Enemy Known: Xenonauts vs Paypal

Sad boom.

Oh, not again. Paypal is increasingly the scourge of indie games – it’s opted to cruelly and unnecessarily freeze funds for Minecraft and Project Zomboid in the past, and the latest victim of its administrative idiocy is enticing X-COM reimagining Xenonauts. “Currently our Paypal account has been locked down and closed, so we don’t have access to any of the new money coming in or any access to the funds currently in the account,” say devs Goldhawk Interactive. “As a result of this, we’ve temporarily disabled the pre-order page.”

This means they can’t access several thousands dollars in pre-order payments which they were using to fund development, though Paypal have at least said they’ll be allowed to get their money in 180 days time. As in, half a year. Lunacy, absolute lunacy. Goldhawk say this won’t be terminal to the project, though may affect assorted bits of polish and additional features. Plus, lead dev Chris England only just quit his dayjob to go full time on Xenonauts, so this is exceptionally poor timing for him. “Losing our only source of income is obviously going to be disruptive to the project, as we were getting a good source of income from pre-orders up to this point,” he notes.

They will, however, honour all pre-orders regardless of whether they’ve got the money yet. For now though, pre-ordering remains closed while Goldhawk try and locate a less evil alternative payment system. Pre-ordering, by the way, got you an instant copy of the current game build, so a real, available product was being sold here despite Paypal’s pre-order alarm bell having sounded.

Best of luck, chaps. Getting onto Steam right about now would doubtless be a big help, if anyone important is listening…

And Paypal? You’re goons. GOONS.


  1. Delusibeta says:

    Moral of the story: if you’re accepting pre-orders for your indie game, don’t use PayPal.

    • Captchist says:

      Hang on – There is no explanation at all in the story of why PayPal locked the account. Seems a little premature to start taking sides, or frankly it seems premature to even publish the story – until we have some explanation from somebody as to why PayPal locked the account.

      Do we have a stated reason – from either side? This isn’t really a story until we have that. It’s just like 1/3 of a story.

    • Aaarrrggghhh says:

      Most likely the same as always: The “system” has “detected” an “unusual” amount or frequency of money transferred. So they closed it for “security reasons” and it will take days, if not weeks to reopen it again.
      Happens all the time, not only to indie devs.

    • Gnoupi says:

      Or maybe they need to talk with Paypal a bit longer before just putting a “pre-order” button.
      Somehow Games Plant has an agreement with Paypal, and it’s only on pre-orders: link to games-plant.com (yes, the money is taken only if the goal is achieved, but even then, when that happens, people are just getting a “pre-order”).

      So maybe the answer is to negotiate and explain the situation. I don’t know more, but it seems that Paypal is frowning upon the whole “you make people buy something which doesn’t exist yet” thing. Which is probably understandable from their side, as they have to cover payment issues and complaints.

    • Chris England says:

      The reason it’s frustrating is we were initially told that we couldn’t accept pre-orders on the site, but selling a one-off forum subscription with a free game was fine by them. Hence surprise when they asked for more information on the account 12 months later and then locked us when we gave the same explanation.

      EDIT – also, it’s worth bearing in mind that in my experience the vast majority of people who want to pre-order the game want to do so over Paypal due to convenience, so we decided the associated risks were the lesser of two evils (rather than blind naivety).

    • Delusibeta says:

      Probably be easier and faster to just man up and ask someone like BMT Micro to do credit cards for you. You’ll lock out those with a card, but that’s when you also say “here’s a PayPal option, but we would far rather you go via BMT Micro”.

    • Chris England says:

      Yeah, the payment processors like BMT Micro are also an option. Trouble is, if you’re putting together an automated system that automatically upgrades forum accounts to ‘Pre-Order’ status on reciept of payment and gives them access to previously hidden subforums that contain the downloads, the most cost-effective way of doing that is using off-the-shelf plugins for CMS systems like WordPress or Joomla.

      The off-the-shelf systems are all set up to use Paypal, but you’d have to write something custom to interface with a less well known system like BMT Micro, which obviously takes time and money (and expertise) that you may well not have at that point. I’m not saying you’re wrong – just that it’s not as straightforward as you suggest.

