It’s long been known that gray market key reseller G2A isn’t exactly a bastion of moral integrity. Public relations were further fouled recently, when a number of indie game devs stated that they would prefer players to pirate their games, rather than buy them through the notoriously shady site. Anti-G2A sentiment was exacerbated when, a few days later, indiegames.com contributor Thomas Faust was contacted by a representative from the potentially-illicit organization with an offer for a financial stipend in exchange for some positive press… or, in other words, a bribe.
The dust is still settling from this one, and it’s a little hard to know the definitive truth behind what’s going on, but it’s definitely safe to say that G2A hasn’t exactly done much to help its case. The site has been met with mass condemnation multiple times in the past, yet their underhanded dealings are inevitably swallowed up by whatever is up next in the gaming news cycle. In fact, the site’s most recent debacle was quickly fading from the headlines in favor of EA’s confounding statements regarding their public image. Had it not been for the subsequent attempt at bribery and botched cover-up, the enraged masses would already have someone else locked in their sights.
Yet, here we are. For some totally baffling reason, G2A saw fit to attempt to persuade as many as ten indie game-centric sites to run articles and opinion pieces in their defense. Obviously, this backfired, and the company was outed on Twitter for trying to engage journalists in what may have been completely illegal behavior.
According to Faust, the G2A representative who contacted him stipulated that the promotion wasn’t to be marked as sponsored, and no affiliation with the site was to be declared. This is legally dubious at best, flat out illegal at worst, and it should come as no surprise that, thus far, none of the contacted sites took the deal.
To say that G2A has a bit of an issue with public perception is to say that Chernobyl has a small problem with radiation, and it’s honestly fair to claim that both sites can be equally toxic. While there may very well be some legitimate vendors working with G2A—heck, there might even be a majority of them—one need only look at the prices of some recent releases to get a feel for how sketchy this site can be. Furthermore, their utterly awful "oops-didn’t-mean-to-send-that" explanation was difficult to believe and incredibly unlikely at best.
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.— G2A.COM (@G2A_com) July 8, 2019
The unfortunate thing about all of this is, while the internet may be burning effigies and replying to their automated Twitter posts with snarky comments, it does little more than help spread awareness of the site. The chances that this controversy, the latest in a long line of foul-ups and fumbles on their part, will bring them down entirely are basically nil, and it could very well be that the less scrupulous among us who were previously unfamiliar with the site may become its next patrons.
Yes, G2A did a bad thing, and yes, they do come across as entirely despicable. However, at the end of the day, simple outrage isn’t going to do much to stem what’s essentially the closest thing to a digital black market that an internet user can access without downloading Tor. Perhaps the most damning thing we can do at this point is to go back to pretending that they don’t exist.