Tiny Build Claims G2A Sold $450k Worth of Their Game Keys; They Didn’t See Any of it

Monday, June 20th, 2016

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Tiny Build (Punch Club, Party Hard, SpeedRunners) has found that a large amount of their Steam keys have appeared on the G2A platform. G2A is a website where gamers can sell codes the received in a bundle for a few extra dollars. Tiny Build has stated that this way of marketing is “flawed and facilitates a black market economy”.

Tiny Build has learned the ways that merchants who use G2A scam this system by doing the following:

  • 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

The financial impact that Tiny Build and the developers that they are working with has been found to be huge. Their online store crashed when the site was hit by thousands of chargebacks, having their payment provider shut them down. After this, the codes that were bought were found in the G2A database.

tiny build

Tiny Build reached out to G2A to find out where those keys came from and if they developers would be compensated for them. Here’s the answer they received:

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.

I can tell you that no compensation will be given. If you suspect that these codes where all chargebacks aka fraud/stolen credit card purchases I would be happy to look into that however I will say this requires TinyBuild to want to work with G2A. Both in that you need to revoke the keys you will be claiming as stolen from the players who now own them and supply myself with the codes you suspect being a part of this. We will check to see if that is the case but I doubt that codes with such large numbers would be that way.

Honestly I think you will be surprised in that it is not fraud, but your resale partners doing what they do best, selling keys. They just happen to be selling them on G2A. It is also worth pointing out that we do not take a share of these prices, our part comes from the kickback our payment providers.

Tiny Build ends their blog entry with:

In short, G2A claims that our distribution partners are scamming us and simply selling keys on G2A. They won’t help us unless we are willing to work with them. We are not going to get compensated, and they expect us to undercut our own retail partners (and Steam!) to compete with the unauthorized resellers.

There’s no real way to know which keys leaked or not, and deactivating full batches of game keys would make a ton of fans angry, be it keys bought from official sellers or not.

Make your own conclusions.




  • Panpopo

    This reminds me exactly of the Mangagamer steam key fraud issue. When you bought a game on their website, you would get a free steam key as well (it was just a convenience perk). The problem is that a scumbag used stolen credit cards to buy games, then resell the steam keys. They no longer bundle a steam key with their purchases on their website, as they were effectively losing money with each charge back.

    This is a sad situation, but as long as there are bundles this will continue to happen.

  • Melody

    There’s actually a lot of issues with G2A. There’s a subreddit entirely devoted to finding good deals on games (for all platforms), and there’s a useful article there. Here’s the link to it. https://www.reddit.com/r/GameDeals/comments/2yhlw4/key_resellers_and_what_they_mean_for_you/

    Key resellers, especially on G2A have several issues.

    The first one is the one you mentioned in the article. Keys get bought using stolen credit card numbers. Person buys the key that was bought with stolen money. At this point they may get a key, but it may also be revoked at a later date. It may also be invalidated before they even get a chance to activate it. What often happens is that the person who owned the card got it sorted with their bank or credit card company and they did a chargeback. If you buy something from somebody and then issue a chargeback then you get the money back but for them they lose the money and they are charged a fee. The end result is that they lose money with that sale. They often revoke the keys then. In order for you to keep such a stolen game somebody else has to be screwed. The person who had their number stolen for instance, or the original source of the keys (for instance the storefront or even the developer themselves if they sell the keys on their own site)

    Other issues though are less obvious to many

    Another way these people can offer cheaper keys is because they buy them in bulk from poorer regions. A lot of people don’t seem to realize why some regions get much different prices and think it’s unfair. It’s best explained like this: You are a developer, and it cost this much to make your game. The best way to make your money back and make a profit is to sell to as many people as you can. But not everybody can afford the same price. At the same time if you just choose not to sell to them then you would need to make all of the money from those that can. So you are left with a choice, sell for higher in fewer regions or try to sell in more regions to more people. There will be inequality sure, but what is a small amount might be a week’s pay in another country, and so you can’t just sell at such high prices to them. They will instead pirate your game. Through supply and demand you lower your prices in those countries to reduce piracy and to get back something. And with them buying your games you can afford to lower your prices everywhere else as well.

    When people buy these keys they encourage developers to do two things: It encourages them to raise the prices. This prices the people of those countries out of the market. It also encourages them to institute region locking. This hurts legitimate customers as well, such as people who travel a lot. Really though, there are many who claim G2A and other key resellers offer great prices and they always mention deals that aren’t really that great. “I just got Game X for this amount” and then a week later it’s on sale on steam anyway for even less than that. Buying from these people gets them a nice profit, sometimes far more than they paid for it. Some of them tell you to use a vpn to activate and play the games they sell. Do not do this, because steam and many other platforms like origin specifically ban users for doing this. It’s one thing to import a game or buy a game online for a different region if that game is not available in your region or in a satisfactory state (such as being censored, but it’s not nearly as much of a problem on pc anyway). It’s it’s something else entirely to support scumbags to save a couple dollars.

    There’s a third way they can get their keys. You may or may not be aware of the Humble Bundle, which is a feature of the Humble Store. Developers essentially offer their games as parts of a bundle that you can get for a tiny fraction of the cost and part of or even all of the proceeds can go to a charity of your choosing. When buying a bundle you choose what percentage the developer/publisher gets, what percentage the Humble Store gets, and what percentage the charity gets, and you can choose whatever combination you want. You can often get over a hundred dollars worth of games for something like $10-15. Bundles are sold in tiers, and the cheapest tier can be bought for as little as a dollar. Some people abuse this by setting up a bunch of accounts and buying the first tier over and over to amass a lot of keys. They then wait until the bundle is over and start selling them for a huge profit. It’s a crappy thing to do because it essentially punishes the devs that just wanted to help somebody. Even the default percentages don’t give them much if any profit at all and to see somebody else profit off of their work and charity is soul crushing.

    Buying from grey market resellers is really no better than piracy since the developers don’t get anything from it and far too often lose money from chargeback fees. It’s sad because there’s so many ways to buy keys legitimately and get great deals that usually far surpass grey market resellers anyway, but due to impatience and apathy choose to buy from them. Those that care often don’t know and so they stop when they are informed but those that know and still choose to do so might as well have just pirated the game.

    While key resellers have their issues, G2A is actually well known as being really scummy. When you buy a key on their site they will try to get you to buy what is essentially insurance. Many people have been scammed by their insurance. Buying it for a game subscribes you to it and cancelling is very difficult. For one you are not allowed to cancel until like 2 days before it renews. They also try to deceive you many, many times during the process. Take a look at this person’s experience deactivating G2A Shield:http://imgur.com/a/PUwPC

    Whether you use their insurance or not, people have been scammed and G2A was far from helpful. Of course it also goes both ways, sellers have also been scammed by G2A. Defenders of G2A like to point out that they have used it many times and not been scammed. But imo a store that only sometimes outright scams their customers is really no better than one that always does.

    • azariosays

      Thanks for this comment

  • Josh S.

    G2A should be fucking ashamed of themselves. Tinybuild does good work, and they deserve money for their own games.