G2A Sells $450k Worth Of Game Keys, Game’s Developer Receives Nothing
*As of 21/06/2016 – TinyBuild have updated their blog post, including a statement from G2A
Sites such as G2A.com have been commonly used for a fair while now. Their low prices provide a more appealing method to purchase games from across the years. There’s always bee some curious stares thrown towards G2A.com, mainly with suspicions of wrong doing.
TinyBuild games, know for the likes of Punch Club and Party Hard, have spoken out on the topic. A recent press release claims that G2A sold $450k worth of keys for the likes of SpeedRunners, Party Hard and Punch Club. The problem is, TinyBuild didn’t see a single dollar of that money.
G2A have blamed TinyBuild’s partners, which include Humble Bundle and BundleStars, claiming they are selling keys directly on the marketplace. G2A are apparently unwilling to help TinyBuild out on this topic, unless they are willing to work with them.
This site has attracted controversy in the past. G2A do not sell the codes themselves, they instead act as a digital marketplace. Think of it like Ebay but with questionable ethics. Keys were not always bought from the developer/publisher, meaning they would never see anything from the sales.
In the past, G2A sponsorships have been from Riot (League of Legends) events. This was down to the questionable method of how keys were obtained and sold on G2A.
TinyBuild also took to Twitter to highlight the issue. Their site then went down, with the indie game developer/publisher suspecting a DDOS attack.
While sites like G2A may save the customer a few dollars/pounds/euros, it comes at the cost of the developer. When said developer is a small indie, that missing revenue can mean a lot.
*TinyBuild games have supplied us with the body of their post.*
For a while now our devs have been getting e-mails from G2A with proposals to work together. We no longer actively jump on additional distribution opportunities (there’s a new bundle every day…), but the whole G2A subject needs to be talked about a bit more.
Before I dive deeper, it’s important to understand what G2A is and how it works. You may have seen the occasional reddit thread with their G2A Shield Deactivation experience, and probably saw tons of streamers and youtubers endorsing the company due to their affiliate program.
In short, G2A is like Ebay for game keys.
The basic idea is a novel one – 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.
So it’s pretty simple for sellers:
- Get a game key from a bundle
- Sell it on G2A
- Make a couple of dollars
Meanwhile the consumers get a really good price on games.
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
I’ve reached out to distribution partners inquiring about the amounts of chargebacks happening, and it’s killing some of them. [article on indiegamestand]. There are variations on this business model, as some “merchants” live off bots who actively scavenge keys from Twitter/Twitch/Facebook, and then use Steam’s gifting feature to “sell” the key on G2A.
tl;dr websites like G2A are facilitating a fraud-fueled economy where key resellers are being hit with tons of stolen credit card transactions and these websites are now growing rapidly due to low pricing of game keys
The financial impact is actually huge
I’ve been dismissing the issue for a long time. Sure, a few game keys leak here and there – nothing major. 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.
Coincidentally, this is when we were having discussions about partnering up with G2A and how that’d work. I really wanted to find out what kind of financial impact this marketplace can have, and after asking for sales stats in 3 separate discussions, I finally have them.
From the e-mail:
SpeedRunners Early Access Global: 24,517 units sold with an average price of €6.26 per unit.
Punch Club Global: 1,251 units sold with an average price of €8.72 per unit.
Party Hard Global: 890 units sold with an average price of €7.95 per unit.
If I do some simple calculations, it comes down to this:
|G2A Pricing||Retail Pricing|
|total EUR||171,460.64||total EUR||391,479.42|
|total USD||$197,179.74||total USD||$450,201.33|
- The total value of these transactions on G2A was ~$200k
- Meanwhile, if these transactions happened at Retail price, it’s closer to $450k.
With this information in hand, my obvious question was where did the keys come from, and can we get compensation for that?
Here’s the reply I got.
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.
Make your own conclusions.