When Gearbox received tons of backlash regarding its partnership with controversial digital key retailer G2A.com to sell exclusive editions of Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition, including popular YouTuber John "Totalbiscuit" Bain's promise to boycott all future Gearbox releases, it was clear that we hadn't heard the end of it.
Lo and behold, one day later, Gearbox, working with Totalbiscuit, has issued a serious ultimatum to G2A, with a list of changes they want the embattled online store to publicly commit to making, including making its customer fraud protection service free of charge within 30 days and giving customers easier access to purchase legitimate keys that benefit the developer as well, among several other demands.
It's an ambitious plan, and many people have appeared skeptical that G2A would respond positively to these changes. Probably the most skeptical is none other than Totalbiscuit, himself. On a Twitlonger post explaining in detail the situation before, during and after this controversy, Totalbiscuit wrote "Perhaps you're thinking that I am naive and how could I possibly believe that G2A will follow up on these demands.
"I full expect them not to."
Totalbiscuit elaborating saying that this has created a win-win situation for gamers. Either G2A complies fully and makes meaningful changes to its business model, which he and others have criticized for creating a "protection racket" where G2A creates the problem of fraudulent keys and also provides, at a premium, a solution to it, or they do nothing, Gearbox cancels their deal and the website is shamed on a public stage. The latter would make it so no AAA developer again tries to partner with them, because their legitimacy has been called into question without response.
Perhaps the most prominent example of the controversy surrounding G2A is its relationship with tinyBuild, the indie developer publisher behind games like Clustertruck. In January 2016, tinybuild posted a long blog post, which is no longer available, that claimed G2A sold as much as $450,000 worth of tinyBuild keys that were purchased fraudulently via bogus credit cards. G2A fervently denied these allegations.
This has been dubbed the "grey market" in video gaming. While several other sites like G2A exist, online market places that sell mysterious codes on the cheap, G2A is by far the most prominent, and the one with the most controversy, deserved or not.
Totalbiscuit and others are concerned that any sort of high-profile partnership with them would legitimize what he sees as an illegitimate business in G2A.
G2A is also keenly aware of the controversy surrounding its website. Just two months ago, G2A.com did a Reddit AMA (which increasingly seems like a bad idea for anyone undergoing controversy). It went poorly enough that people following along couldn't see their responses, because they were getting downvoted so much.
More than just passive hatred, the AMA got heated on more than one occasion. One Redditor, responding directly to G2A, wrote "Grey marketplaces are worth jackshit, I hope you'll get a huge lawsuit on your ass, because you deserve it." Worse than that, one Redditor sought to show how G2A could unwittingly support fraudlent key sales, and G2A, rather than taking this as legitimate feedback, banned the user from their site.
Suffice it to say, there is a long cycle of controversy surrounding G2A, and I still don't think we've heard the end of it.