Key seller G2A have vowed to pay back developers ten times the money lost from chargebacks, and is offering a key-blocking tool to developers.
Over the last few months, developers and consumers have decried G2A as a “grey market”. In short, users can sell game keys independent of the retail price. On paper this should allow for a better reflection of supply and demand, but it can lead to issues such as users using stolen credit cards to buy a large number of keys, then resell them for profit.
When the credit-card owner discovers this, they then charge back with additional fees and penalties for the developer. Other issues also arise when keys are bought cheaply in one region, and sold to western regions for profit (but still less than the official western outlets). This in turn can result in the keys being deactivated, and users losing access to those games they bought.
Publisher No More Robots director Mike Rose tweeted that since G2A had paid for sponsored adverts on Google, it meant people searching for Descenders (a game No More Robots publishes) would see G2A’s low prices first over those of stores where publishers and developers would gain a cut of the sale. Rose then showed that he could not turn off the advert on his device. Rose’s subsequent tweet made his thoughts on G2A rather clear:
“Please, if you’re going to buy a game from G2A, just pirate it instead! Genuinely! Devs don’t see a penny either way, so we’d much rather G2A didn’t see money either”
G2A made an announcement on July 5th that they would repay developers who lost money due to charge backs in these situations for ten times the money lost, after an independent audit of both sides. While G2A will pay for the first three audits, any further ones would divide the cost evenly between the developer and G2A.
“Let’s lay all cards on the table. We will pay developers 10 times the money they lost on chargebacks after their illegally obtained keys were sold on G2A. The idea is simple: developers just need to prove such a thing actually happened on their stores.
To assure honesty and transparency, we will ask a reputable and independent auditing company to make an unbiased examination of both sides – the developer’s store and G2A Marketplace. The cost of the first three audits is on us, every next one will be split 50/50.
The auditing company will check if any game keys sold on G2A were obtained using stolen credit cards on a developer’s store compliant with card scheme rules from Visa and Master Card/payment provider rules. If so, G2A guarantees it’ll pay all the money the developer lost on chargebacks… multiplied by 10.
We want this process to be transparent, so we will publicly report every step of the procedure. Meaning, you will get information such as who came forward, and what the verdict was, all of which will be published for everyone to see.
If you’re a developer willing to cooperate, contact the G2A Direct team.”
The rest of the post focuses on explaining what G2A is- seemingly in response to negative press on Twitter. The post was later updated, responding to some who were not happy with G2A’s response. In turn, G2A seems to suggest the complaints come from those who feel others should not have the right to resell keys.
“We received lots of feedback – both positive and negative. Developers themselves have offered some ideas and suggestions regarding the ways we can solve the issues they have with our platform. We need some time to put it all together. We’ll get back to you in the next couple of days with a solution.
Of all the negative comments, the following sentence was the most common:
“G2A admits they’re the problem because if not them, someone else would do it anyways”
Some developers cannot accept the fact that people have full rights to re-sell the things they own. It’s a problem for those developers, but not for us or anyone else. And certainly not for gamers who have access to cheaper products, games included, thanks to marketplaces such as G2A.
What we are saying is: “It’s a good thing that people can re-sell keys and, with or without G2A, they will continue to do so.” “
On July 12th, G2A made another announcement. This time, they said they had gained a lot of feedback from their prior announcement, and how they had overlooked the issue of review keys and giveaway keys being sold.
“Last week we published a very long article. In its update we mentioned that we’ve been talking to developers and learning about the issues they have with our marketplace, so that we could offer a possible solution. We believe we’ve found it.
But first, a quick update on our offer to pay 10x more than what the developers lost on chargebacks. We’ve received multiple messages since then, but none of them were connected to this case.
However, we got tons of valuable feedback that made us realize we were indeed short-sighted of many other aspects. Everyone’s responses helped us understand the problem a bit better, and thanks to them we saw that the developers were mainly concerned about two categories of keys: review and giveaway ones. These two represent a very small fraction of all the keys sold on the marketplace but may still be a real problem for the devs.”
