It’s been a fairly rough few months for key reseller G2A. The company has always been criticised for what the majority of the industry perceive as fairly shady business practices, but things have really come to a head of late.
Back in July, a number of developers and publishers called G2A out over social media after the company started an ad push that has saw links to the G2A store appear on Google above various publishers’ own links. Publisher Mike Rose made it clear that he’d rather see his games pirated than obtained via G2A, a sentiment that others in the industry agreed with.
In the latest episode of Fuck G2A:
G2A has taken out sponsored ads on Google, which mean that when you search for our games, you get G2A popping up above our own links — and we make zero money on our games if people buy through the ads.
And when you try to turn their ads off… pic.twitter.com/hSiIkaOLle
— Mike Rose is in Shanghai then PAX West (@RaveofRavendale) June 29, 2019
In an effort to put out this PR fire, G2A then reached out to a number of journalists with a pre-written article, asking various sites to publish it without disclosing that it was sponsored or associated with G2A in any way. Obviously, nobody went in for this.
A spokesperson for the company claimed this move was from an “employee without authorization,” and blasted it as “unacceptable.” This did nothing to quell the anger around G2A, and the company’s efforts to rebrand itself as a more ethical platform are ongoing.
One of the ways in which G2A is attempting to distance itself from its current public image is with a key-blocking tool which developers could use to provide the marketplace with a list of keys it doesn’t want resold on the platform, meaning various keys (such as review codes) would automatically be flagged and blocked from sale.
G2A said it’d only make the tool if 100 developers or more signed up for it before August 19, as it would be ‘expensive to develop’. Unfortunately, according to an update posted by the company earlier this week, only around 19 developers have signed up so far.
In light of this… lukewarm response, G2A has announced it plans to extend the deadline to the end of August, giving any developers who want to know more about the key-blocking tool a chance to ask questions at Gamescom next week.
It’s unlikely that G2A will win over another 80-plus developers in a matter of weeks, but the recent announcement and subsequent coverage (via PCGamer) attracted the attention of Unknown Worlds Entertainment founder Charlie Cleveland, who has claimed over twitter that the reseller owes his company $300,000.
It’s a load of crap that this tool would be ‘expensive’ to develop. It’s also suspect how they are pushing the names of developers who don’t want their games to be sold on their service—it’s almost like they want blowback from players who don’t understand the shadiness of their service and be encouraged to review bomb those developers. It’s also terrible to put the impetus on developers to have to take action with G2A to get this proposal moving in the first place, while G2A profits off gray-market sales and credit card fraud.
— Charlie Cleveland (@Flayra) August 12, 2019
Cleveland then called out G2A’s recent offer to refund developers ten times what they lose to chargebacks caused by fraud, explaining that since Unknown Worlds has had to pay $30,000 in credit chargebacks as a result of G2A, the company now owes them $300,000.
Unknown Worlds had to pay these fees back in 2013 following the release of Natural Selection 2, after deactivating over 1300 game keys that were purchased with stolen credit cards before being resold through key resellers such as G2A.
We paid $30,000 to deal with credit card chargebacks because of G2A … So, G2A, if you really want to put your money where your mouth is, you will now pay us (Unknown Worlds) $300,000.
Unknown Worlds is far from the only publisher to attempt to take G2A up on its refund offer, but it remains to be seen if the reseller will indeed stay true to its word if $300,000 is on the table.
Since publishing this story, both G2A and Cleveland have responded, with the latter admitting he got it wrong. G2A denied being responsible for the stolen keys Cleveland mentioned, as G2A launched in 2014 and the stolen keys were pinched and sold before March 8, 2013.
In light of this, Cleveland told Kotaku that “it does appear G2A is right.”They weren’t the source of these original $30k keys. It doesn’t LOOK like they were selling gray-market keys at the time we had all those chargebacks. But they’ve been doing it ever since.”
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Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.