I've purchased NFS Hot Pursuit from Steam, and I was supplied a CD key and could run the game after downloading it. I was then able to run the game with Steam in offline mode, but at one point (after closing and restarting Steam), Steam returns the following error trying to start the game in offline mode:

Steam - Error

Failed to contact key server.

The problem cleared up once I got back online. However, Steam had previously acquired a CD key, and it's my understanding that a CD key should be permanent for the duration of a license, so why did this happen? Does Steam lose CD keys, and do they require online renewal?

2 Answers 2


I know this is an old question, but...

Steam re-validates games that you own approximately once a month.

This is one of the steps Steam uses for fraud prevention, as Valve will pull games from accounts purchased using fraudulent sources.

You may say "Wouldn't Valve just ban the account?" They likely ban the purchasing account. However, Steam users can gift games to other accounts or trade them through Steam trading... the recipient can't tell if the originator got the item in a fraudulent manner.

This is largely transparent to users... unless you're offline for more than a month.


One of the steps listed here should solve your problems.


Upon trying to launch a third-party title on Steam, you may experience this error. The most common causes of this issue are listed below:

If the game is a recent release, or was purchased during a sale While we do our best to anticipate demand from our users, occasionally we may run out of keys to provide for your purchase. When we are out of keys, this error will appear. You will be issued a key as soon as we have been given more by the game's publisher.

Although the above is unlikely since you have got your CD keys. I think the following maybe the solution for your case, since you have been in offline mode for a while.

Problem Occurs After Updating Steam

If this problem occurred directly after a Steam update and the firewall is already disabled, please try this process: Log out and exit Steam Navigate to C:\Program Files\Steam (the default location). If you have installed Steam to a different folder, please locate that folder now. Rename the file "ClientRegistry.blob" to ClientRegistryOld.blob and then close the Steam folder Launch Steam and login. Steam should update, re-create the file, and then you will be able to play Connection Trouble If you are currently experiencing intermittent connection problems, you may also experience this error. Please contact your Internet Service Provider to make sure there are no current outages in service at this time.

  • Steam was in offline mode, and I was previously able to run the game in offline mode. The issue cleared up upon going online. Steam apparently had lost the key, since it had a key to begin with.
    – bwDraco
    Commented Jul 24, 2013 at 17:23

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