Steam is a convenient place to purchase one's games, but it doesn't always offer a competitive price. Enter the likes of Green Man Gaming and other key resellers, who are able to offer better deals, especially if you live outside the US. Rebellion's Sniper Elite 3 recently debuted on Valve's distribution service and like other Steam titles, you can pick up a key for it from these discount stores. Unless Rebellion decides to revoke those keys, of course.
Rebellion recently asked Valve to disable a batch of keys it says were "stolen" from one of its retail distributors, a fact it revealed today in a post on Sniper Elite 3's Steam forum. The developer recommends those affected contact whoever they purchased their keys from and ask for a refund.
On the surface it seems clear-cut: Steam keys stolen, sold illegally, said keys are revoked. It's more than likely going to screw over customers more than whatever entity has sold those keys, but Rebellion is offering compensation in the form of free DLC... which is nice, but ultimately useless if you don't own the game.
Understandably, affected gamers immediately complained, with a few stating that their GMG-purchased keys were revoked (though this is difficult to confirm). Despite not being caught out trading in stolen keys, UK-based CJS CD Keys, one of the bigger stores in the reseller business, posted a response on its blog where it accused Rebellion of banning "thousands, if not hundreds of thousands" of keys bought legitimately through sites similar to its own and that the developer's actions are an attempt to get gamers to buy the game at full price through Steam.
It's impossible to verify either side of the story, though it's hard to believe the sinister excuse that Rebellion is attempting a money grab by banning keys. Ultimately, it serves as a warning to others: Be careful where you purchase cheap Steam keys.