    • Gramarye says:

      Gnoupi, negotiation would solution if dealing with a reasonable party, but Paypal increasingly doesn’t seem to be one. If they decided now that they no longer want to run Xenonaut’s payment system, they should just stop running it. Blocking access to that money is plain thievery, even if they think the activity is criminal.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      an automated system that automatically upgrades forum accounts

      Sure. But you’re talking about a few days of one-time work to get stuff set up with BMT Micro, versus forever dealing with a shitty company that may screw you over at any time for no reason.

      It doesn’t even have to be particularly complicated, with automated API callbacks and such – give BMT a bunch of keys to sell, put that same list on your server, and let users who are logged in with a forum account enter the key they bought. It checks the list of keys, modifies the account accordingly, and you’re done. That’s basically what BioWare do. As I said, a couple days’ work from one person to make the form and a little CGI script.

      By the way, BMT Micro accept PayPal, Google Checkout, Amazon Payments, etc. Quite convenient for customers (make it clear on your website), and you’re not the one who has to deal with their bullshit. Try it out on the Positech order page.

    • Craig Stern says:

      BMT Micro has been nothing but reliable for me, and very good about responding quickly to emails if I ever have a problem. I bet they’d help you out if you wrote to them telling you what you need.

      Plus, just look at all the types of payment they accept! link to bmtmicro.com

    • qrter says:

      As a consumer, I’d much rather see indie devs using BMT Micro too (or something similar) – simply because it gives me more payment options, and crucially – payment options that do not involve a credit card (while still having a credit card option for those who want it).

    • Dozer says:

      I bought Xenonauts last week. Can I reverse the Paypal payment (I used Mastercard) and send Xenonauts Ltd a cheque instead?

    • Milky1985 says:

      “So maybe the answer is to negotiate and explain the situation. I don’t know more, but it seems that Paypal is frowning upon the whole “you make people buy something which doesn’t exist yet” thing. ”

      Except you can download the eurogamer build from them by pre-ordering i believe (or at least they said they are going to release it), thus negating the get somethign for nothing argument

      Its just paypal doing what they normally do, and i don;t know why people use them, they handle money but are NOT a bank and so don;t have to folllow any of the rules and regulations in place to protect consumers using banks.

    • Simon says:

      Paypal may not need to follow all the regulations banks do, but they are required to follow the law for the countries they operate in.

      Nowadays laws surrounding money laundering and the proceeds organised crime are very stringent and the “money for nothing” appearance that indie devs give out when collecting pre-order cash trips a lot of alarm bells for financial institutions like Paypal that could face severe censure and fines from a court should they aid in the laundering of cash.

      Short version: they don’t want to end up in court and compared to irritating indie devs the corporate response is sadly predictable…

  2. sueyed says:

    I’m sorry. If you’re still using Paypal you have no one to blame but yourself.

    Still sucks though.

    • Harbour Master says:

      But if the people want to pay by PayPal and not “some other service I never heard of” then what are you going to do? Turn the monies away?

      Some people won’t even pay money unless it’s on Steam (refer to the Proun thread) – what if you think its an evil walled garden monopoly in the making? You don’t say no.

      Though I’d love devs to not have to use unregulated PayPal, I understand that choice.

    • Wisq says:

      Most major places I’ve seen will use a normal credit card gateway as their “main” source, and add on PayPal support just for those people who want to use it. That keeps the PayPal side rather small, which lowers the risk of triggering the Wrath of PayPal, and minimises the amount of money lost if you do.

      There is certainly some benefit to offering PayPal payments, but I wouldn’t want to use them as the primary income source for a business.

    • Warskull says:

      People may want to use Paypal, but if Paypal doesn’t give the dev its money, it isn’t an option. The have a huge history of freezing funds. On top of this they have some new thing where they have been keeping 20% of someone’s transactions in holding for 90 days to deal with “reversed charges.”

  3. baby snot says:

    Is Google Checkout not an option? I have no idea how these things work.

    • carn1x says:

      If I recall Google Checkout also have had issues with pre-ordering indie stuff, although not as often / publicized as Paypals.

      Would running Alpha Funding through Desura provide better protection for the powerless indie developer? I suspect if Steam started to allow Alpha Funding then all the problems might go away?

      I assume however that going direct to Paypal / Google Checkout would be a much nicer cut for the developer though.

