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Default Buying Steam-keys?

April 10th, 2015, 13:37
Hi,
Can anybody please explain to me why some shops have really low prices for steam-keys? I saw pillars for 17$ for instance.

Are these keys legit? it feels a bit like stealing.

thanks, Ursus
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April 10th, 2015, 13:42
Originally Posted by Ursusdraconis View Post
Hi,
Can anybody please explain to me why some shops have really low prices for steam-keys? I saw pillars for 17$ for instance.

Are these keys legit? it feels a bit like stealing.

thanks, Ursus
In certain countries, games are much cheaper - because people there have a much lower average income. As a publisher, you have to set your prices lower there if you want to sell your game internationally.

These shops acquire keys with cheap prices, and they sell them digitally at a higher price - though still lower than US/EU prices.

It's stealing if traveling to another country and buying a game at the price in that country is also stealing.

VAT still applies, though, AFAIK.

You could argue that US/EU publishers and developers are stealing in the same way, by using cheap labor across borders and countless other ways of maximising profit.

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April 10th, 2015, 13:43
Why key resellers have low prices?
Everyone has their own explanation, I believe it to be one big money laundry scheme that isn't about profit so they can afford certain percentage losses, but is about hiding the source of income.

Careful with those shops.
I can only confirm that keys from g2a (selected offer, not auction) work. Still, I never risked a key for a new game there. Discount on a new game, don't risk but get on GMG. A decade or so old games that shouldn't be charged IMO for 40-50 bucks like Sims 3, feel free to buy on g2a.
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April 10th, 2015, 13:49
Some of these keyreseller have stolen key-codes, so be careful. Others are like DArt said, and again be careful, for example, Russian Steam keys don't work outside of Russia.
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April 10th, 2015, 13:58
I don't regard it as stealing, just getting round the fact that distributors charge more in the UK for the same product than in Hungary for example.

New games don't often get discounted quickly but I have used G2A and others several times for slightly older games (2+ years typically) that are still the full rate on Steam. Never had a problem but always google the supplier first.
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April 10th, 2015, 14:15
Stealing? There is no stealing. If there was, the site(s) would be raided ages ago and servers shut down.
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April 10th, 2015, 14:21
These keys comes from countries where they are cheap. And these countries usually tend to be poor. So should gamers in rich countries subsides gamers in poor countries? Games companies think you they should. What do you all think?

Personally I think games don't deserver subsidy!
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April 10th, 2015, 14:26
Isn't a proper question should a product not produced in your country have the same price where you live and in Afghanistan?
I think it should.

As I stated above, I don't think it's third world merchandise being "smuggled", but a money laundry online.
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April 10th, 2015, 15:25
I purchased one game from one of those shady sites. It worked, but the operation was so 'cloak & dagger' that I decided never to do it again. The process involved something like using a free VPN and gifting myself the code or something like that. I decided to stick with the cleaner ones like greenmangaming.com.
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April 10th, 2015, 17:27
The reason why they can sell these kills cheaper is that they are not going a completely “clean” path.
It probably can be better compared to smuggling than to stealing. Or maybe dealing with stolen/smuggled goods.

These vendors buy keys from various sources. It might be keys from a different region, it might be keys acquired in a sale, it might be press keys not actually intended for sale at all, and last but not least keys which were acquired fraudulently.

