The RPS Bargain Bucket: Angry Pigeons

I’m leaving on a jet plane, and I know exactly when I will be coming home – I suppose that disrupts some of the romanticism, doesn’t it? Alas. Anyway, I’ve been musing about something that was brought up in the comments in last week’s Bargain Bucket. What’s everyone’s stance on sites like cdkeys? They make me leery, obviously. Especially with that recent rash of news about people scamming developers for keys, and the grey areas surrounding the whole concept. Is this all a socially acceptable situation? Or is it more of a “click-click, nudge-nudge” kind of deal? Should I be scouring these key-trading sites too? While you all have a think, here’s a bucket of shinies. This week’s plushies are from Hideous! (As always, send more picture. Kthxbai.)

Chivalry Complete Pack
$6.67/£5.02/€6.40
Chivalry isn’t dead; chivalry is off slaughtering peasants and beating them into cowering submission. Or something. Birthed of a mod, Chivalry: Medieval Warfare revolves around taking various kinds of antiquated weapons to a variety of heads, with a smattering of siege weapons thrown in for good measure. It is reportedly gory. Very gory. Head-smashingly gory, which is fantastic if you like things like that. Of course, the game also kinds packaged with some amount of controversy, notably its stance on women in those olden days. (They apparently did not exist.)

Middle-Earth: Shadows of Mordor
$30.50/£19.10/€24.37
I don’t care what you call it, I call it the PokeOrc simulator. Without giving too much away, Shadows of Mordor is a competent action-game with a fantastic ideas, one they’ve polished and tweaked to perfection. Who knew having NPCs that recognized and registered your existence in a persistent fashion could be so freakin’ cool? (I am, of course, speaking rhetorically.) I’ve never been big on Tolkien, but Shadows of Mordor actually comes with my stamp of approval. Also, there’s nothing like scrolling through your social media and reading about how people are fleeing from evil, evil orcs who will stop at nothing to give them Level 24 combat hugs.

Remember Me
$9.99/£6.26/€7.99
Remember Me is an odd game. When I reviewed it for PC Gamer ages back, I found myself deeply frustrated at its plot holes, its ho-hum combat, its unfortunate way of keeping you tethered to the rails even as it kindled the urge to explore. Remember Me was, and still is, incredibly flawed. But, is it a bad game? No. Average, perhaps, at full price. But at its current price point? I actually think it’s worth getting. Remember Me is staggeringly beautiful. There are moments that will make you stop and stare, marvelling at the environment. Neo-Paris invites wonder. It’s a gorgeous world, filled with little nuances that you can’t frickin’ visit but, still. STILL. Still.

Also of note:

Humble Oni Press Weekly Bundle -$15/£9.39/€11.99
Full disclosure: I really just like the pictures. And Scott Pilgrim, which is earnest but hip and filled with a cool kind of cute. Although I can’t properly endorse any of the comic selections, I still believe that they might make interesting purchases. I mean, it’s possible that you might find yourself stumbling onto the Next Best Thing, long before anyone else becomes aware of its impeccable awesomeness? So, why not? (Maybe. And only if you like indie stuff.)

RPG Maker Adventure DLC Bundle – $9.99/£6.49/€7.99
Do you like RPGs? I hope you do. Because everyone rather likes RPGs in these here parts. At least, to some extent. This weekend, the almost monolithic Humble has something that may be of interest to those of you who don’t completely hate RPG Maker: the engine itself, for super cheap and this Adventure DLC Bundle which comes with an assortment of assets, and two games.

The Indie Royale Mystery Bundle $1.59/£1.00/€1.27 is current price
10 games worth over $70? Uhm. All right? It doesn’t sound like a phenomenal amount of savings, and frankly, I’m not exceedingly impressed with the line-up that has been revealed so far. (Although, doggie.) However, the Mystery Bundle tickles my curiosity, which Indie Royale hasn’t been able to do for a while. Each day, another game is revealed, and the rock-bottom price will creep slightly higher. It might not be the most exciting thing in the world, but a gift-a-day for about two bucks isn’t the world’s worst idea, you know?

