G2A has a bit of a notorious image with the deal-seeking gamer community. Once a favorite for cheap deals, the community at large has turned away from the marketplace with many developers and publishers noting it as a “grey market” rife for identity thieves to make a quick buck. It appears that G2A is hoping to overhaul their established image by the use of Microsoft Azure.
For those who don’t dabble in online marketplaces, a key seller is essentially what it sounds like: a marketplace for both regular gamers, developers, and publishers to sell extra keys that they don’t intend to use. While this (in practice) sounds like the GameStop “used” sale of digital games, there are immediate risks associated with grabbing games — mostly stemming from consumer fraud protection.
In a recent statement to the press, G2A announced that they are onboarding the Microsoft cloud technology as a way to “develop best practices for consumer data protection.” While they don’t go into the specifics on what exactly Microsoft Azure will be doing to prevent the notable fraud that happens over G2A, they do mention that they are building unique solutions “based on artificial intelligence” to increase transaction security.
For any other marketplace this may have just been a matter of fact announcement, but for G2A this is big news. Starting a year ago, gaming communities at large began souring to the key seller’s business practices.
Moving back to the earlier example, G2A sounds (in theory) to be like GameStop or Amazon’s peer-to-peer digital game selling. The trouble comes in when some of the original sellers have managed to get their keys from sketchy sources — whether that is outright stealing, identity theft, or gaming the global marketplace. In essence, this acts for a market that thieves can launder money via gaming codes. For a rough idea on how this works, check the quick comic created by Redditor rebane2001:
Credit: /u/rebane2001 on Reddit
And this criticism of G2A is far from just theory. Publisher TinyBuild reported in 2016 that nearly half-a-million dollars in game keys were stolen and sold in 2016, a story that later devolved into a finger-pointing war between the publisher and the gaming market. While the company has stated they use certain checks and balances to investigate and adjudicate which re-sellers are fraudulent, workarounds have frequently been discovered by benevolent members fo the community. The reported shadiness of business practices in fan communities have even affected partners of the marketplace — most notably, severe backlash with publisher Gearbox.
But that isn’t to say that G2A hasn’t been aggressively fighting back against those claims or criticisms. Following the latest spat of controversies, G2A began requiring all key resellers to share an identity and address — an anti-money laundering feature intended to curb anonymity of the sellers.
Obviously the Microsoft Azure announcement goes hand-in-hand with new protections, however implementation will be key on how the key reseller can retake a positive image in the gaming community. Hopefully G2A can prove why AI protection is a worthwhile addition to prevent fraud — and not simply just a buzzword for PR purposes.