Subnautica developer Unknown Worlds wants G2A to pay out $300,000 in order to cover 10 times the money they lost due to credit card chargebacks.
You might not have heard of G2A, the digital marketplace that specializes in reselling gaming products. Actually, they mostly make their bank on reselling product codes for Steam, Origin, Xbox, and other digital platforms.
G2A doesn't buy and sell the keys themselves though--they provide a digital marketplace for other people to buy and sell keys. On the surface, this sounds like a fine idea--like Amazon or eBay, but for video games. It also provides a great way for someone to resell an unwanted copy of any given game they got as part of a hardware bundle, as is often done with new video cards.
The problem here is that G2A has had some... shall we say, "shady" business practices in the past. For much of G2A's history, the site operated as a "grey market," meaning that they didn't police where the codes came from or who was selling them. That meant G2A would often sell codes that were stolen or otherwise obtained illegally.
Not only did this cost game developers cash because their game was stolen, it cost even more when someone buys a code, uses it, but then calls their credit card company to “chargeback” the transaction. Those chargeback costs are then put on the developer, making them out twice the price of the game.
G2A only started requiring resellers to provide names and addresses back in 2017, but that hasn’t been nearly enough to break their image as a purveyor of stolen goods. The company recently tried to rehabilitate their image by proposing a “key blocking” tool that devs could use to block product keys from being resold on their service.
However, G2A said they’d only make the tool if 100 developers signed up for it. To sweeten the deal, they offered to pay out 10 times the price for any chargebacks made to developers that sign on.
The response has been tepid, to say the least. In some cases, it’s been outright hostile.
As is the case with Unknown Worlds co-founder Charlie Cleveland. The Subnautica director took to Twitter to accuse G2A of being “a gross company” while also criticizing the company for only offering to create a key blocking tool when it should already be offered on the website to prevent piracy.
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 @RaveofRavendale— Charlie Cleveland (@Flayra) August 12, 2019
You now owe us $300,000. Thanks. https://t.co/J5qof6wBZD pic.twitter.com/Oq97ofLoLD
“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,” said Cleveland on Monday. "So, G2A, if you really want to put your money where your mouth is, you will now pay us (Unknown Worlds) $300,000."
So far, G2A has revealed that 19 developers have signed up for the key blocking tool and has extended the deadline to sign up until the end of the month. So far, it seems doubtful they’ll convince enough developers to hit their 100-dev target, and without the option to block keys from being resold, G2A will remain a den of scum and villainy.