Gearbox demand G2A makes changes, after launching promotion with G2A

Days after launching an exclusive physical ‘Collector’s Edition’ of Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition [official site] on key reseller marketplace G2A, Gearbox Software have reeled and demanded that the controversial store change its practises. Gearbox’s list of demands for G2A includes stopping selling fraud protection as an extra, and letting developers find and remove fraudulently-bought keys on G2A. If not, Gearbox will… do something. The demands sound sensible, given that G2A have long been accused of enabling shady shenanigans. However, even the briefest of Googlings before launching a high-price exclusive edition — costing around £226 — with G2A would have uncovered all of those complaints. None of these problems are secrets.

G2A and Gearbox launched their Bulletstorm promotion on April 4th. It offers the opportunity to pre-order Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition for £7.92 more than the Steam price, a Collector’s Edition with an unpainted statue and other cruft for £99 (including shipping), the statue alone for £29, and an edition with a painted statue for £226. Given the criticisms levelled at G2A over the years — such as G2A profiting off people using their marketplace to sell keys bought with stolen credit card details, which leaves developers out of pocket, and not doing enough to fight this — I found Gearbox buddying up with them surprising and unpleasant.

Gearbox seem somehow to not have anticipated this, acting as if they’ve only just discovered anyone has any issues with G2A. Last night, Gearbox issued a list of four demands for changes in G2A. They address problems many developers and publishers have raised and criticised for years.

“Gearbox Publishing won’t support a marketplace that is unwilling to make these commitments and execute on them,” Gearbox said yesterday, having previously willingly signed up with a marketplace which hadn’t made those commitments.

In their statement, as provided to Eurogamer, Gearbox explain that they spent two days going over the problems with wavy ‘Tube man John ‘TotalBiscuit’ Bain, one of the many people who pointed out not-remotely-secret problems with G2A. Gearbox demand G2A address these before Bulletstorm launches on Steam – which is in six hours.

  • 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.

What Gearbox don’t say is what they’ll do if G2A don’t meet their demands.

We’ve asked both Gearbox and G2A for comment and will let you know what we hear.

As for Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition itself, check out Wot John Thought. Basically, it’s Bulletstorm and Bulletstorm is great, but Full Clip Edition is an expensive re-release of a marginally-improved game. And the DLC adding Duke Nukem is awful, of course.

From this site

43 Comments

  1. Guvornator says:

    I’m beginning the Bulletstorm remake is a forfeit for a lost bet at the Gearbox Christmas party…

  2. Ghostwise says:

    Gearbox needs the basics of video game distribution explained to them by one of the Very Angry YouTube Gamer Nerds ?

    This is surreal… Should they consider lessons in placard-making from PewDiePie ?

    • Premium User Badge

      N'Al says:

      This post is beautiful.

    • robertlepervers says:

      Who are the other Very Angry YouTube Gamer Nerds ?

      • Darth Gangrel says:

        Umm… Angry Video Game Nerd for instance. Can’t come up with anymore right now, but a lot of youtubers are angry and/or gamer nerds just as a lot of people on the internet are angry.

        • Premium User Badge

          DuncUK says:

          Jim Sterling. I know Escapist is his main outlet but everything ends up on his Youtube channel too.

          (I also find him quite unwatchable.)

          • Snowskeeper says:

            He left the Escapist a couple of years back, and is now supported by Patreon.

        • Premium User Badge

          Oakreef says:

          There were loads and loads of copycats when the Angry Video Game Nerd was big like Irate Gamer. I would guess the most relevant now are Total Biscuit, Jim Sterling and Angry Joe? Ben Croshaw isn’t really as relevant as he once was.

    • Premium User Badge

      DuncUK says:

      Working at a large company I can see how this sort of thing might happen.

      My guess would be that whoever signed off on this at Gearbox had either a) not read what they were signing or b) the “G2A are a but dodgy” message got lost on its way up the management approval chain.

  3. Freud says:

    As long as you use sellers on G2A with many transactions, the odds of your keys being bad or the result of fraud is very low.

    It’s just import of computer games, taking advantage of the massive differences in regional pricing.

    I do it from G2A and I do it from Amazon.com. Use common sense though. A seller with 3 transactions on G2A is probably not someone you should be doing business with. It’s the equivalent of not doing your shopping out of someones trunk.

    • ButteringSundays says:

      Yep.

      That’s not to say nothing bad goes down using their system – but then if you’re buying used in CEX then you might be buying stolen goods as well, but nobody hinges on that like they do G2A’s ‘stolen keys’. It’s as you say mostly just regional trading , and selling keys that were bought on sale for marginal profit.

      The fraud protection gig is slimy, sure, but it’s just itemisation. Pretend it’s a service fee and it sounds a lot less unpleasant.

      I’m all for making sure creators get paid, but i also like democritisation of distribution.