G2A continue, stating they have created a new “tool” to help block these keys being sold on their platform. Once a developer have verified who they are, they can enter in keys for reviews and giveaways. “Once that’s done, each time anyone tries to sell a key for your game, our algorithm will check the keys you have provided us with. If there is a match, the seller will get a notification that the key has been blocked so that they can’t sell it.” G2A also states “If a seller tries to sell more than 3 keys that match the ones in the giveaway database, our system won’t allow that.”
G2A states that as “development of such a solution will be time-consuming and expensive,” they are asking developers to sign up now to see how much demand there is for it. If the goal is not met however, G2A state they will still work with developers:
“If at least 100 developers sign up within a month (until 15th of August; to assure transparency, the list will be public), we’ll start working on the key-checking tool, and of course let you know about the timeframe and other important details.
Please keep in mind that even without such a tool, we’re always ready and willing to help everyone on a daily basis through the means of a less technical approach. In other words: just write to the G2A Direct team and let them know if there is a problem.
[…] We are aware that this proposal doesn’t solve all the issues. Many developers would like to permanently remove their games from the free market. While we understand their point of view, it’s not a black or white situation. Both sides have valid points and should respect each other’s arguments. G2A, like any other marketplace in the world, is to assure that independent sellers can offer the products they own for others to buy. This results in lower prices on games, electronics, gadgets and everything else gamers need.
In spite of this, some developers still do not seem happy with G2A. Wube Software LTD. had spoken about G2A in the past via Factorio’s official website blog posts. In their June 12th blog post, titled “G2A – Worse Than Piracy”, discussing Rose’s earlier tweets.
They had found G2A had also bought sponsored adverts on Google for Factorio via their store. “Obviously we aren’t super happy about it, but after looking into some trademark/copyright law, it seems there is not much we can do.”
The post continues, stating the developers took up G2A’s offer on the repayment due to chargebacks. They claim that G2A were “not exactly prompt” and had not replied in two days since Wube’s last email:
“We had a ton of chargeback and fraud issues in 2016 just after our Steam launch, with over 300 Steam keys of the game being purchased with stolen credit cards. With an average chargeback fee of about $20, we estimate the total amount of fees we paid because of chargebacks is about $6,600. We will be doing a deeper evaluation of our historic accounting records to get a more exact figure, but it doesn’t matter so much now.
So I emailed G2A about the article and their ‘vow’ last week, and they are not exactly prompt in terms of dealing with the request. I have a list of all the Steam keys I had to revoke because they were purchased fraudulently, and G2A offered to check the keys. Currently this is where the story ends, they haven’t replied to my last email (2 days ago) sending them the keys and asking how many of them were sold on the website.
Funnily, we already know that at least some of the keys were sold on G2A, because after I revoked them, I had people emailing to ask what was wrong with their key.”
The blog post then lists various messages from people who had suddenly lost access to their games due to revoked keys. They then note that “after we switched payment providers to Humble Widget, the fraudulent purchases stopped. We don’t really care about G2A anymore (but we are in a unique position due to our no sales policy).”
After discussing how key-resellers could still be making profit from gifted keys, the blog post concluded with Wube asking customers to buy from trusted partners over G2A:
“To conclude this whole topic, we strongly recommend people buy from us or one of our official partners. Not only for the reasons you might think. If you buy from a grey-market site and have a problem with the game, or something goes wrong, you will have to deal with their support system. I don’t have the exact details of how to request a refund or customer support from G2A, or how long they will take to respond to your issue.
If you buy from us directly, we offer a 28-day refund policy. If you have a problem with the game, you decide it’s not your cup of tea, you thought the biters were too cute, just send us an email and you will have a refund in short order. We also deal only with Factorio related support problems, we don’t process orders of thousands of different games, so you can be sure your case will be handled expediently by team members who know the game in and out.”
PCGamesN claimed in an article on July 16th that “Since the blog was posted on July 12, G2A appears to be in contact with Wube about this. We reached out to G2A for comment, and it responded saying it was in touch with the Factorio devs and would share more details soon, though Wube hasn’t posted an update on this yet.” The official Factorio website blog posts occur every Friday. We will let you know more as this story develops.
But what do you think? Sound off in the comments below!