post the best deals that in the long run saves someone like me a couple of hundred euros per year.

  22. Donkeyfumbler #

    Has anyone here ever had a game removed by Steam, or any other service, because it was bought from one of these ‘hazy’ sources? Do you know (firsthand, not ‘friend of a friend’) anyone who has. There’s a lot of fear about Steam accounts being locked (and with over 300 games, I’ll admit that would be a concern) but does it actually happen because people have bought games from places Steam don’t like?

    • Morville O'Driscoll #

      It’s not so much Steam/Valve not liking where you bought the item, but the publisher/developer, and there is a legitimate reason for that. As I note above, the NatSelection2 devs got scammed by someone using a stolen card, and they deactivated all keys bought using those cards. Activision banned a ton of Modern Warfare 2 keys that G2Play and OzCDKeys sold, after it was revealed that, again, they’d been initially bought with a stolen card.

      (Both are easy enough to Google and verify, so, whilst I don’t know the people affected personally, it’s close enough, I think? 🙂 ).

      Also, as I say, I got a BF:BC2 Origin key from a reseller that was (about 3 months later?) revoked.

    • JohnnyK #

      I had COD:MW (or was it MW2?) removed from Steam years ago after I bought it a few weeks prior from some key shop a friend on FB recommended. The official explanation was that the keys were only intended for the Russian market, but there were rumors they were bought (at least partially) with stolen CCs.

      Paypal was no help as they only allowed disputes on physical goods, so I ate the 25 bucks and moved on. The seller went out of business shortly after.

      FWIW, I have about 200 games on Steam and have since bought from sites like CJS without issue.

  23. Guido #

    Hey!
    It’s nice that you address this issue in your site.

    I don’t mind when these deals appear in sites like this or hukd for instance but I personally would never buy from one of these sellers if I they cannot inform the customer where they got the stuff. Piracy is illegal but at least pirates will usually boast publicly where they got the stuff.

    The reason I feel uncomfortable buying from these “retailers” is that I come from a country where there’s a lot of illegal stuff sold in black markets and stuff highly discounted usually means at least at some point it was stolen, either from shipments or from people.

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