Update: For the sake of transparency I have to admit that I bought the Resident Evil 2 Remake, Dead by Daylight and the Resident Evil 3 Remake from Kinguin in 2021. I still use the service, they don't seem to ask you to buy buyer's protection, there are some taxes involved but the keys worked. I'm not really proud of it but I don't have any money to spend on expensive video games.
Kinguin is a marketplace where you can buy and sell Windows and game keys for a low price. So the question is whether this is legitimate process. I decided to write a Kinguin review, as I have used the service in the past and potential buyers have legitimate concerns as to whether reselling software and game keys is a legitimate process.
Obviously the next question is “even if it is a legitimate process, does Kinguin handle this process in a legitimate way?”
In this Kinguin review you will read my honest opinion about this key selling platform in 2021.
Is selling Game keys illegal?
While this may depend on your country or state, selling game keys to authorized resellers is not illegal. A lot of people sell used video games, so you, as a game or software owner can do it too. Naturally, it is 100% legal for authorized sellers to sell those keys to other buyers too.
Is Kinguin legit?
Kinguin is a legitimate marketplace. It is not a scam website and technically, what they do is legal. All they do is provide resellers and buyers a platform to perform their transactions. So is it a white-hat marketplace? Well, not really. It's more of a grey-hat marketplace.
But this is a quite important point. Kinguin is not the king reseller. It is instead, just the platform, the Amazon or E-bay of software and game key transaction.
So what makes Kinguin a grey-hat marketplace?
A marketplace is defined by its merchant and how legitimate they are, so it all comes to how well the platform is regulated.
Verifying whether each and every used key on their platform works is not realistic. On the other hand, they don't seem to vet the key resellers on their platform either. This is where the problem starts.
So, are the key resellers in Kinguin legit?
From a buyer's perspective, they are somewhat legit. They don't try to scam you. However, they do not verify that the game key or Windows key you purchase works, as that would require them to use the key.
That part is already a bit sketchy. What makes the process full grey-market is that the resellers acquire game and software keys using gray-hat or even black-hat practices, such as buying from software keys from countries where taxes and prices are lower, third-party vendors, or even getting access to hacked gamed keys.
So this is a challenge for you as a potential buyer. Are you willing to support resellers that employ shady practices to profit? If yes, Kinguin may be the right place for you.
Is Kinguin safe to buy from? Kinguin's buyer protection
This is probably the dumbest marketing move of all time by Kinguin,, but it's totally worth discussing. Kinguin offers buyer protection with a 100% money-back guarantee with a small extra fee ranging from a few dollars for most games to up to $10 for software and Windows keys.
Essentially, this means that you can go through a ton of trouble to get your money back, or you might as well not get it at all without buyer protection. This is obviously a pathetic level of customer support in the year 2021, yet Kinguin still follows the same policy.
Simultaneously, as I was checking the service once again, I noticed that I could not add buyer protection to the products I added to my cart.
I don't know if this a result of heavy traffic, but it is still unacceptable.
My past experience with Kinguin
Now, to be fair, in the past I have purchased game and software keys from Kinguin and I had no issues at all, without using buyer protection. Some resellers are probably more trustworthy than others, but at the end of the day it comes down to luck. I would recommend buying keys only when you can add buyer protection. Better safe than sorry. However, keep in mind that their customer support may be slow, especially without the buyer protection feature added. I believe the buyer protection is not added by default because it wouldn't scale to the amount of tickets Kinguin would receive. It's a business decision, if anything.
Would I buy from Kinguin again? Actually, yes. Kinguin is legal, it is allowed to display Google Ads and you can find great bargains. I'm all for supporting game developers but I won't pay $100, $200, or $300 for a Windows key. Kinguin is using e-bay for products that are not covered by e-bay's 100% money back guarantee.
The legal burden is on the key reseller.
However, the ethical burden is on you too.
Just keep in mind that it's better to use the buyer protection if you ever buy products from Kinguin.
Otherwise, buy only $1 or $2 keys, so that you are not gambling any significant amount of money.
My opinion on Kinguin
Well, I don't like the level of transparency. When you run a business between a lot of grey areas it's better to come fully clean.
For instance, they clarify in their policies and terms that they hold no responsibility for what their sellers do using abstract language.
However, what they could do, is also explain the most popular cases of Kinguin declining to provide a refund, so that the users understand what the pitfalls of the process are.
They should explain why you need to purchase buyer protection to protect your money instead of having to go to Trustpilot or Reddit and ask questions about their service.
It's fair to say that the level of service they provide is as cheap as their products.
Kinguin is like the middle ground between full piracy and torrents and buying something 100% legit from an authorized retailer or reseller.
So, if you want to wear your grey hat, you can go for it. Just make sure to protect your wallet.
With all this in mind, you can decide whether you will spend money on Kinguin or not yourself, along with the amount of said money.
So there it is and I hope it is as honest as it can get.