A big storm of controversy is brewing for third-party software reselling company G2A, and given the other shady things they’ve done, it’s not surprising that things like this can happen. Mike Rose, an indie game developer from the UK, broke some pretty surprising information about a recent ad buy that G2A undertook with Google.
It turns out that G2A’s newest ad campaign has some problems, as the video below demonstrates. What’s even more alarming about this is that G2A is directly targeting indie titles in search results. And because of G2A’s business model, it’s clear why they do this, as well as how scummy it is.
So now that you’ve seen what I’m talking about, let me explain why G2A are a bunch of shady folks. The company built it’s entire business model on one thing, reselling software keys like Steam keys, cheaper than anyone else. You might be wondering how they do this. It mostly comes down to one source, fraud.
The way the system is designed, anyone can start selling on G2A with minimal verification. The company has made some efforts to crack down, but many sources claim it’s nowhere near enough to stem the tide of stolen identities and other info trafficking on the marketplace. And this could even be considered money laundering, a rather serious crime.
The most-commonly cited source of fraudulent funds on G2A is stolen credit cards, with other financial information like hacked PayPal accounts coming in behind that. Various insights into this industry of thievery have been seen over the years, and they all point to one simple fact. Independent developers lose huge sums of money to this enterprise of selling stolen software. Because every time a stolen credit card prompts a chargeback when the fraud is discovered, it’s the developer or publisher who pays out of pocket for both the refund and penalties.
And even for the keys that aren’t fraudulent, one look at the products being sold reveals another controversial source for Steam keys on the marketplace. A lot of sellers on G2A exploit massive gulfs in regional pricing by buying bulk amounts of keys for various games in a cheaper region, like Russia or rest of the CIS territories, and then selling them in more lucrative markets for higher prices. This in turn has led to region-locking by many developers, mostly trying to stifle this exploitation.
You might be thinking that any reputable business wouldn’t want to associate with that stuff, but G2A is all too happy to do it anyway. And this is why the above is so shocking, because G2A is actively targeting indie games with their advertising. Mike Rose’s own game is the search term shown in the video above.
These revelations and allegations spurred another call by gamers and personalities online to boycott the greymarket sites like G2A, although this is a very common occurrence given the multitude of bad press these sellers have gotten these last few years. In some rather inflammatory tweets, the developer behind Descenders, Hypnospace and other indie titles had a pretty clear message for G2A.
According to his statements, G2A has made some pretty questionable decisions in other areas as well. Back when they stole money from users who weren’t actively using their accounts. things were bad enough, but now G2A is allegedly paying streamers and other personalities to pay lip service to G2A. It’s just strange.