Are Gray Market Game Key Sites Legit?

George Keech

Posts: 73   +79
As the other person noted I'm 99% sure Green man gaming is an authorised reseller so I would really check this if I where you as they partner with Microsoft and does them a disservice as they as legitimate as Humble Bundle.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 1,331   +2,600
Much like piracy, publishers like to distract the issue with A LOT of talk about flat out stolen keys. But looking at the scope of these sites, you can tell right away that they just wouldn't be sustainable with any kind of large percentage of stolen keys: Can't really host the website by telling providers "We didn't hack and steal enough keys this month so we're not paying for service now but give us an extension and we'll steal some more!"

So the remaining are just, and this is going to not sit well with some people, simply BETTER PRICED KEYS.

Developers and publishers know they charge too much for their games, to the point that they realize that the regular price tag of 60 USD when translated into a region with a weaker economies, means something like 30 or 40% of the average wage a person buying game makes per month. No, not minimum wage, just the average of what middle class, well enough to buy games people on that region make per month.

Obviously if you had to pay as much for a single game as most "Financial experts" suggest you set aside for rent or mortgage, you're just not going to sell period. But even with the lower margins the economies of scales on those region dictate that a game *CAN* be profitable on even those regions by just setting up a more realistic price tag at 50% the price they would get (Or even more discount) than by just doing a straight monetary exchange for the US or EU regular price tag.

But publishers instead of making enough money, they want arbitrary geographical restrictions to be able to target those weaker economies with lower prices but force the rest of the people to pay way, way more than what WE KNOW it's good enough for them to make a healthy profit. Because why just have 20 USD from you even though we know that we'll sell enough copies at that price to get a quick ROI if we can sell at 60 or 70 USD to Americans because well, they can pay more.

'Grey' keys just get around *some* geo locks (But not all of them: most keys now show which countries can actually activate on your steam, epic, etc. Account) but even some people being clever enough to use this sites to actually still pay them money is not good enough. Sadly I've seen some companies walk away from regional prices altogether and decide "We can't have less profits we rather just not sell at all on those weaker economical regions" and went back to pricing everything as straight monetary exchange rates.
 
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MaestroIT

Posts: 67   +60
I am against those grey market stores, not for games and even worst got software, many sell Windows 10 and office keys very cheap, as the article says the keys are legit but from a different source.

Where I work as IT I am suffering from those grey sellers selling the windows and office volume license keys that should be only for work:
The local ministry of education offers all local schools access to volume license keys (mak keys) for many Microsoft products, shared among all schools, and when I need to activate new installs of office or windows I suffer to find a working key because somebody else at another school abused the agreement and sold the keys and exhausted their install count...
 
So why not revoke a digital key if it was bought with a stolen credit card and a chargeback is made?
Isn't that one of the DRM features of an online digital store like Steam?
Or better, inform the person who activated the stolen key that it is... a stolen key and tell them to get the money back from G2A or whatever gray market key seller
 

Wrinkle

Posts: 90   +68
I regularly use isthereanydeal.com or r/gamedeals. AFAIK the linked sites are legit.

The thing is that I can never be sure since it's utterly unclear which sites are legit and which aren't.
 

Experimentongod

Posts: 344   +185
99% of the keys sold on the so called "grey market" sites are just keys bought "in bulk" from official distributors.

You can see it as buying something that's an OEM brand instead of the overpriced version that uses the same supplier.

Developers are getting paid either way, just a bit less.

I only buy in grey market occasionally (I have hundreds of Steam games), but when I do they always work perfectly, never had any issues at all.
 

Matthew DeCarlo

Posts: 5,271   +104
As far as I can tell Green Man Gaming is a legitimate game store, not a grey market key seller.

Thanks for this correction. Don’t think I’d consider GamersGate to be gray market either really. Those examples were added by the editor. Perhaps there’s a gradient.
 

dangh

Posts: 326   +464
I bought 3 games from g2a. All of them were removed from my account because they were sold by someone who used stolen cc. I will never go there again.
 

ziffel66

Posts: 135   +227
Thanks for this correction. Don’t think I’d consider GamersGate to be gray market either really. Those examples were added by the editor. Perhaps there’s a gradient.

Neither GMG or GamersGate are even slightly grey market. Not sure why he added those. Both only sell publisher provided keys. Both are vetted and allowed on reddit /r/gamedeals, which has very stringent no grey market seller rules.
 

moobg

Posts: 43   +45
So why not revoke a digital key if it was bought with a stolen credit card and a chargeback is made?
Isn't that one of the DRM features of an online digital store like Steam?
Or better, inform the person who activated the stolen key that it is... a stolen key and tell them to get the money back from G2A or whatever gray market key seller
It's been done before and people were up in arms and blaming Ubisoft instead of the the folks selling the illegitimate keys.

