I'm Pitting Valve/Steam/Empire: Total War problem

I had wanted to get Empire:Total War for my computer. However, not wanting to spend the full retail price if I could help it, I went on ebay, and found a used copy (the seller couldn’t get it to work on his or her computer, because it’s pretty hardware intensive, and of course, most computer stores won’t take back open software). Anyway, I won the auction, and managed to save about fifteen bucks, or so I thought.

Fast forward to today, when I got the game in the mail. So, tonight, I decide to try to install it. Now, it used to be in the old days, you’d put the disk/CD in the drive, install it, and away you go. But with Empire: Total War, you don’t get to do that. Apparently, because of software piracy and such, the game uses a program called “Steam”. You need to download this Steam program, and set up an account on their servers. You then have to enter in this cd registration code, and only then will it let you install the program.

So I download the Steam program, set up an account, and enter in the CD registration code. It then gives me an error, saying, “Hey, this registration code has already been registered with another account. Contact tech support”. Now, this makes sense, because, of course, the person who had the game originally had to install it on their computer to find out it didn’t work.

So, I go to the Steam customer support website, and it tells me that I can solve the problem by requesting that the CD code be reassigned from the old Steam id to my new Steam id. But, it tells me, in order to do that, I need to send them a few things, including a scanned copy of the retail receipt, and it warns me that receipts from auction websites, such as ebay, aren’t acceptable.

So, in effect, I’ve just spent $35 on a game manual, a map, and 2 large coasters/small frisbees. I’ve contacted Steam tech support, but they’ll likely tell me they can’t help me. So, needless to say, I’m annoyed, and I would recommend to anyone that if there is a game you’d like to buy that does use Steam for verification, you not buy the game from e-bay or any sort of used copy of the game, as you will likely not be able to install or use it.

I put off installing that game for three days as I kept trying to figure out a way to eel around that Steam bullshit. Sadly, no go - I’m sure someone more tech savvy could have done it, but searching the internet turned up zip.

Anyway that sucks, Captain. You’d think they would be just a bit more reasonable about reselling. I’d keep trying to argue patiently with them about it - if you make enough of a pest of yourself, they might relent.

Best of luck.

Thanks. I’m planning on doing that. I’m also trying to get in touch with the person I bought the thing from, to see if I can use their account to install the game if I need to, because other than those two things, I don’t really know what options I have.

I did go to their customer support forums,and they don’t seem to be reasonable people in that regard, but who knows.

Yeah. I love the TW games, but I haven’t gotten this one and I may not for a couple years because of this whole Steam thing. I’m perfectly willing to pay the company for their work, but I don’t want to be treated like a criminal because of it!

Part of the reason I like the TW games is that they can be easily played on a computer that doesn’t have internet access, since I go for long periods where I don’t have it at home.

Yeah, sorry Captain, but you’re the um… cannon fodder of the Brand New Initiative of publisher bullshit - the generation of id tagged games that absolutely require Steam. In their heads, it’s a twofer : stop piracy AND the used game market. More bucks for us, yay, fuck the customer ! I didn’t know Empire was like that, or else, nevermind how much I waited for that game, I would have just spat at it like I did Bioshock and Spore.

If it comforts you, know that pirates found their way around the red tape in about 25 picoseconds, so I’m quite convinced there’s a workaround somewhere that’ll let you enjoy the game without going through that pile of doodoo.

But I’m afraid we’ll al have to deal with that kind of shit with all our PC games soon enough. I’m starting to believe the paranoid theories about publishers wanting to kill PC gaming once and for all…

That sucks. I for didn’t even know that retail copies of Empire required Steam until I read the fine print on the box on the way home. If they were going to use Steam so heavily they really shouldn’t have made a pseudo-retail version in the first place.

you own a retail copy of the game
you have a legal right to play the game
your copy legally obtained does not work
I have one steam game, I bought it over the steam network and it works well enough but I dont see myself paying for a couple of dvds/coasters so that I can play with steam…that kinda defeats the whole effing point of owning the damn dvds in the first place.

