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Amazon Accused of Selling Pirated Games

Disturbing rumors of e-marketing giant Amazon facilitating the sale of pirated games have been recently making rounds. This trend was first noticed by users on both Reddit and ResetEra. Copies of Frostpunk and Surviving Mars were being sold on Amazon for a fraction of what they would normally cost at full retail. These games normally cost somewhere between $30 and $60. This definitely suggests that something illegal is in the works. 

It was Reddit user CodependentWealthy who figured out that the sellers had somehow stolen the GOG versions of the games and then repackaged them with a shady installer signed and published by Ace Media Group LLC.

This prompted a response from SavyGamer founder Lewie Procter who reached out to Amazon and 11 Bit Studios, who developed Frostpunk. Lewie says that Amazon’s customer service offered him no refund at first and was instead told to contact the manufacturer. When he kept pressing the matter with customer service over chat, he eventually got himself a refund.

Once the matter began reaching up the customer service hierarchy, Lewie was informed that Amazon would ‘take necessary actions’, but the company still did not confirm if they would stop sales of all pirated games and refund their customers who unknowingly purchased them.

Developers 11 Bit were completely unaware of this problem until they were notified about it through Twitter, they said they are looking into the matter. Another Twitter user, Wario64 took the issue to the official Twitter account of Surviving Mars, which confirmed that the sale on Amazon was not approved by them.

This problem of legitimate storefronts like Amazon selling pirated games is not unique to just a few games, or just a few instances of piracy taking place online. When users began to dig into the matter, they discovered bootlegged versions of Lords of Xulima that have been available on Amazon since October for just $1.99.

Numantian Games has been trying to get the seller off of Amazon, but the company is asking the developers to provide a lot of documents to them. Venting out its frustration, Numantian Games voiced their complaint in a Steam thread, “It seems that you can sell a pirated game without any problem, but if the owners complain about piracy they have to present a lot of complex documents …”

Amazon’s policy of shifting the burden of proof onto the publishers is harming their ability to sell games, and the end result is that legitimate owners are losing out on potential sales while pirates are selling counterfeit software that could even contain malicious code.

Developers Numantian Games tried every course of action possible to stop the pirated sale of their IP, but their efforts amounted to nothing. Once the issue began to gain momentum however, Amazon finally decided to do something about it and the pirated sale page says that it is currently unavailable.

Given that many pirates enter their own malicious code into bootlegged copies, it is important for companies like Amazon to take a harsh stance against piracy, to protect their user base.