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Natural Selection 2 dev warns of buying fraudulent keys

There are, on this big wide Internet, shadowy sites which sell game keys a fair bit cheaper than other stores. While some seem legitimate-ish in a 'grey area' sort of way, apparently reselling keys from regions where games are cheaper, others are downright illegal. Natural Selection 2 developer Unknown Worlds has cancelled 1,341 NS2 keys and eaten around $30,000 in charge-back costs after keys were bought with stolen credit cards then resold.

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There are, on this big wide Internet, shadowy sites which sell game keys a fair bit cheaper than other stores. While some seem legitimate-ish in a 'grey area' sort of way, apparently reselling keys from regions where games are cheaper, others are downright illegal.

Natural Selection 2 developer Unknown Worlds has cancelled 1,341 NS2 keys and eaten around $30,000 in charge-back costs after keys were bought with stolen credit cards then resold. A mite displeased, it's warned people off buying keys from strange places.

Unknown Worlds got Valve to kill the Steamworks game's 'bad' keys after the credit cards' owners disputed charges, and people who used them will find their Steam option to "Play" NS2 is now "Buy Again." Which leaves both UW and the thrifty players out of pocket.

"In total, we lose ~$45 per transaction of this kind, due to the charge-back fee (~$22 fee + $25 game price)," Unknown Worlds wrote in a blog post. "Meanwhile, the unauthorized key reseller kept the money from the player who ultimately received the bad key."

The developer has temporarily shut down its Humble Store, so you'll need to buy it from Steam if you want it. "If you see Natural Selection 2 available anywhere else - like the many sites out there that sell Steam keys at a discount--then you are not buying it from us and there is no way to know if that key is legitimate," UW said. "As as result, we strongly discourage purchasing from these sites."

Even reselling keys from other regions is a sticky issue at best. Publishers discount games in certain countries because everything's cheaper there or because piracy's so common that it's better to get something rather than nothing, and count upon 'full-price' sales from other regions.

Publishers are increasingly trying to block cheap keys being used in other regions, enabled by all this fancy online activation we do nowadays. People who buy foreign keys may be forced to use a foreign-language version of the game, stuck on foreign servers, or unable to play the game at all. Even using software to make your connection appear to be in Russia may not go smoothly.

The major sticking point is whether you're paying for an actual copy of the game or for a license to play the game under terms dictated by the publisher. Software companies insist it's the latter, while consumers prefer the former. It's all one big legal mess which has yet to be fully resolved, though things are going the way of Big Software so far. The EFF fights on.

But I digress: people trying to save a few bucks by shopping somewhere shifty landed a small indie studio with $30,000 in charges, and didn't even get the game. That's a thing that happened.

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From The Chatty

  • reply
    March 8, 2013 10:30 AM

    Alice O'Connor posted a new article, Natural Selection 2 dev warns of buying fraudulent keys.

    There are, on this big wide Internet, shadowy sites which sell game keys a fair bit cheaper than other stores. While some seem legitimate-ish in a 'grey area' sort of way, apparently reselling keys from regions where games are cheaper, others are downright illegal. Natural Selection 2 developer Unknown Worlds has cancelled 1,341 NS2 keys and eaten around $30,000 in charge-back costs after keys were bought with stolen credit cards then resold.

    • reply
      March 8, 2013 10:49 AM

      But I digress: people trying to save a few bucks by shopping somewhere shifty landed a small indie studio with $30,000 in charges, and didn't even get the game. That's a thing that happened.
      The people who bought the games for cheaper than retail probably had good intentions. I rarely buy games at full price these days and don't want to pirate anyone's game, but if I see a cheaper price I usually go ahead and buy it. I might not be giving the dev the full profit they wanted, but at least they got something. I understand that. I usually do try to make the effort to research a site to see if it's too good to be true, though. You can't really blame the people who got scammed for costing the devs that $30,000.

      • reply
        March 8, 2013 10:54 AM

        It could be possible for the people who've had their key cancelled to issue a chargeback against the reseller.

        • reply
          March 8, 2013 10:57 AM

          Assuming they used a credit card to buy from said reseller...

    • reply
      March 8, 2013 11:27 AM

      really strange it costs them $22 for a chargeback

      • reply
        March 8, 2013 12:29 PM

        No it is not. It is standard practice. Chargebacks are something that is heavily discouraged and are supposed to be last resort. They are supposed to be a form of consumer protection against getting ripped off and when such a thing occurs it is not supposed to reflect positively on the merchant as it makes it seem like the merchant is neither being fair to or working with the consumer to help with their situation. So of course there is going to be a fee against said merchant.