Region-exploiting CD key reseller websites banned

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EviLore

Expansive Ellipses
#1
Websites reselling low-cost Russian/Asian keys from mass-bought $10 retail copies, mainly to be activated on Steam (but also for BF3 et al), are a recent trend, since gamers can in many cases get new release titles for half the normal price.

However, we've had some serious concerns about folks blindly recommending them to people forum-wide without any explanation about the risks, since there are potential serious drawbacks when they're used: needing to activate through a VPN spoofing your region, UI being in Russian, needing to download an external language pack, DLC being region-locked by publishers, Valve contacting people asking for photographic evidence of the game box, and in some cases publishers removing the game from your library later on.

On top of this, BlimBlim reports that these sites also deal in stolen keys:

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=32558741&postcount=733
Blimblim said:
Also one thing that's very important to note regarding key bannings. Quite a few sites (no idea if they have been listed here or not) with very good customer ratings and everything actually sell stolen keys. And by stolen I mean "credit card" fraud stolen.
Back at the launch of a game we had the exclusivity on, we were naive enough to disable our fraud screening system, and got hundreds of keys stolen over a period of just a few hours. Just for a test we tried to by a key from one popular bargain priced key sites, and yep it was a key from our batch. The amazing thing is that it had only be a few hours between the fraud and when we tried buying it. It was easy to find since we were the only one in the world who could sell the product for one week.
Of course all these keys have been blacklisted immediately, so it could also be the case with these RU BF3 keys. I don't really know though.
And he's confirmed the specifics with me.

We'll be treating these no differently from pirate websites. Don't link to them, don't recommend them.
 
#4
Ouch i have never bought from these websites myself (a trust issue on my behalf). But I suspected one or two of them where dealing with stolen credit cards.

I assume Indian/Thailand sellers fall under the same category? (edit: missed the Asian part in the OP)

Rule of thumb anyone selling Valve game keys (eg L4D) is an unauthorized reseller and shouldn't be trusted.
 
#5
Just for clarification, does just apply to these large websites, or individuals as well? For example, a couple of weeks ago someone at Hardforum was selling Batman: Arkham City codes and he had a stack of cards from nVidia with codes on them that he was selling to people. He was totally legitimate (well, in terms of the codes working; I don't know if he got them legitimately!), but I was just wondering if that would fall under this or not.
 
#6
im surprised people are ok with publishers and developers getting $5-$10 from their sale whilst the key sites make 200-300% margins.


Aeana said:
Just for clarification, does just apply to these large websites, or individuals as well? For example, a couple of weeks ago someone at Hardforum was selling Batman: Arkham City codes and he had a stack of cards from nVidia with codes on them that he was selling to people. He was totally legitimate (well, in terms of the codes working; I don't know if he got them legitimately!), but I was just wondering if that would fall under this or not.
probably not as they were from genuine nvidia cards where the publisher and nvidia had an arrangement
 
#7
iNvidious01 said:
im surprised people are ok with publishers and developers getting $5-$10 from their sale whilst the key sites make 200-300% margins.
As a consumer you shouldn't (and never should) get concerned about what margins the publisher is making.

When games are getting price gouged to an upward of 90 to 100USD here on Aussie Steam, its the consumers pocket that wins when buying from these key websites.
 
#8
Aeana said:
Just for clarification, does just apply to these large websites, or individuals as well? For example, a couple of weeks ago someone at Hardforum was selling Batman: Arkham City codes and he had a stack of cards from nVidia with codes on them that he was selling to people. He was totally legitimate (well, in terms of the codes working; I don't know if he got them legitimately!), but I was just wondering if that would fall under this or not.
Yeah I bought one of those and tbh I got the sense he just ripped them out of boxes where he worked when he sent me the image of the CD key, haha.
 
#9
I think it is a good thing. Personally I was recommended by someone on here to a highly reputable site for these keys and purchased a game from one of these retailers and it felt sketchy after I had paid they sent me a used key which was a flag in my head and then I needed to prove I didn't use it and it took an insane amount of time to do this.I regret using them and swore never to use any kind of site like this again personally lesson learned.
 
