Is Kinguin legit? Software reseller marketplaces like Kinguin allow game and software codes to be sold for affordable prices. It’s a go-to place for people who find conventional software markets too expensive, as well as those who are looking to earn on the side through software codes. But as with most online platforms, the website also comes with inherent risks. So how does Kinguin work, and is Kinguin legit and safe to use? Let’s find out.
What Is Kinguin?
Kinguin (a play of the words”king and “penguin”) is a third-party online platform where people can buy game and software codes and other digital products at highly discounted prices.
The company entered the reseller market to provide a mainstream avenue for affordable software and digital products. However, it’s important to note that the company does not own nor directly sell software or game keys as a third-party broker. Its sole purpose is to facilitate the exchange between people who want to buy and sell software keys and programs online.
Kinguin offers a wide selection of games covering all gaming genres from multiple gaming developers. The website features over 30 game genres from multiplayer, role-playing games (RPG), shooters, simulations, puzzles, and so on. The games on the site are from 15 developers in total, which includes the likes of Battle.net. Epic Games, Free2Play, Steam, GOG.COM, Nintendo, and NC Soft. The codes available cover both PC games and console-based games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons for Nintendo Switch.
As mentioned, Kinguin is not limited to just game codes. They also offer software codes, operating systems, among other digital products. The codes that stand out the most are intended for operating systems like Windows 10, like the apps Microsoft Office Suite, Adobe Photoshop, Bitdefender Antivirus software, and so on.
How Does Kinguin Work?
Before we can even get to the question of whether Kinguin is legit, we first have to understand the way it works. In many ways, Kinguin looks and feels the same as any other e-commerce website. The website’s main page displays the most popular and most recent code uploads to encourage users. When it comes to searching for titles, you can either select a platform from the drop-down option beside the search bar; or type in a specific title or genre on the search bar.
The search results page lists all of the game titles that match your query. Each item on the list is from a separate vendor, and the items are arranged either in the order of price or popularity. That is, the items that appear at the top of the list are those that offer either the lowest price or have had the most buyers in the past. The search results page also contains a special panel refining your search results based on parameters such as price range, platform, country, product type, and so on.
The next step involves selecting a vendor from which to buy your keys. Selecting a seller will redirect you to the Billing and Payments page that will display your order’s price, quantity, and contents. The “Buy Now” button will confirm your order, after which you will be taken to a checkout page for payment. The accepted methods of payment include credit card, PayPal, and bank transfer.
There are cases when a single title comes with additional keys (e.g., Doth the Deluxe key and standard keys are included). This strategy is referred to as price bundling, and it involves combining two or more digital products into a package for a lesser price.
Is Kinguin Legit?
Kinguin’s business model tends to stand out from other e-commerce websites, and this has prompted many people to ask: is Kinguin legit? The simple answer to the question is yes. No laws are barring the resale of items individuals have purchased through legitimate means. The majority of e-commerce websites employ a similar strategy (think eBay or Craigslist).
Kinguin’s business model is anchored on the Doctrine of First Sale, which states that you have the freedom to do anything with an item that you purchased. However, the doctrine only applies to legitimate purchases. The term “legitimate purchase” implies that the items were acquired and paid for using legal means. Conversely, any item acquired using illegal methods such as theft or fraud are not considered legitimate purchases and must not be sold on Kinguin.
As such, part of Kinguin’s responsibility is to ensure that the codes come from legitimate sources. Websites like Kinguin are responsible for dealing with defective and fraudulent codes. In addition, government actors can hold these websites liable for any oversight relating to the sale of illegitimate items. To cite an example, in 2015, Ubisoft famously deactivated thousands of keys on G21 after it was discovered that the keys were purchased using a stolen credit card.
Another sign that Kinguin is legit has to do with the fact that it employs privacy measures to protect the personal data of users. They also employ security protocols to keep the website free from viruses and bugs.
Where Do the Codes Come Come From?
Kinguin acquires most of its software keys from so-called “cheap markets.” These refer to countries that sell games and software for much lower prices (e.g., Russia, Singapore, Thailand). The idea is that game prices vary per country due to economic considerations.
For example, a game that sells for USD 60 in the US can sell for only USD 20 in Russia. Developers can adjust prices based on factors such as average income and demand in a particular country. Resellers can then take advantage of the price differential by buying in bulk from cheaper markets. They can then resell these items for slightly higher prices in more expensive markets. Even then, the topped-up prices for codes sourced from cheap markets are still far more affordable compared to those sold on standard channels, which is highly appealing to buyers looking to save money.
But then again, not all digital products on the website come from cheap markets. Some resellers specifically purchase codes in bulk when they go on sale, while others simply want to sell codes they never used. Some codes also come from insiders with direct access to excess supply of codes from developers.
Kinguin does not own most of the codes on its website. As such, the way the company generates profits by charging fees to sellers in exchange for facilitating the sale. Because in addition to providing a website for sellers, the company also verifies the validity of the codes before these hit the platform. The company also manages the payment process and offers customer support for buyers.
Can You Trust Kinguin?
Kinguin is legit by the conventional meaning of the word, but it also comes with risks. The risks stem not from the website itself but from scammers who try to take advantage of the platform. Kinguin goes out of its way to authenticate the codes before allowing them onto the website. But the technology they use for verifying the codes can sometimes fail to detect fake or expired codes.
Kinguin also features a feedback mechanism for sellers in the form of seller ratings and reviews. These ratings reflect the experiences of other users who have bought from the seller and are intended to help buyers assess the trustworthiness of a seller on the site. Data privacy laws also prevent Kinguin from processing or sharing user information without proper consent from its users.
