If your only concern is getting a cheap, working key, then Kinguin is a generally legit place to buy games and software from. However, if you care about the legality of your game keys and whether sellers obtained them from authorized sources, then Kinguin isn’t the retailer for you.
It’s no secret that video games are getting more and more expensive, and not everyone can afford to drop $70 on every new release. That’s where third-party key markets such as Kinguin come into the picture, offering cheaper prices on game keys even for brand-new games. Do the deep discounts have you asking the question, “is Kinguin legit”? Well, that’s what we’re here to find out.
What Is Kinguin?
Kinguin is one of the largest and best-known third-party key marketplaces operating today. Founded in Poland in 2009, they quickly rose to prominence on the back of their business model of facilitating consumer-to-consumer and business-to-consumer game code sales.
What that means is that Kinguin doesn’t sell codes itself. Instead, it’s an open marketplace where small businesses and private sellers can sell digital products. In a way, think of it as more like eBay or Etsy but for digital content.
I use “digital content” because Kinguin sells more than just game and software keys While those two make up the bulk of products on Kinguin, you can also find in-game items, PSN and Xbox Live cards, and even streaming service subscriptions on Kinguin’s marketplace. If it’s digital, you’ll likely find it on Kinguin.
Are Kinguin’s Keys Legit?
The biggest issue with buying games from a third-party marketplace is the game and software keys’ legality. Just because a key works doesn’t mean that the seller obtained it legally or from a legitimate source. Unfortunately, this is one area where Kinguin is on shaky ground.
Unlike other third-party marketplaces like Eneba, which at least attempt to ensure the legitimacy of product keys on their marketplace, Kinguin seems to take a mostly hands-off approach.
In fact, Kinguin’s so hands-off that you could even buy nonexistent pre-order keys for Frostpunk 2 at one point. The site eventually took the game codes down after complaints from developers 11 Bit Studios, but that’s not a particularly good look for a marketplace either way.
And that’s the crux of the issue. There’s no way of guaranteeing the legitimacy or honesty of anything that’s for sale on Kinguin. It could be something as innocent as someone selling unneeded promo keys or as nasty as hackers selling stolen keys purchased with other people’s credit cards.
There’s no information on where the game codes come from and no requirement for the sellers (individual or business) to disclose this info. So while you’ll generally get working keys (and be able to resolve non-working game codes through customer support), the legality of keys on Kinguin will always be in question.
If you’re OK with that, Kinguin is a generally fine place to buy game keys from. However, if not, then Kinguin is a store you’ll want to avoid.
Is Kinguin Safe? We Find Out
Say you’re not particularly bothered about where your game codes come from and just want a good deal. What’s the buying experience on Kinguin like? Is it safe? What about buyer protection? Let’s find out.
We decided to grab Rocksteady’s classic Batman: Arkham City off of Kinguin to evaluate buying experience. It was cheap and something we didn’t have in our Steam library, so it fit the bill perfectly for a test purchase.
The product page isn’t particularly good-looking but provides some helpful information you should pay attention to. Firstly, it lists other listings for the same game from other sellers. This lets you quickly find a better offer or a higher-rated seller at a glance.
Secondly, and more importantly, the product page lists whether the game code activates in your location or region. Many Kinguin sellers sell region-locked keys, so this is an indispensable bit of info. While most region-locked keys will say so in the product title, this is a handy second layer in case it’s unclear (or you accidentally miss it).
You can also quickly switch to different platforms or editions, wherever available, using the buttons below the main image. Given the messy product browsing experience on Kinguin, the “Platform” and “Edition” buttons may be the best way to find the exact version you need.
You can pay with your credit card or PayPal, and we recommend the latter so that you have a robust refund option if the purchase goes south. Kinguin no longer offers its scummy added-cost buyer protection program, which is nice, but that comes at the cost of not offering any buyer protection at all.
Note that you need to register to buy keys from Kinguin. You’ll also need to enter an address before purchasing anything, presumably for tax and VAT reasons. Once you’ve sorted both out, the checkout process is smooth, clearly stating the total cost, including service fees and any extra payment processor costs.
