Ubisoft Cancels “Fraudulent” Uplay Keys From Re-Sellers

For all the trouble the internet gets itself into, do you know which word we don’t use enough? “Fracas”. Here’s today’s: Ubisoft have deactivated a set of Uplay game keys it deemed “fraudulently obtained,” leaving gamers who bought those keys from re-sellers out of pocket and full of ire. A thirty-page forum thread (at the time of writing) over on the Ubi site is full of stories from people affected.

The thread was started by forum user slump3r, who says they acquired the keys from re-seller Kinguin in order to avoid Steam’s use of Euro currency in his native Poland, which they “cannot afford on a Polish pay” since the “Euro is 4x the Polish currency, whcih would make me pay for a game like FC4 […] the equivalent of 200 Eur.” The situation is made more complicated because the user is “an expatriate Belgian in Poland” who doesn’t speak Polish, and so needs the English-language version of Ubisoft’s games which aren’t otherwise available within Poland.

If this were just a single case, it would be an unfortunate instance of someone falling between the cracks of digital stores in an international world, but the thread has quickly grown in the past 48 hours with similar stories – at least in the sense that other people also bought from re-sellers and have had their codes de-activated.

This continued until last night when Ubisoft community manager xMiiSTY responded in the thread:

We regularly deactivate keys that were fraudulently obtained and resold. In this case, we are currently investigating the origin of the fraud, and will update customers as soon as we have more information to share. In the meantime, customers should contact the vendor from whom they purchased the key.

Which doesn’t sound particularly promising as far as affected users getting a satisfactory resolution. While that makes it tempting to cast blame upon Ubisoft, it doesn’t seem to me that they’re doing anything wrong – they can sell products under whatever prices they choose, there are often tax or administrative reasons for prices to be offered in non-local currencies, and it would seem unfair that they be obligated to honour keys if they are, as they state, fraudulently obtained by those key re-sellers.

I’ve asked Ubisoft for comment, but in the meantime I guess consider this a double PSA: when it comes to key re-sellers, buyer beware; and please use the word “fracas” more liberally.

134 Comments

  1. Marblecake says:

    How can a key be fraudulently obtained? Doesn’t Ubi have control over which combination of symbols unlock their games? Deactivating after the fact seems…weird.

    • Chalky says:

      Buying keys on a stolen credit card probably counts I’m sure. Obviously there will be some delay between the purchase and someone reporting that 1000 keys were just charged to their credit card and it wasn’t them.

      When something costs £30 and someone walks up to you in the street and offers you it for £15, you’d probably be suspicious. The same thing with websites isn’t any less suspicious, people should always be wary that something dodgy might be going on.

      There’s a whole load of spam on youtube at the moment offering cheap steam keys – anyone who resorts to spamming to get their message across is probably breaking the rules in a bunch of other ways too.

      • iainl says:

        Offering £30 Steam games for £15 is now perfectly normal practice through Steam itself. Ubisoft do not publish a list of retailers that they consider “authorised”. G2A, one of the retailers having their keys revoked, and while Ubisoft keep “the good list” secret, they do sponsor PewDiePie, whose videos playing the revoked games have been linked on the Ubisoft official promo accounts through Twitter etc.

        So all in all, it really isn’t that obvious that products bought through G2A are going to get killed by the publisher after you’ve been happily playing the game for weeks.

        • Chalky says:

          Presumably if you’re buying through a legitimate reseller who was itself burned by this you’ll be able to get a refund from them though, or at least get a replacement key.

          It seems very likely that they were bought on stolen cards and if that’s the case then G2A need to get their shit together in terms of how they’re sourcing these keys.

          Fact is if you were using a legitimate reseller then you’re probably fine and won’t be out of pocket. If you weren’t then you made a mistake – maybe it’s an easy mistake to make but Ubisoft aren’t really responsible for who you give your money to.

          • Thurgret says:

            I think a post got edited? This reply no longer made any sense, anyway!

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            Yep, but the point is that key reselling is not legitimate everywhere regardless of the situation, nothing stops gaming companies to just write off key resellers as unauthorized and they would have all the rights to do so. It’s a really simple matter that doesn’t require anything more complicated than that.

            The simple answer then would be to avoid key resellers and you’ll have avoided the problem. It’s better if you’re low on cash to be the kind of “almost acceptable pirate” that more often then not ends up buying the game regardless, but from the proper channels.

          • Chalky says:

            @Thurgret – Yeah, I noticed that and re-edited. It’s entirely possible that I’m going insane and ended up merging two posts in my brain while replying. Oh well, hopefully things make a lot more sense now.

      • ahac says:

        > When something costs £30 and someone walks up to you in the street and offers you it for £15, you’d probably be suspicious.

        But it’s not someone who walks up to you… it’s another store. I’ve seen camping products cost half as much at Walmart as it did at REI (a fancy outdoor gear store). Same product, half the price. There is nothing suspicious about that and Walmart doesn’t sell stolen stuff. Just the lower price isn’t an indication that these stores sell stolen keys.

        • malkav11 says:

          There is, in fact, something suspicious about that. Or at least potentially so. There is some reason that the one store can afford to sell you the item for a dramatically lower (ongoing) price than the other store. Maybe it’s a similar item of a cheaper manufacture. Maybe they have economies of scale the other store doesn’t or get a better wholesale price. Maybe the other store is massively price gouging. Or maybe the cheap store is getting it illegitimately.

          • Emeraude says:

            At the same time, on the digital marketplace, where you can see prices go from one to twenty (and vice versa) on the same store in a matter of hours, I have a feeling people have become perfectly inured to price as a clue of potential wrong-doing.

          • epeternally says:

            So because Humble Bundle sells four keys for a dollar, way below anyone else’s prices, one should assume they’re not a legitimate retailer, right? Except they are. $1.60 Mortal Kombat 9 Komplete Edition on Nuuvem, must be stolen, right? Except no, they’re 100% legit. Price isn’t an adequate indicator of the legitimacy of a retailer, at least in the world of digital game sales. Not at all and not ever. There’s just too much competition and too much massive undercutting among legitimate sites for a game being cheap to ever in itself warrant much scrutiny.

        • Martel says:

          To use your analogy though you’re talking about shopping at REI vs a guy in the parking lot of Walmart with the same goods in the back of his truck. They’re both stores, but clearly one is more reputable than the other.

        • Chalky says:

          You say “Walmart doesn’t sell stolen goods” but you can only say that because they’re a well known brand. You stumble across some website you’ve never heard of and you have no idea what so ever what you’re going to be getting for your money.

          A good looking website can be thrown together for £50 including hosting. When you look at a site you’ve never heard of before, all you know is that some dude exists and they made a website. It’s a hell of a lot closer to bumping into someone on the street than walking into an expensive bricks and mortar store.

        • derbefrier says:

          A 10 year old game that’s 80percent off may not be suspicious but if you see GTA5 on pc for 20 bucks a month before it comes out its time to start asking questions. Common sense people, use it don’t let your greed throw it out the window. This is what these guys are counting on you know.

      • AngoraFish says:

        And yet nobody has actually claimed that the keys are ‘stolen’, or have been purchased with ‘stolen’ credit cards, other than in these forums.

        Ubisoft are claiming fraud (typically, some kind of deception), which could be anything, most likely a retail buyer claiming they are going to sell the keys into a low-wage developing country when they in fact they take them online and sell to all-comers.

        I find it extraordinary that every time this comes up forum commentators immediately jump to allegations of stolen credit cards, but here’s the thing, stolen credit cards are typically an issue between banks and retailers. Outside of UPlay (in which case sales are nickle and dime stuff, unlikely to have occurred in the volumes alleged, and virtually untraceable if done in ones and twos on fresh dummy accounts) it is extremely unlikely that Ubisoft actually sells much at all via credit card – they will inevitably use normal commercial invoicing arrangements when selling bulk lots of game keys to retailers. The odds of Ubisoft being burned directly by ‘stolen credit cards’ in these kinds of volumes are virtually nil.