#11
iNvidious01 said:
im surprised people are ok with publishers and developers getting $5-$10 from their sale whilst the key sites make 200-300% margins.




probably not as they were from genuine nvidia cards where the publisher and nvidia had an arrangement
So the guy bought 1000 cards for his rig and was selling the extras he didn't need them? I'm even more skeptical of this guy than I'm cynical of the Russians who pay 10 dollars for the game, rip it open, and undercut legit sites by a couple dollars (and make all the money for contributing nothing.).
 
#12
MRORANGE said:
yeah there pretty risky, can't believe people actually gave steam credentials just so they can add a game to there account.
This is what I was thinking I can't think of anyone in their right mind who would give this info out.
 
#13
I don't see why you couldn't have just kept the "don't recommend them in other threads" ban and then leave the OT up for us. Oh well...this is disappointing because we had a nice little group there that provided good info.
 
#14
1-D_FTW said:
So the guy bought 1000 cards for his rig and was selling the extras he didn't need them? I'm even more skeptical of this guy than I'm cynical of the Russians who pay 10 dollars for the game, rip it open, and undercut legit sites by a couple dollars (and make all the money for contributing nothing.).
Why do you care who gets undercutted? Do you have stocks or a financial stake in these legit sites?
 
#15
Gez said:
As a consumer you shouldn't (and never should) get concerned about what margins the publisher is making.

When games are getting price gouged to an upward of 90 to 100USD here on Aussie Steam, its the consumers pocket that wins when buying from these key websites.
Sounds like a 'go ahead' for piracy.
 

Des0lar

will learn eventually
#16
Heavy said:
I don't see why you couldn't have just kept the "don't recommend them in other threads" ban and then leave the OT up for us. Oh well...this is disappointing because we had a nice little group there that provided good info.
It's because of the stolen keys. This doesn't happen often but I can understand why (unknowingly) recommending stolen keys is a bad thing. Shame really. I liked the thread.


Zefah said:
Sounds like a 'go ahead' for piracy.
No it's not. If a site sells a legit key, that means that somewhere someone got paid for these keys. That in effect means that the publisher got it's money. The share is much lower than in America oder Europe but guess what they still do it so I guess it makes money.
 
#17
Heavy said:
I don't see why you couldn't have just kept the "don't recommend them in other threads" ban and then leave the OT up for us. Oh well...this is disappointing because we had a nice little group there that provided good info.
Yeah. At least we were able to discuss how reputable a site was. Now it's a bit of a shot in the dark.

Doesn't bother me that much. The whole "if a deal sounds too good to be true..." saying probably stands in this argument.
 
#18
Zefah said:
Sounds like a 'go ahead' for piracy.
Err no. I own over 300 games on steam i don't pirate shit. Never accuse me of advocating pirating. All I care about getting cheap games, i always buy my games on sale.
 

luxarific

Nork unification denier
#19
1-D_FTW said:
So the guy bought 1000 cards for his rig and was selling the extras he didn't need them? I'm even more skeptical of this guy than I'm cynical of the Russians who pay 10 dollars for the game, rip it open, and undercut legit sites by a couple dollars (and make all the money for contributing nothing.).
My understanding is he works for one of those system builders that puts pcs together for customers, hence the large volume of Nvidia cards.
 
#20
Cmagus said:
This is what I was thinking I can't think of anyone in their right mind who would give this info out.
That was only for certain games. Most of us never did this.

I guess I understand the decision. In the end a sizable chunk of the keys were probably stolen but we had our heads in the sand and never really acknowledged that possibility.

For those looking for deals: GMG is still a great source for cheap PC games. I've actually only bought one game from the CD-Key sites because GMG has had consistently low prices on pre-orders. Just picked up Saints Row 3 for 34 bucks which is a ridiculous price and it's all legit, like buying from a regular retailer.