For context, we ended up paying €2.70 ($2.88) for our Arkham City game key after all the additional charges. We’re not keen on the extra fees, especially when other (more legitimate) retailers like Fanatical only charge you for the game and nothing more. But at least Kinguin clearly states the total price on the checkout page before you pay.
After paying, you can head to your Inventory to claim your game code. Just click on the “Claim” button on the game’s card and a window will pop up with a code that you can activate on Steam (or your storefront of choice). Unlike other retailers like Green Man Gaming, there’s no handy link to take you immediately to activation.
Instead, you’ll have to open Steam and navigate to the “Activate a Product on Steam” menu item (under “Games”) yourself. After that, you just have to copy the product key from Kinguin and paste it into Steam. If all goes well, you’ll get a message stating that the activation is successful. After that, you can start downloading the game and hop in once it’s finished.
Activation issues? Head to the Kinguin customer service dashboard and open a support ticket. You can also click the “Report a problem” button under your key. You’ll have to upload screenshots proving your issue(s), after which the Kinguin support team will forward your case to the merchant.
We didn’t have any problems with our product key, so we can’t tell you how effective the customer support is or how willing merchants are to refund you for faulty keys. Our good experience also isn’t a guarantee that you won’t face issues, especially since we didn’t test buying a software license or Microsoft Office key.
As with other marketplaces such as eBay, try and buy from highly-rated sellers with a good track record of positive reviews. It isn’t foolproof, but it’s worth trying to stack the odds in your favor as much as possible.
Note that Kinguin doesn’t outline any refund window for keys sold on its service. This isn’t surprising given their business model, but it’s worth pointing out.
Is Buying From Kinguin Worth It?
If you’re seeking affordable prices and great deals, Kinguin is undoubtedly a good place to buy PC games and software. You can often find games selling for significantly lower prices than official storefronts and other retailers. For example, Need for Speed: Unbound, which is supposed to cost €69.99, is available for €45.62 at the time of writing.
That’s one of the best deals out there on a brand-new Triple-A game. However, you’re stuck with Origin activation if you want this deal: the only Steam game code for Unbound is selling for a whopping €83.35, which is not a good deal. So keep your wits about you, and don’t just buy a key on Kinguin because it’s “supposed” to be cheaper.
You should also keep in mind remember that many official storefronts adjust prices based on location. Regional pricing is common now, and you may find that game prices on Steam can be just as cheap (or cheaper) than even the very cheapest licenses on Kinguin. So it’s worth checking first before making a beeline for Kinguin.
And, of course, our misgivings and doubts about these product keys’ legality still stand. I’m not going to tell you that buying from Kinguin is morally wrong, as it’s not our place. But we feel it’s worth considering whether you’re comfortable with potentially giving money to fraudsters and hackers selling illegally-obtained keys.
Either way, if you decide that Kinguin is the marketplace for you, then you can take advantage of its Krowns reward system. You get three Krowns for each Euro you spend, and you can use these Krowns to claim free games during weekend giveaways and open Ninja Packs (essentially, loot boxes).
More enticingly, Kinguin says that a system that’ll allow you to use Krowns to get discount vouchers is “coming soon.” That’ll help lower the already-low prices and is a compelling reason for bargain hunters to purchase on Kinguin.
So, Is Kinguin Legit?
The question of “is Kinguin legit” depends on how you define the word “legit.” If your only worry is whether you get working game keys, then yes, Kinguin is mostly legit. Kinguin’s prices are some of the lowest you’ll find, and most customers seem satisfied with the service they get from Kinguin and its sellers.
However, if by “legit” you mean that the keys are from authorized sources, then no, Kinguin isn’t legit. Or, at least, there’s no way to guarantee the legitimacy of any of the keys on the site. Unlike some of the best Steam key sites, you never really know where your money’s going when you buy on Kinguin.
At the end of the day, it boils down to what you’re concerned with and what you mean when you say “legitimate.” You will get working game keys when you buy from Kinguin. Whether you should buy your keys from Kinguin is a whole other matter that we’ll leave to your discretion.