Although G2A is a legitimate company, not all of its transactions are above board. There is always a chance of being scammed if you buy games through the G2A Marketplace because the company provides very little customer protection and hides behind a number of anti-consumer policies.
Since there are better options, we advise against it.
It’s only natural to want to get your hands on the best possible gaming deals, and G2A will likely be one of the first places you look.
This Hong Kong-based firm operates the world’s largest key reselling marketplace, and they consistently provide the best prices on video games of all ages.
Isn’t it possible that this is all too good to be true?
Absolutely. This article will provide a brief introduction to G2A, its services, and the reasons you might want to use them, but also the reasons why many people (both customers and developers) dislike G2A and why you should probably avoid buying your games there.
What Is G2A?
Polish businessmen Bartosz Skwarczek and Dawid Roek established G2A.COM Limited in 2010 with the intention of opening a legitimate online store selling games at rock-bottom prices.
Not being able to attract major developers and publishers, the company shifted gears and became a marketplace where anyone could sell game keys.
Through shrewd marketing and a number of corporate sponsorships, G2A has built a strong reputation as a leading gaming brand and is now able to expand into other product categories, such as merchandising and electronics.
The company has been plagued by controversy for the majority of its existence, particularly regarding its status as a “grey market,” the prevalence of invalid or stolen keys on the marketplace, and, more recently, a weak customer protection initiative.
Who runs G2A?
The business model is laid out in greater detail on the company’s corporate website, G2A.co. In order to “provide the best digital game licenses and retail service to all our partners and customers,” a group of Hong Kong-based gamers founded this company. G2A is not shy about sharing its headquarters in Hong Kong and its support office in Poland with potential customers, unlike some other companies.
Marketplace sellers, or individuals outside of the game development studios, are the ones offering the game keys for sale. Anyone who has purchased a game but not used their key to activate it is a potential source, as are companies that have purchased keys in bulk from regions where they are less expensive. It’s also possible for these keys to be the result of fraudulent key requests.
How Does G2A Work?
Each and every digital game key offered for sale on G2A is, as previously mentioned, supplied by a third-party reseller. You can buy game codes for a wide variety of games from multiple sellers on G2A.
Every vendor has their own price, user name, and feedback rating. This data can help you decide if it’s wise to make a purchase from the vendor. If you’re satisfied, then go ahead and complete the purchase.
G2A’s payment gateway, G2A PAY, accepts payments in over “200 global and local payment methods, in 80 currencies from over 170 countries,” and is “extremely trustworthy.”
If you’d like to buy a game and have it delivered to you, you can do that. All that’s required to redeem your game code and claim your prize is a valid account with the platform the code was issued for. Steam, UPlay, Epic Games Launcher, and Origin are just a few of the most popular platforms.
Inputting the code is the next step after logging in, and then comes the game’s download.
Where Do G2A’s Game Codes Come From?
According to a TechAdvisor Q&A with G2A staff, the majority of the company’s game codes are acquired either during sales and promotions for various game marketplaces or directly from the distributor.
Though some argue that this isn’t entirely accurate, it is generally accepted. In 2016, the game’s developer for “Defender’s Quest” made a post implying that many of the keys sold through G2A are obtained with stolen credit cards. The TechAdvisor article also claims that a sizable number of G2A’s keys come from regions where prices are lower and are subsequently sold to consumers in regions where prices are higher.
(Complaints of a similar nature have been lodged against other dark market websites, such as Kinguin.net.)
Because of these two factors, many G2A game codes are priced lower than those found in official game bundles sold through official distribution channels.
What Are The Benefits Of Buying Game Codes From G2A?
One of G2A’s most appealing features is its low cost. There is a good chance that G2A’s price for a game key will be lower than that of Steam, Humble Bundle, or any other service offering the same thing.
That’s why a lot of people like G2A. Because of its immense popularity, G2A also appears to be a more secure and reliable marketplace than its competitors.
Stolen Credit Cards And Chargebacks
A common complaint about G2A’s marketplace is that many independent developers have admitted they would rather have players illegally download their games than sell them on G2A.
To answer your question, no developer would ever actively encourage product theft.
Simply put, the developer loses money either way: if you steal it, they make no money, but if you buy it through G2A, they might actually lose money while others profit from their hard work.
In other words, if a user makes a large key purchase with a stolen credit card and then resells those keys on G2A, both the buyer and the seller keep a portion of the proceeds. But the developers will bear the brunt of the fallout when the owner discovers their credit card information had been compromised.
Some prominent game studios have recently come out publicly against G2A, and these include No More Robots, Vlambeer, and Spooky Squid Games.
We could go on and on about the various scandals that G2A has been embroiled in or the various studios that have been harmed by the company’s policies, but this is all old news that has been covered to death elsewhere.
Let’s instead pay attention to something that hasn’t been talked about much, and that most G2A users are probably unaware of…
Poor Support And Terrible Money Back Guarantee Program
Despite the negative press, G2A was once a trusted marketplace for cheap game keys. The company did an acceptable job of resolving disputes and preventing scams, and not all of the keys sold on the platform were stolen.