66 Comments

  1. meepmeep says:

    Steam has Trials Fusion, Child of Light and Valiant Hearts together for £15.99 (and discounted 50% individually) which seems a pretty good deal.

    • Siimon says:

      Valiant Hearts is an incredible, surprisingly emotional, game.

  2. Dale Winton says:

    I don’t see the problem with cd key sites , the developer is getting a sale for it after all

    And we should have some place to tell us about the deals

    • Premium User Badge

      tigerfort says:

      The problem with key resellers is that it turns out the dev quite often isn’t making a sale. There have been a lot of cases recently where keys have been either scammed from developers (usually by people claiming they’re for youtube channels) or outright stolen, and then sold through the reseller sites.

      Personally I’d rather they didn’t turn up and pollute the bucket. If I buy a game, I want to be sure the people who made it actually get something.

      • Drake Sigar says:

        And from the consumer end they can’t be sure they’re not getting stolen CD keys which will get shut down by the developer/publisher. It adds a risk element to the simple act of a purchase which shouldn’t be there.

      • Cassandra Khaw says:

        I’ve spent a lot of time just getting comfortable with the idea of running this column, and not accidentally giving bad deals as I did in the beginning. I’ve heard people muse about cdkeys websites a lot, and I’ve been THINKING about pointing fingers at it.

        At the same time, there’s that: no guarantee that the developers are actually getting a share. *flails* Yet, I am conflicted because stuff like that absurd Wastelands 2 discount were present on one of these sites AND AND AND…

        • Siimon says:

          I think they’re okay to have here, but you might want to include a small disclaimer.

        • Vandelay says:

          I honestly think it is best to avoid promoting them unless you know for certain they are legit. I can’t speak for everyone and perhaps I am naive to think this, but if I saw a store being linked to by RPS, I would treat that as a seal of approval that it was above board.

          Having said that, if you do know that a CD key seller is doing everything they should be doing within the law, then I don’t see a reason not to highlight them. For example, after a bit of research, I’m pretty confident that Simply CD Keys, a London based website that is the offspring of an online store called Simply Games that has been selling physical games since the 90’s, is a safe place to buy and it is not selling something that is going to turn out to be stolen.

          Of course, it can be a little hard to decipher what is legit and not. Google searches normally turn up forums (particularly Steam forums) with lots of people jumping and down, having done no research and probably never bought anything outside of Steam, saying “Nope, no key seller is legit. It isn’t Steam approved. Yadda yadda.” But a glance on sites like Trust Pilot and Scam Advisor normally give pretty good indicators as to whether you will be fine using somewhere.

          Quick look at CDKeys.com, which was discussed last week, I would be dubious. Scam Adviser seems to be showing them as being based in the US, but the owner is from Dubai. There is another bit that is off in the Cayman Islands. Despite that, the FAQ says they will charge you in GBP, although the prices displayed depend on where you view the website from. The website doesn’t seem to give any indication of who the company you are buying from actually is or where they are based in any of their About Us or FAQ pages. I would avoid them myself and would expect reputable websites to not promote something that looks so dodgy (unless they know something I don’t about them being legit.) They have a lot of good reviews on Trust Pilot though, so they are definitely not going to steal your money.

          • AngoraFish says:

            …based in the US, but the owner is from Dubai. There is another bit that is off in the Cayman Islands. Despite that, the FAQ says they will charge you in GBP, although the prices displayed depend on where you view the website from. etc. etc.

            It sounds a lot like you’re describing Apple, Google and eBay.

        • lomaxgnome says:

          Absurd discounts that seem too good to be true almost certainly are, and at the very least, they certainly aren’t benefiting the developer. It’s pretty easy at this point to know which sites are legitimate and publisher supported and which ones aren’t. If you’re going to get into cdkey sites, you may as well have entire columns about how to use the gray market and buy everything with TF2 keys.

        • malkav11 says:

          My view is that there is always going to be some reason that these sites are able to sell these games for prices so much lower than the rest of the market. It may not be something actively illegal, like key generators or stolen keys, but it’s unlikely to be entirely aboveboard or the other sites would be doing it to drive their own business, and it seems very much a caveat emptor sort of situation. It’s not terrifically hard for people to find out about this stuff if they want to take that risk. I’d rather not have a respectable website like RPS actively promoting it.

