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People love using Steam to manage and organize all of their computer games - so buying games that include Steam keys at a discount is a huge win for most consumers. The problem is when shady 3rd party sites buy up a bunch of game keys from discount and bundle sites and resell them for profit. I can’t really delve into the legality of this practice since I’m not a lawyer, but we can certainly all agree that morally this is wrong.
The big bundle site on the block is Humble Bundle. They started including Steam keys with their very first bundle and made it anonymous and easy to purchase a bundle and generate Steam, Desura, and even OnLive keys for your purchase in the early days. Unfortunately, the internet is full of scammers and this lead to some pretty prominent problems for them. There’s a really good article from GameInformer outlining how retailers have blatantly profited off of reselling bundle keys. Some may think that the above isn’t so bad since they at least paid for the keys, but there are plenty of cases where people are using stolen credit cards and other nefarious methods to grab keys for free and resell them elsewhere . To Humble’s credit, they deactivated a bunch of keys that were obtained fraudulently and changed their steam key redemption system to prevent further abuse. I don’t want to get into bashing other bundle sites, but there certainly a lot of them and they all have different key redemption systems. I think it would be smart for indie game developers to tread cautiously with their steam keys and ask the right questions about each platform.
With all that being said, we do our best here to prevent key reselling and abuse – sometimes the complexity of it may be to our detriment, but it’s to the advantage of the game developer. Our system isn’t perfect, but it certainly makes bulk key purchasing and reselling a huge pain in the ass. So for the sake of transparency, here’s an in-depth look at how the IndieGameStand System works: