If you’re on the fence on whether or not you should purchase a digital code from Kinguin, in this guide, we weigh the pros and cons of using Kinguin and discuss whether or not it is safe to use as a marketplace.
What if I told you that there is a marketplace website at Kinguin.net where you can get Windows keys for as low as $30? Your next question would probably be… is Kinguin legit?
Now, before we answer that question, we should probably define in what context you are using the word ‘legit’.
If, to you, legit means that buying a Windows key or game key is legal, then the answer is that Kinguin is mostly not legit.
If, to you, legit, means that you can get a Windows key or game key from Kinguin and it will actually work, then the answer is that Kinguin is somewhat legit.
I’m assuming that most people will side with the first definition of legit. And, if that’s the case, you’ll want to stay away from Kinguin.net and simply get your games and copies of Windows in the traditional manner.
But for those of you who don’t mind the risk—or the somewhat unethical nature of it all—Kinguin can be an affordable way to get Windows or a popular game you’ve been wanting to play for a fraction of the cost that it would normally be.
How Does Kinguin Work?
Kinguin doesn’t sell games or copies of Windows themselves. Rather, Kinguin is a marketplace where people can sell their Windows keys or their game keys.
On their marketplace, you can find everything from Windows keys (both the Pro versions and Home versions), to World of Warcraft time cards, to CSGO skings, to game keys for popular games (like PUBG), all the way to software (like anti-virus programs and Microsoft Home Office.)
You simply find the product you want on their website and click on it. Then you’re taken to that product’s marketplace page where you can browse through the different people who are selling that product (or, rather, the key for that product.)
You then choose the seller that you want to buy from (which will likely be the one who has some combination of the most orders placed and the highest seller rating) and then click on ‘Buy Now.’
After that you’ll go through the checkout process.
What if I Buy Through Kinguin and the Key Doesn’t Work?
The biggest problem with Kinguin’s marketplace is that Kinguin themselves do not check beforehand to see if their sellers’ keys are legit or not.
There have been many accounts of users who have purchased keys through Kinguin only to find out that the key was already in use.
In fact, check out this Reddit post in which that very thing happened.
The Redditor purchased a key for a popular game, but then when they went to activate it, it said it was already in use.
And, when pressing the matter to Kinguin’s support, he had a tough time getting them to honor the code he had purchased.
In the end, they did refund him the money, but if that user’s Reddit thread didn’t blow up, who knows whether or not they would have done the right thing?
If you want to see more instances of shady practices and users who have had their keys not work, just Google ‘kinguin review’. This Reddit user is not the only one who has had a bad experience dealing with Kinguin.
Kinguin’s Buyer’s Protection… A Pretty Shady Solution to Invalid Keys
Kinguin does offer Buyer’s Protection for their keys. Kinguin posts the following about their Buyer’s Protection…
You are protected against any quality faults of this products caused by the seller (invalid, duplicate keys etc.).
By disabling it the customer takes the full responsibility for any potential issues.
Or, in other words, if you don’t buy Buyer’s Protection through Kinguin, you have no protection if the key is invalid. Which is honestly incredibly silly.
Kinguin’s Buyer’s Protection varies depending on the product, but it is typically no more than $7 or so. And, so that takes the cost of things like Windows 10 from $30 to ~$37, which, in the grand scheme of things is still way less expensive than buying a copy of Windows from Amazon or Microsoft.
(For games, the Buyer’s Protection is less.)
But, the fact that you have to pay extra to ensure your purchase is protected makes the whole business model even shadier. You would think that you would be protected regardless…
They are essentially saying… “Our marketplace is shady and you’re probably going to get scammed, but if you pay us a few bucks, we’ll make sure to protect you from the shady dealers we allow onto our marketplace.”
In any case, the Buyer’s Protection does protect you and if you want to buy Kinguin discount codes, you basically have to add it to your purchase. And, even with the Buyer’s Protection cost added in, most products still cost quite a bit less than if you were to buy them through normal methods.
It’s just kind of ridiculous, though, that you have to pay them extra in order to have your purchases guaranteed.
Where Do Kinguin Sellers Get All These Free Keys?
There is some debate on where these sellers get all of these game keys from.
A couple of years ago, some hackers who had purchased Ubisoft game codes with a stolen credit card, turned around and sold those codes to buyer’s on Kinguin.
Ubisoft initially revoked access to those games from the users who got scammed with stolen codes. However, they reversed course and allowed those users to keep their codes.
In other cases, though, it appears as if sellers get their keys through sales or promotions and turn around and sell them on the marketplace.
So, some sellers are buying game keys in bulk when they go on sale, then hording them until the sale ends, and then they turn around and sell them for more than they purchased them for on Kinguin.
And, then other sellers are just regular users who get free game codes through random promotions who don’t want the code and, instead, turn around and sell them for a profit.
But, the problem is that you never really know where your key is coming from. Because, while there are instances where the keys may be more legit (like if a seller is simply unloading some free keys they picked up through a promotion), unfortunately there are other instances where you could be buying from a seller who obtained their key in a fraudulent manner.
Should You Buy From Kinguin?
Unfortunately, I can’t answer that question for you. I have purchased a copy of Windows 10 Pro through them to test it out.
And, the key worked just fine.
Although, at first, the key was denied and I did have to spend some time chatting with support in order to get it working.
But, in my experience, their support was actually very helpful and they were able to get the code verified with Microsoft for me and it has been working ever since.
Now, to be clear, I often build PCs for others (especially for the winners of our PC giveaway contest), and I would never buy a Windows key from Kinguin to put on a computer that I was building for someone else.
And, the reason for that is that if that key were to become deactivated in the future, I wouldn’t want that person to have to deal with it.
However, for my latest build, I figured I’d try Kinguin out and see if it worked. And, so far I have had no problems.
So, whether or not you should buy from Kinguin.net is all going to come down to whether or not you are A) okay with the ethical nature of it all, and B) are willing to purchase Buyer’s Protection for your codes to ensure you don’t lose your money.
For me, I likely won’t purchase from them again. When I did go through them the first time around for my Windows 10 key, I wasn’t aware that I could be purchasing stolen codes. If I could guarantee that I could get codes from people who are just unloading free codes they got through promotions, then that would be one thing.
But, to potentially be supporting scammers and fraudsters is unsettling.
And, also, I wasn’t aware at the time, but it is against Microsoft’s terms to purchase a Windows 10 key from an unauthorized third party seller. So, while it is incredibly inexpensive to get a copy of Windows 10 through Kinguin, it really isn’t something that is supported by Microsfot themselves and I have since replaced the key I purchased with a key that I bought directly from Microsoft.
Ultimately, the bottom line is that Kinguin is a “grey” marketplace where you can purchase game keys and Windows keys for extremely low prices. There are, however, caveats to those low prices. Namely that Kinguin has had a shady business model and that purchasing products through them is unethical when you consider where the codes you are purchasing could be coming from.
So, you can buy from them. But just be aware of the potential pitfalls that could arise if you choose to do so.