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Gray market reseller rolls over, agrees to incremental changes at G2A (update)

Plan falls short of key demands made by independent developer Tiny Build

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

After weeks of enduring a public and nasty dispute with developer Tiny Build, gray market game code reseller G2A has agreed to make concessions in favor of creators and fans.

The seven-point plan, detailed in an email sent by G2A to Polygon late last night, sets new guidelines for how games will be sold on the secondary marketplace, what portion of the proceeds developers are entitled to, and the kind of access developers have to root out fraud.

However, the measures fall short of key demands made by Tiny Build, specifically to set a minimum sale price for all game keys.

The situation began when Tiny Build discovered $450,000 of its own game keys had been sold through G2A. Later, CEO Alex Nichiporchik was able to purchase codes for titles like Punch Club and SpeedRunners from resellers on G2A and link them directly back to credit card fraud perpetrated through his company’s own online store.

A week later, the situation escalated when G2A gave Tiny Build a three-day deadline to provide evidence of fraud, which caused Tiny Build to respond with its own ultimatum that G2A change how it does business.

It would appear that, at least in part, G2A has capitulated.

The statement sent to Polygon outlines the following new policies at G2A:

  1. Royalties on Third-party Auctions: Developers may apply a royalty of up to 10 percent for any of their products sold on the G2A marketplace, which provides a way for developers to monetize third-party transactions.
  2. Priority Placement: Developer-managed auctions will be listed first, above third-party sellers, to provide more visibility and transparency. Developers will also be able to create their own custom storefront featuring all of their products and promotions.
  3. Chargeback Protection: G2A offers G2A Pay with free integration to developers as a protection on their own websites to mitigate their risk factors (especially beneficial for small developers, beginners and those who feel that their security systems are not sufficient).
  4. Dedicated Database Access: Developers will have access to our database information to verify sales, volume and timing to track the lifecycle of every key and identify illegal practices.
  5. Dedicated Account Managers: We’re expanding our dedicated account manager model to support developers and to resolve any question or issue, especially those related to security concerns.
  6. Developer Funding Option: Many gamers wish to support their favorite developers. For the first time, they will be able to contribute funds directly through an additional button on the developer’s product page.
  7. Expansive Global Access: Multi-language translation program expands exposure for developers to our 10 million global customers who are eager for new games from Indie developers.

While these steps are an improvement, it’s clear that they fall somewhat short of the demands Nichiporchik made last week.

Specifically missing from the seven-point plan is the ability for developers and publishers to set a minimum sale price on G2A. In theory, this means the key reseller is still a viable way for fraudulently obtained game codes to be quickly sold below market value.

Polygon has reached out to both Tiny Build and the International Game Developers Association, which has previously accepted sponsorship dollars from G2A, for comment.

Update: We've received comment from Tiny Build CEO Alex Nichiporchik, which reads in part as follows:

The only tangible part about their program is royalties to developers and database access which undoubtedly is a good step — we will need to see how it works in practice. It still doesn't solve the issue of stolen keys, or the shady business practice of forcing down insurance on consumers...

We as a community want to see more extensive merchant verification to go alongside this.

Unless they actually solve the main issue — fraud on their platform — this initiative invites developers to become accomplices.

You can read the full statement here.

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