For many years now DLC has been used to expand upon a game most commonly adding more story or features. Instead of a developer needing to release a new version of a game, we can now download further content off an online marketplace. For many of us the idea of DLC allows us to get even more out of the games that we already play, G2A, well-known grey market key reseller, took to Twitter to question why we pay for it. While the tweet has now been removed, it read “Why do game creators make us pay for DLC?”
For those who aren’t familiar with G2A and their practices, our Editor in Chief Andrew Otton explained them quite well in his last piece on G2A and why you should be wary of them. I recommend reading the whole article for a better understanding of G2A and its history.
G2A is a third-party site where anyone can come and sell their unwanted, or extra copies of, game keys, whether it’s leftover from some bundle you bought, or what have you. On the surface, sounds like a good idea to let us all make a couple bucks back on codes we would otherwise do nothing with. However, what G2A is often used for, very often in fact, is selling illegally obtained keys. Not only illegally obtained, but the way in which they obtain them directly hurts developers/publishers.
You can find further information on how G2A operates here.
How dare developers try to make money off of the work they do
— Jacksepticeye (@Jack_Septic_Eye) April 15, 2019
Before even delving into why this question being posed by a grey-market reseller is laughable, we’ll first look at the question posed to us: “Why do game creators make us pay for DLC?” As anyone working in any field, though, the answer should be quite obvious. We live in a world where when you do work, and do good work you get paid for it. If I write a news article or publish a review for TechRaptor, I get paid for it. While game development might not be like commissions for an artist, where someone pays for something specific, an artist who displays their work in a gallery hopes to be paid for their time and effort.
There’s even issue in the way that G2A have phrased this question. Even for games that you love, no developer is ever forcing you to purchase DLC. It’s just understood, like everywhere else, if you don’t pay, you don’t play. The entitled mentality that we paid for something once so we should receive every update free of charge, while it would be nice, is incorrect. What we pay for is that game in that state; free DLC and updates are great to get, but what we’re paying for is the developers time and money.
Developers will, in the majority of cases, get their game to a completed state and go Gold. Before internet-enabled consoles and patches, this was generally how we got the game. If a developer wanted to release an update, that would be in a new printing or boxed expansions. G2A and other Twitter users attempted to defend this hot take explaining “don’t sell half a game sell the whole thing.” It would be ignorant to say that we haven’t seen examples of content that was being worked on pre-launch appearing as DLC but to question why we pay for it at all is pure hyperbole. One factor to consider for cosmetic DLC available near or at release, is that towards the end of the development cycle artists have little to work on, thus they can make things to enhance sales and avoid the cycle of being laid off. Destiny saw screenshots and gameplay of The Reef as a hub location well ahead of its initial release. Whether the reef was pushed back because it didn’t make sense for the story, was always planned to be DLC, or because there wasn’t enough time it was still something that a number of developers worked on.
Where a lot of outcries are coming from, though, is the fact that G2A is the one asking this question. G2A is a business that is well known and reviled in the industry, especially for their practices allowing the resale of illegal steam keys. The lifecycle of these keys is that they’re purchased on sale or even through the use of stolen credit cards and then flipped on the G2A marketplace for auction. After having the sales charged back, this leaves the developer with no compensation with the reseller making out with a profit. Developers can then disable those keys revoking access to whoever purchased the game but that still won’t affect the reseller. So here we now have a company that is actively making money on sales that undercut developers prices but also turn a blind eye to illegal keys questioning why developers should expect to be paid for creating further content.
Hey folks, maybe a website that gauges prices on game keys in such a way where basically none of it ever gets back to the devs isn't the most reliable outlet to question the economics of game production, yeah?
— Dan Pearce ? (@GameDesignDan) April 15, 2019
One Twitter user even goes as far as to point out that when searching for “DLC” on G2A you get almost 4K responses. A company supporting the resale of stolen game and DLC keys turning around and accusing game developers of shady practices is the height of hypocrisy. Paid DLC is not only compensation for further time and effort developing additional features but also a new revenue stream for potential losses that companies like G2A cost them. G2A is a company that directly profits from selling keys that the developers see no money for, including reselling DLC. So other underhanded tactics they employ is a paid “Key Protection” program in case one of your purchased keys doesn’t work or is revoked, and even a loot box system where you can pay to get a chance to win games.
So you're gonna stop selling DLC, yeah?
Why would content be free? This is a weird angle to take from a company that, y'know, sells games & DLC (on shaky ethical grounds itself, no less), but paid DLC isn't a problem. Manipulative microtransactions, sure. But DLC as a whole? pic.twitter.com/FhCpwnDcm4
— Ryan Brown ? (@Toadsanime) April 15, 2019
At this point, the best outcome of G2A shining the spotlight on themselves once again is that it will be a chance for more people to learn of their problematic nature. We’ve seen it time and time again in the past, and G2A will continue to harm developers and publishers for their own gains. It’s great to see developers, publishers, and other industry members speaking up in replies to this tweet about their negative practices, but also gamers who want to get the word out and protect an industry that we all love participating in.
While we didn’t want to overflow the article with all of these tweets we’ve included a number for game developers below:
I legitimately do not think anyone complaining about DLC would prefer the alternative, which is that every game takes eight years to make and costs 2-3 times as much
— Christopher (@BunchesOfBees) April 15, 2019
Because we, developpers, are – fasten your seatbelt – human beings, and we have rent and foodies to afford and woaaaah making DLCs ain't free ! 😀
It was an easy question though 🙂
— Skelittle – A Giant Party (@SkelittleParty) April 15, 2019
I feel like G2A trying to take the moral high ground over game devs is the equivalent of Al Capone lobbying for closing tax loopholes. Maybe clean up your own swamp before you worry about the neighbors.
— Nathan Darnold (@gargoranss) April 15, 2019
To recoup some of the money you take away from them. Or maybe because they like to get paid for their work. Should they just work on extra content for free?
— Kevin Purcell ?️ (@grayhaze) April 15, 2019
What do you think of G2A trying to question Paid DLC? Have you had a negative experience with G2A or is this your first experience hearing about them? What has been your favorite response from these twitter chains?