G2A is a legal business, but not all transactions conducted there are legal. The company offers very limited customer protection and hides behind a number of anti-consumer policies, so if you’re buying games through the G2A Marketplace, you’re always running the risk of being scammed. We advise against it, as there are better alternatives.
It’s only natural to always be looking for the best game deals that you can find, and G2A is probably among the first places that you’ll come across in that search. This Hong Kong-based company runs the largest key reselling marketplace in the world and they seem to be consistently offering the best deals on video games, new and old alike.
But is this all a bit too good to be true?
Absolutely. In this article, we’ll briefly go over what G2A is, how they operate, why you might want to use their services, but also why so many people (customers and developers) don’t particularly like G2A and why you should probably avoid buying your games there.
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What Is G2A?
G2A.COM Limited is a company founded in 2010 by Bartosz Skwarczek and Dawid Rożek, a duo of Polish entrepreneurs who sought to create G2A as a legitimate online store that would sell games at the lowest possible prices.
However, having had no success getting attention from big developers and publishers, the company moved in another direction, changing their business model to that of an open marketplace where anyone could sell game keys.
Over the years, G2A took many steps towards becoming an established and reputable gaming brand through various sponsorships and clever marketing efforts – today, they even sell merchandise and electronics.
However, the company has also been mired in controversy for most of its existence, mainly due to its nature as a “grey market”, the number of illegally obtained or invalid keys that get sold on the platform, and more recently, a lackluster customer protection program.
Stolen Credit Cards And Chargebacks
Something that you’ll often hear repeated time and time again regarding G2A’s marketplace is the fact that many indie developers openly declared that they would prefer having people pirate their games rather than buying them on G2A, and that’s saying something.
But why would any developer encourage you to steal their products?
Well, the simple answer is: if you steal it, the developer makes no money, but if you buy it through G2A, the developer can actually lose money while others profit from their work.
In essence, if someone buys a bunch of keys using a stolen credit card and proceeds to sell them on G2A, the seller and G2A get to keep their share of the profits. Meanwhile, when the owner realizes that their credit card info had been stolen, the developers are those who will suffer the chargebacks. The developers who have recently spoken out against G2A include No More Robots, Vlambeer, and Spooky Squid Games, among others.
Now, we could go on about all the specific controversies that the company was involved in over the years or make our way through the list of development studios that were hurt by G2A’s policies, but that’s old news and has already been covered extensively.
Instead, let’s focus on something that hasn’t really been discussed yet and that many G2A users are likely completely oblivious to…
Poor Support And Terrible Money Back Guarantee Program
Despite all the controversy, G2A used to be a fairly reliable way to buy affordable game keys. Not all the keys sold on the platform were obtained illegally, and the company did a reasonably good job when it came to resolving conflicts and handling scams.
However, this changed relatively recently when G2A introduced their new “Money Back Guarantee” program. It was presented as a big step up in consumer and seller protection, but in truth, it was a step down in more than one way, and upon closer inspection, it is blatantly obvious that the purpose of the new system is not to protect the seller or the customer, but the company itself.
Once, there was a time when you could contact G2A support via a ticket, provide them with proof that the key you had received was invalid or revoked, and after the staff looked into it, you would get refunded with little to no hassle.
Needless to say, that’s not how it works now.
Here are two very important things about G2A’s Money Back Guarantee program that they don’t tell you, something that’s buried in their Terms of Service (that they also jokingly tell you not to read):
1. You need to file an official fraud report with your local law enforcement
Before G2A will take any action, you are required to contact the seller who sold you the invalid/revoked key. If it was an honest mistake, the situation will probably get resolved quickly by the seller. But if the seller is unresponsive or refuses to resolve the situation for whatever reason, the fun begins…
The main roadblock in your quest to obtain a refund from G2A if you were scammed is the fact that they need you to provide them with proof that you have filed an official police report against the seller who had perpetrated the fraud.
According to G2A, this new policy was put in place as a means of protecting both the sellers and the buyers, as the threat of police involvement is supposed to deter anyone from trying to commit fraud through the G2A marketplace. And while this may seem like a very reasonable claim at first, there is a big problem here.
You need to file a police report over every key, no matter the price. If you bought a cheap game on G2A, let’s say under $10 or $5, filing a police report would probably cost you more time and (potentially) money than the refund is even worth. Not to mention that you might end up being unable to file a report at all for any number of reasons (e.g. the amount of money stolen isn’t greater than the minimum amount required for filing a fraud report in your state or country).
Moreover, at the end of the day, it is pretty much a given that nothing will be done about small international scams such as the ones that you’d come to be a victim of through G2A, and the people running the scams know that, so one can’t help but question the efficiency of using the threat of police involvement as a deterrent in this context.
Regardless of how simple your case is and regardless of how much strong proof you have, G2A will insist on that police report, and if you can’t get your hands on it or if getting the report would cost you more time and money than the refund is worth, you will have no recourse whatsoever – it’s all in the Terms of Service that you agreed to.
