In what has not been a great couple of weeks for G2A it seems that they're once again in the spotlight as the founder of Unknown Worlds, Charlie Cleveland, has asked that G2A reimburse them $300,000 for the damages that their game being sold on the Grey Market platform caused them. This request is based on a statement that G2A gave to GamesIndustry.biz that they would "pay developers ten times the money they lost."
Illegal chargebacks and a false solutionEverything began in Early July when G2A was publically called out by Mike Rose, co-founder of No More Robots. Using their own information and G2A's provided data they were able to confirm that 5% of the initial month's sales of Descenders came from G2A. After explaining the damage that something like this could cause not only in monetary value but in the "perception of value." In response to this G2A pledged to pay developers back 10 times the amount that they lost on chargebacks from illegal keys that were sold on their platform, this process simply required an independent audit of the developer's store and the G2A marketplace. The second part to G2A attempting to resolve their well-found publicity was to create a key-blocking tool that will potentially stop this illegal key reselling going forward. The catch was that they were only going to go through with it if 100 developers sign up for the program within a month otherwise it wasn't worth the money to develop. The date passed yesterday and with only 19 developers signed up G2A announced that they would push back the signup date in hopes to receive 80 signatures in under 20 days.
It was on GameIndustry.biz' news post on the 19 developer sign-ups that Charlie Cleveland thanked G2A for their generosity linking to his comment describing a "gross company" and that it shouldn't be on the developers to have to start this process themselves to make money back while they enjoy the grey-market earnings. He continues on to question the motives of G2A requiring developers to sign up for a process that will allow them to protect their own property. If G2A is truly aware that this is an issue and is willing to stake hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line then surely "it's a load of crap that this tool would be 'expensive' to develop."
This amount is based upon the 1341 Natural Selection 2 Steam keys that Valve had to deactivate after purchases were made using stolen credit cards. For the keys that were still sitting on the G2A marketplace, it means that they won't activate if they're purchased, but for anyone who purchased these fraudulent codes, they'll find their access revoked. For those that purchased the games and had their access revoked Unknown Worlds suggests talking with the store that they purchased the keys from.
While Unknown Worlds is the latest to take G2A up on this offer it was actually Factorio developer Wube Software who were the first to try to make back the money that was lost on chargebacks. All of the information that they gathered on how their own games were being sold on G2A was bundled into one of their official blog posts. It was first reported by Wube that they had begun the process back in July when the process was first announced but the latest news from them was from August 19th and that G2A will "start contacting some audit companies, and that it will 'take some time." Right now, apparently G2A is reaching out to independent auditors to find one who will take the job. At this point, we can only wait to see if this process truly begins.
What is G2A?G2A is an online storefront that allows users to sell game keys and product codes that haven't been activated. While on the surface level the idea of taking a key that has been paid for that you haven't used and passing it on might seem ok a lot of the issue with G2A stems from keys that have been purchased in bulk using stolen credit card information, and then the resale of keys acquired through bundle deals that undercut the retail price, or they're keys. If you want to learn more be sure to check out our explanation of the whole process.
Are you shocked by how much a developer stands to lose from their games appearing on G2A? Do you think a developer should need to be the one to reach out to Grey Market resellers? What do you think could be done to fix this issue? Let us know in the comments below!