          • Dale Winton says:

            There is nothing illegal , they just buy them from other countries. I have bought about 500 of them and never once has a game been taken off me.

          • malkav11 says:

            I wasn’t saying they were necessarily doing anything illegal, although there have been instances of keygens and/or stolen keys being sold through services of this sort. But even buying keys from other regions carries with it certain risks. You’re willing to take those risks, evidently, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

    • fish99 says:

      If you want somewhere to learn about such deals, Lewie has that covered over at- http://savygamer.co.uk

      Or there’s HotUKDeals.com, or isthereanydeal.com.

      • Dodj33 says:

        isthereanydeal doesnt list cd key resellers, and HUKD generally bans all such listings. check Kinguin and G2A. i just got Ethan Carter for £6.30 from the latter

  3. Luringen says:

    How easy/hard is Shadow of Mordor? If it’s anything like Assassins creed where as long as you can time parries right you essentially have god-mode, I’ll pass. Otherwise I might pick it up at that price.

    Edit: Decided to go for it, thanks for your answers!

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Haven’t played it myself, but my brother got it. He’s one of those people who’s played every AC and, as you quite rightly pointed out, has the parrying down to where he’s effectively invincible.
      He’s been telling me lots of war stories re: Shadow of Mordor and seems to be loving it, and specifically mentioned that it’s “well hard”. So there you go.

    • RedViv says:

      The combat is more Arkham-inspired. It gets harder than in the Arkham games too, thanks to the AI (even aside from the Nemesis system), with orcs vastly more likely to gang up in a way aiming to just drown you.

    • welverin says:

      Combat is lifted from the Batman Arkham games, so judge based on that.

      So far I’m not having much difficulty. John seem to have more trouble with it. Sixteen hours and a lot of upgrades in I really only have problems when I face a lot of enemies at once and don’t pay enough attention to my health.

      So, maybe? I’d still recommend it, but then I’d recommend you get so more feedback so you can more accurately judge.

    • SMGreer says:

      As others have said, it’s more Arkham inspired but a bit more difficult, with enemies liable to swarm you or ranged enemies picking you off quickly. The emphasis is really on stealth. As with all these types of games though, enough hours in you’ll have the upgrades to make combat a lot easier but I never got to a point where I was invincible, you’re always vulnerable if the right (wrong) captain shows up at just the wrong moment.

      Put bluntly, it’s a heck of a lot better than Assassins’ Creed combat.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Mordor has a lot going on in terms of difficulty. The grunt enemies will only ever challenge you in swarms. I completed an optional side mission where I had to face down fifty of them in a horde, and never came close to dying. Time your parries and charge up execution strikes and you’re good. At least with grunts.

      Its the Captains and Warchiefs that will challenge you, on the main.

      Some are invulnerable to Stealth. Others to Ranged. I even found one dude who is a ‘combat master’ cannot be wounded by fighting him directly. You HAVE to ambush this dude or die. Also, the captains have really good combat AI. Many can shrug off execution strikes, or take only a wound from them before slinging you roughshod onto the ground and making you vulnerable.

      Add to that, that when those captains come back – and they will, unless you exploded or otherwise removed their head – they remember encounters with you. Some might develop new strengths or weaknesses based on your previous encounter. Some will even become so much more powerful that they will come round, taunt you, wound you and leave again. Just rub their new power in your face and keep you looking over your shoulder.

      And you need to. Because those same angry captains like to pop up when you are the midst of other things. Like fighting captains or warchiefs. Its pretty dynamic, and plenty varied. From someone who got abysmally bored with both AC and Batman games: This is far better than both of those.

      • welverin says:

        I too got sick of both Assassins Creed and the Batman games, despite it’s heavy influences from both of those series I’ve enjoyed the hell out of it so far with out any of the weariness I suffered from the other games.

