Grey market key reseller G2A has been in a PR tailspin for the last week, with developers and publishers telling people they should torrent their games instead of using the site. After attempting to clear the air about its business, more criticism followed, along with a petition started by publisher No More Robots that called for the company to cease selling indie keys. This week is off to an even worse start.
Indie Games Plus writer Thomas Faust posted an email from G2A on Twitter where a representative for the company asked the site to publish a pre-written article claiming that selling stolen keys was impossible. The representative said that the article conjured up by a key reseller with a significant investment in the subject was "unbiased". The real kicker, however, was the instruction that the post not be marked as sponsored.
"We have written an unbiased article about how 'Selling stolen keys on gaming marketplaces is pretty much impossible' and we want to publish it on your website without being marked as sponsored or marked as associated with G2A," reads the email. "It is a transparent and just review of the problem of stolen keys reselling."
Ahahaha.No. pic.twitter.com/7hqtxDY3X1July 8, 2019
Posting advertorial and not clearly marking it as such is a breach of FTC rules in the US and Advertising Standards Authority regulations in the UK, and this is pretty blatant. G2A hasn't denied or tried to defend it, though it has attempted to absolve itself of responsibility by placing the blame on, you've guessed it, the person who sent the email.
"These e-mails were sent by out employee without authorization," the response reads, "for which we apologise to @SomeIndieGames and the 9 (!) other media outlets he sent this proposal to. He will face strict consequences, as this is absolutely unacceptable."
The shock (!) and lack of accountability doesn't make the apology very convincing, but we're unlikely to see anything better. These things are always easier to brush aside when you've got one person in the perfect position to be a scapegoat.
While you might not think twice about dismissing it when coming from a company trying to defend itself from accusations of selling illegally obtained keys, from unaffiliated websites it could get unearned legitimacy.