Despite what CEO Bartosz Skwarczek tells MCV when we sit down for our interview, the last twelve months have not been overly positive for codes marketplace G2A.
In October 2015, League of Legends maker Riot asked teams sponsored by the retailer to remove its branding from their shirts and merchandise. This was due to G2A selling accounts for the MOBA, as well as boosting packs – both banned by Riot's terms and conditions.
That was before indie publisher TinyBuild accused G2A of costing it more than $450,000 due to what CEO Alex Nichiporchik described as a ‘fraud economy'.
G2A was allegedly hosting auctions for codes bought with stolen credit cards, meaning TinyBuild didn't see a single penny from these sales.
G2A denied this, but nevertheless announced new measures to make its marketplace more secure and beneficial for developers whose games were being sold there.
First, it launched G2A Direct, a way of courting game developers. This is in response to the studios complaining that they were not making money off third-party sellers. As a part of Direct, first-party sellers were given priority on searches, and developers can apply for ten per cent of revenue generated from third-party sales.
If what Skwarczek says is true, these measures have been met with a positive reception from the development community.
In the first three weeks of G2A Direct we had 700 applications [for payment] from developers,” he says. Right now we are in the analysing stage of the process. We are surprised that the reception has been so good. We also received many testimonials from some partners. There are companies like 551 and Chernobyl that we are working with. We had to grow our department for co-operating with developers. It's great.”
"We have more than 100 factors that we are checking on all the auctions. This is a 100 per cent legitimate business."
Bartosz Skwarczek, G2A
Furthermore, G2A is looking to improve its relationship with the development community.
We want developers to be a part of the marketplace ecosystem,” Skwarczek says.
When we started G2A, we wanted to work with developers, but they didn't want to work with us. After that, we created a marketplace, we opened for the customers and we created a marketplace with 10m users. Now I think is the time to bring it altogether.
Developers are happy because of customers and customers are happy because there's more content. There's one important thing there – the more sellers we have on our marketplace, the more competition there is. And competition is good. Because end users receive the better product. This is how G2A works. Every day we are
looking for new solutions like G2A Direct.”
The other part of G2A's charm offensive is seller verification. One of the major criticisms the marketplace has faced was that codes sold on its retail platform from third-parties had been bought using stolen credit cards.
Thus it has upped its requirements for people to be able to sell games on G2A. One of these requirements was verification via social media platforms – namely Facebook or Russian social network VK – to prove that sellers are in fact real. On the face of it, this hardly seems like an ironclad security measure given that literally anyone can set up a Facebook profile.
To understand the process of verification, you must understand what the business model looks like,” Skwarczek says.
We do verification on a few levels. We verify every auction that is coming. We have more than 100 factors that we are checking on all the auctions. If any auction appears suspicious, strange or different – the price is too low or the region isn't good, then we go deeper in to verifying it. Sometimes, very often, we ask for additional information from the seller, like purchase proof, an invoice or where they bought the code from. That's the first part.
The second part is the customer. When they want to buy the product, we verify how they do it. So we eliminate stolen credit cards for instance. We verify, again, by more than 100 factors, to be completely sure that the customer is doing the right thing, that they are not a fraud. The next level is when the seller is selling something, and receiving money from customers, they must take money out from the ecosystem. Then we verify them again. If someone is a big seller, it's very important.
If you are a seller, let's say, a wholesaler, then the process to verify you is very extensive with. We check not only your website, your purchase history, your ID, your company documents, but also things related to your behaviour on the market. All these things, we verify with the seller who wants to take the money out of the marketplace. With regards to pre-verification, if you want to set up an account, then you have to give your telephone number and Facebook profile. Okay, let's assume that someone has a fake profile with a few friends from a strange country or something. That's a signal for us to look deeper at the person. If they have a decent Facebook profile, maybe 1,000 friends, and it maybe looks real – you can easily verify that. This is a trigger for us to go deeper into the verification process. If you want to sell more than ten items – which could be dangerous – we automatically ask them to provide us with proof of product.”
"We want developers to be a part of the marketplace ecosystem."
Bartosz Skwarczek, G2A
Through this interview it's apparent that while G2A believes it is doing nothing wrong, it is nevertheless keen to clear up its public image. Its negative reputation was starting to catch up with it, to the point that MCV knows that at least one UK PR agency has refused to take its business in the last few months.
Let's start from the beginning. This is a 100 per cent legitimate business,” Skwarczek insists.
We work with top companies like PricewaterhouseCoopers or Deloittes to be sure that everything we do is compliant. That's one thing. Our ambitions are pretty simple. We just want to create the most secure and the most user-friendly marketplace ecosystem to sell and buy digital products. This is why we are implementing new secure solutions, this is why we are verifying over 100 factors, this is why we work with the best providers in the world when it comes to security. If you go to our website, you see testimonials from companies like Paypal because they verify their stats and see how secure it is. We want to create the most secure, the most user friendly marketplace ecosystem to buy and sell digital games.”