People who know us – the for UNCUT! team – and who have spent some time in our forums will know that we continuously advise against purchasing games at unlicensed key stores and “marketplaces” such as MMOGA or G2A.

Frequently, we come across criticism and lack of understanding, as the members in our group who participate in these discussions have “never had a problem” or are willing to accept that there is a risk of receiving a fraudulently acquired licence key in light of the attractive prices.

Only a few hours ago, a discussion between a seller on G2A and the official G2A Reddit account made for quite a hot topic on Reddit. We would like to take this opportunity to reemphasize some of the issues that can occur when using unlicensed platforms such as G2A.

 

G2A blocks seller’s account, including funds – Permalink to the discussion, Screenshot

Let’s start with the argument between a seller on the marketplace and a member of G2A’s support. Within the scope of an AMA (“Ask Me Anything”, a user on Reddit asked G2A what their stance was on the commonly known fact that many “stolen” keys are being sold and therefore can be bought on their marketplace. G2A responded to this by claiming that all sellers, along with their keys, are thoroughly checked to avoid buyers purchasing fraudulent keys. Apparently, all sellers who have sold more than 10 items are checked.

Having read this statement, a seller consequently disputed G2A’s supposed buyer’s protection and seller verification process, and claimed to easily be able to prove that these security measures do not exist. Despite having sold “more than 50 products”, he was never asked to undergo any type of authentication procedure. Shortly thereafter, he put words to action by placing an obviously fake key into the G2A system, took screenshots of his actions and linked to these. Immediately after having done this, he deleted the key. Thus, no harm was done upon anyone; only a rock-solid example was provided.

Although G2A had only just claimed that this would be impossible to do, the key in question was immediately listed as “active” and consequently – obviously unchecked – was available for purchase. One has to ask, how would a reputable store react to such feedback that clearly shows that there is room for improvement? Now, G2A was able to identify the seller without issue and proceeded to block the user, freeze his funds on the account and justified all of this afterwards by wanting to protect one’s customers and oneself – yet, this seller never posed any risk to the marketplace.

Despite the seller not having previously attracted negative attention and merely wanted to dispute a false claim, he was hit with the most severe punishment possible on the platform without comment or prior warning. As a comparison, there are companies that pay customers or even hackers rewards of up to €10,000 for pointing out flaws in their system. Things seem to work differently at G2A, however.

Outside of the AMA, a second person reported similar experiences with a throw-away email address. He created a brand-new account with such an email address, placed the key “G2AIS-SUCKY-ANDTH-ISKEY-SFAKE” in G2A’s system and, again, the key was without any sort of verification or delay made available for purchase. There is no indication of any sort of security measures, despite it being logical that new accounts get scrutinised. Right?

 

But G2A has buyer’s protection – shouldn’t that keep me safe?

The actual question one should ask is not whether one is protected by an optional buyer’s protection – not to mention one that was one has to pay for – but rather why a company which claims to be reputable even requires such a thing. Here it plays no role what type of platform one is dealing with.

In regards to G2A, the complaints from customers who despite having buyer’s protection never receive a refund after the purchase of a fraudulent key are mounting up. While we cannot verify these claims, it is certainly something to think about when more and more people make these complaints independently from one another.

 

Unlicensed stores harm honest businesses

Anyone who has previously thought that unlicensed stores and their semi-legal operations wouldn’t have any negative effect on the business of other, 100% legal and licensed stores, is wrong.

On 4 January of this year, Gamesrocket stated in their blog (German) that they will cease trading as of January 31st 2017. Throughout February, however, customers would still have the opportunity to download their purchased games.
Gamesrocket justified the decision to close the business by citing the poor conditions that licensed digital resellers are forced by publishers to operate under. These are frequently worse than in the classical retail trade. Gamesrocket continued with:

In contrast to this, international traders can help themselves indirectly and without issues to the retroactively digitalised license codes from the PC wholesale market, which gives them a lot of influence. The growth of the industry is mainly due to competitors based outside of the EU who can offer aggressive prices and who are not subject to VAT charges. Many games publishers seem hesitant to tackle this issue. This environment makes it extremely challenging for companies within Europe selling digital games to turn a profit.

With competitors based outside of the EU who can offer aggressive prices and retroactively digitalised license codes from the PC wholesale market, it is clear that this is in reference to stores such as G2A and MMOGA.

Herein one finds the reason why emails received from MMOGA, for example, contain keys in the form of pictures, as these keys are systematically purchased in local retail stores, scanned in and consequently resold. In the year 2014, the Berlin District Court judged that the separation of licence keys from their original packaging was a form of copyright infringement in the cases when these are then sold in Germany.

With such strict conditions in place, it is clear that reputable stores, such as Gamesrocket once was, cannot survive when keystores who source their keys from cheap countries come into play.

As a result, Gamesrocket was not the only store that had to close its door in the last few weeks. Games Republic stopped trading on 31 January. While no official reason was given for their closure, it seems reasonable to assume that it was due to the above-mentioned competition from abroad.

 

“Person X”, “Website Y” or “Stream Z” are in partnership with G2A, so G2A can’t be the bad guys!

Wrong. G2A in particular is known to spend a lot of cash on promotion, and if something comes knocking at your door not only promising a lot of cash in exchange for endorsement but also a quick delivery thereof, then many people will turn a blind eye to what is right. It doesn’t matter if these people are esports giants such as the ESL, Virtus Pro or Natus Vincere, along with popular streamers such as PashaBiceps – all are responsible for creating a false sense of trust in relation to G2A and other keystores.

 

How can I check if my keystore is legit?

If you want to make sure that your favoured keystore is licensed or not, you can do so easily through Key Radar. After having entered the URL, Key Rader will check to see if it is within its own database, and compares it to 211 stores. The result then shows you if the store is licensed or not. Shockingly, there are 2.5 times as many unlicensed stores as licensed ones (144 to 60 with another 7 “mixed” stores).

 

Alternatives – fair prices, security and direct support from the devs

For us at for UNCUT!, it was always clear that should we opt for a partnership with a keystore, we would only do so with an officially licensed one -thus, the partnership with Gamesplanet came to be. We don’t only want to offer you, the community, good deals at a well-known store, but also to make you aware of any uncensored or uncut versions. Moreover, we would never ask you to do anything that we ourselves would refrain from doing.

For those of you who share our opinion on the matter and want to keep far away from shady sites (perhaps after having read this article), you don’t have to sacrifice good deals. Price comparison sites such as IsThereAnyDeal list the prices of games from many official key stores to give you the best “fair” price. In addition to this, our forum contains a small overview of various reputable stores as well as their respective limitations – it is worth having a look!

 

The moral of the story

Greed doesn’t always pay off. We don’t want to dictate what you should or should not do, but rather inform you to the best of our knowledge of the consequences that one might otherwise inadvertently be funding from home. The price difference between official and unofficial stores is often not even that great when you take into consideration what an official site additionally offers.