    • PseudoKnight says:

      Or don’t. Please don’t, if you care about the gaming industry at all. Key resellers are sleazy black market rackets profiting off of other people’s work.

      I really wish we’d move on from the concept of game keys. It’s caused all sorts of problems.

      • Freud says:

        For every other goods there are middle men taking advantage of pricing differences in regions. If we can take advantage of this for tomatoes, shoes and computer monitors why can’t we when it comes to computer games?

        I get that there are some bad sellers on G2A. Just like there are bad sellers on eBay. There is always a buyer beware aspect to buying things from sellers you don’t know.

        G2A is a way to combat unhealthy pricing practices in the computer games industry. When companies charge $25 for games released in 2014 I’ll buy it for a third of that elsewhere. From a legit seller giving me a legit copy of the game.

        • PseudoKnight says:

          You’re thinking too much like a selfish consumer, which is fine if you don’t give a shit. These aren’t tomatoes. These aren’t finite goods that have an inherent value, material cost, or wear and tear. They’re tokens sold in good faith by game creators that are trying to reach out to as many customers as possible. The regional pricing differences aren’t game companies trying to screw people over. They’re trying to sell the game at appropriate prices for the region. The companies that do use keys are more often than not trying to do the consumer friendly thing, and you’re punishing them for it.

      • NetharSpinos says:

        One of my friends regularly gets his games from G2A. I like to remind him everytime that he’s doing the internet equivalent of buying something that “fell off the back of a truck”.

      • je says:

        This is the “free market” and capitalism everybody is so fond of and everyone is defending with their lifes. Sure its good to have world wide free trade and and unregulated market if it benefits the companies. When the same benefits the consumers they call it “fraudulent” or “destroying the industry”

    • P.Funk says:

      “It’s the equivalent of not doing your shopping out of someones trunk.”

      But years of playing GTA has normalized this behavior to me.

  4. Premium User Badge

    distantlurker says:

    Captain Renault: I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
    [a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]
    Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
    Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.
    [aloud]
    Captain Renault: Everybody out at once!

  5. goodgeorge says:

    G2A Shield is a total joke. A key that I bought didn’t work and paying extra for the Shield service didn’t help me one bit. I made a dispute in G2A’s system, provided all the evidence they requested and still they had “system logs” or some other bogus evidence that proved to them that my key was functional. Luckily PayPal gave me my money back. G2A didn’t even bother to respond to my PayPal dispute even though they had those “system logs”. To me that looks like really suspicious and I’m not using G2A ever again.

  6. Kollega says:

    Sigh. It looks as if Gearbox are deliberately trying to sabotage the re-launch of Bulletstorm. But realistically, this isn’t the case – never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity.

    At this rate, Borderlands 3 is going to suck so badly that it won’t be worth even considering to play. “And how well everything has started out” for that series… not to mention the times when Gearbox made Brothers in Arms.

    You know, all things considered, I really gotta wonder if this is “the sudden fame problem” rearing its ugly head once again.

  7. Tridus says:

    I’ve long had the impression that Gearbox stumbled into Borderlands by accident and otherwise has no idea what it’s doing. This is not reversing that impression.

    • mpk says:

      Add this onto the list of embarrassments that include Duke Nukem Forever and Aliens: Colonial Marines. They do not make good decisions at Gearbox. Were it not for Borderlands, they may still be only known as “them guys wot did those okay-but-not-great Half Life expansion packs”.

      Borderlands was an okay-but-not-great game that turned out to be better than the sum of its parts and sold both a metric AND an imperial fuckton of copies and, all of a sudden, made Gearbox think they was playas.

      My love for Borderlands has diminished with the sequels, mainly because they’ve shown exactly how much creativity and originality Gearbox have at their disposal – or, at least, how much they are willing to use – which isn’t much. They’ll continue to pump that franchise for all its worth, with ever diminishing returns, and call it progress and success. Borderlands is now the gaming equivalent of Bay’s Transformer’s movies.

      • horrorgasm says:

        Heh. Michael Bay. That’s a good way to describe it. First game was fun, but I couldn’t make it through the 2nd between them deciding to double down on all the super cringey humor and the fact that it felt like basically the exact same game again.

  8. Snowskeeper says:

    I don’t really find it easy to believe nobody on Gearbox knew about this. Is it possible they started selling their game on that store specifically so that they’d have a stronger leg to stand on (“association with these fraudulently practices is damaging the Gearbox brand” or something) if it comes to legal action?

  9. Darth Gangrel says:

    What with the controversy around Gearbox, Bulletstorm and G2A as well as my self-interest in getting a cheap game without financing shady companies, it seems best to get the original version.

    There’s a fix for GFWL as mentioned in the Bulletstorm WoT and it’s not that expensive on ebay, but still about twice as much as I would like to pay (lowest is 10 dollars incl. shipping, although there are some auctions as well).

