Zenimax Online Studios, AKA the company that makes The Elder Scrolls Online, has warned that, as of today, it will deactivate all game accounts created with fraudulently-obtained game keys. In a message that went up last week, the studio told players to "shop wisely and only purchase online keys from a reputable source."
"The companies selling stolen keys make a practice of using stolen credit cards, or misappropriating credit card information from their own customers to buy codes from legitimate retailers," Zenimax Community Coordinator Jason Leavey wrote. "Often these companies have the lowest price available anywhere for the digital item they are selling. Customers who purchase from these vendors are at increased risk for identity theft."
Players whose accounts are deactivated will receive an email explaining how to get back into the game with a "valid game purchase," Leavey said, adding that "extreme discounting" is one sign that a key may not be legitimate. He also provided a list of official retailers from regions around the world, to help gamers avoid "unknowingly purchasing a stolen game key."
Zenimax dropped mandatory subscriptions for The Elder Scrolls Online earlier this year, but access still requires the purchase of the base game, now called The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, which sells on Steam for $60/£50.