Home Gaming Why are cheap uPlay and Steam keys getting banned?

Why are cheap uPlay and Steam keys getting banned?

2 min read
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eeyore

Our hobby, this thing we do is an expensive one. Games are indeed prohibitively expensive – so it makes sense that gamers would look to find the best deals, and the cheapest games. Many have turned to illegitimate key resellers and auction-houses, like G2A, Kinguin and the like. You may want to stop doing that.

This weekend, it came to light that Ubisoft was quite possibly actively disabling and banning already redeemed keys for some of its games, like Assassin’s Creed Unity and Far Cry. Third party keys not sold by official partners and retailers have been getting deactivated, with those games forever disappearing from users libraries.

As you’d expect, the whole thing devolved in to a “let’s all hate Ubisoft” campaign. Don’t get me wrong; there are a great many reasons to direct ire at Ubisoft – including, but not limited to their annualised game design approach, their flagrantly exploitive DLC practices, the mere fact that uPlay even exists and their apparent lack of quality control. This is not one of them.

While it is a shame that gamers and their money have been parted, Ubisoft has every right to nix keys that have been obtained and then resold illegitimately. The recourse for those affected is to contact the key seller – and if the key was legitimate, they’ll be given a new one.

As is often the case with these sorts of cheap keys though, they’re likely not.

Last year, Natural Selection’s developer Unknown worlds explained how dodgy keys hurt their business, and how those keys were obtained through rather shady means. Indie game publisher Devolver digital also warns against getting keys from sites such as G2A.

It’s a sentiment shared by people like prolific YouTuber TotalBiscuit.

It really is unfortunate that gamers have lost their games, but Ubisoft is well within its rights to ban those keys. It does highlight once again how fickle digital distribution and the purchase of licences can be though. Remember – you only purchase a licence to play the game, not the game itself – and that licence can be easily revoked. And remember, when it comes to game pricing : If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t.

Last Updated: January 26, 2015

48 Comments

  1. RinceThis

    January 26, 2015 at 12:36

    • Hammersteyn

      January 26, 2015 at 12:49

      lol

      Reply

  2. Ryanza

    January 26, 2015 at 12:36

    Can some1 give me a run down on how these retailers obtain the keys to sell for cheap.

    Reply

    • Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

      January 26, 2015 at 12:39

      There are a few ways. Some are physical theft: They hijack a truck, and steal the keys from game boxes. it’s the silliest way. Others use bulk purchases of keys, and then once they have the keys, they institute a credit card charge back, so the money is reversed. they then have thousands of keys that they’ve not paid for – which they go on and resell.

      Some use geographical bypassing, using cheaper keys from other regions, while others still lie, pretending to be Youtube channel managers, getting keys for their prolific list of Youtubers that dont actually exist.

      Reply

      • Jonah Cash

        January 26, 2015 at 12:40

        Sounds like a lot of hassle to get them… I wouldn’t be able to do it!!

        Reply

        • Tosh the real #7 ZA

          January 26, 2015 at 12:41

          Well it’s actually not too much hassle – and the profit is super high.

          Reply

          • Jonah Cash

            January 26, 2015 at 13:22

            If I can’t steal at least R10 000 000.00 then I am not interested. If I am going to go to jail it will be for that amount and more, otherwise I will just stay poor…

      • Wyzak

        January 26, 2015 at 13:47

        Then those companies are the crooks, not the guys who buy the keys.

        Reply

      • enix

        January 28, 2015 at 01:05

        That “hijacking” a truck is putting it a bit too…dramatically. And it’s also very very rare. Stealing keys from a lot of boxes somewhere along the transport line is all that is going on. And I’m not saying that this is right, it definitely isn’t, but all they care about is banning the keys that are getting activated and they deem “stolen”…they don’t issue an investigation on that certain transport route to pinpoint the thieves, they don’t change key security measures…nah screw it, just ban the keys and that’s that. If we lost some money on them, let’s make the clients lose some as well, see how they like it. Great approach, great public relations 😉

        The fraudulent bulk purchase of keys, again, you explain as if it so easy to do. These purchases go through so many processes…just asking for your money back solves just as much as asking for a hooker from an Australian cop…it just gets you into trouble. Even if they ARE stupid enough to recharge your credit/debit card with the payed sum (the bank or whatnot), they still, in the most basic of terms, owe the publisher that money. And they WILL investigate you for it. And they always do too. Some people, really smart people, somehow manage to get past this whole process and DO succeed in acquiring keys this way, maybe making them think if they’re in the wrong line of work. But even those felons would have a much harder time if the publishers even gave half a rat’s ass about the sales process. They just let the banks handle it and hardly ever give them or the buyers any help at all. But why not just ban a few keys to teach the people a lesson, eh? Way easier, less expensive.

