G2A Internal Investigation Proves The Site Has Sold Stolen Keys

Per a promise made by G2A in 2019, the marketplace will now have to compensate developers for 10 times the value of stolen keys

If you’re playing games on PC, the popular opinion is that you don’t pay full price for a game. There are so many marketplaces and sales going on, that you can usually find whatever game you’re looking for at a cheaper price somewhere. One of those sites is G2A. G2A has always had a shadier reputation than other games marketplaces. I can personally remember the rumors starting years ago of the site selling stolen game keys, but they were always just rumors. Today, those rumors have been confirmed, and by nobody else but G2A, which apparently thinks this is its moment of vindication. It is not.

The trip to this point started almost a year ago. Last July the head of indie games publisher No More Robots, Mike Rose, railed on G2A for taking out sponsored ads on Google, causing G2A to show up before Steam or No More Robot’s own links when looking up their games. The thread ended with Rose saying it would be preferable to him if people pirated No More Robot’s games rather than buying them from G2A because “Devs don’t see a penny either way, so we’d much rather G2A didn’t see money either.”

In response, G2A published a post on its own site, which detailed what Rose had gotten wrong. In hindsight, the post now seems tongue-in-cheek and entirely self-congratulatory. The marketplace was even cocky enough to wager a bet to developers; that if they could find proof that illicit keys were sold on their site, G2A would payout 10 times the money lost. That post ended with G2A saying this: “It’s a good thing that people can re-sell keys and, with or without G2A, they will continue to do so.”

Fast forward to today, and it seems like G2A has lost its bet, and that some of those keys the marketplace prides itself on providing a venue to re-sell, were stolen after all.

Only one developer took G2A up on its bet: Wube Software, the creators of Factorio. After a mutual agreement between the two that G2A should commit an internal investigation, it was revealed that 198 keys were illegitimately sold on the site. G2A has since promised that Wube will be compensated for 10 times the value of the stolen keys.

However, it’s the next part of G2A’s post revealing the results of this investigation that raises more issues. It goes on to say “As we spell out in this blog, fraud directly hurts individuals who buy illegitimate keys, it hurts gaming developers and it ultimately hurts G2A because we are forced – as the transaction facilitator – to cover costs related to the sale.”

But here’s the thing – this is the first and only time G2A has done this. Never before has the marketplace had to pay a developer because illicit keys were sold on its site. There was never any evidence to prove that before now. At this moment, every single developer should be asking themselves if they think illegal keys have been sold on G2A because it’s now been proven that it can and has happened. They should especially consider this due to the marketplace keeping up its promise of compensation for companies that can prove illegal keys were sold on its site. That being said, it’s hard to tell if G2A will be willing to assist in any more investigations. G2A and Wube only agreed on an internal investigation conducted by G2A after “assessing a number of independent auditing companies and finding none that would meet our agreed requirements.”

At no point in this post does G2A apologize for allowing fraudulently obtained keys to be sold on its site. Instead, the company victimized itself, saying that G2A had been hurt because it now has to cover costs. The company also failed to detail any future or ongoing attempts at stemming the flow of stolen keys.

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Otto Kratky

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