        If someone steals my credit card, buys a bunch of game keys, then onsells them, it is thoroughly implausible to imagine that Ubisoft would give one toss. In fact, the inevitable response, if they bother to give me a response at all, will be “take it up with your bank”.

        Key cancelations are inevitably about large corporations enforcing regional pricing restrictions and, as we all know, the benefits of globalisation must only benefit large corporations, never people.

  2. FCA says:

    I sympathize with slump3r, up to a point. The median wage in Poland is actually 1/3rd of that in Western Europe, and I found the prices on Steam in Poland to be somewhat lower than in Western Europ, so he is basically looking at a 2x price difference. This type of price difference, for loads of things made me never consider looking at Eastern European jobs, even though the salary was up to local standards (I have lived now in 4 countries in 3 different continents, it’s not an idle comment).

    The language barrier is a tough one though. I detest that Steam (and other online retailers) make it so difficult to get the “right” version. Not to mention the German censorship issue which I’m currently running into. I have bought Steam games in a few different countries (always on Steam though), and I’m always worried about my account being banned. Ah, the joys of “seamless” DRM….

    That being said, I’ve always considered key resellers to be dodgy, dodgy things. No way am I ever going to trust them with my money/credit card details. I have a very short list of online gamestores which I trust (basically: GOG, Humble and Steam), and though it sometimes costs me money (and maybe a game not available in my country), I do not buy anywhere else, except directly from the developer.

    • Frosty Grin says:

      It’s not Steam that restricts the languages. It’s Ubisoft.

    • Shadow says:

      Local salary and currency exchange rate can’t be the only factors considered when one’s trying to determine relative costliness. Just because an item costs, say, twice as much in the local currency doesn’t mean it’s twice as hard to afford it for a local individual. A third key factor is the local cost of living.

      I live in Argentina, where the peso is about 12 to a single US dollar for international credit card purchases (it used to be 1:1 fifteen years ago across the board). But that doesn’t mean things sold at a USD value are 12 times harder to acquire. Probably half as that, maybe less, given how…

      1) My salary isn’t 8% of the equivalent job’s in the United States. Perhaps twice that.
      2) Not everything is priced according to USD here, so the cost of living is considerably lower than in the States. Therefore, while buying things like games is a significant expense, it’s not a crippling blow to my finances.

      But this is depressing, to compare my status to that of an American peer. That Pole is complaining about a 4:1 difference (which is actually 3:1). Surely the cost of living in Poland isn’t the same as in Western Europe, so it makes me want to slap him for boo-hooing he can’t afford games on a Polish salary. Try a close to 14:1 exchange rate, as we have for Euro credit card purchases here, and then we’ll talk.

      • Slump3r says:

        Well, complain about your country, I will complain about mine.
        And BTW, sorry that I forgot to make a very big research of my numbers.
        I wanted to show that this is already bad business practice to begin with.

        And not that I cannot afford to pay those 59,99, translated 253,15 PLN.
        But I find that paying 253,15 when the game in a shop costs 146 PLN is a little bit too much to get a key with no restricted language, no?
        Especially in a country where average pay is around 2000 PLN. So if 1/10 of your pay goes in a videogame, isn’t there a problem?

        Read the original post on the forum, read through the whole thing. This is actually not what I mostly argue anyway.

        • Slump3r says:

          Also, I am not pole.
          Which is why I can compare what is comparable, since I lived in both countries.
          Nobody is talking about your country and if you want to, well, you are welcome to complain as well, but let me complain about my situation in peace :)

    • chris1479 says:

      Umm… you’re not supposed to give them your credit card info… you use PayPal, that way they never get any of your info at all and if they don’t deliver you can open a case against them duh.

  3. Artist says:

    ” they can sell products under whatever prices they choose, there are often tax or administrative reasons for prices to be offered in non-local currencies, and it would seem unfair that they be obligated to honour keys if they are, as they state, fraudulently obtained by those key re-sellers. ”

    I would love to see the tax- or administrative reason for bull like Steams 1$=1€, etc! Also for selling games in Poland for €-prices and other of such shenigans!
    And I would like to see any proof for “fraudulently obtained” keys!

    • Detocroix says:

      And that probably is because… many EU countries have 24% VAT, so 1 dollar is actually 0.76 euros for the publisher / developer which is about right. It sucks for the customer though. Some countries in EU have smaller VAT, but easier to punish everyone the same. Nothing explains $1 to £1 though.

      • El_Emmental says:

        Boooollocks! The average VAT is not 24% at all, that’s only for the Nordic country and their insane wealth (thrice as much GDP per capita than the rest of Europe). Most of Europe has its standard VAT at 20%, and several countries have reduced VAT on virtual goods (some even weren’t even adding VAT to virtual goods sold online until 2012-2014).

        The real reason behind this price difference (150% of the US price when the dollar value was stagnating) is the system put in place by console manufacturers and major publishers in the 90s, fixing the prices of games on the european market (on both the devices and games).

        When caught red-handed (forcing them to negotiate a fine), their excuses went from the fluctuations between the USD and the european currencies (then replaced by the euro), to the cost of localizing the product (voice acting+translating texts) and the labor cost (retail distribution) in the EU. These things costing nowhere near 50% of the US budget necessary for a game, they accepted to pay the fines and pretended to take “appropriate” measures to not have it happen again.

        If you look at the historical value of the USD and the EUR since mid-2006, the EUR only went below 1.25 USD twice, for 2 months in total – out of 100 months. All the 98 other months, it was above +25%. It reached +44%, +46%, +57%. Please point me to a Europe with 35% of VAT, because that’s the average of the last 8 years (actual average on virtual goods was around 15-18%, before the recent harmonization toward 20%).

        It’s no surprise the european market remained smaller in terms of sales and gross revenues (when compared to the US market, always so generous), despite its “potential”. It’s no surprise the piracy rates followed the same pattern.

        When Steam started publishing non-Valve games on its platform (late-2005), the prices were in dollars: the european PC gamers rushed to Steam as more games were being released on it, while retail stores were abandoned (much faster than in the US – the PC section entirely disappeared ages ago).

        The higher cost of labor for running retail chains was no longer there with the digital distribution (only replaced by a much lower one, with identical prices for CDN storage and bandwidth between the US and Europe), localization wasn’t even done on most titles and became systemically outsourced to the poorest regions (greatly reducing the quality and cost), while the EUR was maintaining a solid high value (that only calmed down very recently as the USD is recovering). With the US prices, the Steam platform was actually bringing back to life a dormant PC market, with prices finally matching a supply-demand optimum.

        Fast-forward to 2008. Winter is coming.

        December 17th, 2008. Without prior notice, Steam forces its entire store to switch to european retail prices whenever an european IP or an european payment option is used.

        December 19th, 2008. Electronic Arts finally brings its games to the Steam platform (Mass Effect, Dead Space, Mirror’s Edge, C&C3, Spore, etc).

        See:
        link to store.steampowered.com
        link to store.steampowered.com

        After that change, all other digital distribution platforms introduced and enforced regional pricing to get the retail-based publishers on their platforms too. Retail-based publishers also launched their own digital distribution services. Last year, even Good Old Games was pressured by small/medium publishers to introduce regional pricing on their platform (resulting in a weird fiasco, with GoG handing out GoG credits for the price difference).

        Around 2009, a few indie devs on Steam manually brought the price difference to a more reasonable rate (like 120% of US price). Valve tried to create different tiers between european countries for their own games, to not have insane prices for less wealthy countries (like in the Balkans or easter europe – no point in trying to not pirate, when the price of a game is insanely high), but they mostly failed to put the right countries in the right tiers (mixing extremely wealthy and very poor countries together).

        So it was back to widespread piracy even among gamers with paying jobs, waiting for sales and now buying cheaper Steam key from shady resellers.

        Publishers will blame piracy and cultural differences as the cause of lesser sales, hunting down keys from the CIS area. Nobody at the board meeting will point out that pricing a product at $50 on a market, then pricing the exact same product $75 on a nearly identical market, might explain the variation and how it deeply affected the way the european consumers buy and consume video games.

