Green Man Gaming defends itself against "grey market" key claims

Call of Duty Black Ops 3

Update: Green Man Gaming has announced that it will publish the source of each key it sells, following Monday's controversy. Here's their statement (via Facebook).

You spoke, we listened.

We know you want great games at great prices. In response to your feedback, rolling out from today on the Green Man Gaming store you’ll see our pages now have two new pieces of information:

1/ When you can expect the delivery of a key
2/ The source of that key

We are committed to continually improving our site, so you can expect the very best service and experience from us. Bear with us as we have over 5000 titles to update, but remember that your feedback is always really important to us, and we want to keep helping you make informed decisions when shopping with us. Thanks for your support!

Original story:

Green Man Gaming is under scrutiny again after a Reddit forum dedicated to gaming deals opted to ban the online retailer. According to the moderators of /r/GameDeals, the retailer was afforded leniency earlier this year when it emerged that its Witcher 3 keys were not sourced directly from the publisher, but instead reportedly from the 'grey market'.

That changed today when, following user reports that Black Ops 3 codes purchased from GMG were unauthorized, the subreddit intervened. "It has now come to our attention that GreenManGaming's library of unauthorized game sales has expanded, or this library has just now come to light," the moderator wrote. "You may have noticed recently some 'too good to be true' deals on GreenManGaming. We received a few modmails/emails on the subject so we investigated."

"From what we have been told by the publishers, GreenManGaming is not authorized to sell Activision or Ubisoft titles, as well as CDProjektRED's The Witcher 3."

The moderators write that they considered extending a ban only to Black Ops 3 codes from Green Man Gaming, but decided in the end to ban the retailer altogether. That means even verifiably authorized keys from the likes of Electronic Arts, Bethesda, ArenaNET/NCSoft, Devolver Digital and Warner Bros. cannot be offered by Green Man Gaming on the forum.

In a statement provided to Gamespot Green Man Gaming executive Paul Sulyok defended his company, writing that it was unable to share sensitive contracts between it and publishers.

"Over the past year, we have been repeatedly asked to supply sensitive information regarding contracts between us and publishers, which for legal reason we simply cannot share, nor should we be expected to," Sulyok wrote. "We believe that other retailers featured on Reddit Game Deals have not been afforded the same level of scrutiny and investigation that we have endured, and that ultimately, customers will be missing out on information and deals."

Sulyok disproved an earlier claim made by the subreddit that GMG wasn't an authorized retailer for Warner Bros, by providing a screenshot of an email sent by a Warner Bros. source.

"We reiterate that we source our keys from a range of over 400 publishers, developers, and distributors to meet customer’s demands on a title by title basis," he continued.

"Let’s be clear here; there is a difference between being an authorised retailer for some titles, and being a retailer selling keys that have been sourced responsibly through authorised third parties with revenue going back to the publisher. If a key unlocks, it is an authentic key. This isn’t a perfect science as human error can affect the supply chain. Where possible, we work directly with publishers and distributors to make sure customers have the very best experience with us."

Shaun Prescott

Shaun Prescott is the Australian editor of PC Gamer. With over ten years experience covering the games industry, his work has appeared on GamesRadar+, TechRadar, The Guardian, PLAY Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, and more. Specific interests include indie games, obscure Metroidvanias, speedrunning, experimental games and FPSs. He thinks Lulu by Metallica and Lou Reed is an all-time classic that will receive its due critical reappraisal one day.