Kinguin Refunds Revoked Ubisoft Keys

We would like to share some of our insights regarding the Ubisoft revoked keys in the last few days.

Firstly few stats:

  • More than 4600 customer tickets received in the last 72 hours
  • Games affected - so far: 1051x FarCry4, 450x Assassin’s Creed, 61x WatchDogs, 11x The Crew
  • We estimate total amount currently to be refunded to 148377 EUR
  • 35 out of 3400 Kinguin Merchants affected by the case
  • All Merchants in cooperation with Kinguin have been and will continue to refund affected customers

Kinguin is a worldwide alternative marketplace where verified independent merchants offer game keys to savvy gamers. Kinguin has a great track record of excellent customer service with 24/7 LiveChat and ticket systems in more than 10 languages.

Kinguin Buyer Protection

Now what actually happened?

Briefly, in official information released by Ubisoft and Origin both sides claim that fraudulent credit cards were used to acquire Ubisoft keys through Origin platform. Neither we nor other companies in the market have possibility to verify these claims.

Here is what Merchants have been telling: An unidentified individual from Russia acquired these keys. How exactly - we do not know. Those keys have been offered to many merchants in the market. From what we know now price offered for these keys was so low that most merchants refused to buy the goods. 35, mostly minor, merchants from Kinguin accepted the offer. These merchants now claim that their “source” disappeared and that they were left hanging. All Merchants with no exception declared full will to cooperate and refund all affected customers. We as Kinguin would like to thank them for that.

How often does this happen?

This has happened several times in the past. However it is the first case on similar scale where thousands of customers are being affected. Put together with other platforms the number could be reaching tens of thousands.

How can this specific case be prevented in the future?

1) Major platforms to implement more advanced early warning mechanisms:

However it seems odd to us that with such big quantities involved “somebody” bought these via credit card or cards from Origin without any suspicion raised during the purchase process.

We at Kinguin do not claim ourselves technologically more advanced than Ubisoft or Origin however we do verify big or unusual purchases. We believe these platforms must have access to anti-fraud ecommerce tools that should raise alarm flags in such cases.

2) Merchants must pay bigger attention to who their business partners are and avoid risk transactions with new entities.

What does this tells us about the state of the market?

The “game keys” market has passed major milestones since its early starts back in 2007, when almost all codes were scratched from boxed products. There are several major platforms now with advanced ethics and business mechanisms. There is major increase in recognition of these brands and their services among large audiences - counted in millions for now. Since January 1st 2015 several organizations, including Kinguin, have become VAT compliant in the European Union.

There is still one major issue though. State of the market is still in collision with big publishers’ goals and strategies.

Why?

It is natural in every economy that companies aim for supremacy and try to achieve monopoly position. Big publishers try to focus all their video games sales in very limited number of channels. Ideally they would like to sell only through their own platforms.

Steam would want Steam keys to be sold only via Steam. Blizzard does not allow any sales besides Battle.net and physical boxes (even specific digital giftcards products back in the day with GAME in the UK has disappeared) and so on. If it happens that the games might appear on other official media outlets its always based on conditions set by the publishers which is mostly: the game cannot cost less than 60 EUR in your store.

There is a big issue in all if that: gamers still don’t accept it. And for good reasons.