In mid-July, key reseller G2A proposed the creation of a "key-blocking tool" that developers could use to provide the site with lists of keys that they don't want being sold through its platform. Keys distributed for reviews, for instance, could be entered into the tool so that if anyone ever tried to sell one, it would be blocked. But this being G2A, there was a catch: It would only make the tool if at least 100 developers signed up for it prior to August 15.
The response has been tepid, to say the least. In an update posted today, G2A said that only 19 developers have signed up so far.
- Beer Money Games
- Bossa Studios
- CCP Games
- Crimson Leaf LLC
- Deep Silver
- Dirty Beast Games
- Farom Studio
- Fox Byte Games
- Hound Picked Games
- Modoka Studios Entertainment
- Moonlight Mouse
- Squidpunch Studios
- Tate Mutimedia
- Troglobytes Games
Because of that, and to give curious developers the opportunity to learn more about the offer at Gamescom, G2A has decided to extend the deadline to the end of August. We'll have to wait a couple more weeks to see how that pans out, although I would probably not bet the farm on another 81 studios signing up between now and then. But a GamesIndsutry report on the extension prompted Unknown Worlds Entertainment founder Charlie Cleveland to wade into the fray.
Hey @G2A_com - thank you for offering to pay 10x the revenue lost due to our @NS2 game keys sold on your shady platform. CC @RaveofRavendaleYou now owe us $300,000. Thanks. https://t.co/J5qof6wBZD pic.twitter.com/Oq97ofLoLDAugust 12, 2019
"It's a load of crap that this tool would be 'expensive' to develop. It's also suspect how they are pushing the names of developers who don't want their games to be sold on their service—it's almost like they want blowback from players who don't understand the shadiness of their service and be encouraged to review bomb those developers," Cleveland wrote. "It's also terrible to put the impetus on developers to have to take action with G2A to get this proposal moving in the first place, while G2A profits off gray-market sales and credit card fraud."
And then, in reference to G2A's recent offer to pay developers ten times what they lose in chargebacks caused by fraud, he laid it out: "We paid $30,000 to deal with credit card chargebacks because of G2A … So, G2A, if you really want to put your money where your mouth is, you will now pay us (Unknown Worlds) $300,000."
That $30,000 in fees was lost on Unknown Worlds' pre-Subnautica FPS/RTS hybrid Natural Selection 2. The studio reported in 2013 that it had deactivated more than 1300 game keys that were purchased with stolen credit cards and then resold through third-party sites. As we noted at the time, it was a mess all around: Unknown Worlds ate a big penalty, and people who bought the game in good faith (but from sketchy resellers) ended up empty-handed. The only ones who came out ahead were the scammers.
Unknown Worlds isn't the first studio to stake a claim on G2A's offer. Shortly after it was announced, Factorio developer Wube Software said that it had suffered roughly $6600 in chargebacks caused by the site, and that it wanted to take advantage of the refund offer. As of August 7—a full month later—an auditing company was apparently still checking the list of keys Wube had provided to verify its claim.
I've reached out to Unknown Worlds and G2A for more information, and also to Wube to see if any progress has been made on its claim. I'll update if I receive any replies.
Correction: The post originally indicated that G2A was verifying the list of fraudulent Factorio keys provided by Wube Software. G2A clarified that the audit is being handled by an external company and said that the process of determining whether the approximately 300 keys "doesn't happen within a week or two."