The introduction of G2A’s “Money Back Guarantee” program, however, has changed the situation. When first introduced, this system seemed like a huge improvement for both buyers and sellers. However, upon closer examination, it became clear that the system was actually designed to benefit the company rather than the buyers and sellers involved.
There was a time when customers could submit a ticket to G2A’s support team and receive a refund after the team verified that the key they had received was invalid or revoked.
That’s not how things are done at the moment, unfortunately.
Two crucial details about G2A’s Money Back Guarantee program are omitted from the company’s marketing materials but are included in the Terms of Service (which the company jokingly advises customers not to read):
1. You need to file an official fraud report with your local law enforcement
You must first get in touch with the seller who provided you with the faulty key before G2A can take any action. Assuming it was an accident, things should be sorted out quickly. But if the seller doesn’t respond or flat-out rejects attempts to resolve the issue, then the fun really begins…
If you’ve been scammed on G2A, getting your money back will be difficult because you’ll need to provide proof that you’ve filed a police report against the seller who cheated you.
According to G2A, the new policy was implemented to ensure the safety of all parties involved in transactions made through the G2A marketplace, including buyers and sellers. It’s understandable if at first blush this seems like a compelling argument.
No matter the cost, a police report must be filed for every lost or stolen key. For example, the time and (possible) money spent filing a police report would likely be more than the value of a refund for a cheap game purchased on G2A for less than $10 or $5. Furthermore, there is always the possibility that you won’t be able to file a report at all (if, for example, the sum of money stolen is lower than the threshold for filing a fraud report in your state or country).
Furthermore, in the end, it is pretty much guaranteed that nothing will be done about small international scams, such as the ones you’d come to be a victim of if you dealt with G2A.
One must question the efficacy of using the threat of police involvement as a deterrent in this context, given that the scammers are well aware of this.
G2A will require a police report even if your case is straightforward and you have solid evidence. According to the Terms of Service, you are out of luck if you are unable to obtain the report or if doing so would require more effort and expense than the value of the refund.
For the most part, this rule discourages buyers from pursuing refunds on low-cost keys, which benefits G2A and opens the door for any scammer willing to focus on selling cheap keys.
Buyers lose out, con artists rake in the dough, and G2A keeps the money without bothering to investigate the complaints that were filed without the proper paperwork.
2. You are only eligible for a refund three times per year
The second major issue is that you can only use the Money Back Guarantee three times a year. What it says is true: you can get your money back three times in a year, but if you need a refund for a fourth time, you’re out of luck.
The rationale behind this restriction is that “99% of transactions on G2A go through without a problem,” so you’re only likely to be a victim of fraud four times a year at most. Even though it is meant to be a guarantee, this comes off more like a sales pitch.
If the data is to be believed, you probably won’t be a victim of fraud more than four times in a year unless you routinely deal with untrustworthy sellers who have low ratings. It’s highly improbable, but it could happen, and if it does, G2A is under no obligation to issue a refund.
When you consider that the mere threat of police involvement is supposed to deter would-be con artists, this limit becomes even more absurd.
In other words, customers who try to take advantage of the Money Back Guarantee program would have to repeatedly file false police reports, which would be a crime in and of itself.
This restriction, like the requirement for official police documents, was imposed for the company’s security and not the buyer’s.
Given that only a small fraction of G2A’s transactions are fraudulent, the company should have no problem compensating users who can provide police reports as proof that they were victims of fraud up to an unlimited amount.
Should You Buy Games On G2A?
If, despite this warning, you still intend to use G2A to acquire digital games, you should restrict your purchases to those made from sellers who have a high percentage of positive feedback (more than 95 percent is ideal).
Users who are actively involved in the game and have a high average rating are less likely to scam you, and they are also more likely to take responsibility for fixing any issues they encounter.
But there’s something else about G2A’s policies that might come as a surprise: buyers can only change their ratings from negative to positive, and not the other way around.
In other words, once you’ve rated a seller positively, you can’t change your mind and give them a lower score. Therefore, the seller (potential scammer) keeps your initial positive rating even if your key is revoked or the product develops other problems after purchase. No matter what you do, it will happen.
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 when you factor in review bots and the fact that G2A sometimes has your account automatically leave a positive rating for sellers if you don’t leave feedback manually.
Not to mention the ethical considerations: do you really want to back a company that shows no regard for its customers, shields itself behind anti-consumer policies, and which game developers actively encourage their fans to avoid?
You probably don’t, but there are times when you can’t wait for Steam sales or simply can’t afford to. Fortunately, there are still options available, even in that scenario!
For online marketplaces, Kinguin is second only to G2A in terms of traffic. While their product offering is more limited, they have consistently received positive feedback from both customers and developers.
Kinguin isn’t the only marketplace out there; there’s also Gamivo, AllKeyShop, CDKeys, and SCDKey. These are all smaller than G2A, but they don’t seem to have any of the same consumer-unfriendly practices that G2A does.
Although you should be able to use them with greater peace of mind, you should remember that when purchasing games from the grey market, you always run the risk of encountering trouble.