Edit: Problem with GMG is the selection is limited. No Bethesda games yet, no Activision either.
 
#21
Gez said:
Err no. I own over 300 games on steam i don't pirate shit. Never accuse me of advocating pirating. All I care about getting cheap games, i always buy my games on sale.
I'm not accusing you of piracy.

Although, I don't think buying dirt cheap keys from shady sources that quite possibly stole the keys or paid for them with stolen credit cards is much better.

Then again, you're getting gouged hardcore simply for being Australian, so I might feel similarly if I was in your position.
 
#22
Gez said:
Err no. I own over 300 games on steam i don't pirate shit. Never accuse me of pirating. All I care about getting cheap games, i always buy my games on sale.
I'm in the same boat. I just simply do not have a deep wallet to afford 60 bucks+ at launch for games I genuinely am excited for and want to support the developers for providing me with entertainment. Unfortunately, I'm forced to have to rent a lot of games. The type of player I am I can't give even Naughty Dog $60.00 just to play a 9 hour campaign. I know that game offered MP and co-op, but I had NO interest in it after the two betas.

I'll be extremely happy when developers and publishers start to sell their games in chunks. Just want the SP? $25.00. Just want the MP? $35.00. Or whatever pricing they want to do. Hopefully next gen this comes to be, so sites like this aren't even necessary.

It's a shame the OT had to be shut down, because I feel a lot of people were providing good information on these sites to help us find the ones that aren't sketchy. :(
 
#23
luxarific said:
My understanding is he works for one of those system builders that puts pcs together for customers, hence the large volume of Nvidia cards.
Hopefully true because I'd happily buy more keys off him. £15 for Arkham City - booyah!
 

Des0lar

will learn eventually
#24
zlatko said:
I'm in the same boat. I just simply do not have a deep wallet to afford 60 bucks+ at launch for games I genuinely am excited for and want to support the developers for providing me with entertainment. Unfortunately, I'm forced to have to rent a lot of games. The type of player I am I can't give even Naughty Dog $60.00 just to play a 9 hour campaign. I know that game offered MP and co-op, but I had NO interest in it after the two betas.

I'll be extremely happy when developers and publishers start to sell their games in chunks. Just want the SP? $25.00. Just want the MP? $35.00. Or whatever pricing they want to do. Hopefully next gen this comes to be, so sites like this aren't even necessary.

It's a shame the OT had to be shut down, because I feel a lot of people were providing good information on these sites to help us find the ones that aren't sketchy. :(
That's really the greatest downside in all of this. People will still buy from their sites, but now you have to get the reliable info elsewhere and I don't trust many forums outside GAF :p
 
#25
What about other sites that sell cd-keys if they are from steam, and offer game downloads if they are retail games, but the keys are legit keys from europe-us?

I do not want to mention them in case they are banned as well, but you know what I mean.
 
#26
Gez said:
Why do you care who gets undercutted? Do you have stocks or a financial stake in these legit sites?
I'm pretty sure we've already gone over my position on this. If you want to recap it, just Control-F search the Steam thread using "Boris". No need to get into the same old argument.
 
#27
Valygar said:
What about other sites that sell cd-keys if they are from steam, and offer game downloads if they are retail games, but the keys are legit keys from europe-us?

I do not want to mention them in case they are banned as well, but you know what I mean.
You mean like GMG (greenmangaming)? I doubt they're a problem because it's just a regular DD site except located in the UK
 

EviLore

Expansive Ellipses
#28
Valygar said:
What about other sites that sell cd-keys if they are from steam, and offer game downloads, but the keys are legit keys from europe-us?

I do not want to mention them in case they are banned as well, but you know what I mean.
Direct2Drive, Green Man Gaming, Gamersgate, Gamesplanet, etc. are just normal digital distro companies selling games that in some cases are Steamworks, nothing shady going on there.
 