Let’s look at some of the reasons why they can offer these cheap keys in detail:
-Some price differences are there due to the tax situation. But this should be relatively minor. E.g. European prices always include taxes. US handles taxes differently as even in different US states there is a different tax situation. And while it might be ok to take a couple of packs of cigarettes with you from Poland to Germany as it is for “personal use”, doing so with a thousand of packs for resale that would be considered smuggling.
-If there are huge differences between countries that is probably because the income of that country is low or the currency of the country dropped drastically in value.
The average income in countries like Malaysia or China for example is probably not as high as it is in the US or in Europe. So if they would sell games in these countries for western prices, hardly anybody would buy them. Same goes for countries like Russia. The value of the Rubel dropped drastically. Not all prices adjusted. And if they all would, Russians would have a hard time buying games.
-the keys might also be not paid at all. How can this happen? These pages sell keys they buy from other sources and they don’t care where they get them from. These sources might buy keys with stolen credit cards for example. So a shady vendor pays 50$ for the game with a stolen credit card. If it’s not detected immediately, they can resell the key for 20$ to G2A or similar. And G2A sells the Key to you for 30$. And then at some point the credit card is identified as stolen and the 50$ are charged back. Meaning that the developer/publisher didn’t earn a single penny.

“But it is unfair that people in other countries have to pay less than me” is often to be read in comments. Well, these people also earn less than you in most cases. The reason why you earn as much in the first place is because of exactly the same reasons. If everyone would only pay 30% of the regular prices for games, what do you think would happen? Well, the companies who make the games would either be moved to “cheap” countries to survive with less income, or they would need to make use of outsourcing even more.
Game Developers rarely get rich by doing games. Programming games is considered a waste of potential even now. But right now we are still in a situation where western companies can take the risk. That situation is fading away the more the market shifts towards resellers. So if you think “but I also just want to pay 30% of the normal price” then think about your job, and if your company might be better off to employ someone from India instead of you for the same reason.

I often see the question “Is reseller XY to be trusted?” which is then answered with “Yes, I always buy from them and never had problems”. And while it might be true that you never had problems, that doesn’t make it a trusted reseller. If you have a dealer wo provides you with stolen car radios, and they all work, does this make this dealer being a trusted reseller, just because the radios work? Not really.
There are trusted resellers. Some of these are Green Man Gaming, Humble Store, GamersGate, Gamesrocket. What is the easiest way to identify them? Check where they are located. Shady resellers like G2A are located in Hong Kong.

“But if it’s such a shady business, why are they allowed to do that?”
I guess the answer to that is that it’s hard to do anything against it. It has a good reason that these companies are all based in Hong Kong. With that location they got access to multiple regions, and it will be a pain to take any legal actions.
Another big problem is that G2A and other pages do a lot of publicity work. E.g. lots of streamers are sponsored by them. They also pay very good prices for ad banners. It makes them look as the “goog guys”, the Robin Hoods, who are working against the Evil companies, helping the poor gamers. Actions like banning these keys can cause huge shitstorms like it happened when Ubisoft did so. In this case the keys were bought with fraudulent payment in the Origin store. Origin was acting as reseller for Ubisoft. A shady reseller used fraudulent payment there and then sold the keys to a page like G2A. Then they realized the keys were purchased fraudulently and disabled them. Players then claimed “But I paid 30$ for them and they worked at first”. Yes they paid the money to their trusted dealer of smuggling wares, but not to Ubisoft. But when ubisoft got this huge shitstorm they probably shit their pants due to the press disaster and decided to reactivate keys which were already redeemed by players. Players who now play with games Ubisoft never received any money for.

Awareness is a huge problem altogether. While it seems obvious to most people that pirating games isn’t the “clean” way to acquire games, lots of people actually think that buying games on pages like G2A is a “clean” way. Some players think that just because they gave some money to a company that everything must be ok. Some even blame the Developer/Publisher if such a key gets banned. But their purchase contract is with the company they purchased the product from. And if they sell them a faulty product it’s them to blame.

So why are you a bad person if you buy from these pages?
The answer is basically the same as if you pirated the game. The Developer hardly receives any money if you do so.

If everyone would do it, like everyone pirated games back in times of the C64, the game industry would need to adapt or dies.

So you are either responsible for a dying game industry or for counter measures.

