Invalid CD Key for Skyrim?

Hey Everyone!

If you’re just here to find out what to do about an invalid CD Key, please jump down to where it says in giant purple letters: WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CD KEY IS INVALID. If however you want to read about my experience, read on from here! Oh, and this is for the PC version.

So, recently I finally decided to cave and buy Skyrim. For those of you who don’t know what Skyrim is, it’s entire title is: “The Elder Scrolls V: Skryim.” There are add-on versions of Skyrim now but this is the original. Skryim is part of the Elder Scrolls series but don’t get confused. It’s just number 5.

Skryim is a role-playing game just like the other Elder Scrolls. You don’t have to have the other Elder Scrolls in order to play Skyrim or to understand what’s going on. Skyrim is its own independent game.

The premise to Skyrim: “Dragons, long lost to the passages of the Elder Scrolls, have returned to Tamriel and the future of the Empire hangs in the balance. As Dragonborn, the prophesized hero born with the power of The Voice, you are the only one who can stand amongst them.”

Skyrim is absolutely HUGE. It will take you forever to finish the game. The plot is extremely long. The graphics are beautiful. There are many, many places to adventure to. Many skills you learn and level up. It’s an amazing game.

If you want to preview it, there are a TON of Play-With-Mes on YouTube for it. My personal favorite is Luke Conard’s: He has a whole series on Skyrim and his commentary is hilarious, in my opinion.

So after seeing Skyrim played by a few different people, I knew that I wanted it. And EVEN BETTER, Target was having a sale on it in my area this past week. I didn’t find out about the sale until Saturday night which was the final day of it. So after rushing home from work (of which I didn’t get off until 9:30, and for those of you who don’t know, Target closes at 10), I had had to stop at 2 different Targets before I found the last copy that a store had that I was able to purchase. Note:Skyrim is rated M. If you are underage, you will not be able to purchase the game. Target even scans your Drivers License to validate that you are old enough to purchase it. The M rating is for: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, and Use of Alcohol.

I was SO excited to get home and play it. So after loading it in my computer, and started the installation, it pops up with the screen that requires your Cd Key Code. “No big deal,” I think because it’s printed on a label directly beneath the CD. Except IT WAS A BIG DEAL. Because my CD Key was INVALID. Of course, I tried everything. I typed it without the hyphens. With the hyphens. With the capitals. Without the capitals. With the caps lock on. With the cap locks off. Typing just the first three sections of numbers/letters. Just the last three. None of them worked. So finally I got onto the Steam website and saw that there was a section on Invalid CD Keys. I figured out that mine had to be one of them. I contacted both Steam (the one that runs the PC versions) and Bethesda (the actual publisher) through e-mail and explained my situation. Both of them replied within a day, Steam giving me a customer service number to call for them to handle it because they confirmed I was given an invalid key, and Bethesda requesting a whole slew of information:

Hello XXXXX,

If your code is invalid, please verify first that you are entering it correctly in-game. If you receive a message that the code is invalid, you have misplaced, lost your code, or did not receive one with your purchase, read the following:
Please note that rented copies or used copies are not eligible for a code. The code is only provided for the original purchaser of a new game purchase. If you purchased a new sealed copy of the game for Windows, Xbox 360 or Playstation 3, and it was missing the sheet with the code. please provide the following in order to obtain any appropriate codes.

– A dated proof of purchase (receipt, invoice) showing the purchase of a NEW copy of the game(not a rented or used copy, nor a copy purchased from Ebay).
– Was the game shrink-wrapped like new at the time of purchase?
– A scan of the package and game disc(s) and the code sheet.
– What country was the game purchased in?
– What country are you in?
– What country is your Console account based in?

If you need further assistance, you can also reach us online at or our technical support staff at (410)-568-3685. Please include all previous replies when/if responding to this message.

SO, I took pictures of everything I was asked for and extras of everything I could think of. I replied to the e-mail answering all of the questions. After all of this, I got an e-mail saying the EXACT SAME THING from a different employee, like he never even read what I had responded. I also had included the previous conversation with my original employee I spoke to like it was requested at the end of the e-mail.

Therefore, I decided to just call the number Steam gave me. The number was essentially to Bethesda Technical Support. After speaking to an employee there, I was told to send a separate e-mail with just a picture of the receipt and the invalid CD Key and to call back in about a half hour and they would tell me what to do next. I did what he asked and called back in about 20 minutes because they were going to be closing. I spoke to a different employee this time and after giving him my case number, he said he needed to put me on hold to speak to his supervisor but that it looked like everything he needed was there. After he spoke to his supervisor, he told me he’d be sending me an e-mail with a valid key. Which he did within 10 minutes and now I am successfully downloading Skyrim as I’m writing this.

So, my whole point in writing this is to help people like me because it was crazy trying to Google and figure out what was wrong with my CD Key. I’ve had a ton of Sims games with keys and never had this problem and didn’t really know what to do.


1. Of course, make sure that you’re typing everything correctly. YOU WILL NEED CAPS AND THE HYPHENS PROVIDED. DON’T TAKE THEM OUT. Also, Steam has this thing where if you have the letter O, type a Q instead. It’s weird. It’s on the Steam website if you search Invalid CD Keys. Also there will be a link directly on the setup if your key is said to be invalid.

2. The fact is that there are retail copies that were shipped with invalid CD codes. Mine had 25 characters and looked like this: XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX. That’s not a valid code from my understanding when talking to Bethesda Technical Support. At least not a valid code for the PC version. You should have 15 characters like this: XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX. My replacement code given was in that format.

3. If you bought a used copy, YOUR CODE WILL NOT WORK. Because it’s already been activated. If you bought it from Ebay, they won’t help you either from my understanding. Only brand new copies are able to receive new codes if the others are invalid.

4. The easiest thing you can do is to call Bethesda Technical Support: (410) 568-3685. They’re based in Maryland and are open 9-5 EST. When you call, you’ll be able to select which game you are calling about and which version of the game (XBOX 360, PS3, or PC). They’ll connect you to a person that even speaks ENGLISH right! You’ll just have to answer if you’ve called them before, what your name is, your phone number, your e-mail. Basic stuff. Explain to them that you have an invalid CD key. Most likely, they’ll tell you to send a picture or a scan of the receipt and the invalid CD key. SEND YOUR E-MAIL TO: [email protected]. The employee I spoke to originally didn’t give me a specific e-mail to send my pictures to but I think that’s because I said I’d already tried to fix this through e-mail but just decided to call because it was easier. The easiest thing for you to do for them is to type YOUR CASE NUMBER in the subject box along with a small explanation, i.e. Case #XXXXXX Pictures to Replace My Invalid CD Key. The employee should give you your case number before hanging up with you. If not, be sure to ask for it.

5. Call them back in the allotted time. Give them your case number when they ask for it once you tell them you’ve called before. They’ll send you an e-mail to the e-mail you gave for your case with a valid code as long as everything you sent looks okay.

All in all, it’s an easy process. Both employees I spoke to on the phone were very nice. I have no complaints. The e-mails however kind of ticked me off because I already sent all the information and just got the same standard e-mail reply back. And they obviously don’t need all that information with the multitudes of pictures because the phone employees didn’t request it. It’s much easier to speak to them on the phone.

Well, I hope this was helpful to some of you! I will now be playing my Skyrim! Ta-ta!