This is a messy situation. Rebellion’s Sniper Elite 3 recently launched. Sadly, prior to the launch, a whole lot of the game’s Steam keys were stolen and resold to other online retailers and key vendors. Customers then went ahead and purchased those stolen keys from familiar retailers; those retailers, Rebellion believes, likely had no idea the keys they were reselling had been stolen in the first place. The keys activated fine and allowed customers to pre-install the game; they even got to play it for a whole day before Rebellion found out about the stolen keys.
Rebellion promptly informed Steam of the stolen keys, and Steam has now revoked all of those keys, which means players are left without a game that used to work. The kicker: Steam and Rebellion aren’t providing replacement keys; anyone caught out by this has to contact their retailer or key vendor to “demand a refund”. If that retailer or vendor refuses, then the only other option is to buy the game again.
As you can imagine, this has caused a huge outcry on the game’s official Steam forums. The post, which was started by Rebellion, is loaded with angry customers who are blaming Steam and Rebellion for allowing the stolen keys to validate in the first place. Many are also accusing Rebellion and Steam of underhand market fixing by allegedly invalidating the keys purchased from competing online retailers, and forcing people to buy keys through Steam instead – many have noted that Steam’s price for the game is more expensive than many other key vendors and retailers that have been reliable in the past.
The only compensation that has been offered to cheated customers is a free copy of the game’s “Target Hitler” DLC, which was initially a pre-order incentive. This means that those who pre-ordered the game and were given stolen keys will still be able to access this pre-order exclusive providing they contact Rebellion before 04 July to claim the DLC.
It’s a bit of a mess. Who exactly should be held responsible is debatable as there’s been no indication (and there likely won’t ever be) of how and when these keys were initially stolen. While many are blaming Steam and Rebellion, you can understand why Valve would want to block stolen products on their platform.