Is Fanatical Legit? The Answer Is Resounding

Written by Azzief Khaliq
Last updated Feb 10, 2023

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fanatical logo
The Quick Answer

Fanatical is a safe and legit site. It only sells licensed keys sourced through official partnerships with over 1000 publishers. Standard pricing is similar to Steam, but Fanatical’s limited-time Star Deals and great-value bundles make it one of the best places to buy game keys.

Visit Fanatical

If you’ve ever considered buying game keys from a third-party website, then you’ve probably seen the name Fanatical pop up. It’s certainly one of the most popular digital game stores, but is Fanatical legit? Well, that’s what we’re here to find out.

What Is Fanatical?

Fanatical is a UK-based digital videogame retailer owned by Fandom, the company behind many of the most active videogame wikis on the internet. Originally established in 2012, it used to be called Bundle Stars before renaming to Fanatical in 2017.

Fanatical front page

The rebrand to Fanatical brought a significant expansion in its product offering, with software and ebooks added to the already-healthy selection of game codes. Fanatical primarily sells Steam keys, although its Ubisoft partnership means you’ll find a good handful of Ubisoft games that activate through Ubisoft Connect.

Unlike some other marketplaces, Fanatical isn’t solely focused on selling videogames. The store also sells several game- and programming-oriented ebook, online course, and software bundles. These likely won’t interest most of its customers, but they’re handy for anyone looking to learn something new.

Fanatical ebook bundles

Are Fanatical’s Keys Legit?

Venturing outside the walls of official storefronts such as Steam and Uplay always carries the risk that the game codes you’re buying aren’t official keys. Thankfully, that’s one area where Fanatical is on safe ground.

Fanatical’s keys are legit in both senses of the word. Fanatical has official partnerships with around 1000 publishers, and the company sources game keys directly from these studios and game publishers. Fanatical’s collaborations include household names like Bethesda Softworks and Rockstar Games, as well as smaller outfits such as Daedalic Entertainment and Paradox Interactive.

Fanatical Bethesda publisher page

It’s an impressively comprehensive list, ensuring that you’ll be able to find almost any game you want on Fanatical. If the publisher sells games on Steam, they’re likely also partnered with Fanatical.

As far as we’re concerned, Fanatical is as legit a storefront as you’ll find beyond the first-party launchers. If you harbor ethical concerns about marketplace-style sites like Kinguin and Eneba (both of which we’ve reviewed), then Fanatical is where you’ll want to spend your money.

Is Fanatical Safe?

So Fanatical may be legit, but let’s take a quick look at the buying experience and see whether we face any issues with the checkout process or a non-working game code.

We opted to grab 2002’s Red Faction II from Fanatical to test things out. It’s not necessarily the classic some fans claim, but it’s a fun enough shooter we’re looking forward to revisiting soon. The price was right, too, of course.

Fanatical product page

Fanatical’s product page is perfectly functional and lays out the most important information clearly. Note the activation verification message right below the “Add to Cart” button: you’ll want to check this before buying, as you can’t refund activated game codes. So be sure that the key activates in your region before spending your money.

You can click the “View all” link to change your location if the auto-detection identifies your location incorrectly. You should also take note of the “Special Offers” section, which lists any bonuses you’ll get for buying the game. These can include discount coupons or even a free game.

Fanatical supports all the standard payment methods, so you shouldn’t face any issues paying for your game. As is typical with most retailers, you’ll need to register or sign in to complete your purchase. We know some users aren’t too keen on this, but it’s not an issue for us.

Fanatical Order History & Keys

After paying, you can click a link that takes you directly to the “Order History and Keys” page. Here, you’ll see the order details and items in each order. If you purchased a Steam key, simply click the “Reveal Key” button on a game to get a Steam code and link that takes you directly to the activation process.

Note that you can only refund games with unrevealed keys. So be sure that you really want the game before clicking that big orange button to reveal the game code. Refunds are off the table once you’ve seen the key, even if you haven’t activated it yet.

If you use the Steam link, you’ll end up on the “Activate a Product on Steam” page, with the product key automatically filled in. All you have to do is agree to the terms of the Steam Subscriber Agreement and click on “Continue.” If the activation is successful, you’ll get a confirmation message with the game you activated.

