G2A Accused of Hurting Indie Devs, Once Again

In a new blog post / letter to the press, Alex Nichiporchik, the head of tinyBuild, accuses the G2A online marketplace of enabling credit card thieves and hurting independent game developers. He also tells the tale of his own studio and how their games fared on the infamous website.

g2a gray market economy steam keys

G2A is an online marketplace for game keys.
▼Article Continues Below▼
In a way, it is much like eBay – people who have things to sell gather there and sell them to others, with the site acting as a broker. Also similarly, they are often mentioned in talks about fraudulent sales.

The keys sold on this website often come from limited time, dirt cheap bundles, and sell for half the retail price (or less) once the bundle promotion is over. Game developers are understandably unhappy about this, but there’s nothing to be done about it – they cannot have control over who buys the bundles and for what purpose. Be it personal use or resale for a profit, the keys obtained this way are legitimate.

The problem arises, as Nichiporchik points out, when stolen credit cards are used to buy the games. As soon as the cards are reported stolen, the bank starts issuing chargebacks, but the game keys are already out there, being resold at G2A and similar marketplaces. The developers take a hit, the end users get a cheaper game and someone, somewhere, is getting rich off of other people’s work. Here’s how it went down for Nichiporchik and his team:
For a few months we supported our own little store on tinyBuild.com – just so we can give some discounts to our fans, and do creative giveaways that’d include scavenging for codes. The shop collapsed when we started to get hit by chargebacks. I’d start seeing thousands of transactions, and our payment provider would shut us down within days. Moments later you’d see G2A being populated by cheap keys of games we had just sold on our shop.
After a short back-and-forth with a G2A representative, Nichiporchik found out about 26.000 copies of their games have been sold on the website, grossing around $200.000. None of that money ended up in the developer’s pockets, according to the unfortunate CEO. When asked about where the keys came from and whether there would be compensation for the sold copies, this is what the G2A rep had to say:
So the issue you have pointed to is related to keys you have already sold. They are your partners that have sold the keys on G2A, which they purchased directly from you. If anything this should give you an idea on the reach that G2A has, instead of your partners selling here you could do that directly.

I can tell you that no compensation will be given. If you suspect that these codes where all chargebacks aka fraud/stolen credit card purchases I would be happy to look into that however I will say this requires TinyBuild to want to work with G2A. Both in that you need to revoke the keys you will be claiming as stolen from the players who now own them and supply myself with the codes you suspect being a part of this. We will check to see if that is the case but I doubt that codes with such large numbers would be that way.

Honestly I think you will be surprised in that it is not fraud, but your resale partners doing what they do best, selling keys. They just happen to be selling them on G2A. It is also worth pointing out that we do not take a share of these prices, our part comes from the kickback our payment providers.
It seems like the only way to dissuade users from buying keys from resellers is by deactivating the ones that were fraudulently obtained. This requires tying every key to a purchase, which not all developers do. Without this precaution, they’re left with a choice between deactivating keys in bulk, which would hurt legitimate customers, and doing absolutely nothing.

Update: G2A have responded with a press release. tinyBuild has responded to their response. You can find the whole responding thing here.

Source: tinyBuild
Author Ketchua profile picture
Ketchua has been writing about games for far too long. As Señor Editor, he produces words (and stuff) for Gosunoob. There are a lot of words (and stuff) there, so he's terribly busy. Especially if you need something.