Steam Revokes 7,000 Stolen Sniper Elite 3 Keys

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Steam Revokes 7,000 Stolen Sniper Elite 3 Keys

Sniper Elite 3 video still

Unsuspecting Sniper Elite 3 customers who bought stolen keys have had their games revoked.

Over 7,000 Steam keys for Rebellion's Sniper Elite 3 have been reported stolen from a PC distributor, and then re-sold to unsuspecting customers. After discovering the theft, Steam promptly invalidated the keys, leaving many legitimate customers who were victims of the thieves without the game. Steam has urged customers to seek refunds from wherever they bought the keys from.

"To clarify, one of our PC retail distributors informed us that some of their allotted Steam keys were stolen," the developer said. "We believe these keys were then resold to multiple companies, with no payments going to either Valve or the retail distributor."

Rebellion has posted a list of retailers that were unaffected on the game's Steam discussion page, and as a gesture of good will, has offered the "Target Hitler" DLC absolutely free to any customers who were affected by the revoked keys (though that's probably a small consolation to these guys who are unlikely to see a refund from their retailers).

"We appreciate that some people are upset, this is exactly why we wanted to make this offer to gamers who've been affected through no fault of their own." Rebellion writes.

Fans are justifiably angry, saying that they should not be punished for a theft that they didn't commit. It's certainly not a great move for Rebellion, who honestly should have just stopped further sales of stolen keys and left the ones that had already been redeemed.

Source: IGN

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The general principle at work for all purchases is caveat emptor or let the buyer beware. If you have bought stolen goods in good faith, the owner is entitled to those goods back without paying compensation. There is nothing unique about this and it is standard legal situation and it is the same law that applies to every other product.

I tend to be on the consumer's side on this case. I am not sure how these people got their hands on these keys but if they themselves did not steal it and were not made aware that they were then why punish them? - Rhetorical question

Like you said, it is highly unlikely that they would be able to get a refund and thus they would be even less likely to spend more money to get the game again. That said, I personally think that they should have let them keep the game but offer a mild discount to DLC, for those that got the keys, to encourage an impulse buy. That way they still get some money out of the whole shebang.

Saulkar:
I tend to be on the consumer's side on this case. I am not sure how these people got their hands on these keys but if they themselves did not steal it and were not made aware that they were then why punish them? - Rhetorical question

Like you said, it is highly unlikely that they would be able to get a refund and thus they would be even less likely to spend more money to get the game again. That said, I personally think that they should have let them keep the game but offer a mild discount to DLC, for those that got the keys, to encourage an impulse buy. That way they still get some money out of the whole shebang.

So not only should they let people keep their game for free but they should give the people who bought their stolen goods a discount on their other goods?

I understand it sucks for the people who bought the game but you can't expect them to just let people keep it for free.

Whist i agree the customer did not do anything wrong and should not be punished, the keys where stolen. You also have to ask why the customer went elsewhere to buy the key, if its to save a few then i can understand this but that is a risk you take when buying keys form dodgy sites. That being said not all customers are as informed as we are and that should not mean that you should dismiss this as caveat emptor, this is a terrible mindset to have in this situation, it should be seller beware as you should not be selling something that's not as described, you where selling this as a genuine key when it was not.

I still think if you don't want to pay full price for a game at launch then you should just wait for it to be reduced rather than taking this risk.

And come on Rebellion 7000 keys. Was it wroth the bad press? I know its stolen property unlike a pirated copy but come on think about how the customer is going to feel, they could have saved up to get a copy of there favorite game as a treat and are now left empty handed.

In Germany Sniper Elite 3 is currently on Steam for 46 euros, that's 322'000 euros from 7000 stolen keys. Drop that down to 250'000 to take into account sales etc. That's not a small sum of money.

I don't think it's unreasonable of them to revoke stolen keys, the offer of getting the DLC free seems like a decent move. The "Target Hitler" DLC is currently at 10 euros on steam, so they're taking a 70'000 euro hit as a sign of goodwill.

Sure, it's crappy for the people who thought they were buying legitimate keys, but I don't think it's fair for Rebellion to be down hundreds of thousands of euros.

Chairman Miaow:
snip

After having already spent money on the game then having it revoked with little chance of a refund I cannot image a fraction of that number of people trying to buy it again and doubling the expense. The discount to DLC would be an act of good will combined with a chance to make back some money that would probably now be smoke in the wind for the company and valve.

