Deep Silver has issued a warning to Steam users after it deactivated Metro Exodus keys that were stolen from a factory.
In a post on Steam, the publisher said it had been made aware of illegal stolen keys for 4A Games' post-apocalyptic adventure, which were then sold by an unofficial key reseller.
The Steam version of Metro Exodus was available for pre-order until 28 January 2019 directly via the Steam store. No official Steam keys were available to purchase separately (Humblebundle and the Razer store were the only supported key sellers for Metro Exodus outside the Epic Games store upon launch).
These illegal keys, Deep Silver added, were stolen from the factory where physical key printing had taken place prior to the controversial announcement of timed-exclusivity with Epic Games.
Deep Silver explained the keys found in the physical editions printed at the factory in question were missing executable files "as they were not meant to be released".
Deep silver was then moved to issue a statement on Steam after users complained they couldn't launch the game.
"We were not aware that they had gotten into the wrong hands," Deep Silver said of the stolen keys. "The binaries were disabled on these keys from the beginning, the community brought it to our attention that the games they had from the reseller were not updating. After an investigation we have become aware that they were stolen."
Deep Silver said it had deactivated all the unlicensed keys, meaning activation and download of Metro Exodus without the executable file is no longer possible. And, the game will be removed from the Steam library of any players who used an unauthorised code. "The keys being sold on this platform are stolen goods, and are therefore illegal," Deep Silver said.
"If you have been affected we strongly recommend you contact the seller who sold you the unlicensed key and demand a refund."
Metro Exodus will return to Steam after 14th February 2020.