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How do game key sites work? Everything you need to know

How do game key sites work? Everything you need to know

How do game key sites work? Everything you need to know Thumbnail

Have you ever looked at some of the prices on game keys sites and wondered why the keys are so cheap? Like most people, you've probably been overlooking such platforms because the deals seem just too good to be true. But if you understood how game key sites work, you'd know that this couldn't be further from the truth.

Game key sites work by bringing buyers and sellers together. They don’t make or sell the keys themselves. The keys on such sites are totally legit because they all come from the developers and publishers. The reason they are so cheap is that the sellers usually get them in bulk, at great discounts.

The rest of this article will delve into the intricacies of how game key sites work, why the keys are so cheap when they are legit, and what happens when you purchase a key from such platforms (especially if it's invalid). Let's dive right in.

How game key sites work

Contrary to common belief, game key sites do not make the keys themselves, and neither are they the actual sellers. Instead, they operate as platforms that bring willing sellers and buyers together to facilitate a sale. So when you purchase a game key through G2A, for instance, you buy from one of the many sellers on the platform, not G2A itself.

So, if game key sites don't make the keys themselves, where do the sellers on such platforms get the keys? And, are the keys legit?

First off, the keys are totally legit because they all come from game developers and publishers: no one else can generate them. The difference is all in the way they end up on the game key sites, which brings us to the subject of the type of sellers you will encounter on such platforms.

The sellers on game key websites can be classified into four categories:

Let's find out where each seller category gets its keys from in the next section.


Sometimes, game developers and publishers generate and sell keys in bulk to wholesalers. And by bulk, we mean hundreds of thousands of keys, and sometimes even millions. For this reason, Wholesalers are responsible for the majority of the keys sold on game key sites.

Every bit of the purchase transaction is done by the book, so it doesn't hurt the developers. After buying the keys from developers and publishers, wholesalers may decide to directly put them up on sale on game key sites or resell keys to online retailers and bundle sites. The bundle sites may then sell the keys on game key sites or to individuals.


Retailers also account for a significant chunk of the keys sold on game key sites. This seller category includes online stores and bundles sites, and the volume of keys they account for lies somewhere between that of individual sellers and wholesalers.

Retailers mainly get their keys from two places: game developers and wholesalers. A smaller number of retailers purchase game keys from low-cost regions (mostly Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, and sometimes Russia) and resell them to richer countries through game key sites.

Individuals sellers

Individual sellers are regular users like you who have a couple of unused keys they would like to turn into extra cash. They get their keys from various sources: bundles purchased from bundle sites and online stores, gifts, and giveaways from social media contests. Since the keys sold by individuals can be traced back to developers and publishers, they are legit.

Individual sellers account for the lowest volume of keys sold on game key sites. That's because buying keys from bundle sites and online stores and reselling on game key sites would mean small profit margins, so there aren't too many people doing this as a business. The few selling keys from such sources are usually trying to get rid of some of the unused keys in their bundle that they don't need.

Giveaways and gifts are not a great way to stock up on game keys, either, so it is almost impossible for keys obtained this way to make up a significant chunk of the stock sold on game key sites. Typically, giveaways and gifts are protected by security measures that make it difficult (if not impossible) to get several game keys that way.

Game publishers and developers

Another potential source of the great deals you find on game keys sites are the developers/publishers themselves. On some game key sites, developers and publishers are allowed to sell keys directly to consumers. G2A is a perfect example of this: developers and publishers can set up storefronts via G2A Direct and sell their keys directly to consumers.

Competing sellers on Eneba
Sellers competing to be the best offer on Eneba.Screenshot

If they’re legit, why are the keys on game key sites so cheap?

The old adage "cheap is expensive" does not apply to game keys, so the fact that they come cheaper on sites such as G2A does not mean that they won't work. So why are the keys so cheap when they are totally legit?

The fact that most people can’t wrap their heads around the low price of game keys on key websites is one of the leading causes of the stigma facing such platforms. A common misconception is that the keys are so cheap because they have been obtained through illegal means, which couldn't be further from the truth.

To debunk a common myth and perhaps get you to save money on your next game key purchase, here's the truth: Typically, game key sites are market places. In any market, the price of a product is likely to be low when many sellers compete to give limited buyers the best deal, and that is usually the case on game key sites.There are hundreds of thousands of varying types of sellers, each striving to give you the best deal in a bid to get you to buy from them.

Now, you may be wondering: How can the sellers afford to set the prices so low and still make a profit? The short answer is that it depends on the type of seller. When wholesalers buy keys in bulk from the developers and publishers, they get great discounts because of their sheer purchase volume.

The discount on every individual unit of their purchase is so good that they can sell the keys on the cheap and still profit. The developers who sell directly on game key sites enjoy even greater profit margins because they eliminate intermediaries such as retailers and wholesalers.

The case for retailers is a bit different. Those who source their keys from wholesalers and developers/publishers profit from the discounts they get due to the sheer size of their purchases. Retailers who source their keys from low-cost regions, on the other hand, get a profit even after selling on the cheap due to the difference in currency strength.

As for individual sellers, they can sell their keys on the cheap regardless of where they got them because making a profit is not a top priority. They are just looking to turn a few spare keys into cash quickly, so they often set the price low to attract potential buyers.

What happens after you buy a key through game key sites?

Once you find a great deal on your preferred game key site, you get in touch with the seller, make the payment and wait a few minutes to get the key. In case you receive an invalid key or one that's not working as described, you may get a refund or have a new key sent to you.

Each game key site has its buyer protection mechanism, and it can vary depending on the platform. For instance, G2A's money back guarantee is a bit different from optional buyer protections other stores offer.

Such differences can sometimes complicate things, and that's where Game Gator comes in. We do the heavy lifting for you by crawling major game key sites to find you the cheapest deals with adequate buyer protection. This way, you get not only a great deal but also a safer one.

Final thoughts

That's it for today's post. Hopefully, you now have a better idea of how game key sites work and why the keys are so cheap even though they are legit.

If you're looking to save money on your favorite game, don't go through the hassle of browsing the various key sites in search of a great deal. We have done that for you by rounding up the best deals on various games to make your buying process as hassle-free as possible.

Check out our collection to get started.

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