How are they unlikely to get a refund? These retailers apparently bought and then resold stolen keys, making them really damn responsible. Legally speaking, I'm pretty sure that means any customer who doesn't get a refund can sue.

Steven Bogos:
...legitimate customers... Fans are justifiably angry, saying that they should not be punished for a theft that they didn't commit. It's certainly not a great move for Rebellion, who honestly should have just stopped further sales of stolen keys and left the ones that had already been redeemed.

BS. As albino boo said, if you buy stolen goods, you don't get to keep them when you get caught. The fact that Rebellion is offering free DLC essentially makes them amazing.

And before we get into the pirate's argument where they didn't actually "lose" 7,000 items, there's two basic legal ways to think about intellectual property (such as video games):

1. As a product. This is the simplest case, you buy a car, you own that car. You buy a game, you own that game.

2. As a license. Essentially, you're renting--hypothetically in perpetuity--the right to use the game, and the publisher gets to determine how, when, how often, how many computers, etc. etc. etc..

You can't have it both ways. You can't say, "Oh, I would like to pick and choose the product aspects and the license aspects that I like and discard the rest." Publishers are already trying to pull that crap in their own favor and we hate it so let's not be hypocrites, yes? And, under the assumption that we like the product model (since it is much more consumer friendly), let's treat this like a stolen product situation: if someone steals 7,000 RC cars, resells them to Walmart, and you buy one (from Walmart, a hypothetically legitimate retailer), the cops are going to take it away when they track you down. You are well within your rights to (legally speaking) burn Walmart to the ground to get a refund, but complaining about the cops or the original manufacturer taking your "legitimately bought" RC car away is just silly.

As for the phrase "legitimate customer", I don't think you understand what "customer" means, Steven. Your money has to get to Rebellion for you to be their customer, otherwise you are simply "the public" or, in this case, a "crime beneficiary".

It's hardly the customer's fault that the sites they trusted were hocking stolen goods?

This isn't a case of 'buyer beware' as most of the victims in this case bought the keys from legitimate sites...

softclocks:
It's hardly the customer's fault that the sites they trusted were hocking stolen goods?

This isn't a case of 'buyer beware' as most of the victims in this case bought the keys from legitimate sites...

why are legit sites selling stolen keys? if customers are finding really cheap steam cd keys of a brand new game then they should be suspicious.

At any rate, if the companies that sold the stolen keys are legitimate companies then if anyone should be offering refunds it is them. If they know who sold them the stolen keys they could then pursue legal action against the thieves.

Matey:

softclocks:
It's hardly the customer's fault that the sites they trusted were hocking stolen goods?

This isn't a case of 'buyer beware' as most of the victims in this case bought the keys from legitimate sites...

why are legit sites selling stolen keys? if customers are finding really cheap steam cd keys of a brand new game then they should be suspicious.

At any rate, if the companies that sold the stolen keys are legitimate companies then if anyone should be offering refunds it is them. If they know who sold them the stolen keys they could then pursue legal action against the thieves.

I have no interest in speculating why, nor did I make any claims as to who should be offering refunds.

I'm saying that this was not the case of someone dealing with a russian through steam-trading. This was people buying the keys from sites that were tested, tried and true. I'd be pretty miffed if say the humble bundle keys for steam turned out to be stolen and I were banned/lost my games because of it.

alj:
it should be seller beware as you should not be selling something that's not as described, you where selling this as a genuine key when it was not.

That's not how theft works sadly.
Hell, that's not how marketing works in general.
That's why we have to deal with things like Aliens: Colonial Marines.

As you mention at the start of your post: why would you buy from a third party? Especially if it's not a proper retailer.
That alone indicates that you weren't looking for legitimate business, which is a fault of noone but their own.

softclocks:
It's hardly the customer's fault that the sites they trusted were hocking stolen goods?

This isn't a case of 'buyer beware' as most of the victims in this case bought the keys from legitimate sites...

It doesn't matter where you buy from, the principle is the same. You can't benefit from anothers crime and therefore you lose the goods in question. If someone breaks into your house and steals some jewelry who sells to fence, who then sells it to jeweller and then a customer buys it, you would still want it back. I would like to point out that Rebellion is a victim here too.

albino boo:

softclocks:
It's hardly the customer's fault that the sites they trusted were hocking stolen goods?

This isn't a case of 'buyer beware' as most of the victims in this case bought the keys from legitimate sites...

