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THE QUICK ANSWER
As with all online marketplaces, there is a chance for third-party sellers to provide a faulty product. But because of Eneba’s strict policies for vetting and managing their sellers, PayPal Purchase Protection, and their do-good brand, we feel comfortable recommending them as a safe place to purchase affordable games. The only risk you take purchasing from Eneba versus direct from the game publisher is your time.
Third-party game marketplaces like Eneba often list titles at heavy discounts, sometimes offering over 90% off retail prices. But what’s the catch? Is Eneba Legit? In preparation for this article, we purchased items from their store, read through numerous experiences shared online, and interviewed one of their employees. Here’s what we found.
WHAT IS ENEBA?
Founded in 2018, Eneba is a relatively new online game store based in Lithuania. It’s easiest to think of them as an Amazon for video games. They don’t actually sell any games or gift cards, they provide a platform for merchants to sell them. It’s Eneba’s job to manage the sellers they work with, fulfill orders successfully, and provide support for their customers.
Third-party marketplaces like Eneba are sometimes referred to as gray market sites. While they are completely legal and legitimate businesses, they primarily feature products from unofficial sellers. Most gamers purchase from these stores assuming that in exchange for a killer deal, they’re accepting a small chance of getting scammed. To continue our analogy, these sites are sometimes closer to Craigslist than they are to Amazon.
As the new kid on the block, Eneba is hoping to change that perception. The Eneba employee we interviewed acknowledged the scandals that have plagued their competitors and emphasized their priority to provide a safe and reliable marketplace for their customers.
One of the main ways they’re able to control the quality of their marketplace is by accepting only trusted and reliable sellers into their platform. He elaborated on their strict vetting process and standards for sellers that resulted in a low single-digit acceptance rate into their program. He claimed they only accepted sellers who acquired their inventory through legitimate means such as through wholesale, seasonal discounts, and regional sales.
And in the off chance that a problem seller makes it through their application process, they’re kicked out after the first sign of dishonesty. Any customer affected would get their order refunded or replaced immediately.
“So customers will get their money back if they purchase a dodgy key. But what about their Steam accounts? Is there any risk there?” we asked. Eneba’s representative responded that he had never heard of anyone’s account getting banned for redeeming an invalid key, even from their “less honest” competitors. Steam’s suspension policy seems to support this.
So far, so good. But of course a company rep would only have nice things to say. Let’s dig deeper.
OUR EXPERIENCING BUYING FROM ENEBA
Still skeptical, we picked one of their cheapest PC games to start: Human: Fall Flat. Risking $2.47 and some change to get a $15 game seemed like a decent wager.
Clicking the “Buy Now” button took us straight to a checkout page. We were delighted no account registration was required and that there were plenty of payment options including direct credit/debit, Google Pay, PayPal*, and Paysafecard.
Another pleasant surprise was the option to donate to a couple of charitable organizations providing COVID-19 relief. Granted this gives Eneba additional tax writeoffs at the end of the year, we thought it was a positive gesture to encourage gamers to pass on their cost savings to a greater cause.
A few clicks after checkout, we got to our Steam key for Human Fall Flat and a big yellow button that made it easy for us to activate it.
We ended up having no problem adding the game to our Steam library and playing it. And we’ve gone on to purchase two additional games from Eneba in a similar fashion. But…
YOUR EXPERIENCE COULD BE DIFFERENT
While our experience and most of the accounts we’ve read on Reddit and Trustpilot were positive, Eneba’s record is far from spotless. A common complaint we saw was about purchasing an invalid key without any response from support.
Nearly all negative reviews on Trustpilot had a response from Eneba as shown above. While better than nothing, there were enough complaints about their support response times that lead us to believe they’re quicker to respond to bad reviews than they are to support emails.
When asked to comment on the customer service complaints, the Eneba representative gave a passable explanation. The COVID-19 stay-at-home orders around the world exploded their company’s sales by 60% nearly overnight and they’ve continued to grow from there. While great for their revenue, their support staff wasn’t equipped to handle it. They are still expanding their customer service team to handle the increased volume of orders.
After reading through enough negative review interactions and seeing how they played out, it seems Eneba does eventually make things right with their customers. And if they take too long, we’re sure a PayPal dispute would get you your money back.
But the bottom line is, if you are unlucky enough to purchase a bad key from them, you risk wasting your time waiting for their support team or PayPal to resolve your problem.
IS BUYING FROM ENEBA ETHICAL?
We’ve established that Eneba is legitimate in that you will eventually get what you pay for, but is it ethical? Game developers have long urged their fans to only purchase their games from authorized sellers so that they could be properly compensated. Are we ripping off game developers when we purchase from Eneba?
We’d argue we most likely aren’t. The only way we’d disservice game developers is if we purchased hacked or stolen keys, which Eneba claims they don’t sell. If we’re simply purchasing a resold key, game developers would have already been compensated in the original transaction.
But since there’s no way to be sure, you should only purchase directly from game publishers or authorized retailers if it’s important to you that your money makes its way to the game developer. We can certainly respect that stance especially when it comes to indie developers.
Before we delve too far into the ethical debate, it’s important to note that Eneba actually does work directly with a number of game publishers.
Game publishers like Konami, CI Games, and Daedalic Entertainment partner directly with Eneba to expand their global reach. When their traditional distribution channels are restricted in certain regions, Eneba gives them another way to get their games into the hands of more gamers. We take it as an encouraging sign and a vote of confidence from the gaming industry to see them partnering up.
To us, Eneba’s business model resembles Spotify’s. Their platform is an affordable and easy way for consumers to get access to art. The artists, unfortunately, get the short end of the stick until the economics get figured out — and it’s not clear when that day will come. But end consumers like us ultimately benefit most.
SO IS ENEBA LEGIT? FINAL ANSWER
While they’re far from perfect, they’re as legitimate as third-party game marketplaces get. We believe Eneba is running an honest business in a market plagued with unfavorable implications. If they improved their customer service response times and stated their money-back guarantee more confidently on their site, we’d feel more at ease.
But their do-good brand, partnerships with game publishers, and willingness to answer our questions are all promising signs. Additionally, our purchases with them have always gone smoothly. If you’re cool with buying games for cheap from a third-party, we think Eneba might be your best bet.