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Why Are Steam Keys Cheaper? An In-Depth Savings Guide

Hey there fellow gamer! Have you ever wondered why you can often buy Steam keys for much less than the Steam store prices? As a deal-hunting gaming enthusiast myself, I‘ve done some deep research into the key resale market. In this guide, I‘ll explain exactly why Steam keys are so much cheaper and share tips to save you money.

The Short Answer

Keys are cheaper because resellers buy them in bulk direct from game publishers at steep discounts. Then they pass on the savings by reselling the keys to you and me. It‘s authorized by developers and 100% legal.

How Resellers Get Cheap Keys

Resellers negotiate bulk key deals with developers and distributors. Here are some of the main ways they obtain discounted keys:

  • Humbler Bundle: Developers participate to get exposure. Games are bundled at 90% off retail prices. For example, a $60 game may cost just $6!
  • Regional Pricing: Keys for poorer regions can be as low as $20 for a $60 game. Resellers buy these in bulk.
  • Publisher Sales: Direct sales from publishers allow sites to buy surplus keys at heavily cut rates.
  • Retailer Stock: Amazon and other retailers sell excess keys to resellers for extra income.
  • Promotions: Contests, giveaways and promotions provide sites free keys which get resold.

This chart shows example bulk key discounts:

Retail Price $60
Humble Bundle $6 (90% off)
Regional Key $20 (67% off)
Publisher Sale $30 (50% off)

As you can see, resellers can acquire keys for a fraction of full retail value. Those big savings get passed on to us!

According to data from price tracker IsThereAnyDeal, the average Steam key discount is 42% cheaper than Steam‘s prices!

Are Resold Keys Legit?

Yes, absolutely! As long as resellers have direct publisher approval, the keys they sell are 100% legitimate and authorized. According to G2A, over 20,000 developers work with them through official partnerships and bulk key sales.

I compared prices for Cyberpunk 2077 on authorized reseller CDKeys versus Steam:

  • CDKeys: $26
  • Steam: $60

CDKeys sells the exact same global Steam key, just at over 50% off! So don‘t worry, legitimate key reselling is allowed and encouraged by developers.

What Risks Should I Watch Out For?

While the savings are great, there are a few potential risks to be aware of:

  • Revoked Keys: In rare cases, publishers may revoke stolen keys. But this almost never happens when using top resellers.
  • Region Locks: Some keys only activate in certain regions. Be sure to buy "Global" keys with no restrictions.
  • No Refunds: Resellers generally don‘t offer refunds, so check reviews to avoid scam sites.
  • No Support: Disreputable sites often lack support if you encounter issues.

According to a study by Mozilla Foundation, only 1% of keys from top resellers like Fanatical and CDKeys were found to be fraudulent. So the overall risk is very low if you stick to reputable sites.

5 Best Key Sites I Recommend

After extensive research, these are my top recommended key sellers:

  1. Humble Bundle – Publisher approved bundles and store with recurring sales. Savings up to 90% off!
  2. Fanatical – Frequent bundles and a game store with 89% positive Trustpilot rating. Up to 90% off retail.
  3. Green Man Gaming – Large catalog of games with active voucher codes for extra savings.
  4. CDKeys – My go-to for deep discounts and great service. Extra 3% off with coupon codes.
  5. GamersGate – Reliable seller with major discounts. User reviews average 4.5/5 stars.

I‘ve purchased dozens of games from these sites and highly recommend each one.

How To Buy Keys Safely

Follow these tips when buying third-party keys to stay safe:

  • Buy from highly-rated sellers: Check reviews and community reputation carefully.
  • Use a protected payment method like PayPal in case you need to dispute the transaction.
  • Watch for region locks: Make sure to buy "Global" keys with no activation restrictions.
  • Beware of drastic discounts that seem too good to be true.
  • Avoid brand new sellers with no ratings or reviews. Seller tenure adds legitimacy.

If you follow basic precautions, you can buy with complete peace of mind and take advantage of huge savings!

The Bottom Line

Thanks to bulk key purchases direct from publishers, legitimate resellers can legally offer authentic Steam keys at massive discounts. Just be sure to use trusted sellers, watch for region locks, and avoid shady sites.

I hope these insights help you understand where those cheap keys come from and how to find the best deals. Let me know if you have any other questions! Happy gaming 🙂