It doesn't matter where you buy from, the principle is the same. You can't benefit from anothers crime and therefore you lose the goods in question. If someone breaks into your house and steals some jewelry who sells to fence, who then sells it to jeweller and then a customer buys it, you would still want it back. I would like to point out that Rebellion is a victim here too.

So if i were to go to best buy and buy a game, and it turns out that best buy stole them, i would be at fault for best buys criminal act? its the seller that needs to compensate, not the end buyer.

Strazdas:

So if i were to go to best buy and buy a game, and it turns out that best buy stole them, i would be at fault for best buys criminal act? its the seller that needs to compensate, not the end buyer.

You wouldn't be at fault but you can't benefit from anothers criminals act. Its a centuries old principle of law that applies universally to all goods and services. The goods are returned the person that it was stolen from and thats it. The point to is to return to the situation as close as possible before the crime was committed. There are some exceptions like buying at auction or from licensed market but that varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but the principle remains the same.

albino boo:

Strazdas:

So if i were to go to best buy and buy a game, and it turns out that best buy stole them, i would be at fault for best buys criminal act? its the seller that needs to compensate, not the end buyer.

You wouldn't be at fault but you can't benefit from anothers criminals act. Its a centuries old principle of law that applies universally to all goods and services. The goods are returned the person that it was stolen from and thats it. The point to is to return to the situation as close as possible before the crime was committed. There are some exceptions like buying at auction or from licensed market but that varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but the principle remains the same. The law tries to get back to the point before the crime happened.

but if it tries to get back to the point before the crime happened, shouldn't i be getting my money back as well?

Strazdas:

albino boo:

Strazdas:

So if i were to go to best buy and buy a game, and it turns out that best buy stole them, i would be at fault for best buys criminal act? its the seller that needs to compensate, not the end buyer.

You wouldn't be at fault but you can't benefit from anothers criminals act. Its a centuries old principle of law that applies universally to all goods and services. The goods are returned the person that it was stolen from and thats it. The point to is to return to the situation as close as possible before the crime was committed. There are some exceptions like buying at auction or from licensed market but that varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but the principle remains the same. The law tries to get back to the point before the crime happened.

but if it tries to get back to the point before the crime happened, shouldn't i be getting my money back as well?

In your example you would have to launch a civil recovery suit against best buy but the odds are that after criminal fines and the being sued by the people that they stole from that best buy would be bankrupt. That means you would just be another creditor and a low priority one at that. The taxman comes first, the financial institutions come next, then staff and finally you. In the case of sniper elite the companies that sold the games also lose the money they took from the sales and have to launch a civil recovery suit against the people that stole the codes .

Strazdas:

albino boo:

Strazdas:

So if i were to go to best buy and buy a game, and it turns out that best buy stole them, i would be at fault for best buys criminal act? its the seller that needs to compensate, not the end buyer.

You wouldn't be at fault but you can't benefit from anothers criminals act. Its a centuries old principle of law that applies universally to all goods and services. The goods are returned the person that it was stolen from and thats it. The point to is to return to the situation as close as possible before the crime was committed. There are some exceptions like buying at auction or from licensed market but that varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but the principle remains the same. The law tries to get back to the point before the crime happened.

but if it tries to get back to the point before the crime happened, shouldn't i be getting my money back as well?

Yes you should get your money back, but from Best Buy and not from the company that had its property stolen.

For if I was to break into your house and steal your gaming console (or computer) and sell it to someone else and the police find it, would you want your property back or would you let the other person keep it because they bought it thinking it was a "honest" sale?

Annnnd there is 7000 more people who will probably go pirate the game now. Good call Rebellion.

alj:

And come on Rebellion 7000 keys. Was it wroth the bad press? I know its stolen property unlike a pirated copy but come on think about how the customer is going to feel, they could have saved up to get a copy of there favorite game as a treat and are now left empty handed.

It's not a small amount of cash even discounted to say $10 a copy right now that is a loss of $70,000. Full price it's around $350,000. I think the lesson here is simple, buyer beware. If you are buying from some unknown website that has only been around for a short period of time, maybe the couple of dollars saved isn't worth it. It sucks but I thing everyone has gone through this from time to time getting ripped off by criminals. It sucks but you hopefully learn from it and make better decision in the future.

Naqel:
As you mention at the start of your post: why would you buy from a third party? Especially if it's not a proper retailer.
That alone indicates that you weren't looking for legitimate business, which is a fault of noone but their own.

