In July 2019, G2A, the company behind the controversial G2A Marketplace, offered to open its transaction history to an independent auditor. The goal was to clear its name of any wrongdoing after years of accusations it helps facilitate the sale of stolen goods. Only a single developer took them up on the offer. Now G2A will voluntarily pay them nearly $40,000.
Among its many lines of business, the Polish-owned and Hong Kong-based G2A runs a storefront where users from around the world can sell game keys. It likens that service to retailers like Amazon and eBay. Developers of all sizes have complained for years that the G2A Marketplace allows for the sale of stolen goods. The situation has led to shouting matches and heckling between developers and G2A employees in the real world.
In 2019, G2A made what it claimed to be a bold offer, promising 10 times the value of any fraudulently obtained game keys sold on its marketplace. There was only one catch: Developers had to work with G2A and an independent auditor. Only one company, Czech-based independent developer Wube Software — makers of Factorio — signed on to the program. G2A told Polygon at the time that it intended to use either PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, KMPG or Deloitte to perform the audit.
Unfortunately, according to a blog post issued on Wednesday, G2A couldn’t come to terms with those large firms and just did the audit themselves.
“Wube reported to G2A a list of 321 keys that it believed had been sold online illegitimately,” G2A said in the blog post. “After assessing a number of independent auditing companies and finding none that would meet our agreed requirements, Wube and G2A decided that G2A should proceed with an internal investigation. This investigation confirmed that 198 of Wube’s keys had been sold via its Marketplace between March 2016 — June 2016.”
As a result, GamesIndustry.biz reports that G2A has paid out $39,600 to Wube, which is — as promised — 10 times the value of the full-price game keys in question.
In its post, G2A accepts no blame for allowing the illegally obtained keys to be sold.
“When we launched this offer, we wanted to send a clear message to the gaming community that fraud hurts all parties,” G2A said in the blog post. “As we spell out in this blog, fraud directly hurts individuals who buy illegitimate keys, it hurts gaming developers and it ultimately hurts G2A because we are forced — as the transaction facilitator — to cover costs related to the sale. We wanted to amplify that message and capture people’s attention.”
It went on to add that, going forward, it is now committed to compensating developers in full for any fees incurred “for any keys sold via G2A Marketplace, if they are able to prove they were illegitimate.”
Update: G2A responded to Polygon with a statement.
“We would be the first to admit that, in our formative years as a company, we took too long to recognize that a small number of individuals were abusing our Marketplace,” said a G2A spokesperson. “However, the criticism we received was the wake-up call we needed, and over the last years we have been totally committed to tackling any incidents of fraud on our site. Today we use some of the most sophisticated proprietary anti-fraud AI technology of any online marketplace for digital products.”