Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Tiny Build and G2A Butting Heads Over Fraud Purchases

There's a controversy over piracy and PC games brewing with the website G2A.com and the developer Tiny Build. G2A is a global, digital marketplace for video game goods from consumers to consumers. They work with some gaming developers, publishers, YouTubers, Paypal, even some Amazon affiliates in other countries to provide deep discounts for digital gaming products. For $2.99 you can get 10 random Steam codes for games. Their model is to take un-used codes from Steam and Humble Bundle purchases and re-sell them to customers who want the product below the retail price. It allows customers to get rid of games they don't want, and new players to join the fold. Though developers don't get a piece of this second transaction with G2A (unless they have a partnership), for the most part it seems harmless.

While it sounds great for the consumer, it's not so great for the developers that aren't involved and getting a slice of the profit (as small as it may be).

Two days ago, Tiny Build posted that G2A sold $450 thousand dollars worth of codes that were purchased with fraudulent credit cards. The thieves bought the codes with the cards, and then sold them to G2A for a fraction of the price. G2A then re-sold the codes to new buyers.

Information is still being pieced together and we don't know if G2A is working with Tiny Build to resolve the matter. Right now the blame game is taking place, with G2A not taking responsibility since they were a third party member in this situation (they didn't steal the credit cards, and their transactions were legal on their end). Tiny Build got a huge charge back list from credit card companies and can trace the codes to G2A. Having experience in this area with GameStop, it can get messy really quick.

Trion Worlds CEO Scott Hartsman spoke to PCGamesN about the growing issue. This type of situation was bound to happen and, according to Hartman, there is no incentive for banks to take a stand against fraud of this level. The businesses affected are not their customers; the credit card holders are. As such, the businesses end up losing out in the end, and Tiny Build has $450k of profit out the window that could have been used to develop more games.

Part of the fraud prevention system that works is a multi-tiered process. Trion Worlds not only utilizes software, but data and human effort as well. Sometimes the best laid schemes are foiled by the humans crunching the numbers, not the programs running in the background. I can fully attest to this, and wonder how many hundreds of thousands I've saved GameStop by stopping fraud.

Harsman has some good tips to help people who don't want to contribute to the fraud purchases: if a price is too good to be true, it probably is. Don't buy unless it's a direct low-sale price from the publisher. If you ever have a question, ask! Truthful vendors are going to provide fast responses, and will give full details. If the info seems to gloss over the game content, pass it up. And if you want to support the developer, the best thing to do is to go to their website and buy right from them.

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