    • puffinmcpuffs says:

      “I would love to see the tax- or administrative reason for bull like Steams 1$=1€, etc!!

      No problem!

      Current exchange rate: 1USD = 0,88 Euro

      US prices do not include VAT (which is usually about 15% in the states charing) whereas EU prices already include 20 to 25% VAT. Which brings us to an overall rate of about 1:1. See, easy!
      So in the end EU customers don’t pay more for games. It’s just that US citizens living in states where VAT does not apply for digital goods are saving money.

  4. Frosty840 says:

    Going to have to disagree with you on this one, Graham.
    Had this been a police/property matter, the police would have built a criminal case, siezed the stolen goods from the unwitting purchasers, who would then have had a court-mandated grievance to take up against the seller.
    What Ubisoft have done is declare a certain segment of their customers this week’s unfortunate victims while cackling madly, and revoked their “ownership” of their games without any reasonable hope of restitution.
    All of these customers are now out of pocket, stuck in limbo between Ubisoft “Not our problem, talk to the reseller” and the reseller “Not our problem, talk to Ubisoft” forever.

    If Ubisoft really want to fuck over a bunch of people who already didn’t feel like paying Ubisoft’s often thoroughly bonkers prices for games, break any and all trust those customers might have felt inclined to take in Ubisoft’s DRM system masquerading as a storefront, and drive them to pirate instead of purchase any and all future Ubisoft games those customers might be interested in, that’s Ubisoft’s business, but I can’t see how this situation is anything except Ubisoft compounding someone else’s alleged fraud with their own definite theft.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      I don’t see what kind of trust there is to break there, you know you’re giving your money to a business that gets it’s keys in unknown and weird ways, you’re doing so willingly and knowing that the developer might not even get a single cent out of it while you’re also supporting a shady business that shouldn’t be growing, and afterwards you expect the scammed developer to honor a purchase they don’t even know about.

      I think we should settle down a little and think this trough, it’s not that we should all be marching with pitchforks just because it’s Ubisoft there.

      • Eproxus says:

        I don’t agree. You are giving your money to an online store. There is nothing that really tells you that their goods are shady, why would there be? Most of these stores looks respectable enough and like any other online store. You buy a product by a publisher. That publisher then decides that the product you bought was ” fraudulently obtained and resold.”

        That’s their definition. No explanation whatsoever. Nothing along the lines of “a truck full of games got hijacked” or “someones credit card was fraudulently used to purchase 10 000 games.” I think in this case, the proof should be provided by Ubisoft first.

        I suspect they didn’t get as much money as they wanted out of these keys and therefore tries to shut down the store. They most likely prefer to sell at different prices in different regions and when someone bypasses that they get pissed. This is just the dark side of regional pricing strategies is my guess.

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          “someones credit card was fraudulently used to purchase 10 000 games”

          Which is something that can happen, furthermore key reseller sites are usually strategically hosted in countries that are quite lax is some of the laws involved there. There are various way in which keys are obtained and most often than not the money doesn’t go back to the proper source. Please just use google if you want further clarification.

          Ubisoft and others really don’t have anything weird to do rather than simply saying that they don’t support key reseller sites in their entirety, and it’s their right.

        • Ansob says:

          There’s nothing shady about G2A – it’s a marketplace for people selling CD keys, and (anecdotally, obviously) every purchase I or anyone else I’ve ever known to buy from them has made has been perfectly legitimate. This is nothing more than Ubisoft throwing a fit because how dare consumers use the free market to pay less than £50 for a game.

          • malkav11 says:

            People selling CD keys is a pretty inherently shady thing. Certainly there are legitimate ways one might have an extra CD key to dispose of, but it’s not like private individuals have access to wholesale prices, as a rule, so it always begs the question: why is this a profitable transaction for them?

          • chris1479 says:

            Working in an organisation that shall remain nameless I tell you this: G2A is a money launderer’s paradise, recycling stolen credit cards into G2A and then out again in exchange for fresh cash then they exit it. One of the biggest red flags for stolen financials and dodgy dealings is purchasing or selling cd keys around these websites.

          • Hanban says:

            I have a hard time wrapping my head around your perspective. Is G2A an open marketplace where people can fairly freely share their CD-keys for sale? I’ve never used the service, myself.

            Perhaps it’s because I’m so inundated in the system we have where I live. If you’re buying something second-hand, where I live, it is your own responsibility to make sure that the item or service you are purchasing hasn’t been acquired in any shady way. The consumer has a responsibility. The way it then works if you have bought something that you would not legally be able to buy, you have to open a court case against the person who scammed you. I can’t help but feel the situation is similar here. People used services where they couldn’t make certain that they were purchasing a product they were really able to buy.

            I mean it really sucks that people are not able to buy games at a reasonable price, but that is a separate problem from this one.

          • ThinkMcFlyThink says:

            And people sell stolen goods in marketplaces. You may be able to obtain a key at a discount, but that discount inherently comes with an increased risk that they key is not the sellers to sell. This is no different than eBay or Craigslist where you may find an awesome deal, but the good you acquired were stolen; what is different is that in this case the owner can revoke access to the goods. No amount of foot-stomping makes key resellers risk-free stores.

          • rabbit says:

            I 100% agree. Regardless of where you stand on the reseller issue, it seems to me that it’s pretty fucked up for anyone here to agree that this is the correct way of dealing with things. What is happening here is that a (multi?)billion dollar company is taking a huge steaming shit on lots of little people. If you want to stop people from buying from resellers, punish the resellers. Do not punish the customer. That doesn’t damage the organised crime that you are supposedly combating – naw, they’re still making money. As is ubisoft. All that’s happening is that regular joe with his dead end job just lost five hour’s wages because a billionaire decided they weren’t happy with him saving a couple of pennies.

            What does this mean for me? Well it means that if ever I want a ubisoft game again, I’ll pirate it. And I haven’t pirated anything – not a movie, not an album and certainly not a video game – since I was old enough to start working (over half a decade ago)

            Fuck em. And , really, fuck anyone who would side with the very rich corporation over the not rich human being in a matter like this.

          • Hanban says:

            Assuming that the keys were acquired fradulently I’ll totally side with Ubisoft on this one. So fuck me for thinking customers shouldn’t have shit for brains, I guess.

          • rabbit says:

            You never buy things from markets, or ebay, or amazon resellers, or gumtree, or off the back of vans for a steal, right? Or from the second hand section of game stores, or from computer exchange, or from ….

            Right.
            We’re poor. Billion dollar corporation is not. It’s human nature to try and save a tenner where they can and people should be able to snag a deal where they can without being the ONLY ones to suffer for it, while _all_ the big businesses involved make a killing.

            I’ll happily side with anyone who will say ‘fuck you’ to people asking for £50 for a fucking digital-only download code. They’ve got enough money. Fuck em.

  5. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    Absolutely nothing wrong here at all – Valve do the exact same thing regularly with keys that were originally stolen through dodgy credit cards (usually via key resellers).

    Pretty much a non-story for the most part. It all makes sense what Ubisoft are doing.

    • Goomich says:

      Yeah, but they weren’t actually stolen.

      Ubisoft only now is investigating origin of the keys.

    • Faxmachinen says:

      So if someone steals 1000 fish bowls from you, you then go and smash the bowls regardless of who currently possesses them? Yeah, that sounds perfectly reasonable, because fuck due process. Collective punishment, anyone?

      Or even better, you smash 1000 random fish bowls and then investigate whether they were legitimately obtained or not.

      Also, keep in mind that you have a magic fish bowl maker which can produce infinite fish bowls at no cost to you.

  6. TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

    Shady stuff like G2A, Kinguin and so on is even worse than simple piracy in my book, the guy would have saved even more money with uTorrent. The developers don’t get a cent either way, but a pirate might still shell off some money afterwards unlike someone who already paid some cash to the wrong entities, thinking that it was the right thing to support a company that could only live in the safe envelope of Hong Kong or similar.