And what could these counter measures look like?
Well, steam already initiated first steps. They limited gifting. So that you can only buy and gift in one step. So that normal players are not affected most of the time. But you cannot buy and then decide later to whom you gift/trade it. So that you cannot buy like a hundred games in Russia now and gift them to your customers who pay European prices later.
But with the rise of popularity and the drop of the Russian Rubel at the same time that was not enough. So the next step steam did was to region lock keys bought in several countries retroactively (all keys during last ~3 months). So if you buy a Key in Russia now you will not be able to register it in Steam unless you login with a Russian IP. If you already registered it, you will now need a Russian IP to play the game. This measure probably decreased the value of “stocked” keys from these resellers by millions of dollars. Telling players that they need to activate the key via proxy is already bad and looks shady. But if they also need to tell them that they need to use a Russian IP to use them…well….
So region locks are one way to act against it. Nobody likes region locks. But people buying from these pages have some responsibility that they are coming back now.
Additional measures could be that you will not be able to buy “keys” at all anymore, only games on your account directly.
And of course the hardcore solution would be to stop selling games digitally. Make a hardcore DRM, basically what Consoles do, where lots of the stuff must either be bought in the specific console store, or as physical good at a local retailer. Buying 1000 games in Russia and then ship them to Europe for retail would mean that they will not go through customs duty. Of course it’s not very likely that this happens. But you also see why console games have additional advantages to developers.

So, be a good kid, and support developers by buying the game from trusted sources.
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April 10th, 2015, 17:34
"So, be a good kid, and support developers by buying the game from trusted sources."

what if the trusted source in in another country and pricing the game in that countries currency?
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April 10th, 2015, 17:51
I'd say that in 99% of the cases you should be able to answer the question by looking at the vendor for a moment while using Common Sense.

I am not an expert on taxes though. So I can't give any more details about what to consider when buying let's say Avernum directly from Spiderweb if you are living in country X. And in that case it doesn't even make a difference for the developer (well, actually he gets more of the money as he doesnt need to pay the cut for steam).
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April 10th, 2015, 17:51
If it's a site you've never heard of and they seem shady, try Ebay instead. Just make sure to check the seller feedback before you purchase.

For example, I purchased a Steam key for PoE from a seller in Germany 2 nights ago. It wasn't an individual seller but rather a company that also uses Ebay as a storefront. They have more than 100,000 Ebay transactions and a 99% positive rating, so I knew they were safe to buy from.

They emailed me the Steam key within minutes after I made the purchase, and there were no additional taxes involved. I paid less than 19 Euros.
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April 10th, 2015, 17:56
Ebay is the same story though. As long as the transactions are fine, ebay won't care.

And just because a transaction is successful and because the key works doesn't mean that it's a legitimate purchase. It just means that the customers rarely had any problems.

It comes with the same pros and cons as buying from one of the shady resellers.
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April 10th, 2015, 18:09
That's why you take a few minutes to look into the company you're buying from before you a make a purchase. It isn't that hard to figure out.
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April 10th, 2015, 18:15
Yeah, just saying that the % of people giving positive ratings is not directly related to that.

If it is a shady vendor it just tells you how many broken radios they sold. But not how many stolen ones.
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April 10th, 2015, 18:19
Well if I'm purchasing a game from a seller in another country, I only do so if it's a legitimate company. It's usually easy to tell because they'll have the name of the company somewhere on their Ebay page and then you can look it up.
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April 11th, 2015, 00:19
Well I bought the entire Total War series and every DLC for $85 on a key site. That would of cost me $200 on Steam. Just make sure you buy a non region locked key.
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April 11th, 2015, 00:31
Yeah, and if you pirated it, you might have paid 0$ and you would have saved even more money.

For the developers it might not make a big difference (depending on the source in the particular case of course).
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April 11th, 2015, 00:36
Originally Posted by Kordanor View Post
Yeah, and if you pirated it, you might have paid 0$ and you would have saved even more money.

For the developers it might not make a big difference (depending on the source in the particular case of course).
Well they keep saying it is a global economy don't they? So if companies in general can make products in third world countries, pay third world wages why should they expect first world money for them.
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