British video game company Rebellion, the developer behind tactical shooter “Sniper Elite 3,” is facing some heat after invalidating hundreds to thousands of keys for the Steam version of the game, which launched for the Xbox One Xbox 360, PC, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 last Friday.
Rebellion left a number of players who bought “Sniper Elite 3” on Steam confused and angry after learning some keys to the game were stolen and re-sold to other vendors -- and neither companies would be honoring their purchases.
"On June 27th, thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of CD Keys for ‘Sniper Elite 3’ were revoked from customer's Steam accounts without warning and without a legitimate reason,” said third party reseller Instant Gaming on Facebook June 28. Rebellion alleged resellers like Instant Gaming unknowingly received a number of stolen keys. "Affected customers and indeed, the affected retailers who sold the keys, had purchased the keys legitimately, only to see the game disappear from their Steam game library."
“The resellers are NOT the problem,” Instant Gaming added. “Those stores affected are NOT shady…The keys supplied to them were not as they seem - they were unlicensed, and unpaid for. This was reported to Valve and they revoked the keys.”
Rebellion was adamant that the resellers themselves were blameless and unaware the “Sniper Elite 3” keys they received were illegally obtained.
"One of our PC retail distributors informed us that some of their allotted Steam keys were stolen," Rebellion wrote on a Steam forum discussion. "We believe these keys were then resold to multiple companies, with no payments going to either Valve or the retail distributor.
"We have in no way targeted any specific vendors (who may have also thought these keys were legitimate)," Rebellion added. "Just this one set of keys."
To compensate “Sniper Elite 3” players whose keys were unfairly invalidated, Rebellion is offering the “Target Hitler” downloadable content expansion pack. However, to get the entire game, players are being told to speak to the reseller and ask for a refund. Neither Steam nor Rebellion are offering players their money back or the game.
Rebellion is receiving a number of outraged responses on its Facebook page and the game’s Steam page for their chosen response.
"All we can suggest if you have been affected is to please contact your vendor and first ask for a replacement key, and then contact us for the free pre-order DLC if you are successful," Rebellion said.