Fraudulent Elder Scrolls Online keys will be deactivated today

The Elder Scrolls Online

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.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.