Ubisoft has partnered with digital games distribution company Genba Digital to prevent illegal resellers from selling copies of their games.
Typically, publishers including Ubisoft send retailers massive batches of activation keys that they can then sell on to consumers who use the key to activate the game on platforms such as Steam or, in Ubisoft’s case, Uplay. However, some of these keys can end up in the hands of illegal resellers, typically through theft and fraud, who use other marketplaces to sell these keys on at a discounted price.
Together with Genba Digital, Ubisoft has created a system known as ‘silent key activation (SKA)’, which is aimed at killing off the illegal reselling market.
SKA works by getting rid of the need for consumers to use activation keys altogether and instead sees the game being activated on a platform, such as Steam or Uplay, automatically. When someone purchases a game from an approved seller, such as Fanatical, they will be asked to link their Uplay account at checkout. Once this is done, or if the user creates a Uplay account if they do not have one, the game is automatically activated on their account. There is no need to enter an activation code as one is not passed on to the consumer.
This means that approved sellers will not be given any activation keys and will instead use Ubisoft’s SKA system to sell and activate games for customers, therefore eliminating the risk of keys being stolen and resold illegally elsewhere.
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, Genba CEO Matt Murphy explained how the system works.
“If someone goes on a website like Fanatical and buys a Ubisoft product, it will take them through the checkout process, then ask you to enter your UPlay account – if you don’t have one, it asks you to set one up.
The game is then automatically activated in UPlay. Fanatical doesn’t get a key, and neither does the player. They just log into UPlay and the game is there, as if they bought it from the UPlay Store.”
Currently, Genba is working with ten retailers, including Fanatical and GamersGate. Moving forward, Ubisoft will only work with retailers using the SKA system and are refusing to sell any activation keys to retailers not implementing this new technology.