The controversial grey market PC video game key seller G2A is drawing criticism again after sending emails to indie game news sites asking them to publish a sponsored post without disclosure of their source. The subject of the news posts would be “Selling stolen keys on gaming marketplaces is pretty much impossible,” in a direct effort to shift the ongoing online conversation about G2A’s business practices.
G2A’s email was first posted online by Thomas Faust of Indie Games Plus, who was one of 10 alleged sites to receive it. The email purports that G2A is “trying to improve our brand awareness and public image” by having its “unbiased article” published on Faust’s website. In bolt text, the email makes clear that it can only be published “without being marked as sponsored or marked as associated with G2A. Faust’s Twitter response reads, “Sponsored post without disclosure – is that even legal?”
As far as what was shown in Faust’s Twitter post, his email did not contain an offer to pay for publishing the post. Without an offer of pay, the posts likely wouldn’t have been considered advertising and so not held to FTC standards on disclosure. However, a follow-up from a different publication suggested that G2A was gauging pricing options for publishing such a post.
G2A has since issued a response on Twitter, claiming that the emails sent to Faust and 9 other indie sites were done without official approval:
“These e-mails were sent by our employee without authorization, for which we apologize to @SomeIndieGames and the 9 (!) other media outlets he sent this proposal to. He will face strict consequences, as this is absolutely unacceptable.”
No other news sites, indie or otherwise, have said whether they’ve also received G2A’s email. It also doesn’t appear that any sites took G2A up on its offer.
— Thomas Faust (@SomeIndieGames) July 8, 2019
G2A is receiving more scrutiny in recent weeks following a clash with No More Robots dev Mike Rose. Rose called attention to G2A ads being published on Google showing up above the game’s own website, noting that any G2A sales of the game result in absolutely no revenue for the developer. Rose even went so far as to encourage potential buyers to pirate indie games before buying keys on G2A, since there’s no difference for indie developers.