    It’s a grey area, there’s the psychological trap of thinking you’re still doing a good thing because you are paying something somewhere, it’s perfectly safe in my opinion to expect that some might just find their own self validation with that. Others might not even know about it, but i’m sure there are those who don’t even care, i bet in the majority.

    Not that i’m condoning piracy or taking sides with dreadful Ubisoft there, but still.

    • Thurgret says:

      What? How’s it shady? Ubisoft made those keys, Ubisoft distributed those keys, other people then sell those keys on.

      • deadfolk says:

        Precisely. Did someone break into a warehouse and steal the keys? Hack Ubisoft and download them?

        No. Ubisoft sold them.

        • Premium User Badge

          phuzz says:

          As someone has already pointed out, if you’re buying the keys off Ubisoft with a stolen credit card, then yes, they’re stealing, because as soon as the issuer realises they’ll refund the transaction.

          • mattevansc3 says:

            And where did Ubisoft say those keys were purchased with stolen credit cards? In fact according to Ubisoft they are still investigating the origin of this “fraudulent behaviour”, ie they don’t know how these keys were obtained but have decided to block them anyway.

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          We have a champion of oversemplification there. Please refer to the comment above mine.

          There are many other creative ways in which keys are obtained, mostly helped by the law system of some choice countries they’re hosted in.

          Ubisoft can definitely sell some stuff without seeing the money come back.

          • solidsquid says:

            If that’s what Ubisoft did then they could be looking at some legal issues for it. There was a court decision that an EULA could only be enforced if the person could be shown to have agreed to it and had full access to it when purchasing the software (in this case a copy of Office which was resold on ebay despite the EULA saying that was a no-no). Unless the people buying the licence key agreed to a full licencing agreement when buying the key as opposed to it being one which was required when you installed the software, Ubisoft wouldn’t have any legal standing for disabling the installation

  7. TokPhobia says:

    I’m one of the people that lost a game, specifically Far Cry 4. I got the game for free from NVIDIA when I bought a GTX 970 from Amazon (there was some promo running, I don’t know if it’s still active). Claimed the game on UPlay and everything worked fine. Logged in yesterday and the game was gone. Still no answer on the support ticket I created, although to be fair they did say it would take one or two business day and that was only yesterday, so I’ll wait.

    I seriously doubt that the NVIDIA promo on Amazon was a “fraudulent reseller” and it looks to me as if they went a bit overboard when removing games. They either simply messed up or there’s no way for them to distinguish between one reseller or another. Either way, way to start the new year, Ubi!

    • Goomich says:

      Holy fuck! I got Watch_Dogs because card with it was cheaper than card without…

      Checks Uplay…

      Phew, I don’t have to return money to Nvidia.

    • fish99 says:

      I would hope if Ubisoft don’t reverse the decision (as they obviously should) that nvidia or amazon would do something to put things right.

    • El_Emmental says:

      I hope the Support service will help you out.

      Your case is interesting, because a lot of keys sold (in complete breach of the EULA) on fencing websites like G2A came from these hardware-based offers, either provided by the owners of the GPU or in bulk by some online store selling these GPUs. These people might have not realized that the EULA and warning disclaimers weren’t authorizing reselling these keys at all.

  8. Artist says:

    “The current case raised by Ubisoft is surely unfair towards the players. The banned game copies in question were acquired through licensed wholesale distributors and as such the origin of the ‘keys’ is the publisher himself,” Kinguin chief marketing officer Bartłomiej Skarbiński told us via email. “From the gamer point of view its like going out to the store, purchasing a copy of the game, taking it home and suddenly a knock-knock on the door with Ubisoft representative taking the copy away – not even asking you as a paying customer to return it.”

    Source:link to gameinformer.com

    So far no proof from Ubi for fraudulent key…!

  9. Thurgret says:

    I buy most of my games direct from the company that made or published it, wherever possible. I bought Assassin’s Creed: Unity from a key reseller, because there was no way I was shelling out €60 (or even €40) for something which had a high chance of still being rather broken. It still works, in my case. And I’d never have bought the thing at all, unless it appeared on sale for €15 or so, if I hadn’t purchased it from a key reseller.

    Ubisoft might find their bottom line better served by releasing fully functional and thoroughly tested products than by all this nonsense about “fraud” – they chose to sell those keys to someone to begin with, surely (as Marblecake wondered above)?

    • SquareWheel says:

      Typically in these cases, the keys are purchased legitimately and sold to sites like G2A or Kinguin. Then the seller issues a chargeback and the games are revoked. Ubi has every right to revoke those keys, as have a number[1] of publishers[2] before them.

      I’d hope that users would learn not to trust shady resellers, but I expect this will change nothing.

      [1] link to twitter.com
      [2] link to joystiq.com

      • Thurgret says:

        I currently have a pack of Hobnobs on my desk. The milk chocolate variety. If a McVitie’s representative broke in and made off with them due to a conflict of interest with the local Dunnes Stores, I’d be rather peevish. I should note that they were half price.

        • schlusenbach says:

          If the shop where you bought the food had itself stolen it from McVitie, they would be fencing and you would never have made a legal purchase. So you would not own the Hobnobs. Eat fast!

          • Thurgret says:

            This explains the €1 price tag. It’s such a huge reduction from €2.50.

            I’d better get eating before McVitie’s agents start arriving.

        • SquareWheel says:

          You should contact the police. If they find them they’ll be confiscated and returned to you, much as these keys… yada yada this is a weird analogy.

          Buying stolen goods doesn’t entitle you to them. Customers chose to buy from shady markets and it didn’t work out. That’s on them.

          • Thurgret says:

            I don’t really believe that tens – hundreds? – of thousands of keys were outright stolen without Ubisoft’s fraud prevention department realising something was awry and handling it at the time. There’s surely something else going on that’s not just straight-up fraud.

            Anyway, I’m just now realising that people here have their super-serious faces on. My chocolate biscuit analogy was even taken seriously. :(

          • Ejia says:

            Well, sure, chocolate Hobnobs are serious business, after all. Almost as much as Allsorts.

          • fish99 says:

            Thugret, who said we’re talking about thousands of keys? Destructoid used the adjective ‘several’, i.e. several users have reported….

          • Thurgret says:

            These key resellers typically claim to have stocks of keys that large.

          • SquareWheel says:

            And in the end, they were purchased with stolen credit cards.

            link to gameinformer.com

            I doubt RPS will remove the scarequotes around “fraudulent” though.

          • Emeraude says:

            @SquareWheel

            One issue is that fraudulent they weren’t for people who bought them second hand in good faith.

        • Ejia says:

          It would serve you right, because the dark chocolate digestives are clearly superior.

  10. deadfolk says:

    And how, precisely, is one to know if their reseller is authorised? Ubisoft do not publish a list of authorised resellers, and in fact as I type this on RPS, there is an ad for G2A (one of the affected resellers) above the comments on this page. That fact alone would make many (if not most) assume that the seller is legit.

    If you read the Savygamer post on this, Lewie even goes into the relationship between PewDiePie and Ubisoft and the fact that he is “the face of” G2A.

    If Ubi insist on charging €59.99 for PC games, they must expect people to bawk at that. If they are going to prevent people buying their games at a more reasonable price, I suspect there will be a significant drop in sales.

    And, further to Marblecake’s comment above, reaching into your home and stealing back a game you’ve been playing is all sorts of wrong. Yeah, I’m sure legally they have it covered, but legal doesn’t mean right, and that is a surefire way to upset the people that you now expect to start paying more than double the previous price for your product. And let’s not forget, unless they are claiming credit fraud (they’re not, they’re keeping quiet), Ubi have been paid for these keys.

    Ubisoft (of all companies) really doesn’t need the bad PR right now. I have never boycotted a company, and I won’t start now, but I’m certainly not willing or able to pay those prices for PC games.

    • Shockeh says:

      So, I was going to post a near-identical reply, so I’ll echo this one.

      There is NO information available on who is/isn’t ‘an authorised reseller’, and indeed from a consumer point of view, a lot of these resellers are regularly featured by media outlets & YouTubers (who are in turn, often funded to some extent BY Ubisoft) which lends legitimacy to them directly from the publisher themselves.

