An indie developer has claimed that a well-known PC-key resale website has sold over $450,000 worth of its games, without remunerating the creators.
In an email sent to The Palace of Wisdom, Alex Nichiporchik of publisher tinyBuild (Speedrunners) accused G2A.com of selling nearly half a million dollars’ worth of its games, whilst the developer got nothing in return.
G2A.com was described by the publisher as “like eBay for game keys,” allowing players to sell unwanted PC keys picked up from bundles and deals in order to make a few dollars, whilst giving buyers a good price on games. The site is widely popular, and has even been known to sponsor gaming events.
However, Nichiporchik claims that the site’s business model is “fundamentally flawed” and “facilitates a black market economy”, accusing some retailers on the site of using stolen credit cards to buy a wealth of game keys to sell at “half the retail price.” According to Nichiporchik, the chargebacks associated with such activity has hurt tinyBuild’s sale of its games through its own online shop.
“The shop collapsed when we started to get hit by chargebacks.” said Nichiporchik in the email, “I’d start seeing thousands of transactions, and our payment provider would shut us down within days. Moments later you’d see G2A being populated by cheap keys of games we had just sold on our shop.”
The tinyBuild executive emailed G2A, expressing the effects of these transactions on the publisher-developer’s business. According to Nichiporchik, the total value of the G2A transactions was approximately $200,000; closer to $450,000 if the keys had been sold at retail price. After asking for compensation, he received the following reply:
“So the issue you have pointed to is related to keys you have already sold. They are your partners that have sold the keys on G2A, which they purchased directly from you. If anything this should give you an idea on the reach that G2A has, instead of your partners selling here you could do that directly.
I can tell you that no compensation will be given. If you suspect that these codes where all chargebacks aka fraud/stolen credit card purchases I would be happy to look into that however I will say this requires TinyBuild to want to work with G2A. Both in that you need to revoke the keys you will be claiming as stolen from the players who now own them and supply myself with the codes you suspect being a part of this. We will check to see if that is the case but I doubt that codes with such large numbers would be that way.
Honestly I think you will be surprised in that it is not fraud, but your resale partners doing what they do best, selling keys. They just happen to be selling them on G2A. It is also worth pointing out that we do not take a share of these prices, our part comes from the kickback our payment providers.”
G2A implied that the developer’s distribution partners are scamming them, and will not offer compensation.
“G2A claims that our distribution partners are scamming us and simply selling keys on G2A. They won’t help us unless we are willing to work with them.” said Nichiporchik in the email. “We are not going to get compensated, and they expect us to undercut our own retail partners (and Steam!) to compete with the unauthorized resellers.”
He continued: “There’s no real way to know which keys leaked or not, and deactivating full batches of game keys would make a ton of fans angry, be it keys bought from official sellers or not.”
After its original site was affected by a DDOS attack, a blog post was published on tinyBuild’s website addressing the matter. You can read it here.
TinyBuild is known for such previous titles as Speedrunners, Punch Club and Party Hard, as well as upcoming post-apocalyptic survival game The Final Station. During this year’s E3, the studio also unveiled new speedy-stealth brawler Mr. Shifty, in which players use teleportation to infiltrate “the world’s most secure facility.”