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PC game code stripping is widespread says report

by Mark Tyson on 22 September 2014, 13:07

Tags: Valve, Origin, PC

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qacjhf

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A report, by gaming industry magazine MCV, has revealed that Asia is another major region involved in PC code stripping. The news is backed by a previous study which established the effects of extensive PC code stripping in harming retail margins and misleading publishers about where their games are being sold.

MCV's most recent investigation reveals that a number of companies in Asia are stripping PC codes from boxed PC games to sell in the west. Games are often much cheaper in Asia. Boxed copies are bought, unpacked and the codes 'stripped' from them. The boxes and DVDs of these games are then dumped and the activation/download codes sold on in Western Europe, including the UK.

The widespread PC code stripping means that some consumers are being stung by region-locked game codes that do not work whilst publishers and retailers are losing money. These factors combine to have a negative effect on the gaming industry.

MVC reports that it was contacted by a whistleblower in Asia who sent the site numerous photos showing miles of shelving filled with boxed games. Warehouse staff are pictured unpacking PC games, and cellophane is seen strewn across the floor. The whistleblower described the Asian market as "rotten to the core" whilst handing over several contacts of businesses which are involved in distributing these cheap game codes.

After contacting the distributors under the guise of a prospective retail startup, MCV was able to obtain price lists for games. Examples given include; The Sims 4 Limited Edition for £23.31 and £18.40 for Dead Rising 3 on PC when buying over 300 copies.

"Europe has been under siege since day one, and truly I cannot understand how they have resisted the onslaught," said MCV's source. "No one in Asia has clean hands."

Have any HEXUS readers got experience of buying cheaper game codes that were sourced from Eastern Europe or Far Eastern sources? Please let us know what you think about PC code stripping.



HEXUS Forums :: 62 Comments

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In the article it says:
The widespread PC code stripping means that some consumers are being stung by region-locked game codes that do not work whilst publishers and retailers are losing money. These factors combine to have a negative effect on the gaming industry.
This to me, sounds a lot like they are blaming the symptoms and not considering the cause. Take a look at the Game.co.uk website and this week's top PC downloads.

The average game price comes to £32.34 and it is hard to understand why games released 12 months ago are still retailing at £39.99 when they still have bugs that were present on day one of release, or even why games would retail at very specific price points. Clearly the pricing is completely arbitrarily decided and is no reflection on development time or costs, or even quality.

At the end of the day the people that are looking for cheaper keys are people that feel that they are not getting a good return on their money when they buy games at full price, it would be great to see a publisher start to release AAA titles at more affordable price points to see if that has any impact on sales figures. I know I am very tempted to get Gauntlet at that price and I most likely wouldn't be looking for cheap keys should I decide to get it.
Though I haven't used such services as far as I am aware, I think that there should be global pricing and not region-specific, so as a result everywhere should be able to get the lower price.
My mate picked up the new Need for Speed: Most Wanted on a re-seller site, and after installing, found out the key was Russian, which meant Russian-language only (something that wasn't mentioned at the point of sale). He spoke to Origin CS, and the guy he spoke to explained what had happened.

As the CS agent put it, “At least vroom vroom is the same in any language!”.
MaverickWill
As the CS agent put it, “At least vroom vroom is the same in any language!”.

Now I've got coke all over my works laptop! You shouldn't be funny over peoples dinner times!
Wow, this is news?

Pretty much every game I have bought outside of steam sales and humblebundle in the last 3 years has been from key sellers and with the issue of “Russian keys” it isn't hard to figure out the keys are from cheaper regions.

It's how you buy pre-orders for £20 (most recent was Dead Rising 3 pre-order for £16!). I am surprised more people aren't clued in as the sites and prices are mentioned quite often all over the internet.

Check out the indexer allkeyshop.com to get an idea of how many are selling them and they don't even index everyone.