G2A responds to fraudulent key complaint

G2A has issued a statement responding to allegations of sketchy behavior made earlier this week by digital publisher tinyBuild, which claimed that $450,000 of its game keys were sold through the service without a single payment coming its way. In it, G2A says it reached out to tinyBuild back in March, following a claim that the game Punch Club had been pirated at a rate five times higher than it had been legitimately purchased. In response, however, it claims to have received “unjustified demands... regarding the removal of G2A marketplace merchant stock from the marketplace and compensation for their estimated value of products.” 

The statement implies that G2A is prepared to cooperate with tinyBuild to rectify the problem, but notes that it requires a list of suspect game keys in order to determine their origin. “Only then can G2A compare these keys against the confidential G2A marketplace database and report those findings back to tinyBuild,” the statement says. “Unfortunately tinyBuild never came back with the answers to resolve the issue.” 

Interestingly, G2A does acknowledge that some degree of fishiness regarding tinyBuild games has taken place: Prior to being contacted by the publisher, G2A “identified more than 200 tinyBuild product auctions on the G2A marketplace and suspended all of them” for violating its terms and security procedures. So clearly there is, at the very minimum, a peripheral awareness of bad behavior among its sellers. The statement also suggests that tinyBuild grossly overestimated its loss by valuing the game keys in question at full retail price, before circling back to imply that the publisher is hiding something in its refusal to share the list of potentially fraudulent game keys.

“TinyBuild should connect back with us and provide us with the list of suspicious keys for further investigation. Thereafter, G2A will be happy to publicly release the results of the investigation of this case with tinyBuild,” the statement says. “G2A.com calls for tinyBuild to provide their list of suspicious keys within three days from the date of this transmission.” 

That doesn't seem likely to happen. TinyBuild CEO Alex Nichiporchik said he's not comfortable sharing lists of keys from multiple batches that may or may not be stolen. “The way our business works is we work with a ton of partners, and tracking down individual key batches is an insane amount of work. Even if we did that and deactivated certain batches, each one of them will have a bunch of 'legitimate' redemptions. Now imagine winning a key in a giveaway from us or any partner, and then seeing the game deactivated,” he explained. Furthermore, if he provided the list as requested, “I believe they'd just resell those keys and make more money off of it.” 

Nichiporchik said the problem could be solved by allowing publishers to set a minimum price for their products, setting a “minimum cut” for all third-party sales of keys, and properly verifying merchants before allowing them to start selling. “I just made an account and within an hour was able to sell a ton of keys, no verification whatsoever,” he wrote. “If Ebay allowed you to sell merchandise without verifying sellers' credentials (they ask you for IDs, statements confirming addresses, tie it to your bank account, etc), they'd probably under similar fire right now as they'd facilitate stolen goods trade.” 

“No developer is going to put their games onto G2A when any other merchant on their site can undercut them. Are you going to undercut Steam by selling games yourself? Of course not,” he continued. “G2A isn't facilitating an easy way to have a working relationship. If there was an admin I could login to and set a minimum price for our games, that'd already be a very good start. But G2A understand this would hurt their business.” 

Nichiporchik also provided a translation of a G2A statement sent to Russian site Kanobu stating that developers and publishers can avoid all risk of chargebacks by signing up for its G2A.Pay service.   

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.