      On top of this, these keys have been accepted by UPlay, the people have played the games in question and the only persons who suffer are the players who effectively are left out of pocket? It’s not like a percentage of these people are going to say ‘Oh, okay then, I’ll buy it AGAIN at a higher price’, that demographic is almost certainly 0%.

      • neems says:

        Certainly a valid point, but it’s my understanding that sites like G2A and Kinguin are not normal sellers like Green Man Gaming (or whoever), but in many cases simply act as an intermediary for another party. Basically they act like a marketplace, and you can’t be 100% certain about the provenance of what you are buying.

        • woodsey says:

          It’s worth noting that PewDiePie (that incredibly irritating streamer with a bazillion YouTube subscribers) is both massively endorsed by Ubisoft and the advertising face of G2A (where a lot of these banned keys came from).

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      It’s rather easy, if you end up in a site that sells a lot of freshly released AAA games for half the price you stumbled in a key reseller.

      Scanning a box and selling the key is not legal in most countries, and indeed most countries won’t host these sites, this alone makes them “unauthorized” and is grounds for publisher to not accept them.

      They use all sort of tricks to obtain games cheaply, up to and including issuing chargebacks for a bulk purchase from who-knows-who because god knows what kind of interpretation of the Hong Kong law they abuse ( both parties will unofficially fix themselves later ), obtain them from other regions where it’s cheaper even if everyone knows that Steam ( or others ) wouldn’t want you to use a russian VPN server to purchase your games ( regardless if you find it morally fine or not ) and the list goes on.

      It doesn’t have to just be outright “stealing” in the common sense of the word via, for example, stolen credit card, but that’s also a way, although surely the less exploited one because that would draw far more heat.

      Ultimately when you purchase such stuff you are perfectly aware that you’re trying to be smart, you have all the proof that something is going on when you see such prices for everything that’s otherwise currently at 60 euro anywhere else, or when the interwebs are full of warnings. I don’t believe you don’t know what you’re doing, i’m sorry.

      • fish99 says:

        I’m just curious why selling a key would be illegal, something to do with avoiding import taxes? What if it’s within the same country then. I don’t see why a key shouldn’t be a tradeable commodity. Humble bundle sell keys, an authorized reseller like GMG sell keys. What’s the difference?

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          Because i’m not talking about selling keys per-se, but selling those that are printed in something that has to be sold in that physical way. You might be onto something with that import taxes thing and surely most laws can definitely sound rather baffling on the surface without knowing all the reasons, but it is how it is and indeed such sites are based on countries that are famous for other funky stuff when it comes to certain laws.

          Any non-shady site that sells keys alone is selling a licence for your game’s activation, there’s a share of the profit going on between them and your Ubisoft, EA, and so on. To put that simple, they’re authorized to sell keys on their behalf and whichever one is sold is registered as “good”.

          Now, obviously this counts for Nvidia/AMD deals too even though a guy there got his game removed, but in this particular scenario i’d say it’s just Ubisoft being horribly trigger happy.

          Actually, let me check uPlay…

    • BlackAlpha says:

      I do somewhat agree with you, but there’s is the thing that if you go to the websites in question, you can see new games for 50% off (or more). When you look at that and compare it to other stores, you know something is wrong.

      • SanguineAngel says:

        Hrm, I would imagine that someone who types a games name into google shopping will see a bunch of listings at a variety of prices and will pick one of the lowest ones. Many people here are well informed about how both digital distribution works and the nature of key re-selling but gaming has a massive and diverse audience and it is not unreasonable to think that the majority of normal shoppers would have little reason to be suspicious if the site they purchase from appears and operates in a normal way.

  11. Goomich says:

    “The situation is made more complicated because the user is “an expatriate Belgian in Poland” who doesn’t speak Polish, and so needs the English-language version of Ubisoft’s games which aren’t otherwise available within Poland.”

    That’s where his story breaks up.

    • P.Funk says:

      Whats so hard to believe about that? its Europe, its not the mid west of the United States. Its densely packed diversity. Most people speak English on top of their native tongue. Polish usually rates pretty low on the “must learn” list unless you were born in that bigot factory.

    • wyrm4701 says:

      No, it makes sense. I’ve nearly found myself in a similar situation, with the same country. Have a look at the job postings on GOG, sometime – last I looked, they’re based in Poland, but their lanugage requirement is only English (for many jobs).

      EDIT to add: we expatriates can run into all kinds of silly difficulties purchasing from online stores.

    • Frosty Grin says:

      That’s what Ubisoft, along with EA, does in some countries: you can’t play the game in English. Presumably it’s their way of limiting the appeal of cheaper games to Americans and Brits, but it also affects those of us who want to play the game with the original voiceover.

    • Slump3r says:

      Hi,

      Do you live here? Do you know what you are talking about?
      Well, his story is mine (yep I am the belgian expatriate that started the Ubisoft thread in the forum).

      Let me tell you this:
      I purchased a few games since I live in Poland, both from box editions in physical shops as “Empik” or “Saturn” and from the actual online shops from Ubi (when Uplay was still directly selling to you) and Origin of EA.

      I found myself with some games as AC 3, AC 4, Sim City, and a few others NOT hosting the English or French language at all. Yes voiceover was in english (I take AC3 as example) but all onscreen isnstructions, indications, journal and so on were in polish, which I do not speak, as I never really needed the language because I speak English and French and for my work in Poland, I do not actually need to speak polish.

      My Steam account was created in Belgium and does not give me access to the polish one with the price in PLN. I asked Steam Support about it “nothing we can do” they said. Same for EA. I asked to get the english or french version, but of course, no possibility.
      So Steam lets me buy AC Unity in Euros, at 59.99 EUR, when in Poland, the box Edition costs 146 PLN, with the exchange rate, more or less 35 EUR. How is it that living in Poland on a polish pay (which by the way amounts in average at 500-600 EUR!!) I should pay the price of the more economically proficient countries?

      And since other “authorized” websites were doing the same, well, I decided to use a third party.

      So if my “story breaks up”, well it’s not there, my friend.

      Now, I am listening to your counter-argument and the fact that you know what you are talking about. :)

      • froz says:

        There is no Polish version of Steam with PLN currency. I believe Poland is in the same group as Western Europe in Steam and we have the same prices.

        • wyrm4701 says:

          Is this a new change to their pricing, rolled out with the recent “Tiered access” regional sales policy?

          • froz says:

            I have never heard of separate prices in Poland in Steam, as far as I know it was always the same as in western countries. I know UK is in a different zone, but so far whenever I saw a price in € mentioned anywhere in the internet, it was the same price for me. Steam also never offered PLN currency for me.

      • SuicideKing says:

        He doesn’t, don’t worry. Some people can’t comprehend cultural diversity, or how to deal with and accommodate its implications.

      • FCA says:

        My Steam account was created in Belgium and does not give me access to the polish one with the price in PLN. I asked Steam Support about it “nothing we can do” they said.

        This is weird, because my Steam account was created in Europe, but when I moved to the US, it had no trouble going to the (cheaper) US version. Going back to Europe (Germany now), I don’t have a problem at all, except I have to lie where I live when I fill in my (US) credit card details. Messy, but my own fault really for having a credit card attached to an address I don’t actually live (the bank knows about this, and says this is the only way for them to do this).

        Also, I thought Poland was in Europe region 2 for Steam which should be cheaper, but apparently it’s not in many cases.

        My Steam Wallet will not go back to euro’ s though, making it impossible to buy games with it. It only works for buying trading cards and such. Not that I put any money there myself, just selling trading cards.

      • Goomich says:

        “Do you live here?”

        Yeah.

        “Do you know what you are talking about?”

        Yeah.

        “I found myself with some games as AC 3, AC 4, Sim City, and a few others NOT hosting the English or French language at all.”

        Well, sucks to be you.

