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Murky world of PC game key reselling exposed by indie developer

G2A in the firing line.

One indie developer claims a popular PC key-reselling website sold nearly half a million dollars' worth of its games - and didn't receive a penny in return.

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tinyBuild's PC game hit Punch Club is cheap as chips on G2A.com.

In an email sent to Eurogamer Alex Nichiporchik, boss of Punch Club and SpeedRunners publisher tinyBuild, accused G2A.com of selling $450,000 worth of its games.

G2A, which acts as a retailer and an online marketplace for video game key selling, sort of like an eBay for PC games, is perhaps the most well-known website of its kind, and even sponsors streamers and game events.

G2A is popular because it offers an easy way for people to sell off keys for games they don't want, and in the process customers get a cheap price.

Nichiporchik, however, described G2A's business model as "fundamentally flawed" and said it "facilitates a black market economy". He accused G2A users of using a database of stolen credit cards to buy game keys in bulk from a bundle or third-party key reseller, then putting them up on G2A to sell them at half the retail price.

In tinyBuild's case, it attempted to sell its games from its own online shop, but it was crippled by chargebacks associated with fraudulent credit card purchases.

"I'd start seeing thousands of transactions, and our payment provider would shut us down within days," Nichiporchik said. "Moments later you'd see G2A being populated by cheap keys of games we had just sold on our shop."

Nichiporchik spoke with G2A and believes he has worked out the financial impact the marketplace has had on his business. The total value of the transactions on G2A was around $200k, he said. Meanwhile, if these transactions happened at retail price, it's closer to $450k. Here's the breakdown:

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Nichiporchik asked G2A for compensation and was told, flatly, no. Here's the response:

  • 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.

It sounds like Nichiporchik has hit a brick wall with G2A - the website suggests tinyBuild's distribution partners are scamming the developer, and it should take up the matter elsewhere. Perhaps that's why he's taken the step of contacting press to complain and pen a blog post.

"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," he says.

"Make your own conclusions."

(TinyBuild's website is currently slow to load, the result of a DDOS attack launched shortly after the blog post went live, according to Nichiporchik.)

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