    • Tusque D'Ivoire says:

      Project Zomboid is now available via Google Checkout, so it seems a viable option. Also, Google proclaim not to be evil ^^

    • bookwormat says:

      Google Checkout is not available in all countries. It is not as popular as paypal in the counties where it operates. And there are horror stories of closed checkout accounts just like with paypal. So if you want to make payment as easy as possible, you need to support as many payment services as you can.

      The problem with paypal and checkout is that there are lots of legal issues involed, which often differ from country to county. For example, if someone puts money on your paypal account, and you spend it directly from paypal, the money if effectively hidden from tax office.

      Therefore, services like Ebay or Google often need to play along and very aggressively observing and regulating accounts. Even if it sometimes results in bad publicity.

    • TWeaK says:

      Tusque D’Ivoire says:
      10/09/2011 at 12:32

      Project Zomboid is now available via Google Checkout, so it seems a viable option. Also, Google proclaim not to be evil ^^

      IIRC Project Zomboid was an indie dev who had problems with their Google Checkout account being frozen, for selling something that hadn’t been made yet.

      RPS reports

    • Astroman says:

      Project Zomboid had their account frozen by paypal so they got google check out and then google froze their account too. There’s no winning with these pseudo banks. They seem to both use automated “fraud detection” that gives off tons of false reports and on top of that that both have customer service from hell. Both Google and Paypal are unregulated by any government and can basically do what ever they want.

    • Luckz says:

      Google Checkout is like a five times more evil PayPal.

    • Thermal Ions says:

      Despite common belief, Paypal are not completely unregulated everywhere. In Australia they are required to hold a Financial Services Licence:
      link to cms.paypal.com

      Of course that doesn’t mean they’re any better than the other b@stard banks here.

  4. Dominic White says:

    Again, who lets $4,000 sit in a Paypal account? The moment you’ve got over $100 you want to transfer that to a real bank account. It’s common bloody sense!

    • Gnoupi says:

      If I remember, Paypal allows you to transfer money only once a month on a new account (and you can “upgrade” your account only after 90 days of flawless use). So that could explain.

      There are also fees on each transfer, so you usually want to regroup them.

    • qrter says:

      Isn’t this about the amount of money being transacted, anyway, not so much if it’s sitting around in an account?

    • BooleanBob says:

      Presumably there’s a flat transaction fee on top of whatever percentage cut they take, so it makes fiscal sense to withdraw in as few lumps as possible (presuming you’re not anticipating an account freeze).

  5. Arglebargle says:

    Unregulated banking, thy name is Paypal. And its not like the regulated version is so wonderful, either.

    If you let bankers rule, you get a world good for bankers…..

    • Crimsoneer says:


    • Garg says:

      The irony is that it is probably PayPal complying with various taxation and money laundering regulations and laws that cause it to be hugely aggressive in shutting down anything that looks a tiny bit suspicious.

      It’s less risky for them to shaft many innocents in order to prevent a few illegal actions then to get caught with their pants down by some legal authority in whatever country.

    • qrter says:

      That is the problem – I’m sure Paypal has to put anti-fraud/money laundering systems into practice, by law, or at least to avoid litigation.

      But Paypal also wants to spend as little money on this as is humanly possible, which means automating the whole process and avoiding any actual human-to-human interaction.

      Basically it turns out blasting your users with a shotgun is cheaper than using the precision of a dartgun. Yeah, so there’s some colleteral damage, who cares, as long as the cash keeps rolling in.

    • Arglebargle says:

      Paypal very carefully tiptoes around doing those things that would cause them to be regulated as a bank. Because being regulated as a bank would seriously put a crimp in their ability to do stuff like this, as well as various other money making misbehaviors.

      Paypal, like Ebay, WoW and some others, are big because they were in the right place , at the right time; not so much because they actually do a particularly great job at their business.

    • Garg says:

      PayPal IS regulated as a bank, at least in Europe.

    • Arglebargle says:


      Sadly, this is not the case in the USA.

    • Dozer says:

      We regulate our banks in Europe??

    • povu says:

      Whoever are regulating the banks here in Europe are not doing a very good job…

    • Thermal Ions says:

      Regulated in Australia too, thus must comply with consumer protection, disclosure rules, money laundering reporting, etc as per other financial institutions.

  6. Sp4rkR4t says:

    Paypal has always been the scourge of anyone using money on these internet’s, Google checkout is a fine solution.

