G2A and Grey Markets for game keys

As for getting games at discount, I think we've talked about this before, but the big gray market sites for buying games are frowned upon here, right? Even if they are, it's always a good idea to check out Humble Bundle. It's a legit site for getting discounted games in bundles.
 
As for getting games at discount, I think we've talked about this before, but the big gray market sites for buying games are frowned upon here, right? Even if they are, it's always a good idea to check out Humble Bundle. It's a legit site for getting discounted games in bundles.

With gray markets there's a chance you're financing illegal operations by buying keys bought with, for example, stolen credit card information. Humble Bundle and (as far as I can tell) Fanatical get their keys directly from developers.
 
As for getting games at discount, I think we've talked about this before, but the big gray market sites for buying games are frowned upon here, right? Even if they are, it's always a good idea to check out Humble Bundle. It's a legit site for getting discounted games in bundles.

From my perspective, its that they are frowned on by smaller developers because they often don't make any money from grey market purchases. I'd quite like smaller devs to get paid and make more games, so thats the position I take with it.

I get that its cheaper, and that's a big deal to a lot of people though.

As well as Fanatical I think Green Man Gaming also gets get Steam keys direct from developers?
 
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It's an interesting and nuanced debate. I come from a generation where I bought some music, but also recorded a lot off the radio. So I suppose I could try to justify it by saying at the time record companies were making fortunes and so were the artists. It's all changed now of course.

So it could be argued that with small developers who's games are relatively cheap and who need the funding to develop new projects, cheaper or free games are basically 'stealing' from them.

I have bought 95% of my games cheaper through Steam sales.

I figure that companies sell games originally at the highest price they can get people to pay for them, and people are willing to pay over what it's worth to get their hands on new games first and the kudos. But there's also a massive market for cheaper games and that's also a part of the companies marketing strategy. I bet those sales bring in a lot of revenue as well; ie: high volume at lower profits.

I don't understand why some old games are put on sale, and then put back to full price. Is that part of a marketing strategy? Like when they put a for sale sign on something, but let you also see the highest price.

I'd personally wait anyway, see if the hype is close to reality, wait till they've updated and sorted out the problems based on player feedback from use on different systems(remember Cyberpunk).

But a younger friend told me recently that he'd never paid for a game. I'm not sure if games sold cheap or downloaded free do fund nefarious activities. I would think those involved in such things have easier means.

If a large company(and some of these companies are making vast fortunes; eg. Ubisoft worth $3 Bn) has massively profited from a game that was over priced originally, is it morally wrong if some people get it cheap or free?
 
It's an interesting and nuanced debate. I come from a generation where I bought some music, but also recorded a lot off the radio. So I suppose I could try to justify it by saying at the time record companies were making fortunes and so were the artists. It's all changed now of course.

So it could be argued that with small developers who's games are relatively cheap and who need the funding to develop new projects, cheaper or free games are basically 'stealing' from them.

I have bought 95% of my games cheaper through Steam sales.

I figure that companies sell games originally at the highest price they can get people to pay for them, and people are willing to pay over what it's worth to get their hands on new games first and the kudos. But there's also a massive market for cheaper games and that's also a part of the companies marketing strategy. I bet those sales bring in a lot of revenue as well; ie: high volume at lower profits.

I don't understand why some old games are put on sale, and then put back to full price. Is that part of a marketing strategy? Like when they put a for sale sign on something, but let you also see the highest price.

I'd personally wait anyway, see if the hype is close to reality, wait till they've updated and sorted out the problems based on player feedback from use on different systems(remember Cyberpunk).

But a younger friend told me recently that he'd never paid for a game. I'm not sure if games sold cheap or downloaded free do fund nefarious activities. I would think those involved in such things have easier means.

If a large company(and some of these companies are making vast fortunes; eg. Ubisoft worth $3 Bn) has massively profited from a game that was over priced originally, is it morally wrong if some people get it cheap or free?

There was some buzz around this a few years ago.


