Over a thousand Natural Selection 2 players have found their copies of the game deactivated on Steam after a scam that cost developers Unknown Worlds Entertainment $30,000. The copies were purchased through third-party sellers, who are believed to have bought the keys in bulk using stolen credit card information, before revoking the payments.
“This episode is a prime example of why all gamers need to beware discount Steam keys and those offering them,” warned UWE.
Scammers bought the keys via Steam or the Natural Selection site using what Unknown Worlds deem “likely” were stolen credit cards. Having sold the copies on to legitimate consumers at a significant discount, the sellers then requested a ‘charge-back’ on their initial purchase – a customer protection service offered by companies like Visa which allows consumers to dispute payments in their credit card statements.
Not only did Unknown Worlds fail to receive payment for the 1,341 Steam keys, but the developers were forced to pay a $22 charge-back fee for each copy. In total, the sorry affair has cost them $30,000.
There are currently two official sellers for Natural Selection 2 – Steam itself, or UWE’s own site – though the latter is temporarily disabled as a consequence of the scam.
“If you see Natural Selection 2 available anywhere else — like the many sites out there that sell Steam keys at a discount — then you are not buying it from us and there is no way to know if that key is legitimate,” wrote the developers. “As as result, we strongly discourage purchasing from these sites.”
“It’s unfortunate that players who believed they were buying legitimate games were hurt by these unscrupulous resellers,” they added.
Unknown Worlds are recommending that wronged customers return to the sites they acquired discounted keys from and request refunds, though a numb feeling in the pit of my stomach tells me that those same unscrupulous resellers will have already run for the hills.
Have you fallen foul of dodgy discount Steam keys? Let us know in the comments.