#30
irishcow said:
So the thread is closed just off of the words of one post?
It seems that Blim's post was just the tipping point. From EviLore's earlier post in that thread, it seemed like he was already pretty iffy on the whole thing.
 
#31
EviLore said:
Direct2Drive, Green Man Gaming, Gamersgate, Gamesplanet, etc. are just normal digital distro companies selling games that in some cases are Steamworks, nothing shady going on there.
Unfortunatly all of them except Greenman Gaming have region locking and pricing gouing on them for Australians.

Not sure about Gamesplanet, are they new? It looks like Gametap.
 
#32
Gez said:
Unfortunatly all of them except Greenman Gaming have region locking and pricing gouing on them for Australians.

Not sure about Gamesplanet are they new? It looks like Gametap.
Someone in the Skyrim thread said that they managed to get the game from Gamesplanet for a decent price from Australia. It was said in the other thread that Gamesplanet runs GAME's DD site.
 
#33
Well the idea that some may be stolen is the main reason which is concerning enough but also there was alot of people recommending these sites on here.Thing is for me when I had purchased, a few people here told me about the one site when I had mentioned a game I was hoping would go on sale.

When I talked to these people they made it seem like it was just like a site like Green Man Gaming basically an alternative to steam that were cheaper (granted I've never bought from GMG) and more people were posting in the Steam thread about this site and it was very positive so I figured it was legit and ok. Honestly at the time the idea that they could be stolen didn't cross my mind I didn't think of it in those terms.
 

Des0lar

will learn eventually
#34
Gez said:
Unfortunatly all of them except Greenman Gaming have region locking and pricing gouing on them for Australians.

Not sure about Gamesplanet, are they new? It looks like Gametap.
Use a proxy like Hotspotshield to buy stuff from their sites? Sounds awfully familiar, doesn't it?
 
#35
so i bought one key after seeing the sited getting good reviews and i now worry that EA will kick out my purchase. that would suck big time.

not again.
 
#36
I can agree with EviLore on this, It would have been fine to keep all discussion in the OT but people were constantly recommending these sites without giving any warnings in other threads.

I guess that post about theft was the tipping point. Many other forums I go on ban them as well so it was only a matter of time for GAF.
 
#37
Considering there was at least one site linked in there that also sold MMO gold and power levelling, it isn't surprising to me at all that their CD key policies would be shady too.
 
#38
Gez said:
As a consumer you shouldn't (and never should) get concerned about what margins the publisher is making.
I dislike this line of reasoning. Buying something just for buying something doesn't make sense. If you only buy something in order to have paid something you can also pirate it -- there's no difference to it, if the people who legitimately should get the money see next to nothing of it.

I also dislike buying CD keys, because it usually involves exploiting "poorer" countries. Games are cheaper in some countries for a reason, and if people start in masses to buy their keys from those countries it only has the consequence that games become more expensive in those countries too -- which makes them not affordable for the bunch of people the prices were set for. You don't have a right for paying the cheapest price possible.
 
#39
So sites with send out CD keys (presumably received directly from the publishers) are fine but ones who purchase physical copy's and send out scans of the Retail CD Keys are not.

Can't say I'm not disappointed, as Heavy said it was nice to be able to run a potential purchase past others to get opinions and feedback on different sites, but I can understand why Gaf would not want to get tangled up in this grey market.

Des0lar said:
Is it bannable to admit to have bought a key from such a website?
I'd like to know this as well.
 
#40
EviLore said:
Direct2Drive, Green Man Gaming, Gamersgate, Gamesplanet, etc. are just normal digital distro companies selling games that in some cases are Steamworks, nothing shady going on there.
Is it okay to help other gaffers get deals on the websites you mentionned (in what I quoted) by gifting/trading? I know we have a gifting/trading thread for Steam and in the Steam thread we often help each others getting deals on those websites since deals vary by regions and by other factors such as having a special membership on premium sites.

Just to be sure.
 
#42
I was about to buy MW3 from one of those sites today, but now this thread and the super shady looking VPN/Russian language part had me second guessing.

