Gearbox in hot water after partnering up with key resellers G2A

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Gearbox in trouble after partnering with key resellers G2A 2

Gearbox Softworks is busy prepping the launch of the remastered Bulletstorm, and in the process has announced a very limited line of collector’s editions. The packages come with the same standard fare; a figurine, some throwaway collectibles and in-game content. The confusing part of the announcement has to do with who they’re partnering up with to get the copies out. In this case it’s G2A- a traditionally digital storefront with a messy history of fraud.

G2A, if you’re unaware, has long endured claims of compromised security, fraudulent sales of game keys and pushing developers into a corner and profiting off of their sales issues. There have been many articles detailing their questionable business practices. A lengthy report from Patrick Klepek (previously at Kotaku) details how the key reseller became so big, while developer TinyBuild’s harrowing account of their dealings with the company show how severe their practices can be on smaller independent outlets.

In a nutshell, G2A have been accused again and again of facilitating marketplaces for keys to be sold that have originated from illegal means (whether it be stolen credit cards or illegally obtained keys). In recent months they’ve really tried to hammer home that they’re changing, and a deal with Gearbox could be seen as a first step towards legitimacy. That would be believable, if G2A hadn’t shown that their process hasn’t really changed in a recent Reddit AMA.

The AMA in question focused on the changes G2A was making to the way it ran business, with the company attempting to ensure customers and potential partners that they were investing in better ways to detect fraudulent keys. During the AMA, one user stated how easy it was to flip to selling illegal keys once you became a verified user, which in itself wasn’t a difficult process. The user even submitted a fake listing during the AMA, and had it approved before the session was even over. With the evidence being thrown at them, G2A responded in the only way they shouldn’t have – they banned the user.

G2A fell back on to their typical excuses, stating that without help from developers it is increasingly difficult for them to detect when a key is fraudulent. The company claims to have a team of 100 employees combing listings in an attempt to quell the issue, but reiterated that without help their task was just impossible. Impossible to manage, but certainly not something they’re seemingly willing to turn off – even when admitting that they’re contributing to the problem.

So to have a developer/publisher like Gearbox partner with a company that is financially screwing with other competitors in their trade is curious to say the least. And the backlash has been severe, with threads on Reddit and NeoGAF lambasting Gearbox for the move. Popular gaming personality and YouTuber TotalBiscuit voiced his displeasure over the deal on Twitter, stating that he would cease coverage of the game immediately.

Speaking further with Kotaku, TotalBiscuit detailed why he thinks G2A are so toxic to the industry.

“G2A has offered its own payment system as a ‘solution’ to credit card fraud and mass-chargebacks which cost indie developers and retailers huge amounts of money and put them at risk of being blacklisted by the worlds major credit card companies. A company can decide to work with G2A directly and use their payment solution and API, from which G2A takes a fee. This has been offered to companies such as TinyBuild who claimed to have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue due to G2A as well as smaller startup retailers such as our partner chrono.gg, who also suffered significant credit card fraud and chargebacks early in its life. When they approached G2A regarding this, they offered to give them insight into who was selling stolen keys from chrono.gg but only if they switched to using their payment system and API.

G2A is providing a ‘solution’ to a problem that they created and continue to facilitate and profit from both the solution and the fraud,” he added. “G2A is essentially saying, ‘That’s a nice game you have there, it would be a shame if something were to happen to it.’ That sounds an awful lot like a protection racket to me.”

It’s clear then that this move might have been instigated by G2A, as the company attempts to move past their bad reputation and establish themselves as a more legitimate outlet. But in being the guinea pigs of this experiment, Gearbox might have just inadvertently damaged their own reputation.

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Alessandro Barbosa

You can all call me Sandy until I figure out how to edit this thing, which is probably never. Sandy not good enough? Call me xXx_J0k3R_360degreeN0Sc0pe_xXx. Also, Geoff's a bastard.

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