Of course, there are always other online retailers to consider, especially if you’re looking for a better price than Steam currently offers:
- While good game bundles on Humble Bundle are becoming more rare and discounts aren’t that great, Humble Choice, which has replaced Humble Monthly as of 2020, often has good deals.
- Game bundles and time-limited Star Deals are also available on Fanatical, though the games tend to be of lower quality than those offered by Humble Bundle. Even so, it’s possible to score some real bargains if you shop around.
- GreenManGaming is the place to go if you’re looking for a price cut on a specific game, as it is well-known for its low prices.
- IndieGala – While perhaps best known for their budget bundles and adult games, IndieGala also regularly offers excellent discounts.
- GoG is a digital distribution platform owned by CD Projekt, the developers of the Witcher video game series, and is well-known for selling both new and old games without the use of digital rights management. So, if you don’t care about having the games in your Steam library, it’s a great place to get older or newer games.
We also propose you check out IsThereAnyDeal, a website that compiles information about sales, bundles, and deals from more than 30 official online retailers. The site allows you to import your Steam wishlist and then notifies you via email when any of the games you’ve added go on sale.
What Are The Risks?
While many users can shop worry-free on G2A, we cannot say that no dangers exist. The biggest danger comes from buying a nonworking game code and then being unable to return it for a refund.
Since G2A “does everything possible to ensure that all products available on G2A Marketplace are valid, legitimate and legally obtained,” this is highly improbable. In addition, G2A offers a “Money Back Guarantee” if you buy a game code and discover it isn’t working or is otherwise not as described.
User accounts detailing the frustrating experience of requesting a refund can be found online. According to the users who have gone through this process, you must first file a police report with your local police department and then send a scanned copy of that report to G2A.
Many G2A vendors prefer to remain nameless. Because of this, reporting the incident to the police is difficult. Many victims do not get their money back because they cannot file a police report.
It has been reported that some customers have complained to PayPal about not receiving the product they paid for. Users have reported 100% success with this method; however, doing so may result in G2A terminating your account.
Is G2A Safe?
There is always a chance that a purchase made on G2A won’t work. G2A advertises a “Money Back Guarantee,” but it’s not easy to actually get your money back. Given this, it’s safe to say that G2A poses a significant security risk.
This is especially the case when contrasting G2A with legitimate sites like Humble Bundle that also sell game codes. You can rest assured that your code will be accepted by an authorized service, and you can get your money back quickly and easily.
G2A lacks both of these features, making it a much less secure option than more established digital game marketplaces.
G2A – Frequently asked questions
To better understand how G2A functions, we posed the following inquiries. Each question has been answered by a different G2A staff member, and in some cases, more than one person has weighed in. We have not filtered any of the responses.
1. Where do the sellers of the game keys get their codes from?
It’s up to the individual vendor where the game keys were obtained from. Large retailers buy games directly from publishers, while smaller retailers rely on sales and discounts.
The vast majority of our marketplace’s vendors are independent business owners, making any confidential information they may have strictly proprietary. Since we want to ensure the highest quality of service for our customers, we verify the legitimacy of each vendor on G2A. In addition, we provide reviews of each vendor/merchant so that shoppers can learn more about the business before making a final choice.
2. Are the sellers private individuals or businesses?
Since anyone can list a product for sale on G2A.COM, we attract a wide variety of vendors, including individual gamers, retail game stores, independent programmers, and large wholesalers. To date, G2A Marketplace has attracted over 50,000 vendors.
In addition, we are working on specialized options for game devs and publishers (including Indi devs) to give them a prominent place on G2A. Already, we have had success with sales from a few of them on our marketplace.
3. How can they sell them so much cheaper than on Steam, Uplay or on Amazon?
You can “sell the games on” for a profit if you buy them during sales at prices as low as 90% off. The game industry is a pyramidal one; at the top, the biggest retailers receive the best pricing because they drive the most volume.
Since G2A.com serves a global market, its size is staggering. Many fantastic possibilities for international trade of digital products created by G2A’s local sellers and buyers.
4. Are the codes from gamers who have played the game and are now selling it on ‘second hand’ or ‘used’?
To be clear, game activation codes can only be used once before they become permanently associated with your account. To put it another way, you can no longer market it.
Once a game key has been used, it cannot be used again. However, the “second hand” or “used” market for video games is thriving. Because only digital goods can be bought and sold on G2A, we are not involved in this matter.
5. Most game codes, such as Steam or Uplay, are bound to an account and cannot be ‘de-registered’ and then sold on. Is that correct?
If you remove the game from your Steam, Uplay, or Origin account, you won’t be able to use the same activation code to play the game again.
The Final Word
All we can say about G2A at this time is that this is all we have to say. We used to recommend them as a good place to get cheap games in a pinch, but their reputation has steadily worsened over the years, and now their new “Money Back Guarantee” program is just the icing on the cake.
To us, it’s not worth saving a few dollars on a game if it means backing a company that isn’t concerned with doing the right thing by its customers or developers.