        “Yes voiceover was in english (I take AC3 as example) but all onscreen isnstructions, indications, journal and so on were in polish,”

        “Now, I am listening to your counter-argument and the fact that you know what you are talking about. :)”

        Only two links, Steam profile: link to steamcommunity.com

        And youtube: link to youtu.be

    • Goomich says:

      Games in Poland are available in english you bigoted moron.

      • Slump3r says:

        Not all of them Mr Know-it-all.
        Do you think I would even have started this thread if I never had that problem before?

        Jeez, the rudeness.

  12. Radiant says:

    For years I used to pronounce fracas as ‘frack us’ instead of ‘frack ar’.

    • Radiant says:

      Fucking books!

    • P.Funk says:

      Apparently they’re both correct pronunciations, and don’t let any snobby Brit tell you Americans butcher it because its a word that came from French that came from the Italian or something.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        I’m italian and fracassare means more or less “to destroy something with utter disdain and immense satisfaction”. Does that have anything to do with that??!?

        • BooleanBob says:

          Well, if you bought a retail copy of Watch_Dogs, I guess it could be applied liberally to the disc itself.

        • P.Funk says:

          Thats exactly where it came from:

          “French, din, row, from Italian fracasso, from fracassare to shatter
          First Known Use: 1716”

          link to merriam-webster.com

    • FuriKuri says:

      Definately a forks pass.

  13. reticulate says:

    I’ve used key sites to avoid the patently ridiculous Australia Tax imposed on some digital goods here, and none of my Ubisoft games have gone missing so far. I’m willing to bet this is a specific run of keys that have been the victim of a chargeback fraud or something similar.

    That said, all this has done is ensure a bunch of people aren’t going to give anyone more money, and will probably just pirate and/or crack the game they already have downloaded. It’s served neither the reseller’s or Ubisoft’s purposes to be as obscure as they have about who is at fault here.

  14. wyrm4701 says:

    It’s funny that the discussion is mostly debating when it’s acceptable for a company to delete information off an individual’s computer. Doubly funny when the data was actually paid for, and it turns out that Ubisoft isn’t providing details, like ‘proof’ or ‘evidence’ of alleged fraud.

    • P.Funk says:

      Digital consumer rights are very much still in their infancy it would seem. Its not so much a matter of whether something is right or wrong or ought to end up being so, its a matter of there being no real accountability, ie. the lack of legitimate resellers list.

      • Emeraude says:

        I agree about the lack of accountability, I’m not sure the issue is about that list stricto sensu though. More about a lack – or on some respects a complete liberty to ignore existing legislations.

    • El_Emmental says:

      They’re not deleting information, they’re revoking a license on their servers hosting the users’ accounts.

      As far as I know, it’s like a different user (user B) logged in on that computer, launched the download of the game ArseCreed, played it, then disconnected from their account and went away. As ‘user A’, your account does not have a license for the ArseCreed software, so the authentication server will not allow you to launch it – even if the ArseCreed game files are there, on your computer.

  15. guygodbois00 says:

    “…they bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say, let ’em crash. ”
    Also, it’s Ubi. I expect no less from them.

  16. ran93r says:

    I bought mine via G2A and it’s still active. It wasn’t dirt cheap, £34 or so not long after release, it just happened to be cheaper than buying a retail copy at the time (and it wasn’t on Steam), also picked up AC: The Frenchening from there, that was proper dirty cheap cheap, that’s also still active.

    If anyone from Ubi is reading this:
    Look into my eyes, look into my eyes, the eyes, the eyes, not around the eyes, don’t look around my eyes, look into my eyes, you’re under: These are legitimate keys and the games shall remain active on my U(might)Play account.

  17. Perjoss says:

    So.. Ubisoft are making it so that people who bought Assassin’s Creed Unity can no longer play the game? am I the only one that doesn’t see a problem here?

  18. Funso Banjo says:

    My credit card was fraudulently used just over a year ago, to purchase 18 keys for a game called Diablo 3. I’ve heard of the game, but never played it.

    I was refunded the money soon afterwards, but the BarclayCard fraud prevention team told me in a followup call that the keys had been sold by a company called G2A and were currently in use. They did say that G2A weren’t behind the fraud, but the G2A had bought them from someone in Asia. According to the Barclaycard team, they believed G2A were aware that the keys were fraudulent, but they couldn’t prove it. I believe they have since been canceled by the company that runs the game, so I guess those guys lost out.

  19. Blackcompany says:

    I wonder whether any American citizens within the borders of the US have experienced this? The reason I ask: This may well constitute illegal seizure of goods and/or property without due process. A blatant violation of constitutional rights. And everyone knows that only our government is allowed to violate those rights and get away with it; they tend to frown on emulation of such behavior.

    Our criminal justice systems assumes innocence. IF someone has allegedly committed a crime – like obtaining fraudulent goods or legitimate goods through fraudulent means – then the burden of proof lies on Ubisoft. To confiscate goods before proving their case is no less than a violation of a citzen’s rights and itself subjective to severe criminal and possibly civil liabilities.

    Frankly, someone at Ubi needs to pay a hefty fine – like their profits from last year; all of them – and expect a lengthy prison sentence.

    • Slump3r says:

      My utopian dream is that somehow someone goes Lawsuit on them for doing this.
      I do not know USA law, but Ubi reaaaaaally deserves to be held accountable to hold the crap they put their customers through since the last five years.

    • Emeraude says:

      Thank god all those companies have adopted clauses preventing class action lawsuits. That way those pesky customer aren’t going to bother aggressively defending themselves.

    • El_Emmental says:

      It depends on the state. Some states will separate between receiving stolen goods and possession of stolen goods, depending on when the person knew or realized the good was stolen (or probably stolen). Several states will put the burden of proof on the new owner.

      That means you’ll have to prove or at least convince the court that when you bought a 60€ game for only 38% of its normal price, outside of any particular sales and just as it got released, you had no way to imagine that maybe that game wasn’t a legit key granting you a valid license. Good luck on that.

      No one will put in jail btw, and you’ll only receive a compensation proportional to your damages (rather small, it’s just entertainment).

      • Emeraude says:

        That means you’ll have to prove or at least convince the court that when you bought a 60€ game for only 38% of its normal price, outside of any particular sales and just as it got released, you had no way to imagine that maybe that game wasn’t a legit key granting you a valid license.

        From examples of what we can see of retail-bought second hand, that’s hardly uncommon when talking of a transaction going between individuals – which is what that site facilitates if I understand well. People re-selling a key that got tagged along a piece of hardware they just bought, to a game they already own, and trying to turn a profit from it would be less regarding to the sale price as long as the transaction is fast.

        That minor point apart, I have more of an issue with Ubi (or any other company doing the same) issuing those keys – Ubi *sold* them, has it not ? It’s my understanding at least – not properly securing the transactions, and making customers pay the final price instead of the companies that are dealing in mass fraud.

        They just don’t want to get involved in a legal matter – ie do their job as a service provider of keeping the environment safe* – and can use the fact that they can just take back the keys and cut off their losses. Would be basically impossible for them with retail games. They’d have to go after the defrauder. Now they can just leave customers to deal with the mess they *themselves* led to create, while washing their hands of it.

        Which goes to show the value of the service their infrastructure delivers.

        *: and I would argue if they want to take property from customers in exchange of becoming a service infrastructure, it’s *their* job to keep the market of issued keys safe for people wanting to buy.

        • El_Emmental says:

          “From examples of what we can see of retail-bought second hand, that’s hardly uncommon when talking of a transaction going between individuals – which is what that site facilitates if I understand well. People re-selling a key that got tagged along a piece of hardware they just bought, to a game they already own, and trying to turn a profit from it would be less regarding to the sale price as long as the transaction is fast.”

          This is exactly the problem with these websites: they collect keys without verifying anything about their origin, how they were obtained – they acquire keys that are very likely purchased through illegal activity (CC theft, scam, phishing, etc) and hope the licensors won’t notice it on time or won’t have the resources to track down each fraudulent transactions and the corresponding keys.

          There’s also another element to consider: it is extremely rare that an end-user license granted to a licensee also gives the licensee the right to resell it. I’ve yet to see such license in the video game industry.

