Elder Scrolls Online begins cracking down on ‘fradulent’ game keys

    
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It could be one of the most heart-dropping emails an MMO player could get: a notice that the game key he or she purchased turned out to be from a shady dealer and that the account will be closed.

But that’s just what’s happening right now with Elder Scrolls Online. ZeniMax is sending out emails to players who have purchased so-called “fraudulently obtained digital game keys” for the MMO, informing them that their accounts are forfeit as a result.

“We will be deactivating all game accounts created with such stolen keys starting on Tuesday, May 26th,” the studio posted. “Affected users will receive an email with instructions on how to regain access to their game account via a valid game purchase.”

ZeniMax put up a list of reputible retailers for Elder Scrolls Online to help future buyers avoid this issue.

Source: Official forum #1, #2. Thanks, Jordan.
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JLIHPodcast
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JLIHPodcast

Just the other day I turned to my fiance and said we should give TSW another try. Whelp now they show their true colors and give me the out.

Robert80
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Robert80

r3dl4nce Robert80 DrowNoble  ‘Let me keep my stolen goods or I’m leaving!’  K, there’s the door. 
Seriously, nobody gets to keep stolen goods unless they simply never get caught with them.  Sorry, but the game is no different.  It sucks that this type of crime affects so very many victims when it happens.
They probably do think that, as accounts still remain and a number of people have already stated they have re-purchased on the forums.

r3dl4nce
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r3dl4nce

Robert80 DrowNoble r3dl4nce It’s very easy, there are two cases:

– they ban the stolen keys, who bought them (probably without knowing that keys were stolen) won’t play anymore, won’t buy again the game, Zenimax lose customers and cash that those customers could spend in the in game shop or buying the DLCs
– they ask for a receipt, if the customer has a regular receipt (even if the key was stolen) they keep active the account, the player still play, can buy DLCs and crowns for the in game store

Really Zenimax thinks that people who got their account banned will buy again the game?

Tridus
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Tridus

Joseph C Assuming the key generation process itself wasn’t broken (allowing someone to generate keys at will, which is pretty uncommon these days), the typical process goes like this:

1. Obtain stolen or fradulent credit card info. With the constant site breaches and data leaks these days, this is easier than it sounds.
2. Buy keys with stolen cards.
3. Resell those keys on shady sites like G2A.
4. Profit.
5. Sometime in the future (upwards of over a month), the credit card company gets told by a rather angry person that their card has been used to buy stuff they didn’t buy. Credit cards have fraud protection for customers, so the credit card company gets their money back by turning around and issuing a chargeback to the company that sold the key.

So, Zenimax (or a legit reseller) sold someone a key, only to lose the money from the sale later. They’re just shutting those keys down now. This isn’t abnormal for anyone who runs a business. Chargebacks are a fact of life due to fraud and card theft. Companies like Blizzard do the exact same thing, they just don’t tend to do it in such a big wave that it draws media attention.
It’s important to note that what’s happening here is NOT “someone bought a sealed boxed copy and decided to resell it”. They have no way of knowing that happened, as those keys were legitimately paid for by *someone*, and then redeemed by someone. What happens in the middle doesn’t really matter. You can even do it with a digital key, if it was bought by someone and then redeemed by someone else. Again, in a lot of cases they have no way of knowing what happened in the middle, and they don’t care a whole lot.
They do care when they lose the money from the sale and get hit with the chargeback fees so a fraudster can profit and someone else can pay half price for the game, though.

As for “value”, it’s pretty hard to compete on price with criminals who make someone else pay for it and then resell for pennies on the dollar to score an easy profit. G2A does no checking on the legitimacy of what they sell at all, by their own admission.

(Another common source of keys is Youtubers who claim they will review the game, get a key for free, then turn around and sell it. I don’t know if those keys are also being hit by this, but it’d be a lot more work to track all of those down to do a mass blocking.)

Joseph C
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Joseph C

What I don’t get is this: How do these sites generate these false keys that can be used? How can they then tell which is a falsely used key and which is a real one? Potentially they may have hurt a lot of honest folks, then pointed towards their website where they offer the game for double the price. Most people I see saying something were charged $30 or something around that, also, would it really hurt to give them the same value by having them buy it from you? Because very, very few are going to shell out the $60 if they wouldn’t do it at the start and were willing to throw down with questionable sources.

All I see here is a company shooting itself in the foot, kicking out a bunch of potential customers, unwilling to bend it’s prices to retain them, and worse, a community full of white knights trying to explain this away by comparing digital media to physical theft, when physical items are finite based on resources needed to make them, and digital is not. I might feel different about it had this just come out, or had someone raided a store full of physical disks, but it’s been out for a while, and there were sales last year all the way down to $10.

Robert80
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Robert80

DrowNoble Robert80 r3dl4nce  Okay, and they won’t have that unless you send it… and even then they probably don’t care that you sent it. A receipt still does not make it their problem that you bought from a source selling fraudulent goods.
Why should they take the risk of suing for damages, especially when storefronts like these pop up and vanish overnight?  Sure, some may be more reliable being around, and you may get your money back if you pursue the matter.  It doesn’t mean you should expect them to do the job for you… especially considering it is at a loss to them financially.

DrowNoble
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DrowNoble

Robert80 r3dl4nce A receipt?

Not sure about your digital purchases, but I also get some kind of receipt either at the Pay Now page or by email.  That would show Zenimax how much you paid and where you bought it from.

Tridus
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Tridus

SirMysk This has nothing to do with DRM. If you buy a stolen bike, you paid real money too. You don’t get to keep the bike because you didn’t know it was stolen when the police come to take it back to it’s real owner.

People “bought” a product that was obtained through fraud. Zenimax is entirely justified in shutting down fraudulently obtained accounts.

If they were smart, they might have offered a sale price to these people as a show of goodwill, but it’s in no way required.

groo the wanderer
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groo the wanderer

BigMikeyOcho groo the wanderer  Darkwalker75  Actually you wouldn’t be charged for a buying a stolen guitar off of ebay . You would obviously lose the guitar though and you would have recourse to get a refund through paypal . Ebay however theoretically could be taken to court because it is their company that hosted the sale of stolen goods but even then that would be difficult given the nature of the site .

For there to be a successful prosecution proof beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew you were buying stolen goods and if you buy something off of ebay there is no possible way that could be proven . I know common sense is commodity short in gamers but really that’s what it is . If however you knowingly brought say a copied film on ebay prior to its release on blu ray or dvd it could be argued you had prior knowledge .

SirMysk
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SirMysk

Real money was paid, it’s not as though people pirated the game but they’re still getting burned. This is all too often the case in anything similar to DRM.
ESO has a cash shop. They’re Buy To Play. It’s not like they could not have made money from people who had already shown that they were willing to spend money on the game. Not top dollar, no, but certainly willing to spend money to satisfy curiosity and to be a part of the game. Zeni Max made a significant error IMO and lost a lot of potential customers doing this. They could have won a lot of positive news by spinning this in their favor. This was a business opportunity that they instead decided to burned.
Thankfully I didn’t spend money on this game so I’m not affected by this, but as a non-customer I’m looking at this situation and I’m shaking my head. This is not a company, and not an MMO that I would spend time and money on. Good luck everyone.