I regularly use isthereanydeal.com or r/gamedeals. AFAIK the linked sites are legit.

The thing is that I can never be sure since it's utterly unclear which sites are legit and which aren't.
I assume any site on sites like https://isthereanydeal.com/ or https://www.cheapshark.com/ are legit. They don't list grey market resellers like G2A or CDKeys or Kinguin.

Thanks for this correction. Don’t think I’d consider GamersGate to be gray market either really. Those examples were added by the editor. Perhaps there’s a gradient.
Looks like that's been removed as well. Whoever was editing could have at least done the slightest bit of research. In the past, GMG did source some of their keys from third parties, but that hasn't been the case for a while. In fact, GMG states on the product page where their keys are sourced from and even when they weren't sourced directly from devs/publishers, it would tell you it was from an Authorized Distributor.

As an aside, I avoid grey market key resellers. No reason to take that risk when all games come down in price eventually anyway.
 

Arbie

Posts: 299   +541
Thanks for a good article on a topic that I rarely see mentioned. The point of most interest to me was how stolen credit card chargebacks can actually cost the dev money in the end.
 

arrowflash

Posts: 486   +532
No. If you're planning on buying from key resellers like G2A, might as well just pirate the game and spend 0 dollars instead of 5.
 

HotToz

Posts: 40   +64
Much like piracy, publishers like to distract the issue with A LOT of talk about flat out stolen keys. But looking at the scope of these sites, you can tell right away that they just wouldn't be sustainable with any kind of large percentage of stolen keys: Can't really host the website by telling providers "We didn't hack and steal enough keys this month so we're not paying for service now but give us an extension and we'll steal some more!"

So the remaining are just, and this is going to not sit well with some people, simply BETTER PRICED KEYS.

Developers and publishers know they charge too much for their games, to the point that they realize that the regular price tag of 60 USD when translated into a region with a weaker economies, means something like 30 or 40% of the average wage a person buying game makes per month. No, not minimum wage, just the average of what middle class, well enough to buy games people on that region make per month.

Obviously if you had to pay as much for a single game as most "Financial experts" suggest you set aside for rent or mortgage, you're just not going to sell period. But even with the lower margins the economies of scales on those region dictate that a game *CAN* be profitable on even those regions by just setting up a more realistic price tag at 50% the price they would get (Or even more discount) than by just doing a straight monetary exchange for the US or EU regular price tag.

But publishers instead of making enough money, they want arbitrary geographical restrictions to be able to target those weaker economies with lower prices but force the rest of the people to pay way, way more than what WE KNOW it's good enough for them to make a healthy profit. Because why just have 20 USD from you even though we know that we'll sell enough copies at that price to get a quick ROI if we can sell at 60 or 70 USD to Americans because well, they can pay more.

'Grey' keys just get around *some* geo locks (But not all of them: most keys now show which countries can actually activate on your steam, epic, etc. Account) but even some people being clever enough to use this sites to actually still pay them money is not good enough. Sadly I've seen some companies walk away from regional prices altogether and decide "We can't have less profits we rather just not sell at all on those weaker economical regions" and went back to pricing everything as straight monetary exchange rates.
I agree with you. I live in Colombia, games in steam, epic and gog are usually same as US sometimes are even higher. I have to wait a year or more to get a fair price in games getting discounts. Prices can be checked in steamdb, for example "Control", "Mass Effect" are more expensive here than US. I use a lot grey key since it is my only way to get a fair discount and look options to pay less in legit games rather than piracy. Some developers take the route to use fair regional prices other on the contrary go up
 

jpuroila

Posts: 389   +236
Much like piracy, publishers like to distract the issue with A LOT of talk about flat out stolen keys. But looking at the scope of these sites, you can tell right away that they just wouldn't be sustainable with any kind of large percentage of stolen keys: Can't really host the website by telling providers "We didn't hack and steal enough keys this month so we're not paying for service now but give us an extension and we'll steal some more!"