The chances of matching up with a scammer on the website are quite low, but the probability of it happening never goes away. As such, users must remain vigilant and exercise caution when it comes to selecting sellers. More specifically, Kinguin encourages its users to inspect trust markers such as seller ratings and user reviews before selecting a buyer.
What Is ‘Buyer Protection’?
If you have yet to be convinced that Kinguin is legit, they have a special service called “buyer protection.” The service acts as an assurance that Kinguin will refund purchases with keys that turn out to be faulty or fake. Unfortunately, Kinguin locked the service under a paywall, and it can only apply to specific items that you purchased. While the cost varies per item, it’s about ten percent of the purchase price for the specific item.
The conditional nature of the refund policy is strange. It essentially requires buyers to pay their way to get a refund when you would normally expect them to offer refunds unconditionally. On top of that, the amount that buyers have to pay for the “insurance” offsets a portion of the total refund they get in the end. In other words, they never really get a full refund.
On the other hand, the policy does deliver everything that it promises. That promise involves giving a full refund as well as priority customer support to users who have been scammed. But then again, users will only truly appreciate the benefit if and when a scam takes place. But even with the addition of buyer protection, the majority of the games are still considerably cheaper than what they would originally cost. At the end of the day, getting some of your money back is better than getting nothing at all.
How Long Does It Take Kinguin to Deliver?
A product key is nothing more than a jumble of letters, numbers, and symbols, which makes it relatively easy to deliver. Kinguin sends the keys directly to the buyer’s inbox automatically. It seems reasonable to expect the delivery to happen instantaneously. But in reality, it normally takes between 15 to 30 minutes for the codes to arrive in your inbox.
If the delivery takes longer than expected, the first thing you’ll want to do is check your inbox. Make sure to refresh your inbox since email services can experience delays. You will also want to check your spam folder just in case. If you still come up empty-handed after checking your email, the next step would be to call customer service to inquire about the status of your order.
It’s important to mention that newcomers to the website have a higher chance of experiencing delays. Kinguin checks the user account and payments made by newcomers before finalizing transactions. This is the company’s way of protecting itself against scammers and thieves.
Admittedly, Kinguin and other websites like it still have a long way to go in terms of processing and delivery. Hopefully, in the future, a new technology called headless e-commerce may radically simplify the inner workings of e-commerce websites. Such a move would result in a more consistent and efficient customer experience.
How Does Kinguin Compare to Other Software Reseller Websites?
Kinguin has a very practical business model and offers great cost savings on software, but it’s far from the only one in the market. It belongs to a specific category of websites that resell software and software keys for lower prices. But how does the website compare to other software reseller platforms? Let’s find out.
G2A vs. Kinguin
G2A and CDKeys are also digital marketplaces that allow users to buy and sell digital products at discounted prices. G2A is one of the largest e-commerce websites specializing in the resale of software. It’s also one of the more popular websites, with over 20 million people under its wing.
Unfortunately, the influx of more sellers on the website appears to have led to an uptick in fraud cases. In turn, this would lead to an uptick in requests for refunds. In one case, the company had to pay USD 39,600 in damages to Wube Software for failing to detect the fake codes being sold on its website. Cases like these had led the website’s reputation to take a nosedive and prompted people to find safer alternatives.
Another problem with G2A is that the hidden rules in their policy make it hard to get a refund. The refund policy allows refunds for fake or invalid keys, but the condition is that these must not have been activated or exposed. There are only two cases where this is possible if you accidentally purchased the same key twice, or if you accidentally bought a key that doesn’t fit with the platform you wanted. If you have activated or exposed your keys, then you will not qualify for a refund. Kinguin, on the other hand, offers a full buyer protection policy, albeit for a price.
CDKeys vs. Kinguin
CDKeys is another reseller website for affordable software and keys. The only difference is that CDKeys owns the products that it markets and profits directly from them. The site has a network of developer partners from which they source batches of keys at discounted prices. It’s a lot like how insiders acquire their codes to sell on Kinguin.
However, despite its popularity, CDKeys also suffers from the same problems as G2A and Kinguin. Buyers of CDKeys also risk purchasing fake or stolen keys, even though the website employs methods to verify them. There have also been reports of buyers who never received the keys they purchased.
CDKeys and Kinguin have a lot of similarities, and both are growing their user base based on trust. However, the one aspect where these services may differ may have to do with price. CDKeys prices on average fall within the 50 percent range of suggested retail prices. Kinguin’s prices, on the other hand, normally fall below 20 percent of suggested retail prices. But then again, prices may vary due to different factors.
The difference in average prices may have something to do with the differences in the way the two websites work. Sellers on Kinguin have to compete for buyers, and the easiest way to do that is to lower their prices. CDKeys, on the other hand, own everything that they sell on their website. In other words, they don’t have the incentive to lower their prices because all profits go directly to them.
Final Word: Is Kinguin Legit?
For the most part, Kinguin is legit and safe to use, but there are inherent risks that come with using it. Having said this, you should also consider the specific circumstances for purchasing through the website.
If you are buying codes and software for personal use, then it’s probably alright. But if you are building a PC and populating it with software or gifting software codes to someone else, then you might be better off buying straight from the developer. You wouldn’t want the other person to have to deal with any problems in case the keys get invalidated later on.
But if you insist, then we highly recommend purchasing a buyer protection service along with your codes. At the end of the day, you have to decide whether to accept the tradeoffs or not.
Also read: 12 Best Steam Early Access Games to Get Before 2022