TinyBuild, the indie developer behind the excellent Punchclub,have been hit by the grey market for digital games to the tune of half a million dollars.
The developer has had success with it’s indie games SpeedRunners, Punchclub and Party Hard, but this has also lead to issues when dealing with the grey market digital reseller G2A.
Alex Nichiporchik,CEO of tinyBuild, posted about the loss to their business on his blog, citing G2A’s own figures as evidence for the scale of the issue. There are several issues that he sees with the way business is done on G2A, a sort of ebay for digital keys for games. Firstly, he cites a merchant whose business model is rather less than legal;
“I’ve spoken to a merchant on G2A about how he’s making $3-4k a month,” explains Nichiporchick, “and he outlined the core business model:
- Get ahold of a database of stolen credit cards on the darkweb
- Go to a bundle/3rd party key reseller and buy a ton of game keys
- Put them up onto G2A and sell them at half the retail price”
Another source of keys is through cheap bundles on other sites, then making a profit by selling these on, though this can be argued to be a more legal method of business, albeit one that doesn’t support the developer.
Stolen card details are a well-known issue on G2A and Tinybuild’s storefront was hit by this same issue “The shop collapsed when we started to get hit by chargebacks. I’d start seeing thousands of transactions, and our payment provider would shut us down within days. Moments later you’d see G2A being populated by cheap keys of games we had just sold on our shop.”
G2A, meanwhile, promotes their site on any number of gaming pages and sponsors e-sports competitions. Their response to Tinybuild wasn’t exactly helpful ““So the issue you have pointed to is related to keys you have already sold. They are your partners that have sold the keys on G2A, which they purchased directly from you. If anything this should give you an idea on the reach that G2A has, instead of your partners selling here you could do that directly.”