Most CD key sellers are legit, real addresses, real people, buying from publishers like everyone else does. If you're buying dodgy region locked keys from eastern Europe than no sympathy, but this is affecting the genuine stores too.

So far, seemingly all of Europe's big CD key sellers have been affected, including a number who (claim to) get their keys direct from Publishers. CJS have been particularly scathing whilst a couple of other sellers are openly accusing Rebellion of punishing sellers for negotiating better prices via regional publishers, instead of buying at marked. It hasn't gone unnoticed that the Steam option Rebellion are recommending is a lot more expensive than the pre-order price most of these 'stolen' keys were sold at.

Whether that's tin foil hat talk or not remains to be seen, but this is a company that sues people over the use of the word Rebellion (Tim Langdell style) so I wouldn't call implausible, merely improbable. It also begs the question where these keys came from and how they got 'stolen' since Rebellion controls the supply and these stores buy the keys from either the developer directly or the publisher.

misg:

It's not a small amount of cash even discounted to say $10 a copy right now that is a loss of $70,000. Full price it's around $350,000. I think the lesson here is simple, buyer beware. If you are buying from some unknown website that has only been around for a short period of time, maybe the couple of dollars saved isn't worth it. It sucks but I thing everyone has gone through this from time to time getting ripped off by criminals. It sucks but you hopefully learn from it and make better decision in the future.

From what I've read it sounds like it's not small time untrustworthy stores but rather larger ones like Green Man Gaming, ones that have a proven record as a reliable and trustworthy source for games. As such I would expect they would honor the refund and chase the theives themselves.

I don't see how this is up for debate as an issue really, at least to me Steam is perfectly in the right in doing this, it kinda sucks for the people who basically had their money stolen, but I wouldn't want to be mugged in the street either. Think of it like this to make it more personal:

You have a fancy watch, and your watch gets stolen. A day later the guy who stole your watch sells it to someone who doesn't know it's stolen, and pays $100 for it. Eventually everything is sorted out and the watch is found to be stolen, now:

1) Should the third person keep the watch they bought? No, it was your watch and it is still your property, the second person had no right to be selling it.
2) Should you pay the third man back for taking back your watch? No, why should you have to pay for the second person's crime?
3) Should the third person be compensated? Yes, the third person should be compensated, but not by the victim of the crime. If the second person is caught, he will be the one returning the money to the third party.

After all, if the first person, or steam in this case, had to pay back the cost of the product stolen from them, then the original crime might as well have still happened, they would still be losing the same amount of money equivalent, so that in no way fixes the problem of the original crime. And dealing with digital goods doesn't change anything in this case.

There's nothing wrong with looking for a cheaper alternative.

But I do find it funny how absolutely no necessary information was provided about where these stolen keys were being sold from. Otherwise, we're just stabbing in the dark about whether this is ethical or not.

Bought it from somewhere reputable and trustworthy like GOG/D2D? You should be compensated by them for your trouble, unless they just want to alienate their customers.

Otherwise, you're just the moron who took the risk by getting that banana bread from the crooked fellow in the backstreet instead of just ponying up at an actual retailer. Stop being a dumb-dumb.

RicoADF:

From what I've read it sounds like it's not small time untrustworthy stores but rather larger ones like Green Man Gaming, ones that have a proven record as a reliable and trustworthy source for games. As such I would expect they would honor the refund and chase the theives themselves.

Before posting please try and check your facts. The article contains a link to a list of retailers unaffected by the theft and number 6 is Green Man Gaming.

http://steamcommunity.com/app/238090/discussions/0/540744936577983546/

softclocks:

Matey:

softclocks:
It's hardly the customer's fault that the sites they trusted were hocking stolen goods?

This isn't a case of 'buyer beware' as most of the victims in this case bought the keys from legitimate sites...

why are legit sites selling stolen keys? if customers are finding really cheap steam cd keys of a brand new game then they should be suspicious.

At any rate, if the companies that sold the stolen keys are legitimate companies then if anyone should be offering refunds it is them. If they know who sold them the stolen keys they could then pursue legal action against the thieves.

I have no interest in speculating why, nor did I make any claims as to who should be offering refunds.

I'm saying that this was not the case of someone dealing with a russian through steam-trading. This was people buying the keys from sites that were tested, tried and true. I'd be pretty miffed if say the humble bundle keys for steam turned out to be stolen and I were banned/lost my games because of it.

and yet, the keys were stolen.

so the site that sold these keys were not legitimate in any sense of the word.

