Thousands Sign Petition To Stop Selling Indie Games On This Controversial Digital Store

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Indie devs push back against controversial G2A store.

Almost 4,000 people have signed a Change.org petition asking controversial video games key reseller to stop selling indie games through its marketplace. The petition comes off the heels of a holiday weekend where G2A published a blog post attempting to defend itself against critics, which in turn spurned indie devs to launch a new wave of criticism against the retailer, culminating in the online petition.

Indie games publisher No More Robots and its founder Mike Rose launched a petition on Change.org last week asking G2A to stop selling indie games. The petition was created as a response to G2A’s own blog post which claimed only 8% of sales on G2A are made from indie games.

Rose said on Twitter that, “If only 8% of sales on G2A are from indie titles then they wouldn’t miss us right? They could remove all indie titles from G2A, and 99.9% of game developers would be happier.” Since the petition was created on July 5, over 3,600 people have signed it.

What Is G2A?

G2A is on online marketplace that allows users to buy and sell video game keys, which can be redeemed on platforms like Steam, Origin, and Xbox. Rather than sell keys directly, G2A makes it so that users can sell their extra video game keys, or unused codes. However, indie devs have claimed that this business model is rife with fraud.

For years, video game developers have criticized G2A’s core business as it removes the developers from the sales process of their games. Developers further claim key resellers on G2A often use ill-gotten codes, either from scamming developers or credit card fraud, to then sell on G2A and cut out developers from any potential profits from that sale.

Vlambeer co-founder Rami Ismail explained the true cost of G2A’s sales model to IGN.

“Many keys on sites like G2A come from less than legitimate sources – fraudulent or stolen credit cards, posing as reviewers or influences, and other similar methods,” Ismail said. “Those methods cost us time, as we now have to deal with the chargebacks when people realize their credit cards were stolen, identifying and validating influences, and dealing with customer support requests for keys we deactivate when we establish they’ve been acquired by illegal means or theft.

“That means that for key resellers, not only are we not making money with our game, we’re also wasting time we could be spending on development, while the reseller is making money off of the sale.”

The Latest Scandal Facing G2A

Criticism against G2A has been a fairly regular occurrence. But indie devs began speaking out again once Rose discovered last week that G2A took out sponsored Google ads directing curious indie game customers to G2A’s marketplace instead of more direct marketplaces like Steam.

Mike Rose was the first to call out G2A on its Google ads practices, but told IGN at the time that he’d “really rather not waste anymore of my breath on [G2A].” But things changed when G2A published a blog post directly addressing Rose’s criticism.

In a post published on G2A’s official blog titled, “G2A vows to pay devs 10x the money proven to be lost on chargebacks” the company directly called out Mike Rose by name as G2A explained its business model against critics.

G2A says that, as a marketplace, its mission is to make prices for gamers as low as possible and that its business model is no different from marketplaces like Amazon or eBay. G2A also defends its business model as upholding the rights of customers to re-sell keys that they already own, and that if G2A didn’t exist, these same resellers would simply find other marketplaces to sell their video game keys.

“Some developers cannot accept the fact that people have full rights to re-sell the things they own,” G2A writes. “It’s a problem for those developers, but not for us or anyone else. And certainly not for gamers who have access to cheaper products, games included, thanks to marketplaces such as G2A.”

G2A said that it will pay developers 10 times the money lost on chargebacks, but only if the developers can prove they even lost money through chargebacks in the first place. G2A says that it will ask developers to submit to a “reputable and independent auditing company to make an unbiased examination of both sides – the developer’s store and G2A marketplace.”

However, 10 indie game websites, such as indiegames.com, also claimed to have received an email from G2A asking if they could publish an “unbiased article” about how “Selling stolen keys on gaming marketplaces is pretty much impossible,” written by G2A. G2A also asked if these blog posts could be published “without being marked as sponsored or marked as associated with G2A.”

When indiegames.com writer Thomas Faust published the emails, G2A’s Twitter account responded by saying that the emails were sent by an employee “without authorization” and that the employee will “face strict consequences” and that their action was “absolutely unacceptable.”

What’s Next for the G2A Petition

“Obviously I’m aware that the petition technically means nothing legally at all,” Rose said to IGN via a direct message on Twitter. “Obviously G2A don’t have to listen to it or the people who signed it.” Instead, Rose says the “point of the petition was to publicly show just how many developers hate G2A and their practices.”

“G2A make out like it’s just a small number of people complaining. Tell that to the 3500 signatures, and the hundreds of people currently tweeting about them right now.” Video game lawyer Jas Purewal also tweeted a hypothetical scenario in which video game law firms “coordinated mass DMCA notices against G2A. com from developers having their games sold cheap without authorisation.” Rose quote tweeted this and said, “Watch this space.”

We have reached out to G2A to ask if they have a response to Rose’s Change.org petition. But G2A’s head of communications Maciej Kuc told BBC News that the company doesn’t plan on removing indie games from its market place “anytime soon,” and that “hundreds of developers earn money from selling their keys through marketplaces such as G2A.”

G2A also partly put the blame on developers themselves for being fooled by fake influencers, causing some of the influx of ill-gotten video game keys on G2A. “If the developer doesn’t check them thoroughly, the keys sometimes end up in the scammers’ hands.”

Matt Kim is a reporter for IGN. You can reach him on Twitter.



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