Update: Gearbox Backs Out of Controversial Bulletstorm/G2A Promo

Steven Bogos

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Update: Gearbox Backs Out of Controversial Bulletstorm/G2A Promo

//cdn.themis-media.com/media/global/images/library/deriv/46/46091.jpg
G2A failed to comply with Gearbox demands regarding changes to its service, so it backed out of the deal.

Update: G2A has responded with the following statement:

This last week brought forth a lot of confusion, and caused a lot of inaccurate information to appear on the internet about G2A.COM. Although this saddens us, at the same time we are also glad to have the opportunity to thoroughly explain many of the inaccuracies and misunderstandings tied to G2A.COM.

It all began with a few negative reactions from some YouTubers, and in particular from John "TotalBiscuit" Bain, to an announcement that G2A.COM is working together with Gearbox Publishing. Our partner, Gearbox Publishing, unfortunately decided to publicly publish a letter with a list of ultimatums, without consulting us about the truth of the allegations made by John Bain. This is an excellent example that rash actions, without full knowledge of the facts, can be harmful to both the developer and the marketplace. Especially since all of the requests made of G2A.COM in the ultimatum have in fact long been part of our marketplace.

The full response, which goes into specific detail on how G2A has already fulfilled the reuqests, can be read here [//cdn.themis-media.com/media/global/images/library/deriv/1396/1396460.docx].

Original Story: A somewhat controversial collaboration between Bulletstorm publisher Gearbox and CD Key Reseller G2A arose over the last weeks. Essentially, Gearbox reserved an exclusive collector's edition of the game for the reseller, a move which some G2A practices [https://twitter.com/Totalbiscuit/status/850097950441316357] in the past. Addressing this controversy, Gearbox demanded that G2A publicly commit to certain changes to its service within 24 hours. Now that those 24 hours are up, Gearbox has cancelled the deal.

"As there has been no public movement from G2A by the time Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition launched now on PC," said Gearbox head of publishing Steve Gibson in a statement, "Gearbox Publishing will be doing their part to not directly support a marketplace that did not make the new public commitment to protecting customers and developers requested by Gearbox Publishing."

Here are the demands Gearbox made of G2A:

Within 30 days, G2A Shield (aka, customer fraud protection) is made free instead of a separate paid subscription service within terms offered by other major marketplaces. All customers who spend money deserve fraud protection from a storefront. To that end, all existing G2A Shield customers are notified by April 14th that fraud protection services are now free and they will no longer be charged for this.

Within 90 days, G2A will open up a web service or API to certified developers and publishers to search for and flag for immediate removal, keys that are fraudulent. This access will be free of charge and will not require payment by the content holders.

G2A makes a public commitment to this: Within 60 days implement throttling for non-certified developers and publishers at the title, userid, and account payable levels for a fraud flagging process. This is to protect content providers from having large quantities of stolen goods flipped on G2A before they can be flagged.

G2A makes a public commitment to this: Within 30 days, G2A restructures its payment system so that customers who wish to buy and sell legitimate keys are given a clear, simple fee-structure that is easy to understand and contains no hidden or obfuscated charges. Join the ranks of other major marketplaces.

Source: Waypoint [https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/gearbox-backs-out-of-criticized-bulletstorm-deal-with-shady-key-reseller-g2a]

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TelosSupreme

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Funny that this is considered a controversy while I'm still flabbergasted that this was a game they bothered "remastering." Meanwhile, older titles that actually need an update like System Shock and Riven have to be remade either through Kickstarter or by a dedicated indie team respectively. The games industry really has prioritizing in the bag.
 

Cold Shiny

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Totalbiscuit personally consulted with Gearbox and basically informed them of their ignorance.

Here's his video in case anyone cares.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cac0ACHux-Q
 

The Rogue Wolf

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I don't know why Gearbox thought that partnering with G2A would somehow help their reputation. Yeah, it's good that they backed out, but it's sort of like deciding not to hire a hitman to kill your wife after all- you don't get extra morality points.
Gibbagobba said:
Funny that this is considered a controversy while I'm still flabbergasted that this was a game they bothered "remastering."
I just watched TotalBiscuit's video on it. It seems that they actually took a couple of video options OUT (or combined them with others) that were present in the first edition. I don't get it.

And then they thought that crowbarring Duke Nukem into the game was somehow a good idea. Because we needed a reminder of that debacle, right, Gearbox?
 

Shadefyre

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I don't know why they thought that offering an exclusive collector's edition would somehow give them the leverage to transform a Russian key thief site into any sort of respectable digital marketplace.
 

Sight Unseen

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Gibbagobba said:
Funny that this is considered a controversy while I'm still flabbergasted that this was a game they bothered "remastering." Meanwhile, older titles that actually need an update like System Shock and Riven have to be remade either through Kickstarter or by a dedicated indie team respectively. The games industry really has prioritizing in the bag.
Considering that the original PC game was on GFWL and is now literally unplayable due to GFWL being discontinued, I think that on PC at least, it's justified. There were numerous other issues with the original more too aside from GFWL.
 

