Have you ever seen those huge Steam key bundles for shockingly low prices on sites like eBay? Obviously, when I saw the listing of a “50 Steam game key bundle” for only £3.99, I knew that for less than 8p per game it was a bargain far too good to be true. With a product showcase boasting a chance to receive games such as Grand Theft Auto V or the latest Call of Duty – two titles, coincidentally I’m sure, ever popular with extremely gullible young children – curiosity got the better of me. And you know what they say about curiosity.
First impressions were surprisingly good with a fast delivery placing the keys in my eBay inbox in under an hour. With forty-eight standard keys and two “gold keys” proudly in my possession I whipped open notepad so as to catalogue my spoils and set to work.
Redeeming the “gold keys” first was probably a huge mistake. Seeing that the very best the bundle had to offer was an unplayable first-person-shooter called Infernales and the mediocre driving game Insane Road set a fairly poor precedent.
Insane Road was definitely the strongest of the two “gold” titles. It’s playable with cheerful minimalist graphics – a little bit too similar to the popular Crossy Road to be original – and repetitive game-play that at least lends itself to a few minutes of enjoyment. Infernales is a generic DOOM-inspired shooter. Or it would be if the programmers had actually remembered to program in bullet collision. As it stands, your projectiles simply glide right through enemies rendering completion of the game impossible.
Unfortunately, the two “gold” titles were certainly the best of the bundle. Redeeming the other keys revealed a plethora of barely functioning titles – predominantly titles quickly cobbled together in GameGuru before being shovelled on to the Steam store en masse.
Highlights included Isis Simulator, which had seemingly been pulled from Steam almost as soon as it was released (I can’t think why), and Make border great again! which seems to involve a super hero re-imagining of US president Donald Trump complete with mask and cape. If you couldn’t tell already, these games aren’t exactly the cream of the crop. In fact, they were all, without exception, unequivocally atrocious to such an extent that I feel wholehearted ashamed to have inflicted them on my account.
In the bundle I counted six obvious review keys, as designated by the listing of “review bundle” or “review copy”, which was extremely disappointing. Fraudulently claiming review copies to sell on the black market is a serious issue and can deeply hurt the relationship developers have with smaller web-based publications. Activities like these create an environment of distrust and can stop larger publishers from collaborating with the independent sites that need it the most.
Of course, some four of the keys were simply fake strings of numbers or had already been redeemed and quite frankly, I expected nothing less.
Would I ever recommend buying bundles like these under any circumstances? Of course not. If you want to pad out your Steam library with more games, why not pay a little more and buy a Humble Bundle. Humble Bundle is an initiative that aims to bring you top qualities titles for a fraction of the price. It’s completely legitimate and approved by publishers, and best of all it is charity-orientated, so you will not only help the games industry but also those in need.