G2A, a marketplace for the sale of digital download keys, is no stranger to controversy. Last year, SpeedRunners studio tinyBuild prompted scrutiny of the site when its CEO discovered that more than 26,000 download codes for its games were available on the marketplace. The insinuation was that the sellers of these keys on G2A had not acquired them legally. After some back-and-forth, G2A announced the trial of a royalty system, where a portion of sales on any key – no matter their provenance – went back to studios or publishers.
Even so, there have been claims that, as we reported last year, "G2A does not prevent the selling of keys purchased with stolen credit cards, with the chargebacks from those CC purchases harming developers". It's an undesirable position for a company to be in, which is what presumably prompted G2A to host a Reddit AMA today.
As you might expect, many Redditors took a combative approach to the company: the top question at the moment is basically, why the hell are you doing this? When asked whether it is "mentally tough to work for a morally-deficient company" a spokesperson answered "everyday we start work by passing the doors where we get buffs and protecting spells. It grants a +10 morale bonus and lasts till the end of the shift."
Among the least combative was a question regarding how the company deals with accusations it trades in stolen and grey market keys.
A spokesperson responded: "Okay, two things here. We want and do anything possible to make our marketplace as secure as possible. We deal with all authorities and follow all protocols out there. There are two sides to this though. If a developer comes to us, and tells us upfront 'hey listen these keys were stolen from us, here is the proof, here is the list of keys stolen from us, please don’t allow anyone to sell them/please make sure they don’t appear on your marketplace'. Awesome, this is great (well not great, someone stole keys but you know what we mean). In case our own protection systems and seller verification somehow omits a seller with one of these keys, we have the list and we will not allow anyone to sell any of those keys."
Still, G2A claims it's difficult when someone advises it of stolen keys, but doesn't provide the data necessary to remove those keys from sale.
"The problem is worse when we are accused of allowing sellers to sell stolen keys, and then given nothing. When we are accused, and there is basically gossip around and nothing we can work with, this is harder. We want to help, and we can help. We already do everything we can on our side to protect our marketplace, but if any developer knows something we want them to come forward and work with us."
Elsewhere, a spokesperson said that all sellers on the marketplace are checked, but especially those selling more than ten products. Over 100 people work on monitoring "shady behavior". Even then, the company claims it's impossible to police this behavior if it lacks the requisite information.
"In those situations, if the developer is not willing to work with us it gets a little complicated. In some situations, if a key was not reported to us as stolen and we weren’t told it was blacklisted or shown any proof, then there is little we can do. Think of any marketplace - if you want to buy a TV on eBay, and oh no! it’s stolen, but no one ever reported it as stolen, how would eBay know to take the auction down if the seller checks out? G2A is a marketplace for digital codes, and we are not the only one out there."
These are just a few examples from a very, very long Reddit AMA, so if you're interested you're well-advised to go and check the full conversation out.