Whether or not you believe G2A’s claim that this was an isolated incident entirely caused by a renegade member of staff, the plan was in clear violation of international advertising standards. Publishing advertising without disclosure falls foul of both UK Advertising Standards and the US Federal Trading Commission rules, and I’d not be surprised if the same applied worldwide. The email’s request that this “unbiased article” entitled “Selling stolen keys on gaming marketplaces is pretty much impossible” just adds an extra laughable edge to all this.
This comes after a very rough week for G2A. As reported by PC Gamer, several developers (including Vlambeer’s Rami Ismail) have made public statements that they’d rather people just pirated their games than buy them from key resellers. Ismail went on to say “These sites cost us so much potential dev time in customer service, investigating fake key requests, figuring out credit card chargebacks, and more.”. The situation escalated further as publisher No More Robots representative Mike Rose started a petition for G2A to stop carrying indie games (thanks again, PCG).
Whether the plan of a single employee or not, the plot to turn the tide of the PR backlash by anonymously publishing exonerating puff pieces is an astonishingly bad one. All it took was one writer sharing the emails for everything to collapse within minutes, and for an even larger wave of negative press to begin. The fact that G2A responded by throwing an individual staff member under the bus is just the cherry on a towering bad vibes sundae. I don’t think things are going to improve for G2A any time soon, as that petition has now been signed by over 3000 and rising.