You realize that they don't steal the keys themselves, right? They just act as a platform for those who do to make money. Given how many actors there are(there's a huge amount of credit card credentials being stolen, and buying steam keys or the like is probably one of the easiest ways of converting them to cash without having a significant risk of being caught), I'd be surprised if there's a huge amount of monthly variance. I also think you're overestimating their hosting costs. Having a store where you sell short strings of characters doesn't really take up a huge amount of resources.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,859   +2,211
TechSpot Elite
"G2A has taken out sponsored ads on Google, which mean that when you search for our games, you get G2A popping up above our own links — and we make zero money on our games if people buy through the ads."
This is absolute horse fertilizer. If there are keys out there that the developer doesn't make any money on, that's their fault for making them. These keys aren't "stolen" (because there would be a record attached to them), it's usually a case of leftover keys from some promotion. Sometimes gamers who receive bundled keys already have the game in question so they sell them to these sites for like $5 or $10. A good example of this is the free copy of Godfall that I received from AMD. If I already had purchased Godfall, I would have totally sold my key to CDKeys, Green Man Gaming or Kinguin. I've never played WoW (for the same reason that I've never tried smoking crack) so I'll probably sell my Shadowlands key to one of those sites.

"“I never thought the day would come where I would passionately argue that fans should pirate my game rather than pay for it, but here we are…"
On the surface, this sounds sincere but upon closer examination, it falls flat. With pretty much ALL games requiring an internet connection to the developer's servers, pirating games is becoming more or less impossible. Saying that you'd prefer that people would pirate your game (when it can't really be done) is a non-argument and is just meant to mislead. Misleading statements that push false narratives to the ignorant masses are no better than barefaced lies and this one fits that description perfectly.

I've used these sites for years and have had no problems. Hell, I even got Windows 10 from Kinguin and I don't hear Microsoft whining about it. They call these sites "grey-market" but I've read more lies against them from so-called "legitimate" sources than I've ever read from the sites. You know what these sites need to exist? The KEYS THEMSELVES. These keys are made by the developers so if the devs didn't want the keys to exist, they wouldn't have generated them to begin with. This doesn't make sense. They could easily have much more effective tracking systems for these keys if this really was that important but they don't. This also doesn't make sense.

When someone complains about a problem to which there is a simple and obvious remedy that they haven't implemented, it means that either the person doesn't know better or they're lying through their teeth. Since these are software developers they obviously know better. This is just a case of software companies not being satisfied with the billions that they already get. It'll be a cold day in hell before I care about those lying arseholes.

There's clearly more going on than the greedy corporations are willing to admit and so they throw vague and misleading talking-points at us. Keep in mind that it's not our responsibility to keep track of the keys that they make and where they end up, it's theirs. If the keys were stolen, there would be records of this and the developers could invalidate them.... but they don't, do they? They also tried to claim years ago that these sites would destroy the gaming industry. So why is the gaming industry doing just fine even though these sites have only become more and more prolific?

It's because they're lying of course. Let's not be stupid and forget that all greedy corporations, if they think that they can get even a little more money by lying to the public, won't hesitate to do so. Don't fall for the fertilizer.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 1,331   +2,600
You realize that they don't steal the keys themselves, right? They just act as a platform for those who do to make money. Given how many actors there are(there's a huge amount of credit card credentials being stolen, and buying steam keys or the like is probably one of the easiest ways of converting them to cash without having a significant risk of being caught), I'd be surprised if there's a huge amount of monthly variance. I also think you're overestimating their hosting costs. Having a store where you sell short strings of characters doesn't really take up a huge amount of resources.

So you think it's reasonable to assume there's an organized network of people who dedicate themselves to steal credit cards and launder the funds through a multi-step process of putting the key on a site then waiting for a gamer to pick it up and activate it all of this before the transaction can be reported as from a stolen credit card.

VS

The single step process of "I use the stolen credit card to buy as much bitcoin as I can and now is 100% perfectly untraceable"

Please this is such a bad argument as in to almost be in bad faith that you made it, just like the devs and publishers making it.
 

lostinlodos

Posts: 188   +47
Let me explain something quickly about SOME sites. The “stolen card key” issue may be a dark web market issue but it’s rare on the open web from what’s I’ve read elsewhere.

For a number of years CoinStar had a service kiosk system to buy unused or partially used gift cards.
Many of these keys come the same way.
Buy a system, get cardboard keys. By a video card. Get a cardboard key. By a computer get /that/ is installed. Blank the drive, install BSD. And there’s an unused key.

Special bundles, packages, etc. All sorts of “free” already paid for keys are floating around.
If you don’t want the product that came with your purchase you can resell it.
Frowned upon but totally legal.
When you look through tech story and computer sites at all the bonus free crap you can get.

Sites exist that purchase these unused keys. Then resell them. Sometimes themselves, sometimes in batches to “grey market” key sites.

In many cases it’s exactly that. Buy a PS bundle or Xbox bundle. Sell the “free” game keys.