  7. mondomau says:

    Paypal are getting a bit big for their boots – Some guy on reddit posted about Them holding 50% of all his transactions for 90 days ‘for his own good’ – apparently this is illegal in his state (Illinois) and he has contacted the state attorney. Hope he hauls them over the coals.

    • Aaarrrggghhh says:

      There was/is one case in Germany where they closed the account of a businessman (withholding money from him) because is son (who is in his thirties) was in the red with his Paypal account.
      And because of the same surname and address Paypal thought it would be totally okay to just keep the money of his father.

  8. byjimini says:

    Use Sage.

    • Dozer says:

      Isn’t Sage a business management system for large corporations? My dad worked for a large and odious multinational corporation that switched to Sage in the mid-00s – it was used for things like tracking warehouse stock levels and customer accounts.

    • ASBO says:

      I would think byjimini means Sage Pay

  9. Biscuitry says:

    I don’t understand why Paypal keep doing this. These are legitimate businesses they’re targeting, which in the long run hurts Paypal as well.

    • Gnoupi says:

      I think it’s because the first priority and goal of Paypal is to offer a third party to seller-client exchanges, starting with eBay.

      The base of this service is the guarantee that the goods you pay for are delivered.
      In case someone sets up a scam, they are holding the money to be able to repay buyers.

    • Yargh says:

      I suspect that when an account suddenly starts bringing in large amounts of money this triggers a bunch of money laundering alerts.

      If PayPal were ever found to facilitate money laundering they would be shut down with great speed.

      It looks like games don’t qualify for a real investigation into what is on sale.

    • Wisq says:

      The weird thing is, you would expect that sales for Xenonauts would have started out small and been steadily increasing. Sure, there would be some big waves whenever a new demo is released or some site covers them, but it’s not like they’ve only released updates sporadically, or been starved for coverage.

      So you would expect that PayPal sees an account that started out small and has been increasing steadily for over half a year, and where orders come in waves. And then there’s a new wave of orders, and it looks like they’re finally starting to come into their own — but oh wait, they happen to exceed some threshold, and suddenly you decide it’s time to end your business relationship with them?

      It’s like PayPal doesn’t want any big customers, and chops off their existing ones if they grow too large.

    • enobayram says:

      The recent RPS coverage might have had a bigger impact on pre-orders than you think.

  10. varangian says:

    PayPal obviously wants to be replaced by something smarter. Their arbitrary ban on Wikileaks, based on nothing more than the US government being unhappy, lost them lots of customers. Equally arbitrary freezing of customer’s accounts and taking money out without telling the account owner pretty much guarantee that anyone with half a brain will never put money with them.

    • Nesetalis says:

      It has been replaced by something smarter…. but that something hasn’t fully caught on yet :P Bitcoins. Hopefully next year they will become ingrained in the indie community.

  11. Pardoz says:

    People need to start moving away from PayPal – they’re just fucking awful for both sending and receiving money. If I don’t see any options other than PayPal on your payment page? I spend my money somewhere else. Life’s too short to deal with their bullshit.

    • Wisq says:

      They’re also incredibly slow. Speaking as both a regular PayPal user and as a web developer in e-commerce.

      Page load times for the simplest of things, like editing your profile, are well into the “unacceptable” region by any reasonable web UX standards. And API calls can take upwards of 30 seconds or more.

      From what I hear (grain of salt and all), this is due to the means by which PayPal achieves its wide international reach. When they want to offer service to a new country, they don’t try to adapt their existing technology to that country’s language, or integrate with that country’s banks, or do any of the things you’d expect. Instead, they just find some company that has already solved all that, buy them out, and re-jigger their technology to assimilate it into the PayPal Collective.

      No rewrites, and no particular effort to create a unified PayPal platform — just a bunch of local bits from around the world all mashed together into a big ball. No wonder speed isn’t their strongest point. It’s also why they have greater reach than (say) Google, who you would expect would be pretty good at the whole “international” thing.

    • LionsPhil says:

      And the alternative is…?

      AFAIK, neither Google Checkout nor Amazon Payments have comparable coverage.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Intermediaries which offer a variety of payment methods. That’s the alternative for developers. Let people who insist on using PayPal use it, but offer everything else as well. Again, BMT Micro is pretty good. They slightly fail my Germany test because they don’t use a direct bank transfer service like Sofortüberweisung or Giropay, but they do at least provide a bank account to which you can transfer funds, which is a pretty standard method of payment here.

