G2A Dismisses Allegations By TotalBiscuit, Gearbox Software
G2A TotalBiscuit
(Last Updated On: April 10, 2017)

[Disclosure: We have run G2A ads on this site in the past]

G2A sent over an official statement to the press about the allegations made about fraudulent keys being sold on the marketplace, issues surrounding the G2A Shield pricing, and the lack of transparency that developers have in policing content being sold on the digital marketplace.

The whole press statement that G2A sent us is four pages long.

The PR explained the reason why the statement was delayed, and why G2A didn’t immediately respond, saying…

“[…] the reason for our delayed response is actually completely different. Instead of reacting immediately, we want to take this opportunity to thoroughly explain many of the misconceptions that have arisen over the years.”

One of the four ultimatums set forward by Gearbox Software for G2A in terms of altering their policies related to making their consumer protection service, G2A Shield, free.

In the press statement, G2A explains that the G2A Shield offers a good “value” for its price, and that it allows users access to a service representative 24/7 in order to resolve issues quickly and efficiently. They claim that they will continue to charge for the service, and that those who don’t want to use it can continue to use their customer support services, wherein they will attempt to resolve issues.

Another ultimatum set forward by Gearbox Software was that developers need access to the backend of G2A in order to remove keys that are flagged as fraudulent. Gearbox also wanted G2A to implement a flagging and report system for resellers, so developers can flag and report these sellers and have their accounts banned from the site.

According to G2A, they have their own royalty program and they state that any developers not part of the royalty program will not be gaining access to their backend. In the press statement, they explain…

“The developers would like to control the market and all the sales channels within it, imposing higher prices and prohibiting the resale of unused games. G2A.COM does not agree with this – we respect the buyers’ rights, buyers who often unfortunately believe that the rules set forth by developers follow the law.

 

“This is why G2A.COM will not give developers with whom we have not signed an agreement unlimited access to and the ability to modify our databases. G2A.COM has to protect every honest seller, and by giving such access to all developers, we would allow for a situation in which a developer could delete every key on our marketplace regardless of its origin. Such an action would be damaging to the industry, to gamers, and illegal.”

It is true that a lot of resellers on G2A undercut market value prices by a significant amount. If developers had access to stop these keys from being sold at those prices, it would mean more even market prices on G2A that you normally see on Steam or GOG.com.

Previously the indie studio TinyBuild decried G2A’s practices because they claimed that thousands of fraudulent keys were being sold through G2A and they weren’t getting a cut of the revenue. The issue started last year during the summer, and it became so heated that it lasted all the way up until this year’s recent GDC event, where a G2A employee accosted the discussion about fraud and market pricing, as reported by PC GamesN.

Essentially, a lot of developers seem to feel as if the keys being sold on G2A have been acquired by illicit means and they want more detailed information on being able to verify the veracity of the keys.

Other publishers, like Ubisoft, ran into an issue back in 2015 where they ended up deactivating various keys for games like Watch Dogs, Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed after reports of fraud popped up from people who purchased keys from G2A, as reported by Crave Online.

The most recent controversy popped up when Gearbox initially signed a deal to sell Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition‘s Collector’s Edition through G2A, just until TotalBiscuit claimed that he would not be supporting Gearbox or playing anymore of their games if they continued to support and partner with G2A.

Gearbox then spoke with TotalBiscuit about the issue and came up with the ultimatum for G2A. They had just a couple of days to issue a response in acknowledging an ultimatum to change around how their business operated or Gearbox threatened to pull the plug on the Bulletstorm partnership. G2A didn’t respond in time so Gearbox pulled the plug.

G2A has now issued their side of the story, and they ended the press statement by saying…

”[…] we respect our critics and believe that they have the good of the industry at heart. Unfortunately, sometimes they do not understand how G2A.COM works and as such this misunderstanding causes them to mislead the public about our company. The best proof of this are the four ultimatums formulated in part by John Bain, which, it turns out that were completely unnecessary as all of the issues raised have long been a part of the G2A.COM marketplace. Most of the allegations levied against us are based on both a lack of knowledge, and a lack of desire to learn the other side of the story.”

The claims and arguments about G2A and the gray market facilitation of game key resellers has been going on for years. The company has made some changes to their policies following certain controversies, but comes under fire for other similar issues.

As it stands it appears as if Gearbox won’t be partnering with G2A anymore.


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About

Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

  • Disqusted

    Steam was telling me that TotalBiscuit recommended BulletStorm. I’m not interested in that game at all, and I have an extremely low opinion of GearBox. Don’t like any of their games, and they keep acting like assholes.

