Legal, Legit, and Safe?: A look at the G2A, Kinguin, and Instant Gaming markets
by John Uke • July 1, 2020
It’s not shocking that players are looking for something cheaper. With most AAA titles costing upwards of $60 (don’t even get me started on DLC), gaming has become quite the expensive hobby for a dedicated player. So, what’s a gamer to do to save some money?
All praise be to our lord Gaben, but the Steam Summer Sale is but once a year, and it isn’t guaranteed to have exactly what you want. On the flip side, many companies offer subscription services such as EA Access and Xbox Game Pass, but again, you’re never guaranteed to get the exact game you’re looking for.
As the old adage from Robots goes, “See a need, fill a need.” With that in mind, it’s no surprise that these “gray market sites,” like G2A, Kinguin, and Instant Gaming, have started to rise in popularity.
For those unfamiliar, these sites offer digital video game keys at incredible prices. Essentially, no matter what game you’re looking for, it can be found at much cheaper than retail. However, that leaves many customers befuddled. The same questions ring through their heads. Is G2A legit? Is Instant Gaming safe? Is Kinguin legal? We’ll explore the ins and outs as we dive into the world of video game gray markets…
How are they so cheap, and where do the keys come from?
G2A, for example, claims that many of their keys come from wholesalers that buy them in bulk from game studios. Others cite that many take advantage of deals that they get from websites like HumbleBundle to upcharge their keys. The truth of the matter though, is that it’s not uncommon for people to cheat the system. They’ll pose as game journalists to get codes or buy them from other parts of the world where the game is cheaper and re-sell them in another. On top of that, as much as we want to say that we live in a perfect world, it is unfortunately the case that many of these keys can be purchased fraudulently through the use of stolen credit cards. While each of the aforementioned companies do take a stance on admonishing these actions, that doesn’t change the reality that it is happening.
Is it legal?
ENTIRELY. I want to be clear about this. For all the doom and gloom I might be discussing in this article, the websites I mentioned are within their rights to do what they do. A developer cannot decide where you’re going to buy their game, and there’s nothing wrong with buying something at less than retail price. So, rest assured, you are not breaking any laws by purchasing from these websites.
Is it safe?
YES! And, of course, no… If you have no moral dilemma about the fact the game you’ve purchased might have been bought from a stolen credit card, you will at least want to keep in mind the risk of the game studios deactivating your copy. Historically, both companies like Bethesda and Ubisoft have deactivated keys that were generated from stolen credit cards (unbeknownst to the players that bought them). While Ubisoft did ultimately end up reinstating the games, the risk still remains. Though MOST retailers are just people who have the ability to buy in bulk, you should always be cognizant that they ALL aren’t, and that can lead to some unfortunate consequences.
There’s a reason they’re called gray markets. These sites sit in a morally gray area of the video game world. So, is Kinguin/G2A safe? Is Instant gaming legit? That is for you to decide. At the end of the day, whether you purchase games from these types of sites is entirely up to you. But, when you’re looking to find someone to play your new games with, you can always try GameTree. Our app uses a personally tailored matchmaking algorithm to get you connected with your dream team on a deeper level. Our system can even provide personalized game recommendations based on the things you care about most to help you find that next cheap title to buy. 😉