How do I activate a Retail Box Game?

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How do I activate a Retail Box Game?

Postposted on Tue Dec 13, 2011 12:22 am

I have quite a few retail box "store bought" PC games (ex wolfenstein) whereby I still have the keycode but have lost or damaged the game disk. Is there any service that will allow me to input my key and than download the game. The key does not work on Steam and I can't seem to find where to do this on games for windows live. If anyone can help I would appreciate as I probaly have about ten old games I'd love to replay.
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Re: How do I activate a Retail Box Game?

Postposted on Tue Dec 13, 2011 1:04 am

you don't "activate" cd key games, and you don't need the original cd. A "backup" copy is all you need. My dad will buy windows keys off ebay by bidding on empty laptop/pc cases for the sticker. Since nobody owns the software they pay for, (which is a bunch of phooey), the key is all you need to be legit. You can't activate the game in steam though, that only works for specific titles, and there is a support thread on it.
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Re: How do I activate a Retail Box Game?

Postposted on Tue Dec 13, 2011 1:50 am

I'm not sure what you are suggesting, could you please be a little more specific. I have NO game cd's for these games. Are you saying I can buy backup cd's somewhere...perhaps on eBay? I was hoping to simply download them simply by inputting the key onto an online service (such as steam of windows online).. Is this something that is available anywhere?
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Re: How do I activate a Retail Box Game?

Postposted on Tue Dec 13, 2011 2:32 am

No, I can't because being specific violates forum rules. Read between the lines. You're getting your time periods mixed up. Steam was not available back when games still used CD keys, and no online service will give you a download with an old key. There are a few exceptions like Half-life, but that's because it's a valve/steam game. If you want to download your other games through steam, you will have to repurchase them. However, If you only need a CD image to use with your legit keys, there are places on the internet to find that. I can't tell you where. You're allowed to have backups of your software. I don't think it matters how you attain the backups, as long as you have proof that you legitimately own the software. Some older games had disc replacement policies too, which you had to pay a small fee for after providing proof of ownership. No clue if those services are still available.
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Re: How do I activate a Retail Box Game?

Postposted on Tue Dec 13, 2011 8:03 am

l33t-g4m3r is advocating piracy, which may or may not be a valid answer in your case. You own it and some might argue that it's OK.

But where he's wrong is that games still use CD keys. For example, I activated my retail-purchased Dragon Age Origins on Bioware's site using a CD key, and I was able to attach it to the EA DLM (pre-Origin) using the same key. Every GFWL game on earth has a key you enter if you bought it in a physical package. Every retail-purchased game activated by Steamworks (Civ V) has a key. To say that using keys is a thing of the past is totally incorrect.

You can try activating your game on Steam and if it's an EA game you can try activating in Origin, too. Otherwise, the *letter* of the law and the publisher both state you're SOL.
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Re: How do I activate a Retail Box Game?

Postposted on Tue Dec 13, 2011 8:30 am

He's not advocating piracy at all. He's advocating using a service that is available that is better than what the publishers had at the time to assist in backing up your legitimately purchased software through grey area means to use your legitimately purchased/owned CD-key to play the legitimately purchased/owned software license that you hold due to holding that key. There is nothing wrong with grabbing the CD image that you backed up but forgot about from your basement or from someone else's "hypothetical" basement that you forgot about when you moved house and left it behind a brick in their house (which used to be yours).....

If anyone tells you otherwise they are quite simply wrong. Yes, technically you might be using a service whereby any ads you view or bytes you share could be aiding and abetting other people into doing supposedly non-approved business but that's just blowing smoke up the MPAA jerk of ridiculousness. Lawyers have to get paid and in a tanking global economy they have to fight for the crumbs at the bottom of the barrell so they take stupid jobs and put a fake smile on while they probably go home and do crack. I wouldn't even think about it twice.
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Re: How do I activate a Retail Box Game?

Postposted on Tue Dec 13, 2011 8:57 am

It's certainly not the publisher's fault that he lost the discs. If you want to advocate torrents in this case, I don't have too big an issue with it. However, let's call it what it is. Don't lie to yourself - if you can't even trust yourself who can you trust? I should note that I've been in this situation and it's also what I've done. No condemnation from me in this case.
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Re: How do I activate a Retail Box Game?

Postposted on Tue Dec 13, 2011 11:09 am

yogibbear wrote:He's not advocating piracy at all.
Correct. Piracy is downloading software that you haven't paid for.
People are allowed to backup their software. How you obtain those backups isn't that important. It's not piracy if you already own the software, although the website that you use to obtain said software could be accused of piracy, since we don't know who's downloading what from it. I've heard similar arguments for downloading roms. P2P is nothing more than free, unlimited, unregulated, public cloud storage.
derFunkenstein wrote:But where he's wrong is that games still use CD keys.

Well, not in the same way that old games used them. Nowadays your cdkey is tied to a GFWL/EA/Bioware/etc. account, which IMO is illegally violating the first-sale doctrine. A lot of download services do offer downloads with a retail key, but nobody offers full spectrum support. It's a few games here and there, across different services. It's better to just wait for a steam sale, and repurchase your collection on the cheap. Over the years, I've repurchased a large portion of my physical collection over steam using this method. It's just not worth the hassle anymore, ever since microsoft made things worse by trying to manage your software with GFWL and Games library. It's also made me question the validity of the $60 price tag, especially since there have been numerous articles stating that the ideal price point for PC games is $40, plus you can't resell account tied software. I won't pay retail price for any game that's tied to an account, or ships with DLC. The loss of rights and value is not worth it, and we aren't subsidising console hardware. Skyrim in particular is one game I'm not purchasing until a price drop, even though it's been on my wish list, plus I have too many unfinished games to play, including oblivion. Right now I'm enjoying Cave Story+.
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Re: How do I activate a Retail Box Game?

Postposted on Tue Dec 13, 2011 11:39 am

1st sale doctrine applies to physical goods. You might wind up with a physical good, but you're buying a license. Kind of like license plates for cars: you don't get 1st sale there, either.
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Re: How do I activate a Retail Box Game?

Postposted on Tue Dec 13, 2011 4:17 pm

derFunkenstein wrote:1st sale doctrine applies to physical goods. You might wind up with a physical good, but you're buying a license. Kind of like license plates for cars: you don't get 1st sale there, either.

This is where software gets murky. IANAL, but from my understanding, the physical parts (boxes, CDs, manuals, etc.) get 1st sale doctrine. But the publishers also get distribution rights to the content from copyright laws, and then the license to actually run the software sits on murky ground thanks extensive EULA's and conflicting court rulings.

Morally, I'd have no problem's "acquiring" a copy of a disc image for a game that I've legally purchased and still have the key for. However, I believe that copyright laws make the distribution of those disc images illegal (also why all those people going to court with the RIAA are not actually being sued for downloading, but making the files available on Kazaa after they've already downloaded them).
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