  • LurkerJK

    They could make g2a unviable if they stopped the regional unfairness and dropped the prices of games slowly and permanently instead of keeping them at 60usd and doing 80% discounts randomly

    Their abusive business allows g2a existence and time is not in their favor. g2a keeps growing while the accusations fall on deaf ears, the customer cares mainly about price

    • This right here.

      At the end of the day G2A is catering toward the marketplace of consumers, not developers, not publishers, not streamers, not YouTubers, but consumers.

      So long as people keep buying from G2A (and with their region-free style pricing, it’s extremely enticing for gamers facing off against ridiculous regional overages) it’s easy to see why G2A stays in business.

      In a way, it’s both a foil for piracy (you get a legitimate copy of the game) and a foil for traditional digital marketplaces. Short of being sued out of existence, I tend to doubt G2A is going anywhere.

      • Elilla Shadowheart

        Remember when they said digital distribution would drop game costs? Pepperidge Farm remembers. They as you pointed out dug their own grave on it, and I can’t blame people for taking this route even if it hurts developers.

  • giygas

    those small-time indie devs are just greedy we dindu nuffin

    I think TotalBiscuit was referring to keys that obtained via fraud with stolen credit cards. When the charges are inevitably reversed, it’s the merchant that gets dinged with some pretty big fees and a net negative on the fraudulent purchases. Or the indie devs themselves if they sell the keys on through their own site. To insinuate that the problem indie devs have with it is that they aren’t getting a cut of the profit is highly disingenuous.

    Bonus reading: User proves G2A’s verification process is snake oil, gets account banned and money stolen in retaliation.
    https://www.reddit.com/r/pcmasterrace/comments/5rm2f7/g2a_has_flaw_in_their_system_pointed_out_to_them/?st=j1cua6lh&sh=296bbc23
    http://imgur.com/gQhoEmH

    Seriously, how the fuck would an unaffiliated third party like G2A be able to “verify” a key wasn’t fraudulently obtained or fake? You don’t need proof to know they’re full of shit.

    • mikebrand83

      Exactly. Plenty of game devs and publishers used to be quite happy to provide customers with bonus Steam keys when you buy from them directly. MangaGamer for example, used to give out Steam keys for the “all ages” versions of their titles when you buy the 18+ versions from them.

      But over the last few years, that practice has almost completely died out thanks to getting hammered by chargeback fraud… As some devs/publishers have pointed out, you might as well outright pirate the games, since piracy only cost them “potential” sales, while chargeback fraud actually results in tangible losses with only the credit card thieves and the “grey” resellers profiting.

      • giygas

        On a side note, I heard Humble Bundle’s widget is the way to go if an indie dev wants to sell on their own site. Unlike Paypal, they have fraud protection for the seller.

      • LurkerJK

        How common is this fraud? Did they ever publish numbers ?

        • mikebrand83

          MangaGamer alleged that they were getting slugged US$30 in chargeback fees alone per US$40 title (so they would effectively lose US$70 on each such fraudulent game purchase), though I can’t seem to find any exact numbers of how much they lost.
          Much as I loath quoting them on anything, Kotaku did have a decent write up and some details on this:
          https://archive.is/pHfdp

          Denpasoft (aka the 18+ branch of Sekai Project) also stopped the practice of giving out complementary Steam keys, after flat out stating that $30,000 worth of keys was stolen from them, though they didn’t say anything about how much they lost in chargeback fees (but ballpark of $22,500, using MG’s numbers as a benchmark):
          https://denpasoft.com/news/complementary-steam-keys-removed-from-titles/

          And here’s the developer of Defender’s Quest explaining why he’d prefer you to just pirate their games (including linking a Google search with “defender’s quest dx torrent” as the key words), rather than enabling profit from theft:
          http://www.fortressofdoors.com/g2a-piracy-and-the-four-currencies/

          • LurkerJK

            $30,000 ? most publishers would not bother making a call of that kind of money

            G2A is increasingly appearing everywhere, they would have to make far far more than that sort of cash to pay for that marketing

            And anyway, thinking as one of those “crooks”, why risk doing something illegal with the cashback when you can buy keys from a russian or brazilean seller for like 40% of the usa price and then resell them for 70% of the usa price or buy keys for stupidly cheap bundles/discounts and resell them when they are not being discounted and thats perfectly legal ?