Stop using that word.

You do not know it's meaning evidently.

OT: If I buy a car from someone for, say, about $500, pretty junky and stuff, and then it turns out it's stolen, I do not get to keep that car, and I could possibly get in trouble for possession of stolen property. That applies to anything stolen.

I dont see how this is anything different, if you buy something that is stolen, you do not get to keep that stolen item when you get caught.

softclocks:
It's hardly the customer's fault that the sites they trusted were hocking stolen goods?

This isn't a case of 'buyer beware' as most of the victims in this case bought the keys from legitimate sites...

If legitimate sites are selling stolen keys then they are not legitimate sites. That's kinda the definition of 'legitimate'.

You're correct in that in isn't the consumers fault that they got burned, or at least no entirely, but it isn't Rebellion or Steams fault either. If people want a refund they need to try and get it off the company that sold them the stolen key, not the company that had the key stolen from them.

"I'm sorry sir, that car you purchased from that dodgy dealer was stolen. We're taking it back to its rightful owner."
"What? That's outrageous! I demand the rightful owner buys his own car back from me!"

"Get refunds from thieves" is about the most condescending advice Valve could give.

TaboriHK:
"Get refunds from thieves" is about the most condescending advice Valve could give.

What advice should they give? They needed to say something, and "Go after the people who sold you a stolen key." seems like the only thing they could say.

softclocks:
It's hardly the customer's fault that the sites they trusted were hocking stolen goods?

This isn't a case of 'buyer beware' as most of the victims in this case bought the keys from legitimate sites...

If you buy a stolen ring from a retailer and the owner demands it back. Guess what... you have to turn over the ring. In short, purchasing stolen goods, the original owner always has the final say. Now the thing is. Those keys cost rebellion money...

Now what the publ.ish could have done is rolled with it. Invalidate the unactivated block of keys and let the rest well keep it. THe logic, is that those key owners have the game and thusly will be apt to buy dlc...

It's still a loss but it also gets them a bit of consumer 'good will'

Protip from someone with a cop in the family: (I'm sure I'm not the only one with that here)

If you buy stolen goods, without knowing that it was stolen - that is, you did so in good faith... not out of the trunk of drug-dealer steeve's buick... then you won't get prosecuted for doing so.

But you still have to surrender the stolen goods.

And you do NOT get a refund from the original manufacturer. At best you can try to get a refund from the black/grey market dealer you got the thing from. Indeed, get refunds from thieves - not a likely prospect.

I have no pity for the people who fell for this. Steam has dirt cheap sales as is, and if you want a game at launch you know that you'll have to pay more for that.

Britpoint:

softclocks:
It's hardly the customer's fault that the sites they trusted were hocking stolen goods?

This isn't a case of 'buyer beware' as most of the victims in this case bought the keys from legitimate sites...

If legitimate sites are selling stolen keys then they are not legitimate sites. That's kinda the definition of 'legitimate'.

You're correct in that in isn't the consumers fault that they got burned, or at least no entirely, but it isn't Rebellion or Steams fault either. If people want a refund they need to try and get it off the company that sold them the stolen key, not the company that had the key stolen from them.

"I'm sorry sir, that car you purchased from that dodgy dealer was stolen. We're taking it back to its rightful owner."
"What? That's outrageous! I demand the rightful owner buys his own car back from me!"

GMG isn't a legitimate site? News to me.

I just don't get why people stole a game that was posted free on Steam a couple weeks ago... that's where I got my copy of it. I also don't see why Steam would be acting the way they are when it was free, even if for only a day...?
Edit: Never mind, I thought this was about Sniper 2...

It warms the cockles of my heart to see so many people who understand that the victim shouldn't be punished twice. (Rebellion is the primary victim here)

albino boo:

RicoADF:

From what I've read it sounds like it's not small time untrustworthy stores but rather larger ones like Green Man Gaming, ones that have a proven record as a reliable and trustworthy source for games. As such I would expect they would honor the refund and chase the theives themselves.

Before posting please try and check your facts. The article contains a link to a list of retailers unaffected by the theft and number 6 is Green Man Gaming.

http://steamcommunity.com/app/238090/discussions/0/540744936577983546/

The fact is, if they bought from one of those sites they WILL get their refunds so that's invalid.

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