This week Gearbox Software's publishing arm announced a promotional partnership deal with game marketplace G2A, then quickly threatened to cancel it unless G2A takes specific steps to combat fraud on its platform.
What's interesting here is why Gearbox Publishing claimed it was pulling back on the deal: public condemnation of it, specifically from prominent video game YouTuber John "TotalBiscuit" Bain, who vowed to stop covering the game being promoted (Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition) and all future Gearbox projects if the company did not cut ties with G2A.
Gearbox has since stated to Waypoint and other outlets that it "heard loud and clear the concerns voiced by John 'TotalBiscuit' Bain," and has (publicly) issued G2A a number of changes it wants the retailer to make -- some of which are aimed directly at helping devs hold G2A accountable for fraudulent game key sales:
- Within 30 days, G2A Shield (aka, customer fraud protection) is made free instead of a separate paid subscription service within terms offered by other major marketplaces. All customers who spend money deserve fraud protection from a storefront. To that end, all existing G2A Shield customers are notified by April 14th that fraud protection services are now free and they will no longer be charged for this.
- Within 90 days, G2A will open up a web service or API to certified developers and publishers to search for and flag for immediate removal, keys that are fraudulent. This access will be free of charge and will not require payment by the content holders.
- Within 60 days implement throttling for non-certified developers and publishers at the title, userid, and account payable levels for a fraud flagging process. This is to protect content providers from having large quantities of stolen goods flipped on G2A before they can be flagged.
- 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 representatives say that if G2A does not make a public pledge to enact these changes before the aforementioned version of Bulletstorm launches on Steam (tomorrow, April 7th), Gearbox will take advantage of a clause in its contract with G2A to back out of the deal.
Gamasutra has reached out to G2A representatives for a response, but has yet to hear back.
Bain has since published an account of why, specifically, he believes G2A is a haven for thievery and fraud, as well as his communication with Gearbox about the issue. His concerns are well in line with past complaints from game developers and publishers about G2A's business practices as a game key reseller; the company was even once described by a self-professed indie game key scammer as "[one of the] great sites to sell fraudelent keys."