Yesterday, Gearbox got hit by a tidal wave of backlash for partnering with controversial key resale site G2A. It got so bad that popular YouTuber John "TotalBiscuit" Bain publicly threatened to stop covering Gearbox's games unless something changed. To their credit, Gearbox listened, and it now has a list of demands for G2A.
The demands, born of a conversation between Gearbox and Bain, largely involve G2A de-monetising elements of their service responsible for security and fraud detection. If G2A does not comply, Gearbox says the shiny new deal will turn to ashes in G2A's mouth.
Here are the demands, which were sent to me by a Gearbox spokesperson:
- Before Bulletstorm Steam launch, G2A makes a public commitment to this: Within 30 days, G2A Shield (aka, customer fraud protection) is made free instead of a separate paid subscription service within terms offered by other major marketplaces. All customers who spend money deserve fraud protection from a storefront. To that end, all existing G2A Shield customers are notified by April 14th that fraud protection services are now free and they will no longer be charged for this.
- Before Bulletstorm Steam launch, G2A makes a public commitment to this: Within 90 days, G2A will open up a web service or API to certified developers and publishers to search for and flag for immediate removal, keys that are fraudulent. This access will be free of charge and will not require payment by the content holders.
- Before Bulletstorm Steam launch, G2A makes a public commitment to this: Within 60 days implement throttling for non-certified developers and publishers at the title, userid, and account payable levels for a fraud flagging process. This is to protect content providers from having large quantities of stolen goods flipped on G2A before they can be flagged.
- Before Bulletstorm Steam launch, G2A makes a public commitment to this: Within 30 days, G2A restructures its payment system so that customers who wish to buy and sell legitimate keys are given a clear, simple fee-structure that is easy to understand and contains no hidden or obfuscated charges. Join the ranks of other major marketplaces.
Bain previously called G2A's business a "protection racket", pointing out that its platform enables fraud, and developers then have to partner with G2A, thus helping it make more money, in order to track down stolen or fraudulent keys.
"Gearbox Publishing won't support a marketplace that is unwilling to make these commitments and execute on them," said the Gearbox spokesperson.
Update 8/4/2017: G2A has told us that it's now in talks with Gearbox and will have more to say after the weekend. However, less than an hour after that statement, Gearbox informed us that it hasn’t seen enough public change from G2A, so has “begun” removing itself from the partnership.
“As there has been no public movement from G2A by the time Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition launched now on PC, Gearbox Publishing will be doing their part to not directly support a marketplace that did not make the new public commitment to protecting customers and developers requested by Gearbox Publishing,” said Gearbox head of publishing Steve Gibson in a statement. “We do not control G2A’s marketplace or where they may obtain keys from parties outside of Gearbox Publishing, but we can confirm that today we have begun executing on our extraction process.”
So they’ve begun, but how long will the process take? And what’ll come of their ongoing talks with G2A? And why do they talk like soldiers in a crappy made-for-TV movie? This may well be the end of Gearbox’s G2A deal, or things may change over the weekend. It’s tough to say at this point.