gaming game controllers

How to spot an indie game key scammer

What to know

By Adam Beddall published 19/01/2023

The gaming industry has quite a few problems, but one of the more overlooked is key scamming. Key scamming takes place when someone pretends to be a member of the gaming media or a gaming-related influencer. While these kinds of people exist, the scammer naturally isn’t one of them.

In most cases, large gaming companies don’t fall for this, but it can affect indie developers quite a lot. When it happens, the scammer gets a free game - or multiple copies - while the developer loses potential revenue or marketing opportunities.

While many people think this could be relatively minor, it amounts to fraud and can affect indie developers more than gamers expect. It’s worth diving into how to spot an indie game key scammer, as it could be much more of a problem than the average person expects.

It can even affect DLC, such as Cyberpunk's newest DLC.

Is Key Scamming Legal?

But first, it’s worth taking a look at whether or not key scamming is actually legal. Key scamming is technically considered an online fraud, which is illegal in most countries. Anyone caught engaging in this can be prosecuted, but this is usually a slap on the wrist, depending on the extent of the fraud.

The exact punishment for key scamming varies from country to country. What usually gets in the way of this, however, is spotting and identifying a key scammer. With online tools, it can be easy to stay anonymous. That’s why it’s vital to know how to spot an indie game key scammer.

It avoids the fraud happening in the first place.

How To Spot An Indie Game Key Scammer

Every developer needs to know how to spot an indie game key scammer. It saves them some embarrassment while also making sure they don’t get ripped off. Whether they get in contact through an email address or a live chat tool for website, there are multiple ways to spot a scammer.

Cross-checking where they claim to be working can be the easiest way of doing so. If they claim to be an influencer, checking their social media is vital. Then there’s actually verifying their email and other contact information. Check their online profiles against what they contacted through to see if it matches up.

Treating every key request with suspicion is recommended, but that’s especially true when it comes to requests for large numbers of keys. The more effort that’s put into this, the easier it is to spot indie key scammers in the long-term. 

Figuring out how to spot an indie key game scammer can be complicated, but it doesn’t need to be. Knowing the top signs and warning flags is vital to this, with them being easier to notice once everyone knows what they’re looking for. Some will be harder to spot than others, as they’ll be more well-versed in committing these scams.

With time and effort, they can be weeded out, and key scamming could even be eliminated. While that means putting the work in, it’s worth it for the good of indie developers - and gamers - everywhere.