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Developers call for players to pirate their games rather than buy from G2A

Studio and publisher behind Descenders decry controversial retailer's sponsored ads, Rami Ismail backs them up

G2A is once again under fire as developers are encouraging gamers to download their titles illegally rather than buy them from the divisive marketplace.

The outcry began with a tweet from Mike Rose, founder of indie publisher No More Robots, who observed that G2A has paid for sponsored ads on Google. Anyone searching for games such as Descenders (published by Rose's firm) will see G2A links first.

"We make zero money on our games if people buy through the ads," Rose tweeted, before adding that it is impossible for users to turn the ads off.

"Please, if you're going to buy a game from G2A, just pirate it instead. Genuinely. Devs don't see a penny either way, so we're much rather G2A didn't see money either."

Rose later claimed that G2A arranged for several of their sponsored streamers to read out statements "explaining why they're not evil" following the traction his tweet gained.

Descenders developer Rage Squid also backed up Rose, encouraging players to torrent their game instead of buying on G2A, as did Vlambeer's Rami Ismail.

"If you can't afford or don't want to buy our games full-price, please pirate them rather than buying them from a key reseller," Ismail tweeted.

"These sites cost us so much potential dev time in customer service, investigating fake key requests, figuring out credit card chargebacks, and more."

G2A has developed a reputation over the years for enabling grey market key reselling, whereby users buy game keys in bulk from cheaper territories and sell them for profit in more expensive markets -- with no share of each sale going to the original developer.

GamesIndustry.biz interviewed G2A on stage at Reboot Develop 2017, when the firm insisted it is not a grey marketplace but that "people just don't understand our business."

We have reached out to G2A for comment.

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Latest comments (1)

Bosko Milosevic CEO & Founder, Self-Emplyed2 months ago
There are 3 sellers on G2A.com selling your product, one is selling steam gift, other two steam keys of your game.

When it comes to steam gifts on G2A , Valve shut down trading on Steam platform 2 years ago. At the moment steam gift trading is operated via gambling/trading skin sites via this site and other similar sites operated by bots. This is something you or any publisher/developer can't control, you have to address it higher up to platform holder (Steam) and they have to resolve it somehow in a timely manner. This products do generate you sales, but from the lowest cost region that has region free products ( probably UK).

When it comes to Steam keys, there are two sellers selling the game @ ~13 euros, when you deduct the G2A fee, they are getting around 11.35 euros for your game, so they are getting it for less than that to keep some profit coming in. There are multiple ways they can acquire them, here is some of them:

- as mentioned above in article fraudulent purchases ( this is the only argument game journalist tend to use when it comes to grey marketplaces, but you cannot run a 30 million monthly visits site like G2A with 250k positive reviews on TrustPilot with fraudulent purchases as majority of sales
- free review keys
- hardware promos that have software attached to it
- keys are obtained from your partner stores in cheaper regions where you sell steam keys ( this is something you have to discuss with your partner stores)
- employees from your company leaking keys ( dissatisfied ex employees, sales of the game are bust so employees get steam keys as payment and sell them on grey market)

Until SKA ( silent key activation) comes up to stop the grey market reselling, you are left to yourself to solve this problems.

Easiest solution I can recommend to any developer/publisher that wants to stop grey market sales of their products, is to apply to all grey marketplaces ( G2A/Kinguin/Gamivo) as a developer, all other sellers get banned from selling your product and you put RRP on your product. Fee on average is 10% + 0.35 on most of them, so you are getting a better deal than on Epic Store ( 12%), on top of that you stop the grey area.

Out of two evils, choose the lesser one, imho its better than telling your customers to torrent your online multiplayer game in the first month of the release when the sales are crucial.
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