Publisher Mike Rose noted that a search for his games placed G2A ads for them above the publisher's own link. "We make zero money on our games if people buy them through ads," he said. He recommended people considering buying a game through G2A just pirate it instead.

Others quickly followed, including Action Henk developer Squid Games and Vlambeer's Rami Ismail. It's not just that developers don't get the money you give G2A, they then have to provide extra customer support for people who ended up with fake or deactivated keys.

For me sales from the big stores are more than cheap enough so there's no need to go looking for cheaper versions of things anymore. Totally understand people not having money spare though, been there too.
 
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For me sales from the big stores are more than cheap enough so there's no need to go looking for cheaper versions of things anymore. Totally understand people not having money spare though, been there too.
So what's the deal with those 'Free time limited games'? I haven't actually followed any of those up.
But why are games like Death Stranding being offered free?

I could understand that as a marketing strategy if for example a company had made a successful game and they probably have a graph showing that sales were petering out. Then they are about to release a sequel and to hype up interest, release the original for free. I think WD2 was free just before Legion was released.

Also if you can pick up games like that for free, is it wrong to just download a game for free?(after my friend pointed me to a site, I tried it. It was so easy). It's not a game I would have bought because it's too similar to others I play.

It's complex; gaming companies will always try to maximise profits and have well tested marketing strategies and their profits show that they do this very successfully. All the big gaming companies are worth billions.
Does that indicate that AAA games are over priced?

I don't know what to think about this at present.
 
So what's the deal with those 'Free time limited games'? I haven't actually followed any of those up.
But why are games like Death Stranding being offered free?

I could understand that as a marketing strategy if for example a company had made a successful game and they probably have a graph showing that sales were petering out. Then they are about to release a sequel and to hype up interest, release the original for free. I think WD2 was free just before Legion was released.

Also if you can pick up games like that for free, is it wrong to just download a game for free?(after my friend pointed me to a site, I tried it. It was so easy). It's not a game I would have bought because it's too similar to others I play.

It's complex; gaming companies will always try to maximise profits and have well tested marketing strategies and their profits show that they do this very successfully. All the big gaming companies are worth billions.
Does that indicate that AAA games are over priced?

I don't know what to think about this at present.

On their side the benefit is obvious in that it gets people to engage with their store. On the developers side they get a dump truck full of Fortnite money to Scrooge Mcduck into.

That being the case, the free games on Epic arent free, they are paid for by Epic and gifted to users. Downloading a game illegally for free would be theft, not comparable far as I see it.

There's other reasons for devs to put their games up for free, exposure for a sequel to a game thats not selling any more like you mention, DLC sales after people get the base game for free also come to mind. On Steam the free weekend games give them exposure and new sales, I think thats more a developers choice kind of thing than a thing Steam pays for, not sure.

Personally I think most AAA games are overpriced, that's why I wait for the sales most of the time. :)
 
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I don't understand why some old games are put on sale, and then put back to full price. Is that part of a marketing strategy? Like when they put a for sale sign on something, but let you also see the highest price.

It's just a marketing trick. People like the idea of getting a good deal on something. That's why some stores (used to) increase the price of their products right before Black Friday and then put them for "sale" at the regular price.

But a younger friend told me recently that he'd never paid for a game. I'm not sure if games sold cheap or downloaded free do fund nefarious activities. I would think those involved in such things have easier means.

Reselling game keys bought with stolen credit card information seems incredibly easy, much more so than a lot of alternatives. Popular games have a huge demand and since it's all digital you don't need to worry about storage or anything like that. You'd probably even be able to automate all or most of it.

If a large company(and some of these companies are making vast fortunes; eg. Ubisoft worth $3 Bn) has massively profited from a game that was over priced originally, is it morally wrong if some people get it cheap or free?

Is there such a thing as an overpriced game? If a game isn't worth the price, then people will not buy it, without losing any quality of life.
 
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On their side the benefit is obvious in that it gets people to engage with their store. On the developers side they get a dump truck full of Fortnite money to Scrooge Mcduck into.