  4. Premium User Badge

    samsharp99 says:

    I’ve bought cd keys before (got bf4 + premium very cheap before release and also bought xbox live subs with it when I had an xbox) so I’m not against the idea. I do quite often feel quite wary about buying them – I always check independent reviews of the site to make sure they’re not scam artists before buying!

  5. GameCat says:

    That comic bundle is quite nice, but I really don’t like that most of these works are just few issues, it’s like buying 1/4 of game and if you want to play the whole thing you must pay even more. :/

    • Fomorian1988 says:

      There are only a few issues, because that’s how long those comics are :) They’re miniseries, with some of them (Stumptown, Helheim) having sequel miniseries. It’s a Locke & Key/Hellboy method, with a series of minseries forming a continuing storyline.

      • BarneyL says:

        That’s good to know, some of the Humble comics bundles have felt more like a paid for demo than a complete story.

  6. Hideous says:

    Hooray, you used my image!

    And yeah no probably void cdkey sites as they’re shady as all hell – if the keys aren’t stolen, they’re at the very least like… Russian. And everyone knows Russians are scary.

  7. killias2 says:

    Has anyone tried the Portuguese site for Mordor? I thought I heard that the game was getting region locked..?

    • monkehhh says:

      I used that Brazilian site, paid through PayPal, plugged the key in to Steam, no problemo.

      • killias2 says:

        Did you do it recently? Or last week? I think they disabled region trading recently or something..? But if you’ve had recent success, I may take the plunge.

      • Silith321 says:

        I can confirm that this works without problems, just bought it (€ region here) – couldn’t resist even though I have no time to play and countless other games to play first, ah, you know how it is…

    • Vandelay says:

      I’ve been hearing about that website quite a bit recently, as it has some insane deals compared to local online stores. The reports I’ve read all seem to be positive and they clearly label when a game is region locked (like, unfortunately, Alien: Isolation.) I also saw a forum discussion regarding the site in which a representative popped in and said they were looking to add additional languages for foreign buyers.

      It seems to be fairly legit then and certainly not a secret that many people are buying from them around the world. My only fear with encouraging this sort of thing though is that more publishers will just start region locking games.

      • HadToLogin says:

        To tell truth, every time someone mentions new region locks, I’m thinking about going back to pirating. But there’s still enough publishers who have no problem with me buying games from Russia or Brazil.

        I just wonder if my mail “hey guys, wanted to buy YOUR GAME through my Russian friend, but he told me you region locked it, so instead of paying $10 for YOUR GAME, I bought new Humble Bundle, thanks for making my decision easier” would change anything…

  8. monkehhh says:

    Also worth noting that you can gift a copy of Diablo 3 to yourself through Blizzard’s US store for 20 dollars, so about 13 quid. Same for the Reaper of Souls expansion. Currently they’re £16.49 each on the UK store, until 6th October.

    • Lobotomist says:

      50% of Diablo 3 and Expansion. Thats worth noting!

      Just be sure to “buy it as gift” from US store. In order to pay in dollars instead euros

  9. Michael Anson says:

    Wait, what? There’s a big sale of Paradox games on Steam this weekend (averaging 75% off), and it’s not in the bargain bucket?

    • HadToLogin says:

      Probably because it’s visible on Steam, while BB tends to focus on smaller sites.

    • Rizlar says:

      Well it is all over the front page of steam. Generally steam deals don’t seem to end up in the Bargain Bucket, probably because they are extremely visible as it is.

      But you are right, the Paradox sale is great! You can get EU4 with all the current expansions and DLC for just £19! (alright, so it’s actually missing three DLC packs which will cost you all of £3.87 for the sake of ultimate completeness… until Art of War comes out anyway)

    • Carra says:

      Crusader Kings 2, Victoria 2 and EU4 make up 360 of my steam hours. All that for the low, low price of €8? Go buy it. Now.

  10. Kefren says:

    I’ve got some freebies left if anyone wants them. Just contact me via email or Facebook (links on my website, Contact tab) if you want any. Brackets tells you the site you need an account on for me to transfer the unplayed game/software.

    – Dance eJay 6 – music making software. [GamersGate]
    – Magrunner Dark Pulse [GOG]
    – Dungeons of Dredmore [Desura]

    NB Dance eJay 6 has now gone.

