11 Bit Studios has called out key reseller Kinguin for listing copies of Frostpunk 2 for pre-order before the game’s price has been set.
The developer took to the Frostpunk 2 Twitter account to bring attention to the issue, pointing out that not only has the key reseller listed the game before 11 Bit Studios has even announced the price, but it’s using the Epic Games Store trailer to advertise Steam key sales, and features a PEGI rating for the game that doesn’t exist yet.
“Sorry, but this is ridiculous,” the developers wrote.
Concern over third-party key resellers has been a nascent issue for the last few years, with companies like TinyBuild and No More Robots getting into public fights with storefronts like G2A, claiming that their actions depress game sales and sometimes promote the sale of pirated or stolen copies of games.
Update: An 11 Bit Studios representative provided the following comment for us when we asked them to further elaborate on the impact of the situation:
"We used bitter words but not without a reason; technically speaking, they are selling something that doesn't exist. We have access to the game at its current state for internal testing, of course, but we're not generating keys that could be sold, redeemed, and give players access to the game. Most importantly, we haven't even started a pre-order campaign yet. This means that the false information Kinguin is putting out there can cause a bunch of troubles when Frostpunk 2 is officially available for purchase. This could include backlash aimed at us about Kinguin's pre-orders and their taken-straight-out-of-space game price if our official pre-order price is different. We could also receive complaints from people who bought those non-existent keys from Kinguin now and then having trouble actually getting the keys from them down the road."
"It's utterly sad to see Kinguin trying to benefit from our work and attempt to shamelessly swindle our devoted community while their interest is piqued from the overwhelmingly positive reception to the announcement trailer. We would be eager to take some action against such practices, but it won't be possible without other industry representatives also standing behind that cause. We may try to make them remove the pre-order page from their website, but they will likely just ignore us as this is something they do with other games. Any legal actions could be extremely difficult as they are—probably for a reason—a Hong Kong-registered company."
Update (8/20): A Kinguin spokesperson told Gamasutra that the company has removed some of the information on its store page for Frostpunk 2 keys (including the PEGI rating), but that the store listing will remain up so customers can "pre-order" keys from merchants.
"We know there is much excitement surrounding the upcoming release of Frostpunk 2 and want to connect fans with merchants who are offering the key," Acting CEO and CFO Brandon Doerfler told Gamasutra. "We apologize for the inclusion of unconfirmed information that appeared in the listing on Kinguin.net in regard to Frostpunk 2. We have since removed this and made it clear to anyone visiting our site that the game is available for preorder only."