          “A key that got tagged along a piece of hardware they just bought” (the AMD/nVidia offers)
          = not allowed by the AMD/nVidia offer, not allowed by the EULAs granted by that offer

          “to a game they already own”
          = 3rd party bundles do not allow reselling keys, they only ever allow gifting some of the keys
          = Steam bundles either ignore the user’s existing Steam Library or only allow gifting the extra licenses

          (a) The only keys that are allowed to be sold again (once and once only – they can’t even sell keys between each others) by the original owner are affiliated resellers directly getting their keys from the digital distributors (Green Man Gaming, GamersGate, Direct2Drive, Humble Store, etc).

          (b) The only keys that are allowed to be bundled with another (non-free) products are affiliated manufacturers (AMD, nVidia, some motherboard manufacturers).

          (c) The only keys that are allowed to be distributed to specific bundles’ licensees are affiliated bundle platforms (Humble Bundle, Indie Royale, Indie Gala, Groupee, etc).

          All the other keys are not allowed to be sold or distributed to a specific subset of people (behind a paywall: bundles, hardware products, ‘premium’ group). Since the licensors can’t control and watch everyone all the time, a lot of keys are illegitimately sold or distributed, but that’s still breaching the licensing contract: whoever get caught pays the price.

        • El_Emmental says:

          Regarding how Ubisoft handled the situation, I too, think they lacked intelligence; even if I believe they’re fully in the right.

          The people who bought from these key resellers were desperately willing to play the game now (otherwise they would have waited for the inevitable Steam sales)(no matter how they say Ubisoft is shit, they still allocated a budget for these games), but the steep price was just too much.

          They looked for a “middle-ground” solution between piracy and paying, and thought these keys were the solution. They aren’t: Ubisoft gets very little money out of that market. Most keys come from these hardware offers, extremely cheap regions, scams and frauds.

          What Ubi should have done, in my opinion, is adding a warning message on all following launches (of uPlay) about the issue if the user account has an illegitimate key, explaining how key resellers are not only illegitimately selling keys, they’re also fueling a dark market of money laundering, scam and frauds. The message would provide a link to a page where affiliated and legit key sellers are all listed.

          The warning would also feature a 30-days countdown (after which the game is kept in hibernation) and a standardized refund request form (to be sent to the key reseller). To wake up the game, the user would be able to reactivate it by purchasing it on uPlay with a -50% price reduction (along with a thank-you message for making that effort in fighting the shady key resellers). Using another key (for the same game) won’t wake the game back up on that account. If it happens a second time, the price reduction is 40% (third = 20% or 0%, at some point the user has to learn to stop shopping at fences).

          – It would give enough time for the user to request a refund from the key resellers, while still allowing the user to play the game.

          – It would prevent key resellers from simply sending a new code (that might have been acquired through illegal means) like they already do when a key is revoked.

          – it would also make sure the developers/rights-holders are paid for their work, while depriving the key resellers from their profits.

          Two possible outcomes:

          (1) User can’t get a refund, but still plays the game for a full month. If the user still likes the game, (s)he can always spend a bit of money to reactivate it. Ubisoft made an effort (they gave out an extra 30 days, despite not being paid for that), key resellers had to fight the refund requests, and the user will think twice before shopping at these key resellers not willing to refund illegitimate keys.

          (2) User managed to get a refund: (s)he gets to continue playing the game for the 30 days, then using the refund money can easily reactivate the game on uPlay. Ubisoft is finally paid something for their work, key resellers lost time and didn’t gain any money, user can happily continue playing the game.

          ps: Ubisoft should also immediately clarify their business relation with PewDiePie – it’s Ubisoft or G2A, he can’t get both.

          • Emeraude says:

            I don’t agree on Ubi being “in the right”. It’s a bit more complicated than that I think, and I’d say no one really is in that situation (though I tend to side naturally more toward of consumers myself), but yes certainly they could have handled things in a way that made their pseudo-service seem at least a valuable, if not desirable proposition instead of baring raw to consumers why it’s not a good idea to give a third party (publishers or otherwise) the keys to what you paid for.

            And yeah, totally agreed on that post scriptum, that’s a thing that needs to be on their priority lists, along divulging who is and isn’t an acceptable reseller.

  20. mattlambertson says:

    How to Make Gamers Feel More Pleasure Than Guilt From Pirating Your Games, 101…Step 247: screw over people who want to try to buy your game legitimately and can’t due to unfortunate economics that are completely out of their control.

    Guess he shouldn’t have moved to Poland, huh? Well I’m sorry slump3r, it’s no consolation but I dedicate my next cracked ubigame to you!

    • Slump3r says:

      …and I very much appreciate it, Sir.
      Even though I do not condone piracy (I tried to buy the game, right?),
      I completely understand why people would now turn to this way, as we are caught in the middle of UBI magnificent screw-ups.

      As for me, U(will not)BI(more of their games) is part of my personal blacklist, as are all games of Peter Molyneux.

    • El_Emmental says:

      “Step 247: screw over people who want to try to buy your game legitimately and can’t due to unfortunate economics that are completely out of their control.”

      You were there to protest against the $1 = 1€ pricing policy on Steam since 2008? How many emails and mails did you send to the EU institutions and MPs?

      Why haven’t you bought the game during one of the regular sales? Why haven’t you pirated the game until there was an affordable price during sales?

      Paying a fence isn’t a solution: no money goes to the developers and you won’t get a legit license to use the software. It’s a lose-lose situation for you and the devs, while it’s a win-win situation for the fence: they can launder money stolen from CC/scam and they get paid for it!

      • Emeraude says:

        I take issue with your use of the word “fence” here. Unless reselling of keys happens to be completely illegal (and my understanding is that it is not), then until proven otherwise, what you have going for people going in is a perfectly legal deal between a reseller and a buyer, is it not ?

        • El_Emmental says:

          “Unless reselling of keys happens to be completely illegal (and my understanding is that it is not), …”

          It is not allowed by the license related to that key. Reselling that key is breaching the contractual agreement between the licensor (publisher) and the licensee (consumer), it is a civil wrong.

          It means that the police won’t arrest or fine you for that because the licensor can perfectly forfeits its rights regarding the contract, and/or simply tolerate it. It is up to the licensor to decide what to do with it.

          That’s why while they tolerated the second-hand reselling done with physical-support copies (mostly because it was impossible for them to control what people were doing with the floppy disks/CDs/DVDs), that’s also why they took measures to restrict that reselling activity later, using DRMs and online distribution (= once a key is activated on an account, it can’t be transfered and resold by the licensee / or once a game is installed, the multiplayer experience is locked behind an Online Pass that requires an account).

          When you “buy” a “game”, you buy a limited and restricted license, it only allows you to use that software – it doesn’t allow you rent out or mortgage the license, let alone sell it.

          The only reason why there is key resellers operating on the Internet is because of the cost and insurmontable legal difficulties for licensors to sue and take down these key resellers. G2A is based in Hong Kong for that very reason: it’s next to impossible to bring them to court. The counterfeit market is huge in that region, from clothes, handbags, watches, smartphones, perfumes to bank notes – all sold locally, through counterfeit resellers abroad, and of course internationally through eBay/Amazon/etc.

          For the average Joe/Jane, that legal/contractual situation means you can resell a key for a game that you don’t want to activate-to-play anymore, or if you already have it in your library (unless it’s part of a bundle, since they explicitly warn it is not authorized…): it’s really up to you to decide if you want to respect each of these contracts (EULA for the game, the bundle contract, etc) or not. As long as it remains an occasional small-scale trade, between friends/friends-of-friends, no court will grant anything to licensors complaining about it. However, If you start making it a business, you better move to HK for that.

          Addendum: the Steam Market is an interesting situation, because it always use the verbs “gift” or “trade” (= barter) – it never explicitly tells the Steam users they can “sell” or “resell” the licenses. It’s obviously a grey area: people stockpiling on licenses during sales/bundles, then reselling them using 3rd party services like PayPal, either directly or by using an intermediary currency like crates’ keys. I’m pretty sure publishers (licensors) closely watch that activity (the prices, the market shares, the size of that market, etc) and are ready to introduce their own additional rules if necessary.