  11. fish99 says:

    I’m itching to buy Shadows of Mordor and Alien Isolation, but god knows why. I’m currently 100+ hrs into a Skyrim playthough and not likely to play anything else anytime soon.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      Oh good, someone else still utterly hooked. I was starting to think there was something wrong with me.

      • welverin says:

        Check the Steam stats page and check the most played games list, you are not remotely alone.

      • fish99 says:

        Ooops, looks like I just accidentally bought Shadows of Mordor. It’s even started installing itself somehow…

        /sigh

  12. trjp says:

    Herein lies the issue of whether to include ‘key resellers’ or not.

    If you don’t include them, people will post to highlight their deals when you post poorer deals elsewhere
    If you DO include them – people will post highlighting that they are ‘shady'(*)

    (*)Problem with ‘shady’ is that people usually have little evidence – where their domain was created or whatever means nowt (Valve are a WA-based company but they have a business in Luxembourg!? – SHADY!?) Anecdotal situations will be raised which are largely meaningless – a lot of people’s concerns boil-down to a mix of ‘snobbery’ or jealousy (he got it cheaper – it MUST be shady)

    Note: Some key resellers allow third-parties to resell (ala Amazon Marketplace) which opens-up the issue of ‘where are the keys really from’ – some resellers have previously resold bundle keys which some people think is “wrong” – in one case some keys were revoked (which was the developer being an asshole because it didn’t harm the offender, just their customers) and so on…

    To counter that – there are ‘legit’ DD stores still selling games that developers have asked them not to (because they weren’t being paid by the publisher) – Gamefly, GreenManGaming and Gamersgate are included in that list – are they ‘shady’ now too?

    As a consumer, if you get caught-up on the rights and wrongs of what you’re buying you will get tangled-up in a mess pretty quickly. Make a decision as to where you’re willing to shop – make sure you pay in a way which gives you some protection (e.g. a credit card) and stick with it

    Just don’t expect others to share that decision…

    p.s. to Cassandra – if you’re uncomfortable with them, don’t post them – it’s not like people don’t know they exist ;0

  13. Baines says:

    Remember Me has been cheaper before, and probably will again in the next big Steam sale.

    The issue is that GamersGate still lists the base price at $50, while Steam sells it at $30, so GamersGate’s 80% off isn’t as good a deal as Steam’s 75-80% off.

  14. Wulfram says:

    I avoid the key resellers personally, but I’d love to be convinced that it was OK.

    • trjp says:

      Define “OK”?

      My view is that developers/publishers need their acts together if they want to prevent wholesale code resale. No use just expecting the punters to exercise their random moral compass – that won’t work!

      Until that happens, it’s a personal decision whether you use these services or not. I’d strongly recommend you use a credit card to cover yourself against issues but otherwise I really don’t see the downside.

      If it seems “too cheap” there may be a catch but in most cases we’re talking codes which are “a bit” cheaper than the cheapest ‘more legit’ deals – and it’s not really any different than using AMAZON.COM or NUUVEM outside their intended regions – which I know people here are usually happy to do…

      I’ve heard people say that buying from these places is “akin to piracy” which is nonsense – if someone advertises it and you pay for it that’s fine in my book UNLESS it’s bloody obvious that what you’re buying is a C90 full of games rather than just 1 game ;0

      If you want to be all “I just want to support the devs/industry as much as possible” then that’s OK of course – pay full price on day-of-release – otherwise it’s moral compass spinning time – if it’s “OK” for you then it’s “OK” full stop.

      • thedosbox says:

        Until that happens, it’s a personal decision whether you use these services or not

        It’s not a good idea for RPS to publicize such sites given the sketchy nature of many. A few extra dollars aren’t going to kill me, and buying from a trusted site means the devs will see some of the money they worked hard for.

        Your wallets capacity may vary of course.

  15. Steve Catens says:

    Banner Saga 9.99 USD over at Amazon U.S. Steam Key.

