Developers and publishers have been butting heads with key reseller G2A this month, criticising the company for allegedly facilitating the sale of illegally obtained game keys. G2A’s attempts to smooth things over only seemed to incense its critics on Twitter, but it’s giving it another shot, proposing a solution that will block keys from sale.
For a primer on key resellers like G2A, check out Tyler’s explanation from the PC Gamer Show. Indie developers and publishers in particular have gotten into public spats with G2A before, and even developers it’s partnered with, like Gearbox, have been turned off by its business practises. This month, developers told players to pirate games instead of using the platform, and a petition was set up demanding that it stop selling indie games entirely.
On its website, G2A has announced what it claims is a solution: a key-blocking tool for developers to use. According to the company, the two main issues are keys originally being given out for review making their way onto the marketplace and keys obtained from giveaways where people have used bots or some other method to circumvent the rules. This tool will allow registered devs to list keys they don’t want sold on G2A.
Even when it’s offering solutions, however, it can’t help but suggest developers are just blowing this out of proportion. After trying to promote the idea that credit card fraud is extremely unlikely in a statement last week (and "pretty much impossible" via an advertorial that a G2A representative offered 10 outlets, before asking them not to add any disclosure) it’s instead implying that review keys and giveaways are the main problems. And even then, it adds that they only "represent a very small fraction of all the keys sold on the marketplace".
The key-blocking tool also puts the onus on developers. Pasting keys into a list might not take very long, but combating fraud on another company’s platform shouldn’t be their responsibility. G2A also hasn’t started work on it, either, and only will if 100 developers sign up within a month. The list will be public. Making it will be "time-consuming and expensive", apparently.
G2A does acknowledge this is not a solution to all the issues that have been raised. It also touches on the petition, framing it as developers wanting to remove their games from the free market, which is a wild way to describe it. Divorced from the post accompanying it, the key-blocker does sound like a positive step forward, but I doubt it will put the conflict to rest.