Update April 10, 2017: G2A have released a statement about the demands made by Gearbox last week, saying, "All of the requests made of G2A.com in the ultimatum have in fact long been part of our marketplace."
So G2A claim that Gearbox's demands were already met by default, then. For a start, they say G2A Shield is just a way to expedite the refund process. Those without the protection will still be refunded for dodgy keys, it'll just take longer. Oh, and the 10% discount it gives you apparently offsets the cost.
"The main purpose and function of G2A Shield is to provide buyers with immense convenience and comfort, as well as additional features such as 10% cashback (which actually ensures that the Shield subscription cost and more is refunded to each person that buys games more than once every few months)," say G2A.
The company also go on to explain that their site has no hidden charges, even though this wasn't one of Gearbox's complaints.
When tackling the subject of letting developers flag keys, G2A say they already have a system in place. "Our marketplace only loses due to fraud, as G2A.com refunds buyer’s(sic) out of our own pocket for keys that stop working, even though we have no legal obligation to do so," G2A explain.
"We even issue refunds for keys that stop working a year and a half later, regardless if the buyer had a G2A Shield subscription or not. Let us be clear here: we care about the satisfaction of every single customer."
G2A say there's an ulterior motive for people criticising their business. G2A is a business that values a free market, they say, and this includes the sale of digital goods.
"Some developers, and a few influential YouTubers (with John Bain at the forefront) would like to spread an image of G2A.com as a place which exists from being an intermediary in selling illegally acquired keys," they suggest.
"This depiction is far removed from reality. The reality is that the keys on G2A.com come from legitimate sources. Our marketplace is a leader in security and boasts one of the lowest fraud rates in the industry. G2A.com employs over 100 people whose job is to ensure the legality of keys, transaction security, and compliance with the most stringent anti-fraud regulations."
The reason they won't give developers access to the key database is because they're worried developers might delete legitimate keys. They say most of their keys come from bundle resales. There's no mention of keys acquired by email scams, which Vlambeer talked us through last week. We've asked for further comment on this, however.
"G2A.com’s goal is to provide the best possible conditions for both buyers and sellers, while providing the best prices for legal games," say G2A. "We do everything in our power to uphold the best possible relationships with developers and ensure the highest standards in the fight against dishonest sellers.
"At the same time, we respect our critics and believe that they have the good of the industry at heart. Unfortunately, sometimes they do not understand how G2A.com works and as such this misunderstanding causes them to mislead the public about our company.
"The best proof of this are the four ultimatums formulated in part by John Bain, which, it turns out that were completely unnecessary as all of the issues raised have long been a part of the G2A.com marketplace. Most of the allegations levied against us are based on both a lack of knowledge, and a lack of desire to learn the other side of the story."
Update April 7, 2017: In the wake of public outcry, Gearbox gave game key marketplace G2A 24-hours to commit to a company-wide change in policies, otherwise they would pull their upcoming Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition retail partnership. That period is now up and Gearbox’s demands haven’t been met, so they’re cutting ties.
In a request for comment from Waypoint, Gearbox said the process to revert the partnership had already begun.
"As there has been no public movement from G2A by the time Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition launched now on PC, Gearbox Publishing will be doing their part to not directly support a marketplace that did not make the new public commitment to protecting customers and developers requested by Gearbox Publishing," said Gearbox head of publishing Steve Gibson.
"We do not control G2A's marketplace or where they may obtain keys from parties outside of Gearbox Publishing," added Gibson, "but we can confirm that today we have begun executing on our extraction process."
Only this morning did Waypoint get a response from G2A, who said they were “in the process of talking with Gearbox”.
G2A have recently been vocal about making steps to legitimise their business, but many developers still oppose it. In the past, we’ve had some game creators saying they would prefer gamers pirate their games than buy them on key marketplaces. According to this tweet from Vlambeer co-founder Rami Ismail, that perception hasn’t changed:
Until G2A starts treating devs & pubs properly, the only way you can buy any of my games there is against my will. Please just pirate them.— Rami Ismail (@tha_rami) April 7, 2017
Original Story April 6, 2017: Gearbox announced the other day that they were teaming up with G2A to sell special editions of Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition. The announcement was met with the backlash you’d expect. You see, G2A have been accused in the past of allowing a market of stolen keys to thrive, though they’ve denied all claims of fraud levelled at them.
Still, many don’t see G2A as a legitimate retailer, thanks to that used key market they operate, in which anyone can sell game keys, regardless of how they’re obtained. It’s this negative public perception that caused the outcry. It all came to a boil when TotalBiscuit tweeted: “Pulling coverage plans for [Bulletstorm] and future Gearbox titles. No support for crooks.”
This tweet has seemingly forced Gearbox to look at who they’re partnered with. To placate their audience, they’ve now released a list of demands. G2A must adhere to these requests, or Gearbox will pull their partnership. We asked G2A for comment yesterday, but have had no response as yet.
Gearbox sent a response to Eurogamer. In it, they say they “heard loud and clear the concerns voiced by John 'TotalBiscuit' Bain”. Gearbox have since researched G2A and have put together a proposal for the two companies to work together. Essentially, G2A must make a public commitment to change four things before Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition launches on Steam, erm, tomorrow.
The first demand is that G2A Shield is made free within 30 days. G2A Shield is supposed to offer buyer’s protection from fraud, which Gearbox now say should be a right. It's been flagged as one of the most troublesome business practises at G2A for a while now. In fact, we did an investigation into G2A Shield ages ago.
The second request is that G2A open up a web service or API for certified developers and publishers to search and remove fraudulent keys. This free service must be launched within 90 days.
Elsewhere, the key marketplace must commit to implementing throttling measure for sellers within 60 days, putting restrictions on accounts on non-certified developers and publishers to better flag fraud. “This is to protect content providers from having large quantities of stolen goods flipped on G2A before they can be flagged,” say Gearbox.
And lastly, there’s this: “Within 30 days, G2A restructures its payment system so that customers who wish to buy and sell legitimate keys are given a clear, simple fee-structure that is easy to understand and contains no hidden or obfuscated charges. Join the ranks of other major marketplaces.
“Gearbox Publishing won't support a marketplace that is unwilling to make these commitments and execute on them.”