I bought a physical copy of Civilization V: Game of the Year Edition, and the game arrived, a day later. I installed the game, and entered the product code through Steam. It said the product code had already been used, but I had purchased it brand new.

I thought that somebody may have used the wrong key, and that it could be an accident, so I sent the game back for a replacement. Nevertheless, I had the same issue with the new product key. It is too unlikely that it is a coincidence, having happened twice, in a row.

So I wonder why it doesn't work. I haven't made a mistake entering the code, because I checked it several times. The site where I bought the game is a trusted site. What else could be causing this?

  • 8
    A site that sells already redeemed CD keys doesn't seem very trustworthy to me.
    – Unionhawk
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 14:19
  • can you tell us where you actually bought it from?
    – user106385
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 14:30
  • 1
    @Timelord64 I bet my money on G2A or Kinguin. Or Retail and he got sold an opened copy where someone took the key and returned the game later.
    – user28015
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 14:59
  • the site is: bol.com
    – user120613
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 15:16
  • Was the case sealed? People use bol.com to sell used goods as well.
    – Caramiriel
    Commented Aug 9, 2015 at 8:59

1 Answer 1


CD keys are treated very carefully, to ensure that duplicates are not released, so that the system behind its use works and can be relied on.

If you have received two separate copies of the same game, and both have contained already-used keys, it sounds like the source is simply unreliable. Depending on where you purchased the game from, it could simply be an internal issue with the company.

Games often do not require electronic activation at the point of sale, in order to validate the game, through Steam. That means that anyone working there could technically take a copy of a CD key, and activate it for themselves. Since there is no electronic activation, no flags are raised that that copy has not been officially purchased yet, and the system is none the wiser.

While this could easily not be the case, in this situation, this is just one example of how things like this are technically possible. I have never heard of something like this happening, myself.

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