It’s no secret that official storefronts like Steam aren’t always the cheapest places to buy games. Retailers like Green Man Gaming offer exclusive discounts and bonus incentives like loyalty programs to give you better deals on games. But there’s often a darker side to cheap games, begging the question “Is Green Man Gaming legit?”
It’s a valid concern, especially since controversies involving stolen keys and dodgy business practices have dogged competing game key sites like G2A. It’s good to be wary about buying games from alternative stores. So, let’s get to the bottom of things and see what Green Man Gaming is all about.
WHAT IS GREEN MAN GAMING?
Green Man Gaming (GMG) is a retailer based in the United Kingdom, founded by Paul Sulyok and Lee Packham. The duo came up with the idea in 2009 at a pub in London called The Green Man.
Green Man Gaming launched in 2010 with only a few hundred games but now proudly boasts more than 9000 for you to choose from. GMG specializes in PC games, selling everything from blockbuster AAA titles to charming indie adventures and all manner of games in between.
Steam games dominate the product listings on Green Man Gaming. However, you’ll also find games that activate on Ubisoft’s Uplay, Bethesda’s Launcher, Epic Games Store, Playfire, and Rockstar Social Club. It’s a thorough selection, with EA’s Origin the only significant omission.
WHERE THEIR GAME KEYS COME FROM
The biggest issue with buying games outside of Steam is whether the keys are responsibly sourced. It’s a valid ethical issue, as money spent on unauthorized, illegitimate, or outright stolen codes probably doesn’t go back to the developers and publishers of a game.
You can rest easy here; Green Man Gaming gets many of its keys directly from the publishers. If GMG can’t strike a deal with a publisher, they acquire codes from authorized distributors. This makes Green Man Gaming a far cry from third-party marketplaces like G2A. These marketplaces allow any sellers, legitimate or not, to post their keys for sale.
In the interest of transparency, GMG lists the source of its keys directly on each game’s store page. It’s a great little feature that more stores should adopt. GMG implemented this feature after being falsely accused of selling unauthorized keys in 2015.
If GMG gets the keys from the publisher, you’ll see the publisher’s name listed in the “source” section of a game’s store page.
For games where GMG buys codes from a distributor, you’ll see “Authorized Distributor” there instead.
Admittedly, there’s no way to be 100% sure whether GMG’s keys are indeed from authorized sources. However, the fact that they’re willing to open themselves to scrutiny by openly listing game key sources is reassuring.
Overall, we’re confident that there’s no reason to have ethical concerns when buying from Green Man Gaming. Your money should be going to the people developing and publishing the games you enjoy.
IS GREEN MAN GAMING SAFE?
We’ve purchased plenty of games from GMG without problems and the abundance of public positive reviews suggests we’re not alone. Most of the negative reviews on Trustpilot have to do with misunderstandings about activation and their refund policy rather than any issues with invalid keys or customer service.
We went through the process of buying and activating a game from Green Man Gaming to show you what to expect. We decided to grab Obsidian Entertainment’s RPG Tyranny, which was a great deal at 75% off.
While the site will let you add a game to your cart without an account, you’ll have to create an account or log in before you can purchase it. It’s not an issue for us, but we thought it was worth mentioning for those who are picky about these things.
You have the choice of paying via card or Google Pay. No PayPal option here, unfortunately.
Once you pay via your preferred method, you’ll be taken to an order summary page that lists the games you’ve purchased and their respective keys.
If you’ve bought a Steam game, clicking on the “Redeem” link next to the key will take you directly to the product activation page on Steam. Note that this is the point of no return for refunds. Once you activate the game, you’ll no longer be able to ask for your money back from GMG.
If you click on the link, the product key should automatically be filled in for you. All you have to do is agree to the terms of the Steam Subscriber Agreement and click on “Continue.”
If the activation is successful, you’ll get a message confirming the activation and the game that you activated.
Should you have any activation issues, get in touch with the Green Man Gaming support team. The site claims they’ll simply “refund or replace your key if you have a problem”. Green Man Gaming also offers a seven-day refund period for unredeemed keys, with an extended 14-day period for customers from the European Union.
Buying from Green Man Gaming is straightforward, and we’ve never had an issue activating any of our codes. As far as we’re concerned, there’s no need to worry about safety purchasing games on GMG.
IS BUYING FROM GMG WORTH IT?
Legitimacy is one thing, but a store has to offer additional value to justify giving them your business. If not, you might as well just get your games directly from storefronts like Steam and the Epic Games Store.
Since Green Man Gaming is an authorized retailer, non-discounted titles are generally in line with Steam. However, their discount codes and deals make them worth checking out as they’re not bound by the same sales as Steam.
For example, you might get GMG-exclusive discount codes or a 50% (or larger) sale on a game that’s selling for standard retail price on Steam at the same time.
However, do remember that Steam has implemented regional pricing on its storefront. Depending on where you live, prices on Steam may be lower than even a discounted price on GMG. So don’t forget to check Steam too!
Another reason to buy from Green Man Gaming aside from discounts is its “XP” loyalty program. Essentially, buying games on GMG gives you XP, which allows you to “level up” your account. The higher your level, the more perks you get, including extra discounts and free games.
Green Man Gaming’s discounts and loyalty program can definitely save you money versus buying from official storefronts. If you’re after the absolute cheapest deals, though, you’ll probably be interested in third-party (or grey market) sites. These are definitely dodgier than authorized retailers like Green Man Gaming but their prices are usually better. Check out our list of the best Steam key sites for a couple of excellent third-party retailers.
SO, IS GREEN MAN GAMING LEGIT?
There are a lot of things to like about Green Man Gaming. They’re an authorized retailer so you don’t have to worry about purchasing dodgy or stolen keys. Their catalog is solid, spanning multiple storefronts and activation methods. Prices are reasonable, with discounts that are as good as or better than Steam. And then there’s the loyalty program, solid refund policy, and excellent track record of happy customers.
Add all of these together, and there’s no doubt that Green Man Gaming is a great place to buy games. Whether you want a cheaper source than Steam or just want a legitimate alternative to G2A, Green Man Gaming is definitely worth checking out.