The ongoing tension between publisher tinyBuild and game key reseller G2A unexpectedly flared up in public yesterday during the "Fraud and Your Game Economy" panel at GDC. As reported by Polygon, tinyBuild chief Alex Nichiporchik told the audience during the panel that "platforms like Kinguin and G2A" are facilitating fraud by making it easy for anyone to sell stolen game keys.
That's essentially a continuation of allegations he made last year, beginning in June when he claimed that $450,000 of TinyBuild game keys were sold through G2A without any money going to the publisher. And it's a position that Panopticon Laboratories co-founder Matthew Cook, who was also on the panel, agreed with. "From our perspective, all of these schemes only have payouts because there's a market for them," he said.
During the follow-up Q&A session, however, Marius Mirek of G2A came to the microphone to challenge Nichiporchik's statements. "Ladies and gentlemen... I am actually from G2A.com," he said. "I was directly involved with Alex's case and I would like to dispel a few things. First of all, G2A.com does work with developers directly, and any one of you can email me. And let's address your codes, because I was handling your emails. You have provided not a single [game] code [to determine if they were fraudulent.]"
That presumably refers to G2A's initial response to Nichiporchik's complaint, when it asked tinyBuild to provide a full list of suspect keys in order to determine their provenance. "Only then can G2A compare these keys against the confidential G2A marketplace database and report those findings back to tinyBuild," the company said in a statement. TinyBuild rejected that offer, however, because of both "the insane amount of work" it would take to track down and provide individual key batches, and Nichiporchik's belief that if G2A were given the list, "they'd just resell those keys and make more money off of it."
Nichiporchik didn't seem interested in engaging Mirek during the Q&A, responding with "You're really going to do this at GDC?" before moderator Scott Davis poured cold water on the whole thing. But after the fact, Mirek told Polygon that G2A is no more responsible for fraud or money laundering than any other digital marketplace.
"We do not contribute to it. In fact, we monitor the marketplace very closely," he said. "And you know what, you don't have to ask my opinion. You can ask the 100 developers that work with us."
Despite the ham-fisted approach at GDC, it seems clear that G2A would very much like to clean up its image: It also recently launched a semi-regular "G2A Deal" bundle package, with non-resellable keys and a specific promise that bundled keys will come "straight from the developers or publishers themselves—no third-party sellers involved." A G2A rep said the new program is about "showing the world we already are legitimate and that we care both about our customers and developers ... We want to bring our customers the best deals, and we want to work directly with developers to do that."