Steam activation

After this, all that’s left is to log into the Steam launcher and download the game. Of course, you can also copy the game code and activate it yourself through the Steam launcher. But we appreciate that Fanatical gives you quick access to the web-based activation process.

If you do decide that you don’t want that game you just bought, you can get a refund within 14 days provided you haven’t revealed the key or activated the game. You may be able to get a refund for a revealed or activated game, but only if you have insurmountable technical issues.

But don’t expect this to be as easy as Steam’s refund process! Fanatical’s refund guide clearly states that you’ll only get a refund if you and Fanatical can’t get it working “after diagnostics and fault resolution.”

Is Buying From Fanatical Worth It?

So Fanatical is a safe and legit site, at least based on our experience. But why would you buy from Fanatical instead of buying directly on Steam or Uplay?

As Fanatical is an authorized retailer that gets its game codes directly from publishers, the standard, non-discounted prices tend to be identical to Steam’s US pricing.

Where Fanatical has a leg up, however, is in its discounts and bundles, which run separately from Steam’s usual discounts. At the time of writing, Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered has a 38% discount on Fanatical, compared to the 25% discount on Steam. That’s a substantial extra discount worth the minor hassle of registering a Fanatical account.

Fanatical store page

Fanatical also continues to fly the flag for limited-time flash sales, which used to be one of the most exciting parts of Steam’s regular sales. These Star Deals run for a limited time or until Fanatical’s stock of game keys expires, whichever happens first.

Fanatical’s Star Deals often offer deep discounts on notable games, with the only catch being that you’ll have to get in quickly due to the limited number of game keys. It’s definitely worth checking Fanatical regularly to see what the Star Deal is.

Fanatical Star Deal

However, do remember that Steam has regional pricing, which can make a videogame much cheaper on Steam than even a discounted price on Fanatical. You should always check prices on Steam first before snapping up a discounted game on Fanatical, especially if you live outside of the US.

Beyond the discounts, Fanatical’s big selling point is its game bundles (befitting a site that started life as Bundle Stars). There are two kinds of bundles on Fanatical. First are set bundles which include a pre-determined set of games (usually with a bonus, higher-profile game that you get by paying a slightly higher price). They’re often outstanding value, offering a solid set of games at genuinely amazing prices.

In fact, we’d argue that the bundles are often cheap enough that they’re still a great buy even if you’re only interested in one or two games. Take the Ripper Bundle shown below, for example. $3.99 gets you a handful of good action games, but the star of the show is cyberpunk RPG Gamedec, which you’ll get if you pay $6.99 for the bundle.

Fanatical Ripper Bundle

Gamedec sells for $29.99 on its own (at the time of writing), so $6.99 is a steal, even if you’re not interested in any of the other games.

But you’re not solely limited to Fanatical’s pre-set game bundles, though. Our favorite bundles are the build-your-own bundles that let you choose from a list of (often high-quality) games. Pricing differs between these bundles, but all feature a tiered pricing system depending on how many games you pick.

The Platinum Collection bundle, for example, lets you buy two games for $6.99, three games for $9.99, or five games for $14.99. And they’re pretty good games, too: if you’ve missed out on the past five (or so) years’ worth of popular games, this bundle would be a great way to fill up some holes in your Steam collection.

Fanatical Best of Platinum Collection 2022

Many of these game bundles (like the Best of Platinum Collection bundle) are time-limited, only running for a relatively short period. So if you like the idea of hoovering up a bunch of Steam games on the cheap, be sure to check Fanatical regularly so that you don’t miss out.

Fanatical doesn’t offer any loyalty or reward programs like Green Man Gaming’s XP system, so there’s no reason to make it the only place to get your game codes. But we like that, as it gives you the freedom to buy from whichever store has the best deal without worrying about “missing out” on loyalty points.

So, Is Fanatical Legit?

Fanatical is, for our money, one of the best third-party sites to buy game keys from. Fanatical’s discounts, Star Deals, and great bundles offer a compelling reason to check the retailer out whenever you want to add more PC games to your collection.

Combine all of that with all of Fanatical’s partnerships and licensing agreements with game publishers, and you have a totally safe and legit site to buy your digital games. Of course, those seeking the lowest prices will want to look elsewhere. But consumers who want legitimate keys in both senses of the word will agree that Fanatical is one of the best Steam key sites right now.

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