[Update] TinyBuild Says Grey Market Key Seller Cost Company $450,000, G2A Responds

 

Update: G2A has responded to our request for comment with a lengthy statement. In short, the company says it attempted to work with TinyBuild, but that the publisher made “many unjustified demands.”

 

The retailer also disputes the $450,000 valuation on the keys sold, suggesting that it was not based on real market value and instead was calculated based on the highest recorded price. G2A also says it is willing to work with TinyBuild, but has laid out an ultimatum requiring the publisher to provide a list of codes it believes have been stolen within three days.

 

G2A.COM would like to inform partners, gamers, developers, publishers and other interested parties that there is a back story on the current issue with tinyBuild. G2A recently asked for cooperation with tinyBuild to investigate the matter and to get a quick and solid resolution.

 

It is important to note that G2A is a marketplace where everyone is allowed to start selling all types of digital gaming goods. G2A is a common and legitimate point of sale for many developers to sell keys outside of retail distribution, with more than 200 thousand sellers in total. Before tinyBuild reached out to G2A, we identified more than 200 tinyBuild product auctions on the G2A Marketplace and suspended all of them because they violated G2A.COM Terms and Conditions and security procedures.

 

The original source of this case goes back to March 22nd of 2016. The official tinyBuild Twitter account posted a tweet containing unreliable information regarding the piracy rates of their latest title Punch Club. Naturally our representatives reached out, to educate and offer assistance to the developers.

 

What followed were email conversations. Many unjustified demands were made by tinyBuild regarding the removal of G2A marketplace merchant stock from the marketplace and compensation for their estimated value of products. All questions asked of G2A were answered, all data requested by tinyBuild was given freely by G2A, including the number of sales and their median value for the life time of the product page (original release dates of the products right up until the 8th of June 2016).

 

All G2A asked, was to cooperate with tinyBuild to rectify the issue, which is the list of the keys they deemed without any verification that they are stolen. Only then G2A can compare these keys against the G2A marketplace database and report those findings back to tinyBuild. Unfortunately tinyBuild never came back with the answers to resolve the issue.

 

In reference to the 450 thousand dollars potential lost for tinyBuild:

 

Why did tinyBuild refer only to the highest price point in their product history? While on the real market you can buy their products in a bundle on an 85% off discount as sourced https://steamdb.info/app/207140/, https://isthereanydeal.com/. Finding a better medium price here would give a true overview. TinyBuild should explain to the media why they omitted their sales data from the revenue projection.

 

The questions the gaming industry should be asking is, why did tinyBuild never come back to us with a list of codes that should be taken down from the G2A’s Marketplace?

 

In conclusion, G2A stands to provide support to developers by providing them prompt communication channels, advance tools (exchanging blacklist, identifying suspicious merchants and auctions and ‘KYC’-Know Your Customers procedures) and security award winning payment solution with G2A Pay.

 

TinyBuild should connect back with us and provide us with the list of suspicious keys for further investigation. Thereafter, G2A will be happy to publicly release the results of the investigation of this tinyBuild case.

 

G2A.COM calls for tinyBuild to provide their list of suspicious keys within 3 days from the date of this transmission.

 

We have reached out to TinyBuild for a response to this latest development. We’ll update should the publisher respond.

 

Original Story (June 21, 2016 @ 2:40 p.m. Central):

 

The topic of grey market game key resellers isn’t a new one. In 2014, we reported on a retailer scam that profited off Humble Bundle’s charity efforts. In 2015, Ubisoft took action to deactivate stolen keys appearing on reseller sites.

 

Now, one developer has quantified the impact of grey market sellers on its bottom line. In a post on its website, small publisher TinyBuild says that G2A (one of the companies targeted by Ubisoft for key deactivation in 2015) is directly responsible for $450,000 of lost revenue.

 

G2A (and others like it) function like an auction site for game keys. If you’ve ever purchased a bundle and gotten one or two keys for games you already own, you might consider selling them. However, the system is ripe for abuse.

 

According to TinyBuild, it’s quite easy to use stolen credit cards to buy bundles en masse and then sell the keys on the grey market for a steep discount versus retail pricing.

 

The retailer sold keys for TinyBuild games, reaping revenue of $200,000, none of which will make its way to the publisher. The retail value of those keys would have grossed TinyBuild $450,000.

 

The problem is compounded when the rightful owner of those stolen credit cards report the fraud and the vendors suffer significant chargebacks. The sellers are then out the keys and the revenue related to them. With those additional copies flooding the market, revenue is diverted away from the creator entirely.

 

When TinyBuild reached out to G2A, the retailer suggested that it was the publisher’s own partners that were listing the keys. There is an implication in the correspondence from G2A to TinyBuild that the only way the retailer would look into whether the keys were stolen is if a partnership deal were struck.

 

TinyBuild says that it is in a difficult position. It could deactivate huge batches of keys, but those might very well impact legitimate buyers. The other option is to eat the loss and move on. G2A won’t compensate TinyBuild, and the retailer expects the publisher to play ball and, in turn, undercut its own authorized partners.

 

We’ve reached out to G2A for its side of the story. The company was unable to be reached for comment by publication.

 

[Source: TinyBuild]

 

 

 

Our Take

 

There is an established pattern with third-party key resellers, making them a clearinghouse for illegal activity. It’s all well and good for G2A to wash its hands of the activities of its community sellers, but the impact on developers and publishers is clear. The implication that authorized partners are scamming TinyBuild is ludicrous, and seems like a flimsy excuse in the face of overwhelming evidence of illicit transactions. Especially given G2A’s previous involvement with stolen keys, it’s clear that this is a growing issue in the industry.

 

 

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