      As for customers – if you’re not in the US or the UK or the Eurozone, well, hopefully you can get a credit card.

    • PoulWrist says:

      Plenty of alternatives through webshop systems and their associated payment gateways. Are they free? No. Are they expensive? No. Do they require a bit of administration to start up? Yes. Are they troublesome? No.

      Dunno, I work as a frontend developer at a small webshop and website developer/provider, and while hosting a fullend webshop solution through us is relatively expensive, it’s not prohibitively so, and you can get much cheaper if you don’t want all the fancy fluff we offer.

  12. Benny says:

    I’m pretty sure google checkout did exactly the same thing to project zombiod (although that was due to their use of the word ‘Donate’ i believe).

    Still, is it really that much more effort is it to set up a business account with your bank and use that to process card transactions? Anyone know? Surely that would at least guarantee that they’re gona have access to the funds and that there are legitimate ways for them to appeal any problems the bank have.

    • Wisq says:

      It’s always a question of “at what point do you transition to a proper business account?”

      The problem with these sorts of things is, when you’re just starting to accept pre-orders to fund development, you want something quick and easy, so you pick PayPal or similar.

      You use it for a few months. Business starts to pick up as word spreads. Soon you’re making a bundle of cash, but there’s no particular point (if you’re not an experienced merchant) where alarm bells are ringing that it’s time to switch to a “proper” payment solution.

      Then, bang, PayPal hits you with a freeze and a 180 day funds hold. You’re now left scrambling for other options.

      If you’re doing well at this point, you can afford to wait a little bit for a proper merchant account. But if you need the money fast (maybe because of the frozen PayPal funds), well, maybe you turn to one of the other easy solutions, like Google Checkout. You reopen pre-orders, you get a flood of orders from people who were waiting for you to reopen, you’re hit with a Google freeze, and the whole process repeats itself …

    • Thermal Ions says:

      Setting up a business account and merchant facility isn’t necessarily the difficult bit, it’s taking the time out to construct and maintain the integrated online payment processing system and ensuring that information is secure such that you become known for your quality game rather than for being hacked. Thus payment providers are popular.

  13. Navagon says:

    I think that both Google checkout and Amazon payments, among others, could serve as substitutes. So there are still means for them to bring in the funds even while this is ongoing. Paypal seriously needs regulation though.

    • Wisq says:

      See my reply above.

      If you’ve got an established brand, and your payments have been down for a little while, and you’ve gotten media coverage for that (say, on RPS), and you bring up Google or Amazon, well … You’ve now got your normal traffic + the people who queued up and were waiting to order while your orders were down + anyone who sees the articles about your order problems + even more if you score a follow-up article about orders being back up + etc.

      That’s potentially a lot of traffic on a brand new account. And a bunch of money, on a new account, for virtual goods — especially pre-orders — is just begging to be frozen again.

    • Navagon says:

      Which is why there needs to be a decent payment option. Paypal clearly isn’t suited to this kind of thing.

    • Sire says:

      Google Checkout and Amazon Payments are only available in the US, UK and possibly Canada… Go with Moneybookers instead.

  14. Miodrag Kovachevic says:

    Sad when things like these happen. I’m glad the folks at Gaslamp Games learned from the mistakes of Notch and Zomboid and intentionally avoided PayPal: link to gaslampgames.com

    • enobayram says:

      Learning from the mistakes, they’ve ended up partnering with Steam, which isn’t an alternative for Xenonauts yet.

  15. McKnight says:

    I don’t get why people are so mad about this? How are Paypal expected to make money off investing your hard earned cash if they can’t hold it for at least 90/180 days.Think about it from their end for once… Geez!

    • drewski says:

      I doubt the investment of account holder funds is a substantial stream of Paypal’s income.

      They make enough money on fees and commission, frankly.

    • McKnight says:

      There’s no such thing as “enough money”.

    • Starky says:

      Sure there is, enough money is “all of it”.

    • enobayram says:

      Surely they made the calculation:
      Revenue from the investment of withheld accounts + cost of having a better fraud detection system and better customer service > Revenue lost due to pissed off customers
      The only way this inequality sign changes direction is that the customers become more conscious.