Probably better this way any ways, the difference isn't that much($10-$25) to get a real legit copy from Amazon or Steam
 
#43
Glad I trusted my instincts instead of sites that seemed shady from the start to me. Besides GMG is pretty much just as cheap for steamworks games and they do it without exploiting, stealing etc.

Heavy said:
Edit: Problem with GMG is the selection is limited. No Bethesda games yet, no Activision either.
Skyrim went up today though with no noticeable announcement which sucks because I bought it already thinking they wouldn't reach a deal (they said they wouldn't).
 
#44
Derrick01 said:
Glad I trusted my instincts instead of sites that seemed shady from the start to me. Besides GMG is pretty much just as cheap for steamworks games and they do it without exploiting, stealing etc.



Skyrim went up today though with no noticeable announcement which sucks because I bought it already thinking they wouldn't reach a deal (they said they wouldn't).
Did you get it from D2D? Because it is the same price. Cheaper if you get it gifted from an IGN Prime member. I paid ~$46 back in September for Skyrim

EDIT: Between GMG and D2D, you can get most pre-orders for $12-20 off full retail. CD-Key re-sellers may get you another couple bucks off, but you put up with a lot more risks, and screw the developers out of $15-20.

I got Deus Ex: HR for $33 from GMG. At the time I think the cd-key resellers were charging $30.
 

Des0lar

will learn eventually
#45
mr stroke said:
I was about to buy MW3 from one of those sites today, but now this thread and the super shady looking VPN/Russian language part had me second guessing.

Probably better this way any ways, the difference isn't that much($10-$25) to get a real legit copy from Amazon or Steam
There's nothing "shady" about it as many Gaffers have already succesfully activated their games and play them online.
But there is nothing wrong with not liking the need to use a "fake" IP to circumvent region restrictions. I fully understand people who don't want to do this kind of thing.
 
#46
Des0lar said:
There's nothing "shady" about it as many Gaffers have already succesfully activated their games and play them online.
But there is nothing wrong with not liking the need to use a "fake" IP to circumvent region restrictions. I fully understand people who don't want to do this kind of thing.
I think the sites could also do a better job of presenting some well needed info so people aren't skeptical about them.

For example if they could prove how they obtain the keys, and that it's all on the up and up, then there would be FAR less people thinking, "oh all these sites must just steal from one time or another to obtain these keys." More game companies would probably be cracking down on these guys FAST if that was indeed the case wouldn't they? Or is it simply they are located in a part of the world where they are untouchable if they were stealing keys somehow?

Hopefully, whatever of these sites truly are on the up and up, will in the future be more forward with consumers so to dismiss doubt, then even GAF could green light that site being mentioned.
 
#47
Gez said:
As a consumer you shouldn't (and never should) get concerned about what margins the publisher is making.

When games are getting price gouged to an upward of 90 to 100USD here on Aussie Steam, its the consumers pocket that wins when buying from these key websites.

As a consumer, I don't care about margins. And nor should I. And I completely agree with you about us getting gouged in Australia.

But as a consumer, I am worried about where the exploitation of key sites will eventually lead us. If it continues, I have no doubt we'll reach the point where keys becomes region locked. And at that point, we'll have no way at all around horrible region pricing.

On top of that, I do think there are a few moral quandaries around the whole thing. Whether others agree is up to them, but I don't think it's a straight black and white "I have the right to get the absolute lowest price no matter what happens." Prices are low in Russia because the country as a whole is poor relative to western markets, and to make any inroads against the massive piracy rates, publishers are forced into very low pricing.
 

EviLore

Expansive Ellipses
#48
Des0lar said:
There's nothing "shady" about it as many Gaffers have already succesfully activated their games and play them online.
But there is nothing wrong with not liking the need to use a "fake" IP to circumvent region restrictions. I fully understand people who don't want to do this kind of thing.
You're seriously promoting the sites in the thread about their banning?
 
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