G2A has responded to claims from Charlie Cleveland, Founder of Subnautica developer Unknown Worlds, that they are responsible for $30,000 worth of credit card chargebacks from stolen Natural Selection 2 keys. Their defence is that the G2A marketplace didn’t exist when these stolen keys were sold, so they can’t be held responsible.
Earlier this week Cleveland requested that G2A stay true to their promise of paying developers back tenfold for any credit card chargebacks they may have incurred from stolen keys sold through their marketplace. Cleveland even linked an Engadget expose on the stolen keys as evidence.
However G2A has responded by pointing out that the company didn’t begin selling game keys until 2014, while the Natural Selection 2 keys were sold in 2013. Interestingly there is evidence that suggests G2A did indeed exist, and was selling game keys, in 2013.
In an official blog post from G2A the company explain that this year will be their fifth anniversary. It goes on to describe how the game keys Cleveland refers to were stolen and sold before March 8, 2013, six years ago. The post even goes as far as requesting an apology from Cleveland, calling his statement that G2A is responsible for the $30,000 credit card chargebacks the developer incurred slander. The post ends with a jibe at Cleveland, saying that if he wishes to hire an auditor to investigate whether these game keys were sold on a non-existent site at the time, he is more than welcome to do so.
G2A posted an image of the website from the time the Natural Selections 2 keys were supposedly sold, showing a generic domain for sale page. However, this image has been found to be archived from December 2012. By January 2013, which is two months before the Engadget article on the situation, it appears as though the domain was purchased. There are no other web archives of G2A until June 2013, when the site appears to be up and running as normal, as a key-reseller for games such as Red Faction Armageddon, and Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood.
GamesIndustry.biz found that web archived around the time of these key sales indicate that G2A was operating, reselling game keys, before 2014.The site reached out to G2A for an explanation for the discrepancy between the company’s start date, and the web archive data they had found.
G2A pointed out that the website’s domain was obviously purchased prior to the site going live in January 2014. They explained that the tool used to get this evidence, Wayback Machine, is more of a fun tool than a credible source of evidence. They ended by telling GamesIndustry.biz that these web archives don’t change how absurd Cleveland’s accusations are.
Web archives aren’t the only source of evidence that G2A was operational before 2014 however. The site’s own support hub contains clear written proof that they were operational in 2013, and explains that by the end of that year more than 100,000 game keys had been sold. The text describes how in 2013 with 20 sellers more than 100,000 keys were sold, and in early 2014 there were 1.9 million buyers, and 34 thousand sellers.
As a caveat to this text on G2A, a fact sheet on the site puts December 2013 as the start date for the company’s marketplace. G2A have confirmed that this was the marketplace’s official start date, but key reselling began in 2014.
Since this news broke from G2A, Cleveland has responded to them and retracted his statement about them being responsible for the $30,000 credit card chargebacks the developer incurred. However, he added that while it didn’t appear as though G2A were selling grey-market keys at the time of the Natural Selection 2 stolen key sales, the company has been profiting from them ever since.