That being the case, the free games on Epic arent free, they are paid for by Epic and gifted to users. Downloading a game illegally for free would be theft, not comparable far as I see it.

There's other reasons for devs to put their games up for free, exposure for a sequel to a game thats not selling any more like you mention, DLC sales after people get the base game for free also come to mind. On Steam the free weekend games give them exposure and new sales, I think thats more a developers choice kind of thing than a thing Steam pays for, not sure.

Personally I think most AAA games are overpriced, that's why I wait for the sales most of the time. :)
It does show how complex it is when some devs are recommending people pirate rather than using sites like G2A.

I wonder what gaming companies actually think about it(I mean we know what their official stance will be). It could be that as long as their profits remain high they are willing to take a few losses. Maybe thinking that those that do pirate wouldn't have the money to buy the game anyway, so in a way, it's no loss.

From reading a few questions about it online, those who pirate are often quite young and can't afford the games(I imagine most 7 year olds don't get much pocket money), or they live in countries where their incomes are so low it makes buying games prohibitive, some said that in their countries they just couldn't access the games they want.

There does seem to be a wide range of prices for games which are much higher in places like Turkey or Argentina, and also many countries ban games for censorship reasons(the number of games banned in some countries amazed me).

So of course it's theft, but maybe the companies who can well afford a few losses are pragmatic. They know those young gamers will probably have more income in the future and being drawn in and will prefer to buy and avoid ads and potential viruses . Also the companies know it's hard to stop so write it off.

I have a sort of respect for rebel/outsiders who challenge big corporations and countries, from 'pirates' to the likes of WikiLeaks.

And Ubisoft even dedicated the WD's series of games to them
 
My tiny companies have been selling online for over 2 decades, so what I've picked up along the way:
frowned on by smaller developers because they often don't make any money from grey market purchases
That's probably not the case, less so as the dev increases hir inventory of games. There are follow-on and spread-the-word dynamics which can go on and increase overall sales over time. So short-term loss for long-term gain.

I don't understand why some old games are put on sale, and then put back to full price
Some people—like me—won't touch a game unless it's on sale. You gotta put it back to a higher price of course to be able to put it on sale again.

Retailers also run their own promos all the time, and invite submissions from suppliers—those products will auto-drop for the duration and auto-return afterwards.

why are games like Death Stranding being offered free?
That's fairly unusual and mainly due to a very deep pocket player wanting to enter and gain market share in the game retailing business. It's a multi-year plan, big losses now for big gains later.

Games like Death Stranding are called 'marquee products', designed as occasional attention getters to capture a new swathe of potential future customers.

This strategy by Epic isn't weird from a business POV. What are the alternatives?
♣ Buy up a load of small retailers and try to weld them together into a mass to challenge Steam and MS—nightmare imo, and still too small even if not a disaster.
♦ Run huge advertising campaigns for many years—I prefer they're spending the billions within the gaming community.

gaming companies will always try to maximise profits and have well tested marketing strategies
There are also lots of group think and unfounded 'theories' which can be at play.
♣ All my research has shown that DRM decreases sales.
♦ Piracy isn't always bad, has been shown to increase sales overall long-term in some cases. However, the mindset against it is so cemented that there isn't enough evidence yet to draw reliable conclusions.

Those aside, you are right that their strategies will usually be well-tested and reliable.
 
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You mentioned being in marketing(for a while) so figured you'd have some insights. I bet there's a lot of thought and money invested in the science of marketing products, almost like a dark art that most consumers don't see. Gaming companies are just the latest to utilise them.

There must be many factors involved in maximising profit over the long term, knowing that the game will eventually depreciate in value and also new games are rising in value.

It's been interesting watching how companies like Ubisoft have tried to move away from Steam taking 30% for selling their games. WD's Legion is now going to be sold on Steam though after a few years of Ubi saying 'they had no plans to'.
 
WD's Legion is now going to be sold on Steam though after a few years of Ubi saying 'they had no plans to'.
It's been out a couple of years, so the early sales surges are well over. They would've had to deny Steam plans so people would buy it elsewhere. They may even have meant it at the time… or not. Now it makes sense to spread its customer base as widely as possible.
 
