And so, with the waning of today’s sun, 2016 draws to a close. A year that took many beloved celebrities and where politics suddenly became everyone’s favourite topic both on and offline, what with Brexit and Trump. Yeah, from a societal and political standpoint, 2016 was a confederate flag emblazoned dumpster fire.
But aside from happily seeing the back of a below average year, the approaching new year means there’s been end of year sales happening everywhere. I’m far from someone who greatly enjoys post-Xmas sales, given I work part time in retail, but I do find it to be an opportunity to pick up the games that have slipped past me throughout the year.
And this year the one game in particular I was saving for the Boxing Day sales was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered on PC, because Activision cruelly tied it to an edition of Infinite Warfare that is a retail exclusive at EB Games for AU$119.95 or on Steam for US$79.99. Thankfully it was marked down in the sales this week so I decided to bite the bullet. But thanks to a certain series of events, I discovered a very unique scenario that can arise when buying Steam games at retail stores that I just had to share.
OK, so I went into my local EB Games on Boxing Day before I started work at my other job nearby (surprise, I’m a millennial with two jobs) to purchase a physical copy of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Legacy Edition, which contains Modern Warfare Remastered. I thought a physical copy would be good since it lowers how much data I’d have to download should I wish to play Infinite Warfare, Modern Warfare Remastered is a download regardless. Anyway, there was one empty case left on the shelf, so I picked it up and got in line.
I paid at the counter, they filled my case with the discs and insert and then I left to get some food. While waiting in line for food, I decided to have a look inside the case, because I’m a weirdo and just wanted to experience “new game smell”. Inside were the six Infinite Warfare discs I was expecting, but only one Steam key. Knowing that Modern Warfare Remastered is a digital download only, I thought there would be two separate keys, so to be on the safe side, I went back to EB and asked one of the employees to check that I had everything I needed. After a quick deliberation with their colleagues, I was assured I had everything I was supposed to.
I then went and worked a retail shift until 11pm, because Boxing Day is the absolute worst.
I was quite ill the next day, shivering from fever in 30-plus degree heat, but still I decided it would be a good idea to activate my Steam keys and get the download-ball rolling, since ADSL2+ internet would take many hours to download the 40GB game. Upon entering the key however, I was prompted that I had activated a vanilla copy of Infinite Warfare, with no copy of Modern Warfare Remastered mentioned at all. Was I missing a code, like I originally thought? Did my shivering, feverish hands miraculously type the exact incorrect digits matching someone else’s yet-to-be-purchased vanilla copy? Am I magic?!
After doing some research, namely asking some more hardcore PC gamer mates of mine, I found out that yes, there’s only a single code for both Infinite Warfare and Modern Warfare Remastered but I had indeed been given the wrong key for the copy I’d purchased. Now I don’t know about any of you, but returning a PC game to a shop is pretty hard to do, especially when it isn’t faulty, as once the keys are activated they can’t be resold by the retailer. But I had to go back and try, especially since I went back on the day to specifically ask them to make sure everything was correct so this exact thing wouldn’t happen.
Thankfully the EB staff were incredibly accommodating, offering to exchange the key for the correct one. Sadly they didn’t have the correct one, so they refunded my purchase, knowing full well that means they’ve handed me a free copy of Infinite Warfare since it was already in my Steam library. If I was a complete turd-burger and was one of those people who activates Steam keys and then makes up reasons to refund them back at stores, this would have been a huge win. Props to the EB staff for taking the hit and rectifying the issue, but also this whole thing started because they messed up in the first place so let’s not get lost in praise here.
Free copies of Infinite Warfare are great and all, but I still didn’t have my Modern Warfare Remastered. So to avoid the risk of misplaced Steam keys again, I figured I’d buy the Legacy Edition in the Steam Winter Sale, as the exchange rates added up to the same price and I still had to download the game anyway.
But that’s when Steam decided to throw a completely bullshit roadblock in front of me: as I already had Infinite Warfare in my library, I wasn’t allowed to buy it again, even when it’s a different edition with extra content.
So while it was all well and good that EB refunded my purchase, their mistake had created a scenario where I was incapable of purchasing Modern Warfare Remastered. Even if I went to another EB and found a proper Legacy Edition, who knows whether or not Steam wouldn’t let me activate the key at all. I could throw my wallet at the screen as much as I wanted to, Steam wouldn’t budge.
In desperation, I turned to every PC gamers’ last hope, where the damned go when all other avenues have failed them: Steam Customer Support. *Shudder*
I was essentially asking Steam to refund me a total of zero dollars on a game I had zero play time on so I would give them money they didn’t already have and I could get the same game back. You’d think they’d jump for joy at such a prospect. “Wait, you want us to take a free game away from you so you can give us money to get it back? We’d be crazy not to accept!” But Steam Support being Steam Support, I didn’t hear back from them after several days, so I had to come up with another solution.
It was while complaining about this to a friend of mine that they then gave me the quickest option: make another Steam account, buy it through it and then use Steam’s Family Sharing feature to access it on my personal account. And it worked!
So well done 2016, you got your last “get-reckt” hurrah over me. Now leave us in peace.