Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, November 09, 2022
Age of Wonders: Planetfall

Age of Wonders: Planetfall is a game from 2019 that I just recently started to play, it being available to me for free as part of my XBox Game Pass for PC subscription. Usually I am not a big fan of science fiction themed games, but this one is pretty fun. Basically it is as if Civilization and XCom fell in love and had a baby: You get the standard 4X gameplay of exploration, city building, and research, but battles are handled as tactical combat on a hex grid. Seeing how combat was always the weak point of the Civilization series, this is a huge improvement to the 4X genre.

You can play Age of Wonders: Planetfall like you would play any Civ game, on a random map with your selection of parameters for the world, and your selected civilization; but there is also a campaign with several scenarios for each civilization, which gives you some story, some quests, and alternative victory conditions. That adds a lot to replayability.

I already have 24 hours played on Planetfall, and I am only approaching the end of the campaign for the first civilization, Vanguard. There are three DLC available with more civilizations, more NPC factions, more secret techs, and everything. But those don't come included on the Game Pass, so I am not sure whether I really need more content for a game that already has a lot of it. The season pass with the three DLC would be $40 on the Game Pass store, while the base game is $50 on Steam, and $90 with the DLCs included.

Which brings me to another topic, which is especially relevant for games that are already several years old, but aren't discounted much on Steam: Grey market keys. The longer a game exists, the more of these keys are available, and the cheaper they get. Either you pay $90 on Steam for that premium edition of Planetfall with all DLC included, or you pay less than 1/10th of that for a Steam key that gives you exactly the same game. Of course those keys are also available for new games, but a quick check for a recently released triple A game on Steam showed keys going for half the official price, which is much less of a discount.

Game keys are usually not outright "fell of the back of a lorry" stolen. But the origin of the keys is often unknown to the buyer, and there are risks involved. To the best of my knowledge you can't get your Steam account banned for using a keyshop, but there is a definitive risk of the key not working and you being unable to claim your money back. But for most people, keys work, so it is more of a moral problem than a practical one. It is safe to say that buying a grey market key isn't supporting the game developers. But it also isn't the same as downright pirating a game. So, what do you think about keyshops?

I don't functionally see any difference between using a key reseller or going down to my local Gamestop and buying a used copy of a game.

I'm sorry but if a game is several years old and hasn't been discounted I'm not going to pay $60 knowing I can get it for $20 somewhere else.
There is too much risk on key resellers, so I am not willing to buy from them.
FWIW for old games the risk is minimal. Key reseller sites have user ratings for sellers and reputable sellers with high user ratings buy keys during sales so they are legitimate.

I would definitely not buy a key for a new game from a key reseller as the only way that could be discounted is if it were from another region and/or bought with a stolen CC.
I use grey market sellers on occasion for economic reasons but I do feel a bit uncomfortable about it.

I buy most games from authorised key sellers that I find using isthereanydeal. There is almost always a deal available somewhere from one of the legitimate sites.

There is one grey market seller instantgaming that I occasionally use if I cannot find a reasonable deal from authorised sellers. I cannot be 100% sure of their bona fides but the site is very well put together and there doesn't seem to be any shady stuff going on.

There are other grey market resellers that I have used in the past including a well known market leader with letter number letter in the name that I now avoid entirely. They have gone down the rabbit hole of dodginess. Any site that allows users to sell keys directly to users is a red flag in my opinion.
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