One of the big benefits of PC gaming is the frequent, steep discounts you can find on digital copies of games. But sometimes those super-cheap prices are too good to be true. It appears that scammers are repackaging free or inexpensive versions of games and selling them on Amazon – and both customers and developers are having a hard time fighting back.
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.
It turns out, the Frostpunk copies being sold were simply repackaged versions of the GOG edition of Frostpunk, with a new installer signed by an entity called ‘Ace Media Group LLC.’ When one customer tried to use the uninstaller, the GOG version appeared and didn’t work.
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The OP in the GameDeals thread made the purchase to see what happened. “I decided to pay $3 to play detective. It’s piracy,” they wrote. “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.”
SavyGamer founder Lewie Procter caught wind of the shady seller this morning. He’s had followers sharing similar stories, and he says it looks like Amazon simply doesn’t do anything to prevent pirates from selling illicit copies of games.
“Raises real questions about security,” Procter wrote in a tweet this morning. “Are [Amazon] doing any checks for viruses etc in software that they serve to users? For Steam keys etc it’s less of an issue, but it’s a real concern for direct downloads.”
Raises real questions about security too. Are they doing any checks for viruses etc in software that they serve to users? For Steam keys etc it’s less of an issue, but it’s a real concern for direct downloads.
— Lewie Procter (@LewieP) July 14, 2018
As Procter notes, this has been going on for a while now – the developers of Lords of Xulima found illicit copies of their game being sold on Amazon for $1.99 last October, and warned players in the forums that it was a scam. That version is still available on Amazon’s storefront for 99 cents, and its page says it’s sold by ‘Amazon Digital Services LLC.’
We have reached out to Amazon for comment on this story. In the meantime, use caution when buying digital games from the online store. This ResetEra thread has additional details, and examples of other scam game offers on Amazon.