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Scammers are selling illicit copies of games through Amazon

Frostpunk

PC gaming is the domain of bargain hunters, lots of people love Steam sales and Humble Bundle for all the sweet deals on digital games. But a lot of people, gamer and developer alike, are discovering a shadier side of digital distribution. And we’re not talking about cybercriminals selling “carded” Steam keys this time.

This week, keen gamers spotted a “deal” on Amazon for the survival city-builder Frostpunk. The GameDeals subreddit spotted a deep discount on Frostpunk on Amazon early Saturday morning. The digital code was being sold for $3 USD – a full 90% off the current asking price on Steam or GOG. But it turns out that this deal was in fact too good to be true.

The original poster of the GameDeals thread decided to bite the bullet and ended up purchasing the game through the Amazon listing.

Here’s what they had to say:

“Someone took the GOG version of the game, repackaged it with their own installer signed and published by ‘Ace Media Group LLC’ and submitted it to Amazon. The installer looks fairly legit but the uninstaller doesn’t work. They left GOG-specific metadata files and Galaxy64.dll (for GOG Galaxy client integration) in the install dir.”

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The story started to spread across the internet, and people had some serious questions for Amazon. Namely, what was the company actually doing to check applications submitted to their marketplace. Was there any form of ID verification to confirm the submission comes from a legitimate source? Was Amazon checking submissions for malware or other nastiness?

These questions are important to answer because policies need to be in place to deal with unscrupulous users.

And Frostpunk isn’t the only game to fall victim. Surviving Mars has also fallen victim. The ResetEra thread responding to this issues includes allegations that a similar thing is happening with Battlechasers: Night War too.

Users who were taken by the scam report that Amazon support has been lackluster in dealing with the issue. Some users got refunds, while others got the equivalent of door slammed in their face. So whatever happens with this, it’s clear that Amazon has some work to do for sake of the security and reputation of their marketplace.

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