    • Thermal Ions says:

      An article from 2008, discussing the matter of interest on held funds: link to money.cnn.com

      The view seems to be that it’s barely a drop in their revenue bucket.

  16. DickSocrates says:

    Let’s find and kill this Pay Pal guy.

  17. zeroskill says:

    “Best of luck, chaps. Getting onto Steam right about now would doubtless be a big help, if anyone important is listening…” I fully agree here. It would be awesome if Gabe could initiate some kind of alpha program for Indie developers with a solid proof of concept like Project Zomboid and Xenonauts, possibly allowing pre-orders to go through Steam, providing solid server architecture and reliable funding through pre-orders. The games will end up on Steam no matter what in the end, IF they dont go out of business before they can actually finish the game.
    Gabe said repeatedly in recent interviews that he and Valve are very interested in the indie scene and are big fans. Hope this could become a reality, everybody could win from this. This could also prevent Gabe having to come in guns blazing every time Pay pal decides to screw over small indie devs.

  18. FunktionJCB says:

    It’s ironic, I went to the Xenonauts website on Friday to pre-order the game, since I knew there’s a playable version already available and I wanted something to play for the next couple of days (after a few weeks of pretty much non-stop work), and pre-orders were down…

    It’s almost as if Paypal was waiting for the exact moment I was going to place my pre-order, to cut them out of their account.

    Here’s hoping they find a solution soon.

    And I agree with previous posters, it would be great if Steam started an “indie funding” section, where people could purchase incomplete work-in-progress titles, to help fund the developers efforts.

  19. Vexing Vision says:

    Just saying, that’s one of the reasons I officially closed both of my PayPal accounts when they pulled this shit with Wikileaks.

    Shame that another billion accounts got created since then. Still, “vote with your wallet” – seriously guys.

    • enobayram says:

      Who am I punishing exactly when the only option is Pay Pal, and I decide not to use it to support a project? I think we should blame those who provide Pay Pal as the only option while it’s not the only option, not those who use it when using it -is- the only option. I think I made it clear that I would choose almost any other option over Pay Pal.

  20. Laephis says:

    I won’t be satisfied until there are several good competitors to Pay Pal. It’s a shame that Pay Pal is the only option for places like RPS, otherwise I would have donated/subscribed a long time ago.

  21. cptgone says:

    i tried to contact Paypal to tell ’em how i feel about keeping my payment hostage.

    when i click on Contact Us i’m told:
    Help information isn’t available in English yet
    i’m then told to change my preferred language to US English.
    when i try to do that, i don’t get that option.

    IIRC Paypal is infamous for trying to make itself as unreachable as possible to reduce administrative costs.

  22. Turnkey says:

    As much of a pain as paypal is, they have made themselves somewhat indispensable in terms of international transactions (like when your primary bank has a blanket ban on 3/4 of EU countries w/ no option for exceptions).

    So it is a bit of trouble, as at time paypal is the only option unless you want to switch around your primary real accounts. (e.g. GOG cannot be payed with many smaller US banks).

  23. karnisov says:

    Desura has an alpha funding program, maybe indie devs should look into it.

  24. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Occupy PayPal.

    • Dozer says:

      It’s true. PayPal is run by SomethingAwful. Notice the similarity:


  25. dopefish says:

    G A B E !

  26. RadioactiveMan says:

    On the other hand, Xenonauts is now part of a fairly elite collection of games. Project Zomboid and Minecraft are not bad peers to have… although Minecraft remains in a league of its own. I agree with other posters on this thread- PayPal is terrible and should be abandonded ASAP. Hopefully the developers are able to handle the immediate disruption to their funding, and can focus on the positive fact that a lot of people are interested in their game! PayPal disruption of indies is sort of a hot-button these days, and will likely provide Xenonauts with a lot of press. Good luck, gents!

    • Big Murray says:

      True, in a way it’s even a bit of extra publicity for them. I never heard of Project Zomboid until they had their Paypal issues all over RPS.

      Then again, they can’t exactly take advantage of the publicity, with no way of accepting people’s money … damn.

  27. tyrspawn says:

    I had the *EXACT* same thing happen when I was the mod leader for Rome: Total Realism. All it takes is for one person, anyone, to claim that you did not deliver your product to them, and paypal immediately freezes your account with no questions asked and no investigation. If you call them they are extremely hostile and offer no explanation of who reported you, for what, or why.

