It's certainly been a rough week for G2A. The controversial online marketplace for re-sold video game keys was days away from rolling out a huge deal with Gearbox Software's Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition when popular YouTuber John "TotalBiscuit" Bain helped ignite a chorus of opposition who pressured Gearbox into cutting out G2A entirely. G2A did release a statement today, sent to GameRevolution and other outlets, that fervently denied all allegations against it, but did little else.
Lost in the shuffle of all of this was a statement by indie developer Dan Teasdale, co-founder of No Goblin, that functioned more as a stinging plea in regards to people who may buy their games via G2A: pirate it instead.
"If you're going to buy our games on G2A for peanuts, please just pirate it instead and use that money to donate to a good cause," Teasdale Tweeted.
Many involved parties allege that G2A allows keys that have been fraudulently purchased to be sold on their website. Unidentified parties will purchase keys en masse with phony or stolen credit cards and sell those keys on G2A. Despite G2A's assurance that this doesn't happen, there is a mountain of evidence that suggests otherwise, including someone who actually did it to prove G2A wrong. Because these keys were purchased fraudulently, not only do developers lose money on the lost sale, but they also have to pay money for the chargeback fees from accepting a bogus credit card.
When this happens to games like Call of Duty or Overwatch, the effects are marginal, a drop in the bucket against Activision-Blizzard's multi-billion dollar annual revenue. For Indie Game Developers, on the other hand, this can mean the difference between success and bankruptcy. Developer tinyBuild is perhaps the most prominent example, alleging $450,000 worth of fraudulently-obtained keys were sold via G2A.
If you're reading this story and having a weird sense of Deja Vu, there's a good reason for that. After tinyBuild original published their allegations, lots of other indie developers spoke out against G2A. First was the founder of RageSquid, who back in June of 2016 invited interested buyers on Reddit to Pirate his game Action Hennk rather than buy it on G2A.
"I'll even give you the download link," he wrote. "Just torrent it instead of putting money in the wrong hands."
Another developer followed suit a few days later. In a long blog post, indie developer Lars Doucet arrived at the same conclusion. Doucet, who developed the Tower Defense game Defender's Quest, laid out a non-judgmental argument about people who pirate vs. people who buy via G2A, and the solution was clear.
"If you're going to buy from a grey-market reselling site like G2A, then, please, please, please, just pirate the game instead."
Doucet goes on to point out how some of the top-rated sellers on G2A have hundreds of negative reports for keys that get canceled (meaning they were purchased fraudulently), which shows definitively, according to Doucet, that G2A is a hotbed for these sales.
Of course, each of these developers has given the strong caveat that they would much rather you just purchase their games. They're relatively cheap and well-reviewed by both critics and Steam reviewers. But, if a full-price purchase just isn't in the cards, more and more indie developers are lining up to hand you Torrent links, because G2A will actually negatively impact them.
We are still waiting on responses to follow-up questions we asked G2A in regards to their statement this morning.