    • Ghostwise says:

      Waiting for the “enhanced” version to end up in multiple digital bargain bins in a few months should also work.

      • Darth Gangrel says:

        I’m not one for refusing to buy games from companies because of “moral principles”, but I don’t mock others for doing so and don’t see it as beneath me, so I might very well get the old version off of Ebay or trade it for another game. A company’s reputation isn’t unimportant, but generally, all that matters is that the price is right and old Bulletstorm will likely be much cheaper than the new one when I feel like playing it.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    This article reads a bit like something from The Onion. The tone, or the kind of “Gearbox said yesterday, having previously willingly signed up with a marketplace which hadn’t made those commitments” lines.

    I laughed in the quiet office and drew strange looks.

  11. montorsi says:

    The hollowest of threats. If they were ignorant to what G2A provides, that’s an even further indictment frankly. You have to be truly disconnected to not have anyone in your office know what they are all about and raise the issue with management.

    And it’s a bit rich coming from a developer with the reputation that Gearbox has “enjoyed” for years. They are terrible to employees, terrible to any IP that isn’t Borderlands, and it’s baffling to read that they have a “problem” with G2A.

    PR spin, full stop.

    • Ghostwise says:

      My own solution would be to put Ashly Burch in charge of the company.

      In her Tiny Tina persona, of course.

      Boom.

  12. zulnam says:

    It feels like gearbox are being led by a Civ5 AI that requests a declaration of friendship only to denounce you 5 turns later.

  13. Premium User Badge

    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    Was this some weird “keep your enemies closer” sort of deal where Gearbox thought that first getting in bed with G2A would ensure their demands are heard?

    • alms says:

      People Can Fly is a Polish company, just as G2A (yes, they’re based in Hong Kong …officially), I’m not cutting Gearbox any slack, but… coincidentally the two ‘bait’ titles from their first G2A deal (SUPERHOT and Lords of the Fallen) were also by Polish studios.

      I imagine G2A is a force to be reckoned with in Poland and/or some Polish devs don’t have problems with the way G2A does business.

  14. LazyAssMF says:

    WOOOOOOOW! I didn’t expect that at all. O_o

    Scummy Gearbox trying to appease to gamers by stabbing it’s “cooperators” in the back. Is Randy going mad? He was such a cool cat at the begining of Gearbox but he seems to be getting scummier by the day.

  15. TreeFrog says:

    Misread the title as “Gearbox demands GZA makes changes”, like GOOD LUCK WITH THAT, FOOL

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      As if Gearbox didn’t get a bad rap already, now they’re going after rappers.

  16. Isendur says:

    G2A is a part of G2Net. G2Net is one of those big companies that made their own pay application. Why do I get a feeling all that G2A whining is just to discredit that company… Not very effective though. Anyway – Gearbox – make a sequel or get out. Enough of those reboots/remakes/reshits. I already played the first one – wouldn’t it be more profitable to make a new one and also get MY money? Taking the easy way isn’t always the best solution. Hard work pays off.

  17. horrorgasm says:

    Oh good. So everything will be fine in 30-90 days after release day? Don’t games typically make something like 80% of their sales within the first 30 days? I’m sure that’s probably just a coincidence…

  18. Baines says:

    Gearbox has ended the deal with G2A, and Pitchford has publicly insinuated People Can Fly was responsible for the original idea.

    • bill says:

      Pitchford seems very good at blaming everyone else for things.

  19. bill says:

    I avoided G2A’s recent bundle, even though I wanted some of the games and the price was very very low, because I don’t want to support their unsavory practices.

    That said, I don’t fundamentally think that the idea of consumers being able to sell/trade their games/keys is a bad idea. Infact it’s a pretty good one.
    I’m just not sure how to handle it in a way that can’t be exploited.

    Regional pricing / cost of living / wages is a complex topic, but business seems happy to use it to their advantage, and then complain when consumers use it to their advantage.

    So, if there was a decent alternative to G2A then I wouldn’t be opposed to that. (though I would still want to support game companies). But G2A’s behavior puts me off them specifically and I don’t think companies should be endorsing them.

    • alms says:

      As far as Valve is concerned, regional pricing mostly means letting users in piracy-ridden markets and/or with lesser purchasing power than the ‘first world’ have access to reduced prices. The alternative would be Russians paying €60 for an AAA title on launch which would mean a lot fewer people being able to afford it in the first place. Of course Valve also benefits from the sale, but they could also say “well OK no regional pricing then” and still have their pockets lined, you know?

      The other side of the equation are publishers and developers operating on Steam who are allowed to set regional pricing to their liking, so this is why you can see things like e.g. CD Projekt puff their chest about fair pricing on their store and then TW3 being handled differently on Steam.