        As for the last 2 methods, those are actually the quickest ways to fraudulently obtain game keys but, if they work, then that publisher deserves every bit of scam they got.

        I just bought myself an Orange Box from a local electronics shop, a few weeks ago. And since I already own the games in it since they came out, and I just bought the Orange Box for the collection stand, I was thinking of selling the extra key I have on G2A since none of my friends can use it or want it anyway. Now…having second thoughts. Although I really doubt that Valve are as retarded as Ubisoft…I do hope SirGaben doesn’t read this and claim my soul for having thought such blasphemy tho…

        Reply

    • Tosh the real #7 ZA

      January 26, 2015 at 12:42

      Basically, don’t support DRM.

      Reply

      • Lord Chaos

        January 26, 2015 at 12:42

        You forgot: “Witcher 3 is coming”

        Reply

        • Tosh the real #7 ZA

          January 26, 2015 at 12:43

          I forgot nothing, I don’t care about The Witcher 🙂

          Reply

          • Lord Chaos

            January 26, 2015 at 12:43

            “Your” not alone

          • Ryanza

            January 26, 2015 at 12:44

          • Dutch Matrix

            January 26, 2015 at 15:15

            Ugh… That looks like a roided out Jeff Bridges…

          • Hammersteyn

            January 26, 2015 at 12:48

            Lies! Witcher has seven letters

          • Quo Vadis?

            January 26, 2015 at 12:49

            Somehow, I don’t think the seven thing is going to bother him as much as it did ol’ Rants a Lot 😉

          • Hammersteyn

            January 26, 2015 at 12:51

            It would seem so.

          • Quo Vadis?

            January 26, 2015 at 12:52

            We need to vote on whether to pass the baton to Tosh, or keep it with Llew. LOL

          • Lord Chaos

            January 26, 2015 at 12:54

            I vote we keep Llew at 7 and screw up our conjunctions with Tosh?

          • Tosh the real #7 ZA

            January 26, 2015 at 12:54

            Fuck…

          • Quo Vadis?

            January 26, 2015 at 12:55

            I agree. Uh, Raptor Rants A Lot, I have very bad news for you…. ;P

          • Tosh the real #7 ZA

            January 26, 2015 at 12:56

            And I just changed my name and everything XD

  3. Tosh the real #7 ZA

    January 26, 2015 at 12:37

    Steam, I do love you.

    Reply

  4. Lothy

    January 26, 2015 at 12:41

    I bought star wars online from them way back when… And to think I was gonna buy the Dying Light steam digital download from them

    Reply

  5. Ross Woofels Mason

    January 26, 2015 at 12:46

    This is why you just wait till steam has a sale.

    I mean seriously there is a damn sale every week/weekend and huge ones every couple of months.

    Reply

    • Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

      January 26, 2015 at 12:49

      Exactly. Just flipping wait.

      Reply

      • Hammersteyn

        January 26, 2015 at 12:49

        ……for GTAV 😛

        Reply

        • SlagywaG

          January 26, 2015 at 14:50

          Right in the feels…

          Reply

        • Dutch Matrix

          January 26, 2015 at 15:14

          Yeah??? Well. We might get it last, but we will have first person whoring!

          Reply

          • Hammersteyn

            January 26, 2015 at 15:38

            So did I. I mean so do we.

  6. Viking Of Science

    January 26, 2015 at 12:51

    Why is it so hard for people to just buy from a ligitimate 3rd party seller, like GMG or Gamersgate? If you lose your game because of a dodgy key, that’s your own problem.

    Reply

    • Kromas Votes LAG WCMovie Event

      January 26, 2015 at 13:02

      And that is why I buy from …… Steam. 😛

      Reply

    • Strifehart

      January 26, 2015 at 13:12

      Gamersgate is hardly “legit”. And they all too often “incorrectly” mark things down on sale and then revoke the key a couple of days later.

      Reply

    • FSR

      January 26, 2015 at 14:13

      Price.

