[UPDATED] Unknown Worlds’ claim for G2A refund described as ‘slander’ by online marketplace

UPDATE (14/08): G2A’s head of communications, Maciej Kuc, has reached out to us and posted a blog post in response to the claims made by Unknown World’s Charlie Cleveland regarding revenue lost due to fraudulent sales of Natural Selection 2.

The online marketplace states that G2A did not exist in 2013, the year referred to in Cleveland’s link to an Engadget story, but rather its predecessor Go2Arena, which wasn’t a marketplace selling third-party keys. “It didn’t have Natural Selection 2 in its offering,” Kuc confirmed to us, adding that “Go2arena was selling only the codes for the biggest, most popular titles.”

G2A’s blog statement goes on to say that Cleveland’s claims are “just slander, and we expect him to at least edit his posts, if not straight up apologise.”

ORIGINAL STORY (13/08): A second developer has come forward asking key reseller site G2A to refund “10 times the money” it alleges it has lost after the developer was forced to refund illegally purchased copies of their game on the site.

Charlie Cleveland – founder and game director at Subnautica developer Unknown Worlds – shared his experience with G2A on Twitter.

“Hey [G2A] – thank you for offering to pay 10x the revenue lost due to our [Natural Selection 2] game keys sold on your shady platform,” he wrote. “You now owe us $300,000. Thanks.”

After a number of independent developers publicly requested players to pirate their games rather than buy them through key reseller marketplace G2A last month, G2A said it would “pay developers 10 times the money they lost on chargebacks after their illegally obtained keys were sold on G2A” if the developers “prove such a thing actually happened on their stores”. It also wrote a lengthy justification for its business practices, stating: “it’s a good thing that people can re-sell keys and, with or without G2A, they will continue to do so”.

In response to a petition pushing G2A to stop selling independent games through its site, G2A then detailed a new system that enables developers to block keys they don’t want to be sold on its marketplace. Citing the project as being “time-consuming and expensive”, the company asked for developers to register their interest. If the project received 100 signatories between now and August 15th, it would develop the new system, but yesterday GI.biz reported only 19 companies had gone ahead and registered interest in G2A’s proposal.

Cleveland also hit back at claims the key blocker project would be “time-consuming and expensive”.

“It’s a load of crap that this tool would be ‘expensive’ to develop,” he said (thanks, GI.biz). “It’s also suspect how they are pushing the names of developers who don’t want their games to be sold on their service — it’s almost like they want blowback from players who don’t understand the shadiness of their service and be encouraged to review bomb those developers. 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 grey market sales and credit card fraud.”

Cleveland’s claims follow a similar bid from Factorio developer Wube Software, which has also asked G2A to refund it. The reseller responded by confirming it would “start contacting some audit companies” but admitted it would “take some time”.

G2A’s subsequent efforts to bolster its public image backfired when people approached by the company to run undisclosed sponsored posts went public. The email explained that G2A had prepared an “unbiased” article called “selling stolen keys on gaming marketplaces is pretty much impossible”. But while it describes the article as being “a transparent and just review of the problem of stolen key reselling”, it then went on to ask the recipient to post the article on their website without a disclaimer that the article was sponsored, contrary to FTC and ASA guidelines. 

G2A has since tried to distance itself from the email, stating the correspondence was “absolutely unacceptable” and sent out “without authorisation”.

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

Check Also

N64 and Mega Drive games are coming to a new Nintendo Switch online ‘expansion pack.’

The new tier, exhaustingly titled Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack, was announced during last night's Nintendo Direct, and will feature N64 and Mega Drive games as part of the subscription service.