This rule mainly discourages buyers from pursuing refunds on low-cost keys, which allows G2A to profit from scams and leaves the door wide open for any scammer ready to take advantage of this by focusing on selling cheap keys.
At the end of the day, buyers get cheated out of their money, scammers fill their pockets bit by bit, and G2A collects the fees without ever looking into the complaints that are submitted without the required documents.
2. You are only eligible for a refund three times per year
The second major problem with the Money Back Guarantee is the fact that you can only use it three times per year. And yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like: you have a right to three refunds in the span of 365 days, and if you need a fourth, you’re out of luck.
This limitation is imposed under the excuse that “99% of transactions on G2A go through without a problem” and that there is a very small chance that you will get scammed four times in the span of a year. Obviously, this sounds more like a sell rather than an assurance, which it absolutely is.
If the statistics are true, then yes – chances are you won’t get scammed four times in the span of a year unless you’re persistently buying from shady sellers with low ratings. It is unlikely, but not impossible, so you just might find yourself in that situation, and if you do, G2A will have no obligation to refund you.
This limit makes even less sense when you consider that they already have the threat of police involvement acting as a supposed deterrent for potential scammers, so it would be impossible for buyers to try and exploit the Money Back Guarantee program without committing a crime themselves by filing false police reports over and over again.
It need not be said that this limit was, like the need for official police documents, imposed as a means of protecting the company, not the buyer. If the number of scams happening on G2A really comprised only 1% or less of all the transactions conducted through the platform, the company should have no problem offering unlimited potential refunds to users who are capable of providing police reports as proof of being the victims of fraud.
Should You Buy Games On G2A?
If, despite knowing all of the above, you choose to buy games through G2A, the best you can do is to make sure that you’re buying from sellers with lots of positive ratings, ideally upwards of 95%. Active users with lots of good ratings are, obviously, less likely to scam you, and if there is a problem with the game, they will probably resolve it themselves.
However, yet another thing that you don’t know about G2A’s rules has to do with their ratings system: buyers can only change their ratings from negative to positive, not the other way around. This means that you cannot give a seller a negative rating if you’ve already given them a positive rating, so if your key gets revoked or there’s any other problem with the product you bought further down the line, the seller (potential scammer) gets to keep your original positive rating and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Add review bots to the mix, along with the fact that G2A sometimes has your account automatically leave a positive rating for sellers if you don’t leave feedback manually, and it’s easy to see why even the customer ratings aren’t a 100% reliable way to gauge just how trustworthy the person/company you’re buying from is.
Finally, there’s also the question of ethics: do you really want to support a company that has no respect for customers, hides behind anti-consumer policies, and that game developers openly urge people not to use?
Well, you probably don’t, but sometimes you just can’t wait for Steam sales or you just don’t have that much money to spend. Luckily, even in that case, there are still alternatives!
As far as marketplaces are concerned, the most popular one, right after G2A, is Kinguin. While they do have a more limited selection of items, they have proven to be far more customer and developer-friendly.
Apart from Kinguin, there are also Gamivo, AllKeyShop, CDKeys, and SCDKey, all of which are relatively small marketplaces compared to G2A but none of them share the same anti-consumer policies, at least not to our knowledge. Overall, they should be safer to use, but keep in mind that you always risk running into trouble when buying games through a grey market.
Naturally, there’s always online stores that might offer better deals than Steam:
- Humble Bundle – While the good game bundles have become a bit rare and the discounts aren’t that great, HB often has good deals on Humble Choice, which has replaced Humble Monthly as of 2020.
- Fanatical – Also offering game bundles and limited-time Star Deals, though the games generally aren’t as high-quality as what you’d find on Humble Bundle. Still, you can find some gems here at very good prices.
- GreenManGaming – A store known for its great discounts, GMG is the place to go if you’re looking for a discount on a specific game.
- IndieGala – Perhaps most notable for their cheap bundles and adult games, IndieGala often has some good deals, too.
- GoG – Owned by the creators of the Witcher video game series, CD Projekt, GoG is known for selling DRM-free games, old and new alike. So, it’s a great place to get classics or newer games if you don’t care about having them on your Steam account.
Moreover, we would like to recommend IsThereAnyDeal, a website that lets you track discounts, bundles, and deals on over 30 legitimate online stores. You can import your Steam wishlist, and the site will let you know via email when the games on your wishlist are on sale.
The Final Word
And that’s about everything we have to say about G2A at the moment. A few years ago, we would have recommended them as a good source of cheap games if you’re in a pinch, but the company had always been seen as very shady, and their new Money Back Guarantee program is only the latest cherry on top.
As far as we’re concerned, saving a few bucks on a game really isn’t worth it if it means that you’re supporting an unethical business that not only hurts developers but also doesn’t care about doing right by its customers.