With digital game sales and microtransactions on the rise, it’s more important than ever for publishers to make sure that their games are being sold in a fair and accurate way. Ubisoft is taking that one step further with its partnership with Genba Digital, the developer behind the Genba logistics platform for publishers and online retailers.
The two companies collaborated on a new method of selling games online called the Silent Key Activation process. It adds another layer of protection between Ubisoft and customers when it comes to the distribution of the company’s game codes. Here’s how it works: When you buy the digital version of a Ubisoft game online, the store will ask to enter your Uplay credentials instead of receiving a code. Once Genba’s system verifies that ID, it’ll automatically activate the game on your Uplay account.
The only entity that holds the codes is Genba itself. Neither the store nor the customer ever has to see it.
“So when they log into Uplay, their game is already there. They don’t get a code. [They] don’t have to input a code anywhere. And as a consequence, [they] can’t sell that code,” explained Genba Digital CEO Matt Murphy in an interview. “The only thing that the e-tailer would get — which doesn’t go near the user — is a token from us, which we use to link to a particular keycode. That token is valueless because it doesn’t mean anything [outside of] the Genba database.”
So far, Silent Key Activation is available for Ubisoft games through 10 online stores, such as Chrono.gg and Fanatical. Going forward, anyone who wants to work with Ubisoft to sell digital versions of its games will need to use the Silent Key Activation process.
The ultimate goal with Genba’s technology is to protect the publishers’ IPs and prevent keycodes from being sold in gray markets. According to Murphy, the old way of digital distribution — where publishers provide redemption keys in bulk to retailers, trusting those companies to accurately report how many of those codes they’ve sold — is ripe for abuse.
Ubisoft isn’t the only gaming company that Genba Digital has worked with. Past partnerships include Square Enix, Capcom, Bandai Namco, and dozens of others.