G2A Sells $450k Worth Of Game Keys, Game’s Developer Receives Nothing

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.

tinybuild

 

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
price copies sum price copies sum
Punch Club 8.72 1251 10,908.72 9.99 1251 12,497.49
Party Hard 7.95 890 7,075.50 12.89 890 11,472.10
SpeedRunners 6.26 24517 153,476.42 14.99 24517 367,509.83
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.

“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 dire…

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.

Sean Halliday


21 Comments

  1. Luis
    June 21, 2016, 10:21 am

    I agree that G2A and other websites alike can have some shady ways of acquiring some of the keys they are selling and that might hurt some developers, but in the other hand why does a digital game key on an official store like steam or origin has the exact same price as the physical disc? I mean, there is no costs for creating the disc or the game box or the manuals, no shipping costs either.. So why a 60€ physical game i ca buy in a shop nearby costs the exact same as its digital counterpart? I think this is wrong and thats why i sometimes look for cheaper game keys, either be on G2A or wating for the steam sales!

    • Sean Halliday
      June 21, 2016, 10:00 pm

      Aye that is a problem that the industry has forced itself onto. Big names like Ubisoft are asking for full price, even though their PC version are often poor quality. I can see why people would use these kinds of sites to buy games from companies that have burnt them in the past. It’s a very sticky situation. Hopefully this event will bring more discussion on the topic. It’s a genuinely interesting subject given the cogs in motion

  2. The Checker
    June 21, 2016, 9:46 pm

    Let me check this out.

    Yep, 100% bullshit sensationalist clickbait blog post.

    Welcome to the end of your career. No one will take you seriously after this one.

    • Sean Halliday
      June 21, 2016, 9:49 pm

      i reported a story, nothing more, nothing less. This is not a opinion piece

      • The Checker
        June 21, 2016, 9:53 pm

        The math is an opinion. Highest upvoted post on reddit does an actual evaluation of the price.

        http://archive.is/tLs2H#selection-2587.0-2627.80

        > “The figure of 450k was arrived by taking their 3 games and finding how many had been sold on G2a and putting the current retail price on them. Which works well provided the games have never been on sale or in a bundle. if they have then we need to look at the lower price as that is the lowest potential loss figure.

        Punch club was 1,251 copies @9.99 = 12,497
        Party Hard was 890 copies @12.89 = 11,472
        Speedrunners was 24,517 @14.99 =367,509

        Punch club has been sold for 4.99 from bundlestars so we need to half that one.
        Party Hard has been as low as 4.84 from bundlestars so that is slightly over 1/3rd the quoted loss.
        Speedrunners has been 2.49 on steam. so we need to drop that to 1/8th

        The new figures are 6,242 + 4,307 + 61,047 which comes to 71,596.

        There’s more…Punch Club is the only one that hasn’t been in a bundle. Party Hard and Speedrunners have been in the same Humble Bundle (Orbyt play). Speedrunners was one of 3 games in the $1 tier and Party Hard was in the $8 tier. This changes our figures again.

        Speedrunners was effectively sold for $0.33… 33cents. Giving us a new total of 8,090 in lost sales for speedrunner.

        So the final figures are actually 6,242 + 4,307 + 8,090 which gives us a minimum loss of 18,639. A figure 24 times less than the original post.

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m sorry that they feel there were significant loses due to G2A, however the prices they’ve sold speedrunners in particular, suggests that they had written it off as a loss leader already.

        tl;dr Actual losses are 24x less than headline figure due to bundles and sales.”

        • Sean Halliday
          June 21, 2016, 9:54 pm

          The math, and body of that post, was taken directly from TinyBuild’s press release. I had no input on it, it’s literally directly from them as stated

        • Sean Halliday
          June 21, 2016, 9:58 pm

          Here’s their post.

          Their site went down last night, they sent out the body of the post via press release. I posted that last night. Since i’ve came home and handled the normal life stuff (food, feeding pets, walking dogs etc) there’s been a ton of updates.

          I had no say or input in the maths involved, i just reported what they said. I have no affiliation to either company.

  3. The Checker
    June 21, 2016, 9:47 pm

    Turn off comment moderation you censoring pig, or else prepare your anus for over 9000.

  4. The Checker
    June 21, 2016, 9:48 pm

    I could always script up something to flood the shit out of every post on this retarded blog. Math is easy for robots, you realize that form of “captcha” doesn’t work right? LOL

    • Sean Halliday
      June 21, 2016, 9:49 pm

      Nothing is censored dude. All comments go on pending till i get home from work and have a chance to read and reply to them

      • The Checker
        June 21, 2016, 9:52 pm

        That’s why there were no commenst and this post has been up for nearly 12 hours?

        After I posted one comment, you approved someone’s 10 hour old comment? Please, don’t be an idiot.

        • Sean Halliday
          June 21, 2016, 9:53 pm

          Yes, that’s exactly why. I go in from work, watched the football and saw you had commented. I have a few hours before bed so used the time to reply. I don’t get many comments on here, it’s a small site. It’s a 1 man operation, it’s always how i’ve handled comments

          • The Checker
            June 21, 2016, 9:59 pm

            So you’re saying you didn’t realize your post is on the frontpage of /r/pcmasterrace? https://www.reddit.com/r/pcmasterrace/comments/4p59f9/g2a_sells_450k_worth_of_game_keys_games_developer/

          • Sean Halliday
            June 21, 2016, 10:01 pm

            No, not at all. The only Reddits i use are Nintendo, Overwatch, Rainbow six and the odd sports/tv show reddits. I only started using Reddit earlier this year. This is news to me mate

          • Sean Halliday
            June 21, 2016, 10:03 pm

            I even reached out to TinyBuild with a request of a interview on the topic to clear things up. They’ve not replied. I assumed the bigger sites would of done the same and got the info. I’m just one dude who runs a small ad-free site as a hobby. I just enjoy talking about video games. If i was being paid off by anyone you’d be sure my site would be a little less basic!

          • Sean Halliday
            June 21, 2016, 10:14 pm

            Just a heads up, i’ll be around for another 2 or so hours if you have any more questions or anything. After that i won’t be able to reply till tomorrow evening

          • The Checker
            June 21, 2016, 10:37 pm

            P.S. However internally derisive my posts may have been, please don’t take them personally or to heart — they are just a tactic used to elicit a reply; which worked as it almost always does.

            Keep up the good work and follow your dreams Sean. :)

          • Sean Halliday
            June 21, 2016, 10:41 pm

            It’s fine dude. I’ve had a lot worse in the past, dare say i’ll get worse in the future!

            Enjoy the rest of your week ^^

          • Sean Halliday
            June 23, 2016, 1:18 am

            Just a heads up, looks like there’s been developments http://pixelgate.co.uk/indie-developer-threatens-g2a-with-three-day-ultimatum/

            Things are getting a bit messy now

  5. Ivan Suka
    June 22, 2016, 10:05 am

    Even so i don’t care. Some game devs sell their games for 60 euro in countries where people make 200 euro a month. Its G2A or torrents and i want me some working multiplayer.

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