Up For Debate - Do you buy games from the grey market?

Written by Jon Sutton on Thu, Jul 4, 2019 12:00 PM

There was an interesting little moment this week which once again sparked the debate over grey market CD key retailers such as G2A. Mike Rose, head of the publisher No More Robots, noted on Twitter that searching for one of his titles (Descenders) brought up sponsored ads for the G2A version of the game

To put this into context - adverts for G2A copies of Descenders were appearing above the links for legitimate copies. Just to make matters worse, when he tried to turn the odds off the setting appeared to be permanently locked on.

Now, you may be wondering why any of this means anything. I mean, a sale’s a sale, right? Well, Rose claims he makes zero money from a sale through G2A, even going so far as to recommend users pirate the games instead. “Please, if you’re going to buy a game from G2A, just pirate it instead! Genuinely!” said Rose. “Devs don’t see a penny either way, so we’d much rather G2A didn’t see money either”

The issue isn’t specifically related to G2A.com but they’re certainly one of the biggest grey market retailers in the business, and so generate much of the attention. The problem with some grey market retailers is that not only is there potentially zero money going to the devs and publishers themselves for their game sales, but that the entire farce can actually end up costing the devs money and reputation.

As an example, credit card details are often stolen, used to purchase legitimate keys, and then these are resold on the grey market. The perpetrator gets some quick cash, banks the profit to a completely different account, and then they’re outta there. Meanwhile, you’ve got folks angry that their credit card details have been stolen and used illegally, rightly demanding their money back from the banks, who then in turn level chargebacks (that cost the devs money) for the games purchased, and the stolen keys potentially being revoked (causing more angry customers to pile their upset onto the dev).

And the grey market retailer just sits there as an independent middleman, scoops up its percentage of a sale for using its services from the dodgy dealings and can wash its hands of any of the illegality.

For those reasons, it’s pretty evident to see why Rose would rather fans pirate the games than purchasing them from a grey market retailer. After all, if your hard-earned money is only going to line the likes of G2A or a criminal’s pockets, rather than the developers who actually created the game, why bother at all? It’s what’s ultimately led to Ubisoft moving to keyless sales, a trend which we expect to gather pace going forward. 

The obvious counterpoint to all of this is that sites such as Kinguin and G2A offer up cheap keys. If you want a PC game, they’re often the cheapest sites you can visit. As a grey market, it is pseudo-legitimate ownership linked to your account, albeit at risk of being revoked. Quite simply, good deals are difficult to resist. Those shopping for the best buys will inevitably end up on sites such as G2A once in a while.

So then, I think we can probably all agree that stealing credit cards and using them to buy games is a bad thing. But, has this prevented you from using grey market key resellers, or you still just hunt for the cheapest bargain? Secondly, can you even tell whether a site is a legitimate retailer or not, or should this be more obvious? Let us know your thoughts below!

Do you buy games from the grey market?

Our favourite comments:

I buy from GOG, Steam, or Amazon, in that order. If I find a good deal at the local Best Buy, Target, or heave forbid Walmart I might pick up a box copy.

vicsrealms

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23:53 Jul-05-2019

I buy wherever is cheaper BUT only if its a reputable site, i usally use Allkeyshop to find the cheapest games

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22:37 Jul-05-2019

Used G2A for ages then had my Pillars of Eternity key removed by GOG as the key itself was bought using a stolen card, as confirmed by GOG themselves. Put me right off.

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18:13 Jul-05-2019

Do you buy games from the grey market?


No.

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16:45 Jul-05-2019

I buy from GOG, Steam, or Amazon, in that order. If I find a good deal at the local Best Buy, Target, or heave forbid Walmart I might pick up a box copy.

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09:12 Jul-05-2019

I use g2a to buy games that are banned in my country.

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04:05 Jul-05-2019

I don't buy games from the grey market anymore. I bought some back in '14/'16, but I haven't since. I will buy Windows CD keys from HRK because I can get Pro keys for like $10, and that's great and MS sucks. I believe in buying games from legit sources, mainly because I believe in supporting devs. If I could sale the high seas and support the developers directly, I would do it. In a heart beat.

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22:09 Jul-04-2019

I got some, usually I do try to buy via legitimate sources. But sometimes, I also grab a deal from gray market, though more often than not I grab stuff from stores that don't support wide variety of payment methods. Since I don't like using credit card online and prefer to use prepaid cards. Which doesn't always work with every store. Though I never used G2A, I usually stick to Instant Gaming,...

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22:11 Jul-04-2019

... which is bit less shady, but still gray market, since their sources and reasons for low prices are unknown. But stuff on Steam and GOG I mostly bought straight from the store, no third party seller.

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20:03 Jul-04-2019

Nope. Only buy through GOG - which is a win-win situation to me :V

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19:22 Jul-04-2019

I never have, I always buy games through either steam or their own website (like Minecraft ect...)

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16:27 Jul-04-2019

No, cause I just pirate them

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04:06 Jul-05-2019

Out of curiosity, where do you live?

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18:18 Jul-05-2019

Upvoted 10 times for pirating games?


No wonder why denuvo exist.

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22:57 Jul-06-2019

I can understand it if you live in a country where games are considerably more expensive, or certain games are banned in your country, etc. I just happen to believe that the only good reason to pirate a game in the US to try a game out, and then buy it if you like it. There is no gamer in the US so poor they can't afford to buy their games legit. Period. End. Of. Story. Get a paper route, sell your plasma, water yards, walk dogs, etc. Find a way.

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16:13 Jul-04-2019

I have a good enough job where I can just outright buy games. I also like to support my favourite devs.

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16:06 Jul-04-2019

I tried once and my key was already being used. Learned my lesson.

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15:59 Jul-04-2019

Used to, but now I don't see any real reason why not to pirate shi*y games a.k.a. exclusive games.

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15:54 Jul-04-2019
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15:35 Jul-04-2019

I bought few old games that were too pricey for no reason.
The only one I feel bad for is Minecraft since I know that the account was probably stolen, but the price was 2 euros instead of 20-25.

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15:18 Jul-04-2019

I think it's rarely. I've bought a couple here and there but i tend to wait for steam sales, ubisoft has uplay points can be used on sales and humblemonthly i get another 10% off the store. If i think the game is going to be really really trash i might buy it from somewhere "grey".

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15:01 Jul-04-2019

I'll either buy legit or set sail when the companies are outrageous (epic?). Buying grey market keys is almost the same as setting sail anyway, just that someone somewhere pockets your dosh.

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15:55 Jul-04-2019

By the way - NUFF SAID

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14:47 Jul-04-2019

Sometimes, usually old games that have no busnines being expensive.

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15:02 Jul-04-2019

COD is the best example of this the First COD is 15 years old and still 20€(ignoring steam sale) while black ops almost a decade old is 40€. what the hell... it's one of my main reasons to purchase older AAA games on cdkeys websites and

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13:59 Jul-04-2019

Haven't bought games from those sites in a long time but considering how many developers are pulling out the "exclusivity" card, it's looking more and more inviting

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13:52 Jul-04-2019

bought metro exodus from onlinekeys or whatever, battlefield 4 and 1 as well i think. Rarely buy games nowadays...

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