CD-Key | Definition: What is the CD Key?

May 3, 2022 at 9:45 PM in FAQ with no comments

What is a CD Key?


Synonym: CD Key / CDKey / Game Key / Key / Product key / Game Code / Digital Code / Alphanumeric Code / Activation Code / License Key / Activation Key / Digital Key

A CD key is an alphanumeric code that forms a product code or serial number created by a video game publisher.

A CD key will activate a video game, software, subscription, or service when redeemed on a chosen platform.


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A “CD key” is commonly referred to in PC gaming as it serves as proof of an original copy of the game or software.

When activated, the CD key adds the game or product to your library ready for you to download.

Benefits of Buying a CD Key?

  • Pluses:

Purchasing a game key is cheaper than buying a physical copy of a game, and takes up much less space than a physical game.

Once redeemed, the CD key will add the game or piece of software instantly to your library.

Popular PC game libraries include Steam, Origin, Epic Games, GOG, Uplay, and

  • Negatives:

CD keys in the past were often invalid or already redeemed.

CD Keys are a one-time activation code and the game or product can not be transferred to another account once redeemed.

It is impossible to redeem the CD key if the activation code is incomplete or wrong.

Any CD key not linked to an account may need to be entered every time the game is booted, meaning if you lose the key you will no longer have a way to play the game.

If the CD key is incomplete or wrong, you will not be able to redeem, download, or install the game without purchasing or receiving a valid key.

It can happen, as was the case when Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow was released in 2004. All Australian copies of the game were distributed without a CD Key.

This meant that anyone who bought the game in Australia could not activate their game or play it until new ones were sent out.

How To Activate a CD Key?


Activating a game key is a simple process.

You need to have an internet connection to activate your CD key.

We have tutorials on how to activate your CD key on your chosen platform.

Find our tutorials: How to activate a CD Key?


My Game Key Doesn’t Work, What Should I do?


If your game key does not work, there are a few things to check before you should contact customer support.


  • Check for incorrect use of O and 0 
  • Check your spam folder for the code
  • Confirm the transaction completed
  • Check that you are trying to redeem your CD key on the correct platform

Please refer to our CD key activation errors help page if the above solutions don’t work.


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