          “… then until proven otherwise, what you have going for people going in is a perfectly legal deal between a reseller and a buyer, is it not ?”

          1) If the key was stolen or acquired with stolen money: if the buyer had no way to know or suspect the good was stolen (burden of proof changes depending on the country/state), then the purchase is legal, while the possession remains legal as long as the new owner is not aware that the good was stolen. As soon as the new owner know the good was stolen (or probably stolen), it becomes illegal to keep it without contacting the authorities or (if known) the previous legit owner. Depending on the value of the goods involved, the rules and responsibility of the new owner can change: court are more demanding when it’s high-value items, such as cars or high-end jewelry.

          2) Depending on the country/state the rules may change, but it is quite likely that it’s “legal” to buy a non-stolen key from a non-suspicious reseller. By “legal” I mean “the state/police/court can’t go after me”. It will still always be a civil wrong that the licensor can use to sue the reseller and take measures against the new licensee too.

          Example: when a tenant rents a house, in nearly all countries it is not allowed (in the contract) to sublease without prior authorization (either in the initial contract or in a new formal written authorization), or turn the house into a shop or restaurant (with customers entering in and out). Same happens when renting a car or a van: it is not allowed to use it as a taxi and make a living by transporting people around if the contract doesn’t allow that.

          The result is the following:
          – it is “legal” to sublease (exception: slumlord)
          – it is legal for the landlord to terminate that contract and kick you (and the subtenant) out (as soon as the law allows it)
          – it is legal for the landlord to ask for compensations from the initial tenant (money that the landlord may or may not get, as it’s up to the court to decide that)

          In the case of the G2A keys being invalidated by Ubisoft:
          – it is “legal” to resell keys (exception: mass-trafficking)
          – it is legal for the licensor to revoke the licenses granted by these keys (as long as it doesn’t disproportionately impact the ex-licensees; if it’s necessary for the ex-licensees’ business or basic needs, the licensor can be punished for abruptly ending the service)(here it’s small-value video games, so ex-licensees basically have no claims)
          – it is legal for the licensor to go after the key resellers (here G2A, sadly they’re hiding in HK so nothing can be done against them)

          TL;DR: something that is “legal” (not explicitly forbidden by the law) may not be authorized by the contract. The law protects contracts and will allow the other party to take measures to protect its interests in the contract.

        • Emeraude says:

          Before I forget, because I tend to be rude like that: thanks for taking the time to write those answers. It’s nice to have a proper conversation, even if I’m probably not in the right state to have it.

          It is not allowed by the license related to that key. Reselling that key is breaching the contractual agreement between the licensor (publisher) and the licensee (consumer), it is a civil wrong.

          Yes, but contractual agreements do not supersede civil law. And the law – in Europe at least -does say that publishers cannot oppose to the reselling of software licenses – even in digital form.

          The thing is that publishers (as people are wont to do) just want to rip the benefit of the law when it suits them, and ignore it as far as possible when it doesn’t.

          (An amusing example of that I suffered through some years ago: the laws of my country stipulate that I have a right to the making of archiving copies of software I legitimately bought – we even pay a tax on that. But the publishers also have the right to make use of DRM solutions that prevent copies. But if they do, the court judged that the onus is then on them to make archiving copies available on demand.
          I tried to to contact a publisher to get a copy to which I was legally entitled. They have no structure to answer that demand. And I’m still waiting for my copy.)

          In that case, they want to define themselves as a *service* when it suits them (ie when it limits consumer rights) and as a *product* when it suits them (ie when it facilitates commerce and allows them to avoid obligations that befall service infrastructures).

          —-

          To go back to my original point: your original use of the word fence kinda irked me because it framed things in a way that painted the buyers as knowingly buying “stolen goods” (that’s what a fence deals in). Strong negative bias in my opinion.

  21. woodsey says:

    I suggest everyone read Savygamer’s piece on the subject: link to savygamer.co.uk

    My Unity key was revoked, and so I contacted customer support at G2A and Ubisoft at the same time. G2A got back to me immediately, still waiting on Ubisoft. Sums it up.

    As for people saying they have every right to do this, sure. I get that. But considering the disaster that has been Ubisoft’s 2014 and the totally shit way they’ve gone about this (it’s all well and good saying these places aren’t authorised vendors – maybe Ubisoft should have a list of them then, eh?) it’s just a dumb move. They should’ve let it slide but made a big fuss about it, released an actual list of authorised vendors, and said that from now on these keys are likely to be banned. The only way this’ll work out as anyway good for their awful public image is if they reinstate the keys and then says “from now on…”.

    If they have a problem with these companies then take it out on them, not the schmucks who went to them because they didn’t want to pay that shiny fucking £50 RRP Ubisoft are now flaunting about.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Sure thing, i was merely pointing out that they ( Ubisoft ) can do this, but off course it’s still undeniable that they should just learn to keep quiet and not upset any more people for about another good 5 years at least.

      Or 10.

    • wyrm4701 says:

      That Savygamer post is fantastic, and should probably be the go-to source for anyone wondering why this is such a weird and damaging thing for Ubisoft to do. The paragraphs pointing out the existing relationship Ubi has with retailer G2A, through Youtuber PewDiePie, are particularly worth more attention.

      … come to think of it, it’s the kind of initial analysis I’d hoped for from RPS. :(

    • Emeraude says:

      From that savygamer article:

      I would also suggest that anyone who doesn’t like the idea of a digital distribution service where games can be revoked with no notice, no explanation, and no scope for recourse, avoid uPlay.

      Doesn’t that include any and all such client then ? They all can do that.

      • pepperfez says:

        Not GoG! (At least after you’ve downloaded the installer.)

        • Emeraude says:

          There’s no mandatory client for GOG though… unless I’m mistaken and they changed their stance on Galaxy.
          So that’s a different case.

  22. Arachnos says:

    The thing is that G2A and Kinguin are very popular in countries like Poland. There is a simple reason for that – money. Let’s look at steam prices for that region. Evolve costs 50€. The usual salary in Poland for a regular John Smith is about 1500-2000 PLN to spend (and that is considered good by many). 50€=211PLN with current exchange rates from google. Now think about it. Would you spend 10-15% of your monthly salary on a “toy” when most prices are on a Western European level? If you’re in Germany, France, UK, Ireland or most EU countries life costs you 4x less then us Poles. We’re basically fu**ed moneywise.

    • Slump3r says:

      Thank you, I made the same kind of comment and Im happy to see I’m not the only one having this issue.

  23. BlackMageSK says:

    Ubisoft: Leading the charge against horrible piracy by consistently making their services to paying customers less appealing than pirated copies.

  24. Frank says:

    “it doesn’t seem to me that they’re doing anything wrong – they can sell products under whatever prices they choose”

    It’s not a matter of selling them at the price they choose. It’s that they are forcing certain people to pay certain prices and only play the game in certain languages. If you don’t have the data to effect your nefarious third-degree price discrimination (as we call it), sucks for you, corp.

    And seriously, there’s no excuse except being evil for not making language packs modular and available to customers.

    (Here’s some guy arguing the latter point: link to medium.com )

  25. GeminiathXL says:

    What I’m reading is that all of this started because some guy living in poland (yet unable to speak Polish) wanted to buy the european version of a Ubisoft game for the Polish price? Yet to accomplish this he might have bought his key from a shady website?

    Yeah, how exactly is he a victim in all this?

    • Slump3r says:

      the “some guy” salutes you and tells you this:
      I wanted to have an original version of a game I cannot have in this original version in this country at a fair price.
      And Poland IS in Europe, Mr Geography, that’s why I found it weird to have not found it in english.

      Never said I was a victim, just said that the way Ubi dealt with the case was bad practice.

      Read, read again and then make your great comments against me.

  26. MellowKrogoth says:

    I’m currently rather happy with Steam and buying all my games, but this is a stark reminder of how awkward things could become if I change countries. Oh well. There’s always the option of going back to the torrents.