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It does show how complex it is when some devs are recommending people pirate rather than using sites like G2A.

I wonder what gaming companies actually think about it(I mean we know what their official stance will be). It could be that as long as their profits remain high they are willing to take a few losses. Maybe thinking that those that do pirate wouldn't have the money to buy the game anyway, so in a way, it's no loss.

From reading a few questions about it online, those who pirate are often quite young and can't afford the games(I imagine most 7 year olds don't get much pocket money), or they live in countries where their incomes are so low it makes buying games prohibitive, some said that in their countries they just couldn't access the games they want.

There does seem to be a wide range of prices for games which are much higher in places like Turkey or Argentina, and also many countries ban games for censorship reasons(the number of games banned in some countries amazed me).

So of course it's theft, but maybe the companies who can well afford a few losses are pragmatic. They know those young gamers will probably have more income in the future and being drawn in and will prefer to buy and avoid ads and potential viruses . Also the companies know it's hard to stop so write it off.

I have a sort of respect for rebel/outsiders who challenge big corporations and countries, from 'pirates' to the likes of WikiLeaks.

And Ubisoft even dedicated the WD's series of games to them

This did make me smirk a bit knowing a bit about UBIsoft leaderships historical attitude to PC gaming and piracy. Anyone still enjoying Anno Online? :D


We have to be a careful talking about piracy here as its against forum rules, but in countries where censorship is draconian and low income countries I'm sure it happens a lot more.

My tiny companies have been selling online for over 2 decades, so what I've picked up along the way:That's probably not the case, less so as the dev increases hir inventory of games. There are follow-on and spread-the-word dynamics which can go on and increase overall sales over time. So short-term loss for long-term gain.

Just going by what the developers in the article I linked said. I'd imagine they'd get all of what you mention by users pirating games same as buying from G2A. It wasnt a survey of all devs though, so could just be those few that spoke up at that time.
 
Just going by what the developers in the article I linked said. I'd imagine they'd get all of what you mention by users pirating games same as buying from G2A. It wasnt a survey of all devs though, so could just be those few that spoke up at that time.
I have a couple of thoughts about a dev saying he'd rather people pirate games, and what I'm saying is not in support of the gray market as much as that I think it's dumb to say pirating is better.

First of all, there has only been one known instance where G2A keys were bought fraudulently with a stolen credit card. As far as we know, it's only happened once, and they've taken countermeasures to try to protect people from that happening.

So in my opinion, I believe the vast majority of those keys are legit. So where do all of those legit keys come from? There are a lot of possibilities. People who buy games when they're on sale, and then try to sell them for more later when they're back to full price. People who get free game keys with the purchase of hardware, and they don't want the games. People who buy games in bundles, and they don't want all the games that the bundle comes with. And probably the biggest thing is that devs send out a bunch of keys to reviewers. Maybe the reviewer gets 5 keys, only uses one, and the other 4 end up on the gray market one way or another.

Now some of those possibilities aren't really ethical. But everything in that list is a legit key, whether it's ethical or moral, or not. They're legit keys that the devs/game companies intentionally allowed into the wild. They were uses of their games that they knew they either wouldn't be paid for, or they were paid some amount in a negotiation for including the key with hardware, or in a bundle. But they put those keys out there. If people pirate their games, those legit keys are still out there to be used by someone, yet they still have even more people playing their games for free that ends up being more free games than what they originally intended.

So I'm not trying to prove that the gray market is right. Just that pirating really does more damage than the gray market does.
 
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It's been out a couple of years, so the early sales surges are well over. They would've had to deny Steam plans so people would buy it elsewhere. They may even have meant it at the time… or not. Now it makes sense to spread its customer base as widely as possible.
I'd like to know what gaming companies are actually thinking. I got the impression that Steam's dominance and the 30% of each game sold they charge were behind Ubi's decision at that time. Not only to sell their games on Connect but draw customers in, so they see their other products.

