What even is G2A?
Established in 2010, G2A (formerly Go2Arena) was marketed to the cash-strapped gamer. It was a retailer whose goal was to acquire the best deals of any digital distribution platform at the time. According to founder Bartosz Skwarczek, it was a lack of publisher interest that saw G2A pivot from a retailer, akin to Steam, to its current business model as a market place. G2A exists in its current form as a platform for key reselling.
Key reselling is pretty much self-explanatory but let’s keep everyone up to speed. Steam uses keys as a secure way to give ownership of a game to someone. Developers may give free keys for promotion, review or as a giveaway. Customers may buy keys as gifts for others or buy them through other retailers such as Humble. These keys, provided they aren’t redeemed, are commodities, and as such can be purchased or sold. G2A is one such place. The eBay-like competitive environment is fertile soil for deep discounts.
So why do people hate G2A? Well, the simple fact is that there are some shady operators.
G2A isn’t some small website with a few people selling some leftover keys, it is full of sellers hawking all kinds of games for cheap. They are not selling games at a loss. Sellers are making money, and usually at some expense to the developer. Consider the difference in pricing in different regions. According to steam.db, Factorio costs AU $42. But what if, say, you bought elsewhere? If you bought at Argentinian pricing, you could snag it for around AU $11. That gives you quite the margin to sell the game for cheap, whilst still turning yourself a profit. It isn’t a victimless crime, though, as this is taking profit away from the developer. But there are many that will sink lower, into truly criminal behaviour.