    They are easily the worst and most unethical company in history. The funny thing is, for my mod, we did not even “Sell” anything – it was purely donations. Regardless, some idiot claimed that were selling our mod and that he did not receive the product, that we were supposedly selling. It would have taken some suit at paypal a 5 second google search to realize that, but they don’t give a fuck.

    • Dozer says:

      “easily the worst and most unethical company in history”

      Worse than the South Seas Company? Less ethical than IG Farben? Nestlé? Enron?

      edit 1: That was meant to be a reply to Tyrspawn. D’oh well. And also a rhetorical question

      edit 2: Oh, he’s double-posted so this is attached to the right question after all! Nevermind.

  28. tyrspawn says:

    I had the *EXACT* same thing happen when I was the mod leader for Rome: Total Realism. All it takes is for one person, anyone, to claim that you did not deliver your product to them, and paypal immediately freezes your account with no questions asked and no investigation. If you call them they are extremely hostile and offer no explanation of who reported you, for what, or why.

    They are easily the worst and most unethical company in history. The funny thing is, for my mod, we did not even “Sell” anything – it was purely donations. Regardless, some idiot claimed that were selling our mod and that he did not receive the product, that we were supposedly selling. It would have taken some suit at paypal a 5 second google search to realize that, but they don’t give a crap.

  29. phenom_x8 says:

    It looks like Paypal just do this kind of things randomly! 5 months ago my legit account (using0 my bank account detail ) was frozen without any explanation after used it for once to buy games from GOG! I’ve tried everything to convince them to reopen my account, but their answer was always the same like what have been stated at their policy / agreement without any proper explanation. They said that they will refund my money in 6 month (that would be next month)! But, I kind of doubt it! (its just $20 though).

    The solution was by making new account using virtual credit card that will expire in 4 month (its safer than giving your own CC or bank account detail). Buying some fund from reseller (its trully exist) to fill our account and then use it to buy any game I want! Simpler and safer!

  30. BeamSplashX says:

    Envelopes of cash, then?

  31. Hypocee says:

    Please learn the lesson, folks. You can use Paypal – they have a monopoly, it sucks but it’s a fact – and it can be great! But take your money out. Every day, take your money out. Transfer your money out of your Paypal account as part of your daily chores. Do not leave money where Paypal can touch it. Take it out. Every day.

    • aircool says:

      What should we do with our money we take everyday from paypal? Put it into our bank accounts safe from alien abduction?

      Learn your lesson folks, anyone who touches your money isn’t doing it out of love, they’re doing it to make more money for themselves.

      Big News: Capitalism in Capitalism Shocker!

    • MD says:

      I don’t understand what you’re getting at, aircool. The point was that banks are a better place to store your money than PayPal — do you disagree?

    • aircool says:

      Point is that whoever has you money is going to use it to make more money. I think I was a little harsh though… I was having a bad day :-( Soorrry.

  32. Big Murray says:

    Attaching a tenner to a carrier pigeon would give a better chance of indies seeing your money than Paypal’s service these days.

  33. itsbiggs says:

    Desura Alpha Funding. They love indie games.

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, I was going to say this – Desura are an established store now, so Paypal aren’t going to cut them off at any point, and they allow developers to set up preorder alphafunding via a secure, safe channel.

  34. Big Murray says:

    “Best of luck, chaps. Getting onto Steam right about now would doubtless be a big help, if anyone important is listening…”

    I don’t think they’d be allowed without any firm release date, would they?

  35. aircool says:

    Damnit… When you give money to someone, you want them to have the money FFS!

  36. Sire says:

    I can warmly recommend Moneybookers instead of PayPal. They have similar fees, allow a broader range of companies, have close to the same international coverage, a lot of local and international payment options, your personal account manager that actually answers your mail (often within a few hours), no chargebacks (refunds still possible of course), and a decent developer API.

    We’ve used them since 2008 and I have only good things to say. PayPal literally kicked us out after two years without giving a reason.

    • Deca says:

      As mentioned, developers should certainly use Moneybookers (Skrill) instead of the horrible Paypal. Fast, dependable and with ultralow fees. Long time user and have never had any problems.