The thing is Steam seem to have got it right and customers are often loyal and get other perks. I can't even remember how many posts I've seen other the last few years from gamers on the WD2 forum and the Connect Legion forum asking 'when will Legion be on Steam?'.

So I imagine there will be another surge in sales when it's on Steam. Maybe that was their plan all along;).

Ubi are good in some respects in that if anyone posts a problem with their games on Steam forums, a Dev will soon respond, and it's the same on the Connect forum.

The Legion forum on Connect was quite lively and fun, then for some reason they changed the format and pretty much killed it.

I think one of the best(ruthless) sales and marketing businessmen I've heard of was John D Rockefeller.
 
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I have a couple of thoughts about a dev saying he'd rather people pirate games, and what I'm saying is not in support of the gray market as much as that I think it's dumb to say pirating is better.

First of all, there has only been one known instance where G2A keys were bought fraudulently with a stolen credit card. As far as we know, it's only happened once, and they've taken countermeasures to try to protect people from that happening.

So in my opinion, I believe the vast majority of those keys are legit. So where do all of those legit keys come from? There are a lot of possibilities. People who buy games when they're on sale, and then try to sell them for more later when they're back to full price. People who get free game keys with the purchase of hardware, and they don't want the games. People who buy games in bundles, and they don't want all the games that the bundle comes with. And probably the biggest thing is that devs send out a bunch of keys to reviewers. Maybe the reviewer gets 5 keys, only uses one, and the other 4 end up on the gray market one way or another.

Now some of those possibilities aren't really ethical. But everything in that list is a legit key, whether it's ethical or moral, or not. They're legit keys that the devs/game companies intentionally allowed into the wild. They were uses of their games that they knew they either wouldn't be paid for, or they were paid some amount in a negotiation for including the key with hardware, or in a bundle. But they put those keys out there. If people pirate their games, those legit keys are still out there to be used by someone, yet they still have even more people playing their games for free that ends up being more free games than what they originally intended.

So I'm not trying to prove that the gray market is right. Just that pirating really does more damage than the gray market does.

Not sure if its only one incident, a quick Google just found 3 different cases in 2016 2019 and 2020 where G2A have been caught by devs selling stolen keys.

It is a fair point that some of those keys are out there anyway. But the developer would still miss out on a sale due to them being given away, and it seems in a lot of cases they are obtained fraudulently, which is as bad as credit card theft.

The whole 'rather you'd pirate thing' is probably at least partly an exaggeration to get in the headlines, but these guys know what hurts their bottom line more than we do. Bigger publishers, its not going to hurt them much, its the small to medium guys who need every penny of sales to keep the lights on and keep making games. And as they said with pirated games they dont have to provide anything extra for the nothing paid.

Both are bad for sure.
 
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The whole 'rather you'd pirate thing' is probably at least partly an exaggeration to get in the headlines, but these guys know what hurts their bottom line more than we do. Bigger publishers, its not going to hurt them much, its the small to medium guys who need every penny of sales to keep the lights on and keep making games. And as they said with pirated games they dont have to provide anything extra for the nothing paid.
Yeah, like I said, I'm not trying to justify it. I believe it probably does hurt their bottom line. I'm just saying it makes no sense to say pirating is better because that just adds more to the keys they willingly put out there. Pirating has to be worse.

But I think you're probably right. It was an exaggeration to get people's attention. He knew there are people who would never pirate, but they would buy from the gray market, and he was using that to put a guilt trip on them.

It's dumb to buy gray market for small studio games, anyway. Those are the games that are usually priced fairly.
 
I'd like to know what gaming companies are actually thinking
A big shift comes when any company goes public. The priority changes from whatever it was before to a money game—in US as far as I know, company officers are still required by law to maximize shareholder value. So things like product quality, customer service etc become secondary to the need to generate revenue and profit.

We've never worried about individuals pirating our stuff, they're unlikely to be a lost sale, and may lead to future sales. What we've always gone after and shut down are operations trying to profit from pirating by reselling such goods—that's a big no-no for me.