As PC gaming shifts toward an all-digital future (some might say it’s already there), the marketplace has been fraught with stories of game developers getting shafted. Stores not paying properly, stolen credit cards, piracy, and other things all add up to game developers having trouble actually getting the money that they earned. Today, one of these developers is taking a stand, singling out G2A.com specifically as a trouble spot for them. According to tinyBuild, them and their other developers are out $450,000 worth of PC game keys via G2A.
“The basic idea is a novel one,” says tinyBuild CEO Alex Nichiporchik. “With the abundance of game keys spread through bundles, odds are you’d want to sell off keys for games you don’t really want, and make a few bucks when doing so.” This is the basic description of how G2A is supposed to work at least. According to Nichiporchik, that is far from how it is actually functioning.
“The problem is that this business model is fundamentally flawed and facilitates a black market economy. I’ve spoken to a merchant on G2A about how he’s making $3-4k a month, and he outlined the core business model: Get ahold of a database of stolen credit cards on the darkweb. Go to a bundle/3rd party key reseller and buy a ton of game keys. Put them up onto G2A and sell them at half the retail price”
The financial impact from this can apparently be pretty huge, with Nichiporchik saying that over 26,000 copies of just three of tinybuild’s games have been sold via G2A. Via the prices on the website, that is $200,000 worth of PC game keys, but it would have been $450,000 via Steam and other retailers that use more standard pricing.
Pointing this out to G2A they responded, “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.” They then go on to say that no compensation will be given for these sales.
Nichiporchik concludes with “In short, G2A claims that our distribution partners are scamming us and simply selling keys on G2A. They won’t help us unless we are willing to work with them. We are not going to get compensated, and they expect us to undercut our own retail partners (and Steam!) to compete with the unauthorized resellers. There’s no real way to know which keys leaked or not, and deactivating full batches of game keys would make a ton of fans angry, be it keys bought from official sellers or not.”
UPDATE: G2A has responded to the allegations here.