    • trjp says:

      and here we have a convenient example of someone suggesting an out-of-region code reseller – handy!! :)

      • Steve Catens says:

        I’m uncertain to what extent you’re busting my balls, but Amazon, while an “evil” monopoly, are generally considered trustworthy for retail purchases, and that price is the same that Steam was selling it for a few weeks back when they had it on sale. Sucks about the out of region thing, but I did specify it was a U.S. special, and thought that portion of the audience here might appreciate knowing about it.

        If I transgressed by posting a deal in the weekend deals thread, I apologize.

  16. Blazar IV says:

    I hope you don’t start posting key-sites unless you can VERIFY they’re legit. It’s not just their integrity on the line but your own. I don’t think you would do your readers or the industry any favors by linking or promoting anything that isn’t on the level.

  17. AngoraFish says:

    I’ve seen a huge amount of talk about cd key resellers being dodgy, and there have been one or two well-publicised incidents, mostly involving the publishers themselves imposing regional restrictions on keys after they had already been sold legitimately.

    For the most part, however, hundreds of keys change hands through these sites every day without problem.

    I’ve bought a dozen or more keys from these sites myself over the years, and the only problem I ever had was immediately resolved with a full refund, without quibbles.

    There are a lot of vested interests in the industry demonising these sites because they subvert arbitrary publisher restrictions such as regional pricing. Unfairly demonising CD key sites is akin to warning people off pirating games because they ‘might’ contain viruses, ‘might’ steal your credit card number, ‘might’ fund money laundering and terrorism, etc. It’s just a convenient line to scare people off practices the publishers don’t like.

    As a regular victim of the ‘Australia tax’, I’m routinely charged a 50% or more markup on the same games as everyone else (no oceans). Sure as hell, I unapologetically will do my damnedest to subvert this, whether by key reseller, or a VPN proxy, or whatever.

    Developers are not charities and my purchasing decisions are not donations. I feel no more qualms in buying a game from a key reseller than I do from buying cheap mobile phone cases from eBay (heaven forbid, undermining local phone shops and licensing deals!).

    Either we live in a competitive global marketplace, with equally empowered consumers and suppliers, or we don’t. Giving all the power to the distributors is not a fair market.

    Despite all the claims of dodgyness, the onus should be on the ones claiming there’s a problem to prove it, and not by pointing to one or two long time past incidents to vilify an entire sector. Instead, all I hear are suppositions and inferences, often with an undercurrent of veiled racism, as if being based in a second or third world country by definition establishes criminality.

    Being registered in the Cayman Islands doesn’t cut it either, if that’s your criteria you may as well stop dealing with Apple, Google, and more or less every other international tax-dodging mega-corporation.

    • Grayvern says:

      I’d also suggest that companies charging what markets will bear extracting most of the profits from people in higher average income territories is an inherently untenable position in increasingly unequal societies with regional income variations.

  18. AngoraFish says:

    Free Steam key at DLH.net for Pirates of Black Cove: Gold Edition
    link to dlh.net

    Sarcasm: careful, foreign language site, might be dodgy!

  19. Carra says:

    As long as there are price differences between countries, people will try to buy in one country and sell it in another one to make some profit. The obvious thing to do here is to have one price for the whole world.

    • Steve Catens says:

      Obvious to you, impractical and unrealistic to others.

  20. CookPassBabtridge says:

    For frugal flare pathers, X-Plane 10 is also .. slightly… cheaper on Steam until tomorrow. £30 down from £45 or your local equivalent.

    Base game is extremely ugly with few, in some cases 1990’s era detailing ( theres a very good reason they don’t show the cockpit of the space shuttle in the steam promo vid). It’s meant to be amazing IF you download tens of gigs of addons, which makes me question how its worth the asking price. The flight modeling better be effing rapturous. This one is gonna take a bit of work / patience…

  21. Borodin says:

    With regard to sites like CD Keys, I think that’s a matter for your own conscience and how John Walker feels about publishing such stuff on his site. The readers can take it or leave it, and I doubt you would get many who remonstrated about it, fist-in-the-air Lucy van Pelt style.

    For me, the best thing about your column is that your own personality shows through; so if you would buy from any given source then by all means write about it.