In what is sure to be a controversial move to some, Deep Silver, the company behind Metro Exodus, has issued a mass deactivation of resold Steam keys for the shooter. These takedowns apparently target a batch of keys which were generated ahead of the timed exclusivity deal for the game with the Epic Games Store.
The company revealed the plan and the fallout in an announcement earlier today, “We have been made aware of illegal stolen keys being sold by an unofficial key reseller,” Deep Silver wrote in a post on Steam, via GamesIndustry.biz
Here’s the full announcement, showing exactly why these keys were yanked from the hands of consumers:
We have been made aware of illegal stolen keys being sold by an unofficial key reseller.
These keys have been obtained illegally from the factory where physical key printing had taken place prior to the announcement of exclusivity with Epic Games, due to the criminal nature of these keys, all unlicensed keys have been deactivated and activation / download of Metro Exodus without the executable file is no longer possible. In addition, the software will be removed from the Steam library of any players using an unauthorised code. The keys being sold on this platform are stolen goods, and are therefore illegal.
If you have been affected we strongly recommend you contact the seller who sold you the unlicensed key and demand a refund.
The only supported key sellers for Metro Exodus were Humblebundle and the Razer store.
Gamers are now left wondering what they’re supposed to do if they were affected by this change. Disgruntled players wondered why the company didn’t immediately block the codes if they were not meant for sale.
“We were not aware that they had gotten into the wrong hands,” the publisher replied. “The binaries were disabled on these keys from the beginning, the community brought it to our attention that the games they had from the reseller were not updating. After an investigation we have become aware that they were stolen.”
Some of you reading this might be a bit lost as to what all this means, or how it all happened in the first place. Well, the shortest possible version is that Metro Exodus kicked off a ton of backlash after it was announced that the game would be entered into a one year exclusivity agreement with Epic, meaning the PC version of the FPS would be exclusive to Epic’s competitor to the dominant Steam. Despite a lot of promise and early hype through some spectacular trailers and other promotions, a lot of PC gamers were left unhappy by this new deal.
Deep Silver admitted that the publisher Koch Media was behind the deal, and the Deep Silver and developer 4A Games had no real choice in the matter, though this admission did little to quench the thirst for anger that many felt as a result of the exclusivity. Deep Silver honored Metro Exodus Steam pre-orders, as well as pre-order bonuses, and DLC included in the expansion pass of the Gold Edition of the game. This was a good step, but many evidently took to piracy and grey market sellers in order to obtain copies of the game. Gamers were even unhappy to the point of review-bombing the FPS title on Steam.
Grey market resellers of Steam keys have been a thorn in the side of the gaming industry for years now. Companies like G2A will often allow sellers to market keys for software and games on their sites with little oversight. This easy access to low-cost products often translates to game keys being sold on these platform that are generated through questionable means, like buying bulk games with stolen credit cards, or hacking Steam to generate free keys.
Given all of this and more, it’s easy to see why Deep Silver has cracked down, even though some gamers will not like it at all.
What do you think of this development? What’s your take on key resellers? Let us know in the comments.