Key reseller G2A has found itself the target of ire from developers again, with several taking to Twitter to say they would rather players pirate their games than buy them from G2A.
G2A has a storied history with developers, that has seen it put a few noses out of joint.
The company is best known as a grey market, somewhere that sells game keys at a cut price. G2A has previously clashed with publisher tinyBuild, when a longstanding feud came to a head with a G2A sales rep getting on the mic during a Q&A panel with tinyBuild’s CEO Alex Nichiporchik to challenge claims he’d made about the reseller. G2A also clashed with Gearbox after Gearbox asked it to change its practices ahead of a deal with Gearbox’s Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition.
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Mike Rose, the founder of publisher No More Robots, has taken to Twitter with the claim that G2A had taken sponsored ads on Google that put its ads above the publisher’s own links to the games.
He said that, if people were considering buying from G2A, they just go ahead and pirate the game, as they don’t see a penny of the sales through the grey market reseller. Warning − some strong language follows…
This was followed with similar proclamations from Descenders developer Ragesquid — Descenders was published by No More Robots — who said: “Please torrent our games instead of buying them on G2A”.
Rami Ismail, the co-founder of Vlambeer, also got in on the action:
We reached out to Rose for comment, who said: “To be honest I’d really rather not waste any more of my breath on them.”
He added: “When I’ve demanded they take our games off G2A previously, they’ve promised they would do − but then immediately put them back up after I refused to work out a deal with them to give them money.”
This would have been a deal that gave G2A 89.2% of the revenue of all sales, and when Rose walked away from the deal, his games returned to the G2A marketplace within weeks.
“The bottom line is, they know what they’re doing and how they’re hurting the industry, and they continue to do it in spite of that,” added Rose.
But why are G2A’s practices bad for consumers? We spoke to Paul Kilduff-Taylor, co-founder of Frozen Synapse developers Mode 7 games and vocal critic of G2A games, who wrote about the issue of grey markets and key resellers in 2015.
“Reselling second-hand digital game keys currently isn’t permitted by the terms of most major online distributors, including Steam and Humble,” says Kilduff-Taylor. “As such, the market isn’t geared around that behaviour and doesn’t support it at scale.
“People often pop up with ‘well, actually’ online when this is mentioned, citing a handful of specific cases, but I wrote a reasonably comprehensive legal review of this issue in conjunction with both specialist lawyers and senior representatives from G2A a few years ago, and there are no grey areas here: you simply can’t do it.”
Kilduff-Taylor points out that G2A acts primarily as a market to resell game keys, but because it doesn’t have the legal authority to do so, it “offloads all the liability to its users”.
“I believe that exploiting the public’s confusion over a legal issue for profit is immoral, and I’ve heard nothing from G2A or other similar companies to sway me on that.”
He continues to claim that developers don’t generally object to the principle of reselling, but as it’s effectively a loophole, it’s causing issues for developers and being used in an exploitative context.
This is adding more work to your favourite developer, who is having to do more work to vet out false key requests, often used to gather up keys to sell on these marketplaces, but also in supporting users who have gotten the game through these practices yet still need proper support.
“It all puts a further squeeze on single player, pay-once titles and that’s a valuable area of games which needs to be preserved.” Kilduff-Taylor added.
For now, the message from developers is clear. Tthey say that G2A is harming their business, and they don’t want to enable it anymore.
We’ve contacted G2A for comment.