Contact the seller and see if they only used Steam for this game. If they did then ask them for the userid/password they set up. Sign in using this and the registration will be sorted out.

Prolly something in the TOS against trading accounts. So since dude has to go gray he should just use the pirate crack.

Pretty sad, and unethical on Valve’s end, that legitimate game owners have to use cracks.

Isn’t it illegal to prevent legitimate buyers of used software from using it? I thought Autocad or someone had lost a huge lawsuit over this very issue.

The irony is it took hackers 2 hours after release date to crack Empire: Total War. All they’ve succeeded in doing is treating customers like criminals. I had problems getting that game to work too, but I thought Steam doesn’t have phone tech support, neither I guess, does the company that made the game.

If the special forces edition came with it’s own CEO to punch in the face it’d be worth the extra $20.

Last I checked, Valve/Steam is pretty easy-going about moving games from one steam account to the other, PROVIDED that the original guy selling the used copy keeps his retail receipt with him. The primary piracy Steam’s trying to prevent is using a single copy of a game in more than one place simultaneously.

Now I’m going to have to see if it’s possible for me to give away some of my old Steam games just to see if it can still be done.

Steam works great for me in general, though, because I don’t use the used market at all, though. (I’m still atoning for my rampant piracy in my college days, in my mind, and now that part of my job is finding pirate distributors of my company’s software that hits a bit close to the wallet) Given how often I use the in-game chat overlay, I’m actually more disappointed about games I bought outside of Steam (like Bioshock and EVE Online) that I can’t transfer into it.

It is likely that the user probably has a library of games on Steam already, so I doubt that he will want to give you his account info.

I actually like steam. It’s a great service with some drawbacks. I mentioned this on a thread I started a while ago about the good/evils of Steam and one of my top 5 issues was the inability to gift purchased games to others after playing them. It’s all about the publishers wanting to control the second hand market and it sucks.

The biggest problem with the PC second-hand market compared to the console second-hand market has always been the fact that the bits are just bits on a PC.

Frankly, I think Steam would do well to set up their own mini gamestop-style thing whereby one can put up their old games for sale to others for a reduced rate, with Valve maybe taking a slice off the top. On the other hand, they drop their new game prices so relatively fast that it might not be worth it for them.

Yup. Actually, the cracked copy was out there before the Steam download was up and running.

That’s always how it works. For every single “protection” scheme the industry’s come up with in the past, err… century. You’d think they’d got the picture by now : hackers will get their free stuff. Forget about them, and focus on your loyal fans. Hell, most of the hardcore scene guys I’ve known over the years didn’t even play the damned things - they just ripped open the protection scheme, installed it to see if it ran, and then went on to the next.

I swear to Og, I wish someone would hit the entitled fuckwits in every sector of publishing (music, games, books and movies) with a clue by four. In the nuts.

The guy selling it probably knew you’d be screwed. If he doesn’t try to help you out, I’d look into trying to reverse the deal or give him bad feedback.

And customers start avoiding your product because they don’t want to deal with the bullshit. Brilliant!

I still have a bit of my own pirating guilt, but stuff like this makes it go away.


I had problems getting Empire: Total War installed too. I really dislike having to activate or play my games through 3rd party applications. I feel the same about Impulse, which made buying Sins of a Solar Empire: Entrenchment a complete pain in the ass.

And why should I have to register a game on Steam and then log on to Games for Windows Live just to play a game I bought (Dawn of War 2)?

Bah. I wish they’d just be honest about it. It’s blindingly obvious that the pirates have no problem breaking whatever security they add. There has to be another reason they persist.

Yeah, it’s annoying. I actually think Steam is the perfect answer to piracy - it provides convenience to encourange users, rather than use annoying crap that monkeys with your computer and fucks up your optical drives. The resale angle, however, is a load of crap, and companies that simply piggyback retail sales onto the Steam system to take advantage of this silent resale block are acting highly unethically.

In any case, I agree with those saying you should seek redress from the eBay seller. He sold you something you can’t use: first ask him for the receipt, then failing that a refund, and failing that try to get the charge on your C/C reversed. You shouldn’t be out $35, full stop.

The receipt has to be recent, as well: