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Is it appropriate to sell just a Steam Key with no download?

A topic by LorenLemcke created Dec 04, 2017 Views: 3,380 Replies: 18
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Is it appropriate use of this site to only sell a product that is only a Steam Key? By this I mean, there would be no download for the game provided. I ask this because my game does not run outside the Steam environment. 

Thank you!

Admin (1 edit) (+1)

We prefer people to sell files with their game, but we do allow some people to sell only Steam keys since for some game's it's not possible to make a standalone build. If you'd like to do that please send a message to and we can enable it on the project page you need it for. You should have the page for the game already created, but it doesn't need to be published.

This is an admirable position and I hope you stick to it. I'm only interested in buying games *from*, anything that requires Steam is a no go for me so I hope it stays a rare occurance.

Hello Leafo,
We have the same issue. We cannot make a standalone buid, because we have Steam Cloud, Steam online subsystem and other Steam features like the Steam beacons because we are developing the multiplayer. 
We sent 3 messages to asking for advice in this case, but we haven't received response.  

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I found some games only provide the download of a text/PDF file about "how to activate the key on Steam", and give only Steam key when you purchase. (so, no DRM-free copy of the game)

(v Reference Image, The 'Buy Now" button is image ONLY!)

No DRM-free copy for you!
No DRM-free copy for you!

(^ Reference Image, The "Buy Now" button is image ONLY!)


So I want to ask admins: is that allowed here?


discuss this issue with me in the post ;)

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Yes,would like to know too.

I'm here to buy DRM free games...not a key only thing  /:

Very sad to see that it's allowed here...

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check my post, you will know more about the problem.

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That is the problem I discussed before, allows this thing happen for its own profit  these day. leafo

I suggest everyone who likes to stay in buy the game through individual developers directly not these careless distributor.

And to LorenLemcke

I don't believe there is no way to have standalone version of the game, Steam don't insist DRM into every game on Steam. There are many instances for DRM-free games on Steam. And since your game is not MMO, there is no problem with server.

I would like to quote the developer of The Norwood Suite's reply: "Under what circumstance would getting a steam Key through itch be preferable to getting the game through Steam directly?"



Thanks for your links.

I want to give my money to dev/artist...not to predatory distributor /:

Really disappointed with for now.

Thanks for reply, we nee more people to be informed and stick together to let know the issue is important.


I also would like to see a DRM option on to avoid thinking about selling Steam keys with no build.  I would rather sell the build on, but for all the hard work/money spent on building a game, I would like to have some measure of defense against illegal distribution.


Just a bit of potential customer feedback: I will never buy any of your games if they require steam or if you upload a DRM'd build. I came to to purchase DRM-free games and I can't imagine I'm alone in that.

Thank you for your input.  I'm definitely open to all viewpoints and will take it into consideration.   If I may ask, what about DRM specifically do you wish to avoid?   If there is a way to prevent inconvenience to customers yet still apply deterrents to piracy, I'm all for it.  


I tend to avoid: Anything that requires activation on Steam and any standalone DRM that requires the game to be activated using the internet.

Basically, I'll only buy DRM-free games and games with serial keys that activate offline (so they're not dependent on a server, the key is checked locally and would work on a computer with no internet access).

Mostly I buy PC games on because I know they'll be DRM-free but I shop here for other things but take extra care to make sure what I'm buying is DRM-free or if a serial/CD key is used that it's not an online check.

Thanks.  That's very helpful info.

"Piracy is a service problem" - Gabe Newell

Do consider those words for they are the way in which Steam entered the Russian and Brazilian markets and made absolute fortunes in environments that are extremely piracy-friendly.

I refuse to deal with Denuvo-encumbered games precisely because there are so many alternatives available to play instead.


This is a miscommon myth in the game developer community. DRM can still be stolen, many famous games on steam got stolen even before it was launched (FF15 got stolen before lunch). So no matter what you do, it will always gets stolen, if you want to not let pirates use your games you better off hiring a team that will track down the internet and issue DMCA on sites. My free games get stolen a lot it hasnt been a year but over 100 DMCA take down have been issued. these robbers install malware/spyware in your game as well as use your name for a cover up.

Just a small lesson to everyone to learn, you can't always protect your game.

Copyright infringement isn't 'theft' although it still feels like crap when that happens.  Those who download free games from shady 3rd-party sites often do so due to a language barrier.  This barrier can be overcome by offering the game & game's download page in multiple languages where possible.

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