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I bought a retail version of half-life with no CD key, before I reinstalled windows I got the CD key from the Steam version of the game that I had bought, and that worked to activate the retail version. I found the key somewhere in the registry, now I have reset my PC, I don't know where I found it but have looked everywhere I can imagine it being but I can't find it.

I think this may be because I got the game from a bundle, perhaps this gives you a CD Key for all of the games in the bundle and if you use a CD Key, it saves it in the registry. Or maybe a key is put in the registry of all the games you buy but they get removed after reinstalling Windows.

Is there any way of activating my retail version of Half-Life without buying a key?

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    I'm curious: why do you want to activate the retail version of HL considering you got a Steam version? – Nzall Aug 25 '17 at 11:06
  • CS 1.5, I just like the idea of playing it but you need to patch HL, this requires retail version because Steam version can't be patched – Gabriel Brown Aug 25 '17 at 11:09
  • To clarify: Are you trying to find the key that activated HL on Steam? – PlanetAlexanderProjects Aug 25 '17 at 11:33
  • Yes (filling char limit) – Gabriel Brown Aug 25 '17 at 11:44
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As per the FAQ

Valve games

Valve games purchased online through Steam do not include or require a CD Key.

You may have got it through an old hack that worked on older versions of the game, but it looks like that is no longer the case. Steam bought (Valve) games no longer come with a CD key

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