  37. ryepdx says:

    Use Bitcoin. Problem solved. :-)

    • Nesetalis says:

      indeed. So many countries with exchanges to buy bitcoins… Every indie game I want, i shoot them a letter suggesting they accept bitcoins, just so they can get that fame in the BTC community… lots of free advertisement.

    • enobayram says:

      I wonder what will happen when Bitcoins becomes a major currency and the tax people decide to take control of it. The system is architecturally very resistant to governments trying to take control of it. The only way would be if they financially or with the help of hired hackers take it down. I don’t know if countries are allowed to do either of those things. Oh there’s the third way. They can declare any bitcoin related software illegal, and turn your life into hell if they discover it on your computer.

    • Thermal Ions says:

      I’d never heard of Bitcoins before reading this article, but after having read through the wikipedia article (link to en.wikipedia.org) I’m left thinking it’s a very interesting concept and experiment; but if you’re an indie developer relying on the income, Bitcoins comes with it’s own sets of concerns including unstable exchange rates and security.

      Of note from wikipedia:
      “When users began to accept bitcoins in 2011, their value began to appreciate rapidly. By June 2011, a bitcoin was worth more than twenty-nine dollars.[28] By September, the value of a bitcoin relative to a dollar had fallen to five dollars”
      “July 26, 2011, Bitomat re-opened after being unavailable for 5 days with the message that they had lost all funds on site after rebooting their Amazon EC2 instance.”
      “August 5, 2011, MyBitcoin issued a statement that they had been compromised and lost 49% of their user’s funds.”

  38. rocketman71 says:

    Sad, but everybody knows PayPal is utter shit.

    They’re even telling the Gamers with Jobs guys that getting contributions from readers to maintain their site and giving prizes as rewards could be GAMBLING. WHAT… THE… FUCK?.

    I used to use them because it was really easy. After seeing some horror stories (freezed funds, strange charges, etc), I deleted my account and haven’t gotten near them since.

  39. mandrill says:

    Its called a shakedown; “Oh look, this relatively small company is making lots of money and our cut is nowhere near enough…”

  40. LeFronk says:

    Would be interesting to know if there is some legal angel to sue Paypal for missed income due to an suspended account.

    My law knowledge is somehow limited (and my english grammar too ;)) but if Paypal disables the account of a business and said business is such unable to sell his product, there should be a way to force some kind of compensation out of Paypal (is said frozen account is in fact unrighfull frozen). But i guess such things are prohibited by Paypals AGBs.

    • El_Emmental says:

      In my country (european one, cheese-land), you could sue Paypal for “missed chance”.

      But you need to prove you would have made that money, presenting :
      – past records of revenue (something an indie accepting pre-order never has),
      – external economic data proving you would have made that money (nearly impossible for an indie, since it’s clearly a niche market)
      – internal company data proving you were going to generate revenues (reviews/articles, emails and marketing campaign could help, but it’s still extremely hard for indies to prove they “missed a chance” there)

      Then, you need to prove Paypal “fraud prevention” freezing was not legit and justified and that Paypal fraud prevention system is not adequate (like not gathering enough data or having a poorly-performing automatic system).

      Then you need to prove Paypal freezing did caused the “missed chance” (causality).

      If you prove that, it would give plenty of ammunition for all lawyers and angry customers around the world.

      => it would last at least 2-3 years
      => requires very competent (= expensive) lawyerS
      => of course Paypal would hire the best lawyers in the world
      => AND you would need the diplomatic approval (since it’s a company based in the USA, you can’t win your case if your country/European Union doesn’t support you against the USA – see the Microsoft case)

      This is why Paypal is safe : it’s hiding behind the diplomatic shield, and has the money to hire the best lawyers in the world. On the other side, you’re alone, diplomatically-naked, with enough money for a single average lawyers for 3 months. Good luck.

  41. El_Emmental says:

    I wonder if you can contact Paypal and prove you’re not money-laundering BEFORE their alarm bell ring.

    You know, like sending informations regarding your personal identity and your registered company.

    But then I realize we’re talking about Paypal, so it’s just a bunch of IT engineers playing with automatic softwares freezing accounts randomly.

    Xenonauts should have hired/spent some time adding BMT Micro (or similar) shortly after receiving the first Paypal funds (even if you can only empty the account only once a month). You can’t rely on Paypal forever, it’s a temporary solution.