      Reply

  7. Ryanza

    January 26, 2015 at 12:51

    The digital world needs a second-hand market / auction house to have a chance to sell the shit you don’t want. It will lead to more day 1 sales at the asking price. If you buying to try, without options to sell if you don’t like, then you will always look for the cheapest option.

    Don’t Support DRM.

    Reply

  8. Lardus-Resident Perve

    January 26, 2015 at 12:56

    I once bought a legal game from BT, only to have Steam tell me that the key has already been used. Obviously it was not used legitimately, and Steam activated my game after I sent them the proof of purchase and a photo or two of the box/key/discs. Damn those grey market pirates – if you gonna pirate, do it properly and don’t inconvenience the legal buyers!

    Reply

    • Deceased

      January 26, 2015 at 13:08

      “if you gonna pirate, do it properly…”

      Immediately thought of singing, rum, pillage, plunder and some surprise secks…

      Reply

    • Nahuel Graziani

      January 26, 2015 at 13:10

      Same thing happened to me. Bought a retail copy of Magicka and the key was already redeemed.

      Reply

  9. Kensei Seraph

    January 26, 2015 at 13:01

    Good, I just hope the people who had legitimate keys aren’t wrongly affected.

    Reply

  10. Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    January 26, 2015 at 14:12

    Basically, don’t support digital games. #PickPlastic #DiscsForLife #DigitalIsALie #TheCloudIsALie

    Reply

  11. ImPoor88

    January 26, 2015 at 17:22

    Hi guys, if you want u can find cheaper Steam games on g2a ^^ http://www.g2as.ml

    Reply

  12. Kandric

    January 26, 2015 at 20:28

    Oh no! I bought an illegal game and now I can’t play it! I’m a victim!

    Reply

  13. Jeremy Olson

    August 12, 2015 at 14:57

    Honestly…this business practice is no different from what a vast number of American companies do. They have electronics build for pennies in a foreign country and then brought over here to sell for hundreds of dollars. I would argue that buying games used from someone is more damaging to the industry. Large companies like G2Play at least pay for their keys. Like most American companies they buy the legitimate keys from poorer countries and then sell them for a profit. The real reason some companies are up in arms over grey market keys is simply because publishers are greedy. Your paying $60 for a game regardless if it’s digital or a packaged product.

    Reply

  14. G2A Team

    May 11, 2016 at 09:51

    Hello,

    We are deeply sorry for this situation and would like to inform that in such case there is always a way to either receive a replacement key directly from the Seller or a full refund for your order. We also offer the special Shield protection which allows our customers to find an even faster solution by contacting our Customer Support Department. Our specialists there will find the fastest available solution to your issue.
    Since the time the article was posted our security measures and procedures for checking the keys posted for sale on the Marketplace have been constantly developed and we are happy to inform that nearly all of the keys are sure to be working.

    If you have any further questions or doubts, keep in mind that you can always find additional information on G2A’s FAQ or by contacting us on live chat or ticket. Our consultants are there for you 24/7.

    See you again at G2A

    Peter

    G2A Team

    Reply

    • Scientific Fatalist

      June 22, 2016 at 09:31

      Nope, sorry. Never shopping on there.

      Shady websites like yours will damage the overall PC market. I don’t want developers to go back to region locking or more forms of DRM or some other crap that ultimately damage the PC industry. I probably couldn’t care less if a giant megacorp loses a couple thousand dollars, but your shit kills indies too. It’s a bad deal for both devs and consumers.

      Seriously, if you really really can’t pay the price that’s asked for, go pirate it or wait for a sale or a humble bundle. If you can, do pay and support devs that make good games. All buying on shady sites like G2A does is support shady sites like G2A with negative effects on the entire market down the line.

      Reply

      • Yussef mneimneh

        August 9, 2016 at 21:38

        not everyone have money for that but i prefer buying boxed legal version cheaper… for ex mad max is at 12 dollar unwrapped legal etc. onsteam it’s 40 dollar so it’s a rip off ….

        Reply

  15. Yussef mneimneh

    August 9, 2016 at 21:33

    naa naa shame on ubisoft steamn etc . they don’t like software piracy but by banning keys they may be in their right legally speaking but not morally speaking they are stealing money from people… like microsoft who refused a key i bough on amazon… so i used another key i have no licence and no right to use. i don t care the slightest bit cause i spent money for one licence so i use another one… microsoft have no possibility to know i have no right ot use it eheh

    Reply

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