            The fraud is bullshit but i doubt its the biggest chunk of their market, seems like its just their only true weak point so publishers and devs keep hammering them there, they want to make it sound like they are ALL fraudulent keys

            Tinybuild in particular were screaming after they put the game into a heavy discount and then decided to raise it back to full price, creating a price gap for all those ppl that bought the game for the discount to resell those keys, there was nothing illegal there, just stupid ideas leading to bad results

          • mikebrand83

            $30,000 ? most publishers would not bother making a call of that kind of money

            US$30,000 might not be much relative to the total budgets of big publishers, but it’s a pretty heavy burden for smaller ones. It’s not like the chargebacks happens instantly either, devs/publishers could be budgeting and working a month or two later based on having $30,000 in their revenue stream, only to suddenly find themselves $52,500 in the hole instead.

            You also have to consider how this affects their relations with payment processors. MangaGamer ended up with virtually no income for a couple of months during the search for a new payment processor, all the while still having to pay their business expenses for that period (and chargeback fees as cherries on top).

            And anyway, thinking as one of those “crooks”, why risk doing something illegal with the cashback

            And why wouldn’t credit card thieves risk doing something illegal to launder the proceeds of their crime into cash? Even if the credit cards are cancelled, it’s the devs and publishers that the keys were purchased from that gets slugged, while the thieves have already resold the keys and made a profit.

            The fraud is bullshit but i doubt its the biggest chunk of their market, seems like its just their only true weak point so publishers and devs keep hammering them there, they want to make it sound like they are ALL fraudulent keys

            Except instead of making any genuine attempt to fix that “weak point” and shutting up the critics with action, they happily make a buck off it instead with the “G2A Shield”.

            Outside of hyperbole, no one is arguing that “ALL” of the keys dealt by G2A and other grey resellers are fraudulent. The problem is that its fundamental business model is one that encourages and profits from fraud.

          • LurkerJK

            Most ppl avoid doing illegal things when there are alternatives

            Credit card fraud, outside of the problems with the law, will get you flagged and won’t be able to get credit anymore in most countries, you are not going to last long doing it

            You say g2a is not doing anything about it and that probably right (I would assume they are doing the bare minimum the law requires or they would have been sued already) but on the other hand publisher and devs pretend to go in their databases and just flag whatever they feel like while they calculate “losses” using day one full price knowing full well many of those keys were sold legally for a discount

            I have nothing but sympathy for the small devs hit by fraud but those small instances are deviating the main point

            It’s obvious that what they are seeking is a cut of resales even tho the law does not award them one, they got their cut during the first sale

            They create the market when they create price gaps and instead of closing those gaps which would quickly kill key resellers (and be pro consumer) they just want to continue the practice, getting a cut and double dip getting paid twice for a single key

            Lets go back a few years, its 2013, steam sales and AAA humble bundles going strong, common discounts were 20~40%, after a temp discount the permanent prices usually got a smaller discount too, the final sale prices were a lot lower than today, 12 usd for a year old AAA and 5 usd for older were common and the gaps between regular days and sales was small

            What do you get today?, the discounts are much higher, 70, 80, 90% are very common but the base price barelly moves, it stays at full price for several years, specially for AAA, the final sale prices are higher, now its $40-30 for a year old game, $20-10 for older and the gap between regular days and sales is HUGE

            Add the disparity between Euro and USD prices to that and some countries (like Brazil, Mexico and the ex soviet states) get special discounts you can exploit with a proxy and suddenly reselling keys is much more profitable than before

          • mikebrand83

            Credit card fraud, outside of the problems with the law, will get you flagged and won’t be able to get credit anymore in most countries, you are not going to last long doing it

            I suspect you’re misunderstanding this point. I’m not talking primarily of people using their own credit cards to do this, though there will almost certainly be a few of those type too.

            The fraud I was referring to is such as using stolen credit card details sold and traded on the darknet and other underground communities (something that, as a whole, forms a multi-billion per year black market industry)… Not to mention​ credit cards that have been physically stolen.

            In this case, be used to bulk purchase game keys, which are then promptly put onto grey markets like G2A and it’s sister sites to be resold.

            So what happens when the theft is discovered and the owner disputes unauthorised transactions, or sometimes with the chargeback deliberately initiated by the thieves themselves? The devs and publishers suddenly find the revenue they thought they earned suddenly disappear, along with getting slugged with chargeback fees for their troubles… Meanwhile, the worst that happens to the thieves (while they’re staying under the various authorities’ radar) is that one credit card is discarded and they can just switch to the next, all the while laundering their fraud into profit, and the middleman takes a cut.

            P.S.
            You don’t have to sell me on the idea of disliking unfair regional pricing. You’re talking to an Aussie here, we know what it’s like to get screwed over up, down and sideways on “regional” pricing. It’s just that as somebody who’ve studied accounting, I suppose I tend to be a bit more sympathetic than average towards small businesses (that often operate on far narrower margins than what most people expect).