Genba Digital is a tech developer from the UK whose killer app is what they call a game-changing digital distribution activation system. Dubbed the Silent Key Activation, it aims to be the future of digital distribution. It has been designed and engineered in collaboration with Ubisoft. Using Genba’s proprietary technology developed with the GENBA platform, the end result is a solution that aims to reduce the risk of abuse in key purchasing and reselling, while also providing gamers with a friction-free checkout and activation experience. It will also aim to reduce the e-tailer’s need for operational and technical logistics, by enabling the automatic and secure delivery of the game to the customer’s Uplay account.
All of this means that the e-tailer (such as Humble or Fanatical) would never have to hold or handle the keys themselves. Genba Digital CEO Matt Murphy said of the system:
As part of our dedication to the secure delivery of PC Games, introducing the Silent Key Activation solution around the globe for the distribution of Ubisoft content means a smoother transaction for consumers and peace-of-mind for Etailers. We are thrilled to be collaborating with Ubisoft on this game-changing mode of digital distribution.
He also explained how it works to GamesIndustry.biz in simpler terms:
If someone goes on a website like Fanatical and buys a Ubisoft product, it will take them through the checkout process, then ask you to enter your UPlay account — if you don’t have one, it asks you to set one up. The game is then automatically activated in Uplay. Fanatical doesn’t get a key, and neither does the player. They just log into Uplay and the game is there, as if they bought it from the Uplay Store.
While this will facilitate Ubisoft’s dealings with all third-party e-tailers, the main goal, however, is to crack down on illegal and grey market resellers, such as the infamous G2A.
It’s preventing keys being bandied around the market, so they can’t be resold. I suppose you could sell your account, but they’d pick up on that and that’s a very messy way of reselling games.
This will also help legitimate e-tailers to “build up their reputation as legitimate sales only.” The partnership with Ubisoft now has Genba handling the Silent Key Activation system for 10 e-tailers, among them Fanatical, GamersGate and Games Republic. Other e-tailers such as Green Man Gaming already do it directly with similar technology. Beyond this application, Murphy goes as far as to predict the complete “eradication of the boxed product” in the PC market.
Publishers can get rid of physical goods and that will make it easier, because technology can always handle that much more effectively. It’s frustrating that it hasn’t happened quicker, but it will happen as technology catches up and we gradually move to wholly digital and keyless. Where do we go from there? Who knows.
Since Ubisoft is one of the few companies to have a modestly thriving digital distribution platform of their own, much like Electronic Arts and CD Projekt, this presents another wild variable in the great digital distribution platform wars of the 2020s.
What do you think of this technology? Is it possible to retain a legal grey market of key reselling, or is it a passing fad of the 2010s? Let us know in the comments below!