Riot Deactivating LoL Skin Codes To Fight Resellers

By Nathan Grayson on July 15th, 2014 at 8:00 am.

The phrase “skin codes” always gets me. I imagine League of Legends characters running around with their bones, muscles, and organs fully exposed, glistening triumphantly in the summer breeze. Skin codes, one must assume, let them clothe their frail undercarriages in flesh. Mercifully, however, that’s not the case. Instead, skin codes unlock new outfits/looks for LoL characters, and are as a result hungrily coveted by players who sometimes stare at the same character for hours and hours on end. Naturally, then, some buy them with real money from resellers, especially in the case of limited edition skin codes given out at conventions and things of the like. Problem is, many resellers are scammers, and Riot’s not cool with that. So come next week, it’s shutting the whole operation down.

Riot explained in a post on its website:

“These sites promise limited edition skins for League of Legends, when in reality they acquire codes illegitimately and exploit players. They charge excessive prices (we found one skin for over $1,000!) and sometimes take payment and never provide the content. You can’t predict the outcome, and no purchase is ever guaranteed regardless of what the seller says. To make matters worse these services typically use bots. Bots are lame to play with and chew up additional server bandwidth, negatively impacting everyone.”

“Riot is taking action against these scammers at the source. We are working with multiple payment processors to inform them of the situation and recommend they no longer process fraudulent payments from these sites. Additionally we will be deactivating all previously issued skin codes starting today. If you have a skin code that you acquired legitimately please send a request to Player Support and include proof of ownership. We’d be happy to help redeem the content to your account, but please note after 23/07/14 we will no longer be redeeming codes for any reason.”

Previously activated skin codes, however, are safe. Don’t worry: your Arcade Hecarim isn’t going anywhere.

Interesting to see Riot de-fanging such a powerful promotional tool in the name of scam slaying, though. I suppose they don’t really need this anymore given that whole “67 kabullion players” thing, but still. What do you think, LoL-loving members of the 7-billion-player lifestyle that is RPS? Is this any great blow to the game or the community? Or is this change long overdue?

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15 Comments »

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  1. Screamer says:

    LoL!

    On a more serious note, seems a bit hard in’it?

  2. goalcam says:

    I’m glad to see this happen. Certain people would spam discussion groups for PAX and other conventions where they gave away these codes, constantly asking for skin codes.

  3. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    I don’t see how this could turn out badly for Riot. They’re shown to fight scammers (who don’t target Riot, just their customers) and they’re letting people keep their already obtained skins.

    In fact, it might also encourage Riot to make special skins available more often since there’s clearly a market there.

  4. Premium User Badge

    melnificent says:

    I understand they want to stop dodgy resellers, but doesn’t sale law apply to legally acquired codes?

    Why are devs suddenly going so hard against the legit resellers? Are they seeing people making a larger profit than themselves and wanting a cut? Or do they not really mind if someone making a profit gets caught up in their aiming at scammers.

    If this was done with physical goods, they would have huge costs to pull everything back and a backlash against future shelf space from retailers. But as it’s digital it’s effectively no cost to stop the sales and resales.

    • paddymaxson says:

      It’s not illegal to sell the codes, but it is against terms of use for the game.

      It is considered morally ambiguous to purchase or obtain something that is in limited quantity just to sell it to someone who was not able to obtain but genuinely wanted it for profit.

      It’s not illegal for Riot to stop producing these “products”. They’re taking a hard line on resellers because they agree it’s a bit morally dubious.

      They give the codes away for free, and attached to that is a sort of unwritten (I saw unwritten, I imagine the terms of service has a section on it) rule not to abuse this “gift” by reselling it for money.

      I imagine they’ll still give away limited edition skins at cons in some way:

      EG:
      put down your LoL username and email address and your Con ticket # and we’ll attach it to your account (The con ticket # stops you just putting down loads of usernames, but in this sense you can still gift the code to a friend by putting their username)
      Log in to your account on this terminal and it’ll be attached to your account
      This isn’t hard to do, and it’ll save them money in the long run as they don’t have to print cards for every limited ed skin, they just bring the terminal with them every time.

    • Chalky says:

      Riot have the right to define how their content is distributed – in the same way you can put a “not for resale” stamp on the back of a dvd or a “not to be sold separately” on a can of coke that comes from a 6 pack. It’s extremely common that if someone is giving away free promotional material, it will be explicitly marked as not for resale.

      I would assume that Riot have a similar clause covering these skins in an EULA somewhere.

      • Premium User Badge

        SuddenSight says:

        This is not at all the case. The right to sell an object is considered part of owning an object in most countries (the US, Canada, and the EU all protect the right to resell).

        Cans of soda and the like are labelled “not for individual sale” because of labeling laws. All food items must have proper labels, but items packaged together may have one label for the whole set. The not for individual sale reminds retailers that they cannot sell them individually due to labeling concerns.

        Stuff like ticket resale (“scalping”) also exists in a legal grey area. In general, ticket resale has special laws limiting or prohibiting the practice, though the precise nature of those laws vary widely by region.

        Most digital goods get around these resale laws by defining their products as a license (so the user doesn’t actually own the software, just the right to use the software) or a service (same idea). Hence the name for EULA. This classification hasn’t had much testing in courts, however, and recent rulings in the EU tend to treat digital products as actual items that can be bought and resold.

        This is not to say whether Riot has the right to do this or not, nor whether this is a good idea or not. Just that ownership of codes and the like is a legal grey area that hasn’t been tested in courts much.

    • Premium User Badge

      DrollRemark says:

      I dunno, when you’ve got limited edition items being resold by speculators for massive mark-ups, it’s more equivalent to live event tickets than it is to items like games or DVDs. The former have all sorts of restrictions over resale, to stop the many touts out there. It’s a difficult battle to fight, but clearly a fair one.

    • Moraven says:

      I think the scamming and fraud sites pretending to sell skins but not actually selling anything trump legit resellers.

      It is easier to take them away and I doubt Riot cares about people taking FREE giveaways codes and profiting off them.

  5. paddymaxson says:

    Blizzard were really clever with this for Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls. You only got the preorder bonuses if you registered the game by a certain date. It certainly put paid to my plan of buying a spec ed to resell it (I was in two minds on keeping it or reselling it, I kept it purely because I couldn’t sell it with the preorder bonus as the bonus expired if not registered on time).

    • Moraven says:

      But WoW pet and mount are still rather wild for big money. As not much as LoL or Dota items tho.

      One of the booths at BlizzCon took down your account email to add your prize if you won. There was these toy quarter machines that had codes and sharks were roaming to buy codes off people for a fraction of their market worth.

      • paddymaxson says:

        Well I imagine the Reaper of Souls idea is probably going to be the way forward, at least for preorder bonuses

  6. Lemming says:

    “skin codes” Always makes me smirk for an entirely different reason, given that I’m of a generation where porn was referred to as ‘skin mags’/’skin flicks’

  7. Koozer says:

    Well, I better get round to redeeming my Gamescom skin…

  8. cyrenic says:

    An interesting development that came out of this story: The people running the skin reseller sites claimed the codes were not stolen, but were actually generated from the algorithm that was originally used for the skin codes. Which seems probable, since apparently they were selling lots of items from old conventions that only had a very limited amount of codes.

    For a while now Riot have been making skin codes from conventions expire after a few days, so they’ll probably just stick to that policy going forward.