Purchasing Second-Hand PC Games Online

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This guide is dealing with the purchase of second-hand PC Games online. It covers some of the main points to be aware as there are pitfalls but when you know about them it can lead to better buying of second-hand PC Games online.

Activation Codes

A major thing to be aware of when purchasing second-hand PC Games, is that some second-hand PC Games cannot be practically resold due to them having activation codes. The majority of these games are online multiplayer games for example; Battlefield 2, Everquest II, World of Warcraft etc. These types of games are totally or mostly played online and the game providers use activation codes to control things like piracy and account creations.

Technically the seller can pass on the account details to the purchaser, but if it is such a game you are purchasing then make sure they do, otherwise the game maybe worthless. Also find out, if it’s a Massive Multiplayer Online game like World of Warcraft what the current subscriptions are to play as this is an additional cost to pay on top of the game. Since the game is second-hand (unless never activated) any free time will have likely expired and a subscription is needed to play.

Activation codes are also known as CD/DVD keys and Serial Numbers.


Piracy is a real issue when purchasing any PC Game. To avoid potential pirates, always make sure the game is pictured with the contents of the box/case displayed. There should be CD/DVDs, a manual (for budget games though like platinum series the manual is in electronic form on the disk to save cost) and the original packaging. CD/DVDs are easily copied even to the detail of a hard to pick disk screen-print. Ensuring the other items are included minimises the risk of purchasing pirated goods as the manual and packaging reproduction would likely make the game sale unprofitable for them unless they are trying to pass it off at a new game price.

The another reason to make sure you don’t purchase pirated games, is again the activation code, many games even non online ones use this code to enable the purchaser of a game to access extended features. Of these features the most important is upgrades and patches to the game. Pirated games will often use “cracks”, programs that overcome anti-piracy measures in the game. However these programs are often reliant on a specific version of the game and will likely fail if the game is patched or upgraded. Meaning a purchaser of a pirated game that uses anti-piracy measures like a CD/DVD check will never be able to upgrade the game from its base version supplied on the CDs, unless they themselves track down and use another “crack”, which is illegal.

Pirated games can come with activation codes however you will likely find them useless when trying to play online or for other game features.

Game Requirements

The advertised game should list the minimum and recommended game requirements to run the game as supplied by the game maker. These are listed on the game packaging. It is your responsibility to ensure that you can run the game and a seller is not at fault if they’ve supplied the correct game requirements. You can double check the requirements by visiting the website of the game where it should be listed.

Your PC should at least meet the recommended requirements of the game, as the minimum specifications, while they will often run the game it will be a sub par experience. Video Cards and RAM (your computers memory) are often the main areas of underperformance in most new games.

Although uncommon for sale now old games that ran on DOS or a game makers variant of DOS will often not work at all or as intended on operating systems like Windows 2000 and XP. Technically minded people can get them to work sometimes but even then problems can arise. Also alot of newer games list the only supported operating system as Windows XP, if you have Windows 2000 there is a good chance it will run but it is not guaranteed or supported by the game maker.

Check that the game is an expansion or not. Expansions often require a copy of the original game to use, for example: Diablo II Lords of Destruction, Warcraft III Frozen Throne, Everquest expansions etc. An expansion that requires the original game is of no use by itself. The requirements of the game should note whether the original game is needed or not, as sometimes expansions or combination of expansions can include it as well.

Many current games are coming out on DVD, so if you don’t have a DVD-ROM in your PC make sure the game you are buying is in CD format.


Don’t be put off by the suggestions I have made, as purchasing second-hand PC Games is still easy to do. However purchasers and sellers alike should know some of the major points regarding the trade of second-hand PC Games.

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