Buyer Beware: It seems as if EA will start cracking down on "grey market" keys

SunnyD

Belgian Waffler
Jan 2, 2001
32,673
142
106
www.neftastic.com
If not EA, then at least Bioware. But always reading between the lines, I anticipate this will be an EA-wide corporate policy.

As noted here on the Star Wars: The Old Republic website...

Appropriate excerpt:
We understand that some customers are unaware they are purchasing 'stolen goods' when they buy these codes, usually from online retailers and auction sites. For that reason we have not taken action against customers using these codes in the past, as despite not gaining revenue from their purchase, we still value them as a customer. Over time however, the number of legitimate customers using these codes has dropped, and the number of gold farmers using them has risen to a level where we can no longer ignore these illegal sales.

As a result, we are changing our policies to limit the practice of using fraudulently obtained codes. From May 2nd, 2012 any account created using a fraudulently obtained game access code (ie, one that was bought using a stolen credit card) will be banned from the game service.

This change may affect a very small number of users who believed they purchased an authentic game access code. If your game service is affected, you may contact Customer Service who will help you obtain a legitimate game code to re-instate your account.
The last paragraph was included to note that more than likely EA will be attempting to "Double-Dip" the customer, or rather essentially pass the 'cost' of this supposed "illegal" practice on directly to the customer.

Mind you, this does not explicitly state as such, but odds are this will also extend into different-region purchases, knowing how EA operates at least. This will more than likely affect anyone trying to score a deal on a title by purchasing a Russian/Asian-based game key from one of the many popular websites. Again, this last part is pure speculation on my part, but it will likely come to pass especially given the entire blurb references the Origin/EA EULA and ToS.

Fun times indeed.
 

smackababy

Lifer
Oct 30, 2008
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I don't see this as a bad thing. Buying from legitimate vendors will be the only way to access their services. Sure, some consumers buying codes from other markets (grey markets) might be effect, but that number is quite small. Buying stolen goods is illegal in America. That is knowingly or should have known. Seeing a website with codes for much less than retail for a just released game can be seen as should have known.
 

darkewaffle

Diamond Member
Oct 7, 2005
8,152
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I wouldn't mind seeing those "key sites" disappear frankly, never purchased from myself but definitely shady places/practices.
 

Anonemous

Diamond Member
May 19, 2003
7,361
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A key is a key is a key. Dunno why they call it grey market. So they sold the key in another part of the world for much lower prices than in the US and companies are selling these keys back to the US at lower prices. Unless the keys were hacked? Than EA sure has crappy serial number generation.
 

greenhawk

Platinum Member
Feb 23, 2011
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for the true ones where the key was bought from someone say via ebay and the key was originally purchased with a stollen credit card, then fare enough.

Them using the same excuess to hit up people that do grey imports from actual shops is very wrong in my book. Two different issues really and if EA tries to blur those lines for their own pockets, I can only disagree with them over it.

They have been enforcing region encoding on games for quite a while, at least in Australia. Ordering from a cheap store in Asia was my normal practice before steam's regular sales, but EA put a end to that very fast.
 

GoodRevrnd

Diamond Member
Dec 27, 2001
6,803
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I don't know about that... If they don't want people using grey market keys they can simply have certain key blocks for certain regions so you can't register an Eastern European key in America in the first place. Other companies do this. It would be silly to just let people buy these grey market keys and then ban them after the fact. Then again, it is EA.
 

Lonyo

Lifer
Aug 10, 2002
21,939
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I don't know about that... If they don't want people using grey market keys they can simply have certain key blocks for certain regions so you can't register an Eastern European key in America in the first place. Other companies do this. It would be silly to just let people buy these grey market keys and then ban them after the fact. Then again, it is EA.
Yeah, EA the debil. No one else would ever do that. Even though other people already have.
 
Feb 24, 2001
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I don't see this as a bad thing. Buying from legitimate vendors will be the only way to access their services. Sure, some consumers buying codes from other markets (grey markets) might be effect, but that number is quite small. Buying stolen goods is illegal in America. That is knowingly or should have known. Seeing a website with codes for much less than retail for a just released game can be seen as should have known.
Stolen goods and grey market are two entirely different things.
 

Barfo

Lifer
Jan 4, 2005
27,554
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Great! EA knows exactly how to stop people from pirating games.
 

AznAnarchy99

Lifer
Dec 6, 2004
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I wouldn't mind seeing those "key sites" disappear frankly, never purchased from myself but definitely shady places/practices.
I bought a MW3 key from one when it came out. They aren't shady at all. Most of the time their prices are not that much cheaper but sometimes they are as with MW3. They definitely had better customer service than EA or Activision ever gave me.
 

thespyder

Golden Member
Aug 31, 2006
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Stolen goods and grey market are two entirely different things.
The definition they use in the article is only those 'Grey Market' games that were purchased with a stolen credit card. Which means that the publisher got no money on the transaction because it was fraudulent. so it was basically a stolen key.
 

Dankk

Diamond Member
Jul 7, 2008
5,558
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Stolen goods and grey market are two entirely different things.
So wait... which one is it? Are they cracking down on the "grey" market? Or the "stolen" market?

Or maybe you have your terminology wrong and they really are the same thing, and those Russian key sites are something entirely different?

I bought a MW3 key from one when it came out. They aren't shady at all. Most of the time their prices are not that much cheaper but sometimes they are as with MW3. They definitely had better customer service than EA or Activision ever gave me.
I, too, purchased a Russian key of MW3 not long after it came out. Not stolen, mind you; but from CJS who get their games legitimately from a distributor and then pass on the savings by selling the keys worldwide.

I don't know if that's considered "gray market" or not. Thread title says EA will crack down on the "gray market", but then it goes on to talk about stolen keys. So which is which? Does someone want to lay down the terminology correctly?
 
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Lonyo

Lifer
Aug 10, 2002
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by making reputable developers produce shitty games as fast as possible so nobody wants to play them?
The only reason people bitch so much is because they do want to play the games.
You don't see half as much response to all the crap Ubisoft does, because no one wants to play the games in the first place.
 
Feb 24, 2001
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So wait... which one is it? Are they cracking down on the "grey" market? Or the "stolen" market?

Or maybe you have your terminology wrong and they really are the same thing, and those Russian key sites are something entirely different?



I, too, purchased a Russian key of MW3 not long after it came out. Not stolen, mind you; but from CJS who get their games legitimately from a distributor and then pass on the savings by selling the keys worldwide.

I don't know if that's considered "gray market" or not. Thread title says EA will crack down on the "gray market", but then it goes on to talk about stolen keys. So which is which? Does someone want to lay down the terminology correctly?
From an accounting/business standpoint, gray market is a market in which your goods are bought and sold outside of their intended region. I don't know why the article is talking about stolen keys as well, there is a complete difference. Stolen=exactly that. Gray market is the publisher selling keys to a retailer in Russia, then the Russian retailer selling them to US buyers.

Nothing illegal about gray market purchases, you just don't get the protection you would normally get. You're in violation of the EULA in the case of games. Products like cameras which you buy gray market aren't warrantied by the manufacturer, etc.
 

lupi

Lifer
Apr 8, 2001
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not sure how bought with a stolen credit card is grey market.
 

Cerb

Elite Member
Aug 26, 2000
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MISLEADING TITLE
Gray market generally refers to buying from unsupported countries/regions, to get around regulations, MAPs, etc.. My phone is gray market, FI, because it was the only affordable way to get one that didn't have bad firmware w/ flash protection. Nothing fraudulent about it, I just got a short vendor warranty, no manufacturer warranty, and some Asian language glyphs on my keypad that the US and EU versions don't have.

A key is a key is a key. Dunno why they call it grey market. So they sold the key in another part of the world for much lower prices than in the US and companies are selling these keys back to the US at lower prices. Unless the keys were hacked? Than EA sure has crappy serial number generation.
The keys themselves are likely 100% legitimate. However, if they were purchased using fraudulently obtained money, then the game itself was also fraudulently obtained, even if the final buyer had no clue about that part.

Being EA, I'm sure they're going to execute this in the worst way, but they have every right and incentive to do it. We can argue all day about how much piracy counts to lost sales, and how they keep inconveniencing paying customers more than pirates. But, a purchased key that then gets refunded after the unfortunate proxy reports it to their bank, is a loss, and should be combated aggressively.
 

coloumb

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
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Huge misleading title - it's nothing more than another attack on EA.
 

alkemyst

No Lifer
Feb 13, 2001
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A key is a key is a key. Dunno why they call it grey market. So they sold the key in another part of the world for much lower prices than in the US and companies are selling these keys back to the US at lower prices. Unless the keys were hacked? Than EA sure has crappy serial number generation.
Not hacked, bought with stolen credit cards. They can't go after people overseas that do this easily and nothing stops them from reselling them. They usually feed many to the 'gold farmers' who mostly part of the same ring and then sell off what they don't need to the rest of the world at cut rate prices.

If everyone is selling the keys at $30-60 and you see someone in China offering 50 up at $5-10 each, you'd have to be an absolute moron to not realize they were obtained illegally.

That is the 'game' they are cracking down on now. Too many are going *blink blink*, I didn't know! Many times they are also the ones causing game issues.
 

thejunglegod

Golden Member
Feb 12, 2012
1,356
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The only reason people bitch so much is because they do want to play the games. You don't see half as much response to all the crap Ubisoft does, because no one wants to play the games in the first place.
With all due respect sir, i think you are mistaken. EA has only recently started the 'all time online' DRM shit while Ubisoft has been at it since ages. You dont hear "people bitch" now is because they are all tired and they know that no one is going to remove that stick from Ubi's ass. And who told you that no one wants to play Ubisoft's games? Im a major cynic of the Ubisoft DRM, however, sadly, there are certain games that i just couldnt resist (read AC, Anno1404 & 2070, World in Conflict)
 

Zenoth

Diamond Member
Jan 29, 2005
5,166
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Misleading title, indeed.

What EA wants to do is in regard to games purchased using illegal/stolen credit cards.

Whatever those CD Keys web-sites are doing, whichever way they obtain the official keys that do work on Steam, Origin or wherever you need to register them, is irrelevant for the buyer. As long as the buyer knows it's working, that the key in question is legitimate, and of course that the buyer knows he's buying the key(s) by using his legal credit card or PayPal account or any other legal ways to purchase online.

The "problem" with those sites, if there's any, comes in the "gray line" drawn in the manners by which they do obtain their game keys that they sell at considerably more affordable prices than on the official content delivery platform they're being sold. But the consumers themselves buying from such places have their own reasons to do so, most likely of course being that they save money (it's probably the ONLY reason). But in the end, if you, as a consumer, have "nothing to hide" and you're buying the key(s) using legitimate credits, then there's nothing to worry about. If the key(s) does work (and they usually do), then whatever needs to be done to "stop" those sites to sell keys falls in the developers and publishers' hands for action to be taken. As far as I know, nothing about those sites has ever been done, or at least it's not common or cannot be done efficiently.

But for that case it's about buying games with illegal credits (cards, stolen, etc). Not directly nor only regarding the so called third-party game keys sellers on the web selling legitimate keys that may have been questionably "obtained" or simply stolen. But that ain't the consumers problems as long as nothing about that is obviously done, for the moment gamers do it because they can, it's that simple. It might be a risk, but it's obviously a risk that seems to be worth taking since they save money in the end (and God knows what we humans can generally do when it comes to money, which includes taking risks in life).
 

Wardawg1001

Senior member
Sep 4, 2008
653
1
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I have no problem with this and neither should anyone else. Usually it should be quite obvious to the consumer that the seller obtained the keys illegally as the sites that sell these keys are often quite shady and the discount is substantially more than you would get anywhere else. I have no statistics to prove it obviously, but I highly doubt that theres many people who accidentally stumble on these sites. Most of the people who buy from these sites know damn well what they are doing.

How the keys were obtained illegally is a non-factor. Whether they were bought overseas at a lower price and re-sold here, or someone hacked EA and obtained a number of the keys, someone at Best Buy stole 100 copies of the game and sold the keys online, someone within EA obtained the keys somehow and is selling them, or the games were purchased from a legitimate retailer with stolen credit cards or whatever. It doesn't matter. If you didn't legitimately obtain your key from a legitimate retailer, then you took the risk that you purchase a fraudulently obtained key, and EA should have every right to ban your account.

This happened a few months ago in a game called Heroes of Newerth. I don't remember the exact details, but the company (S2) discovered that a number of keys had been stolen somehow, they were able to track which ones they were (this probably wasn't too hard, as the only place to ever purchase the game legitimately has been directly through their website), and they did the same thing, disabled the accounts. Everyone was given the opportunity to purchase a valid copy of the game and restore their account to its previous status.
 

blackened23

Diamond Member
Jul 26, 2011
8,548
2
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Oh boy. Another thread bashing EA. Did anyone stop to think of how the russian sites are able to offer keys so cheaply? And people thought these sites were legit? Yeahh ok. :rolleyes: The TOS warns against this, steam does the same thing. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is.
 
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StrangerGuy

Diamond Member
May 9, 2004
8,443
124
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Oh boy. Another thread bashing EA. Did anyone stop to think of how the russian sites are able to offer keys so cheaply? And people thought these sites were legit? Yeahh ok. :rolleyes: The TOS warns against this, steam does the same thing. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is.
Eh, the OP says the origin of the keys doesn't matter. The issue is whether dirty money is used to buy them or not.

And LOL EA. They might wanna look into server population imbalance first in SW:TOR because that is going to kill it faster than "illegitimate" keys will ever do.
 
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SunnyD

Belgian Waffler
Jan 2, 2001
32,673
142
106
www.neftastic.com
Okay folks - the title is not even remotely misleading. I am hypothesizing that given the context of the original posting, and given that the posting directly references the Origin ToS and EUALA, EA will more than likely be using the exact same terms to clamp down on "legitimate" grey market keys in the near future given their unintended use. It's a stretch, yes... but it's also a warning for you all. If EA is taking this first step, it's not a stretch to think EA will take the next step just in order to "protect" revenue.

Unfortunately, a lot of grey market vendors also happen to fall under the "stolen credit card" category. eBay vendors for example - it's nearly impossible to determine whether the seller is a grey market vendor, a credit card thief, a keygen thief or other. These types of vendors in our world are considered "grey market", given the buyer has nearly NO way to verify the origin of the product. Such is the internet.

fwiw: I have no issues with EA and a lot of their titles. I'm an advocate of Origin. I don't care that EA titles aren't readily available on steam. I'm just providing this point of insight as a service for those that purchase their keys through alternate sources such that they aren't shocked and posting bitch threads when their products magically stop working.
 
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