Metalrocks

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i still feel like getting the game since GFWL is a huge pile of crap and only caused me problems. but i dislike gearbox a lot and havent touched a game from them since the disaster titled duke nukem. i certainly enjoyed bulletstorm and was kind of happy to see a remastered version that doesnt require GFWL. but hearing that gearbox is doing it, a lot of alarm bells went off. i still keep an eye open and wait for it to drop in price. if the game it self runs smoothly without any gearbox tricks.
 

TelosSupreme

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Sight Unseen said:
Gibbagobba said:
Funny that this is considered a controversy while I'm still flabbergasted that this was a game they bothered "remastering." Meanwhile, older titles that actually need an update like System Shock and Riven have to be remade either through Kickstarter or by a dedicated indie team respectively. The games industry really has prioritizing in the bag.
Considering that the original PC game was on GFWL and is now literally unplayable due to GFWL being discontinued, I think that on PC at least, it's justified. There were numerous other issues with the original more too aside from GFWL.
Well, I could understand something like a patch. That's what they did for Halo 1 on PC years after. But like, I don't remember Bulletstorm even being that popular when it originally came out.
 

Setch Dreskar

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Shadefyre said:
I don't know why they thought that offering an exclusive collector's edition would somehow give them the leverage to transform a Russian key thief site into any sort of respectable digital marketplace.
As dumb as it sounds, Gearbox had no idea just how shit G2A is, so it took a massive backlash for them to ask "Why are people hating us for this partnership?" and then when Totalbiscuit threw his hat in the ring and shunned Gearbox, they asked him why and for evidence to which he gave them an overwhelming amount. From there Gearbox started a conference call with TB and these demands were drafted up.

This is a major win-win for the gaming community.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cac0ACHux-Q
 

KaraFang

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Except that a company THAT LARGE had to be informed by a (admittedly in his field darn famous) Youtuber and game industry commentator indicates how USELESS they are.

That's the metaphorical equivalent of WarnerBros going to the Pirate Bay and asking them to sell a collectors edition Batman film - They'd have to have a "pants of head moronic" research and sales team to not know that's a BAD IDEA. (shakes head)

Kudos to john Bain for going "Oh, you didn't do any research about these shady peeps? Here's a Load of PUBLICLY AVAILABLE INFO!"

Say what you like about him, he knows his subject matter and doesn't make comments about companies lightly.
 

hermes

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Kibeth41 said:
Shadefyre said:
I don't know why they thought that offering an exclusive collector's edition would somehow give them the leverage to transform a Russian key thief site into any sort of respectable digital marketplace.
They didn't. No one expected them to.

It's a huge blow to G2A's PR, and a relatively good boon to Gearbox's PR.
I don't think it is either. Gearbox basically made a deal with a mob gang and then tried to back down claiming ignorance. G2A will suffer some PR, but it is not like they were hanging on the result of the sales of an unnecessary remake of a game that is only 6 years old (I mean, it is not like they lost a chance of having an exclusive deal with the next CoD or something like that). I don't think Gearbox can recoup much karma when they approached them in the first place.

To me, that just feels like a cheap attempt from Gearbox to get out of a contract that they shouldn't have signed in the first place, and shield in the publicity of this scheme to avoid backlash. I mean, they had as much chance of forcing G2A to change their business practice (in less than 3 months, no less) as Uruguay had of changing Germany's practices during WW 2 by declaring war; but by making it this way, and being extremely public about it, they can claim the breach of contract was because they have the moral high ground and because of G2A's fault.
 

The Rogue Wolf

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Kibeth41 said:
Believe it or not, G2A isn't as notorious as you think. Many people, myself included, haven't heard much at all about the company. I had only ever heard of them a few months ago when an indie developer said to torrent games instead of buying from G2A.
I'm not buying it for a second. A simple Google search would have shown plenty of articles dealing with G2A's shady practices; Gearbox should have an actual legal department to look into companies they want to deal with. Whatever it is that brought them into dealing with G2A, simple ignorance is not remotely a legitimate excuse.
 

Kahani

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The Rogue Wolf said:
A simple Google search would have shown plenty of articles dealing with G2A's shady practices; Gearbox should have an actual legal department to look into companies they want to deal with. Whatever it is that brought them into dealing with G2A, simple ignorance is not remotely a legitimate excuse.
Indeed, this is the entire point of the concept of "due diligence". The exact legal requirements vary, but in general it's important for any organisation entering into any kind of contract, whether that's a small local sports club getting a builder in to fix the roof, or a big company signing a distribution deal for a game. There are no tinfoil hats involved here, simple ignorance really isn't a legitimate excuse from a legal point of view. Gearbox's response after learning of the issues with G2A seem decent enough, but the fact that they didn't perform due diligence before signing a contract and had to have everything explained to them by some random guy on YouTube says some pretty bad things about how their business is run. It doesn't matter how little known G2A might be to the general public, the general public isn't signing contracts with them.
 

hermes

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Kibeth41 said:
hermes said:
Kibeth41 said:
Shadefyre said:
I don't know why they thought that offering an exclusive collector's edition would somehow give them the leverage to transform a Russian key thief site into any sort of respectable digital marketplace.
They didn't. No one expected them to.

It's a huge blow to G2A's PR, and a relatively good boon to Gearbox's PR.
I don't think it is either. Gearbox basically made a deal with a mob gang and then tried to back down claiming ignorance. G2A will suffer some PR, but it is not like they were hanging on the result of the sales of an unnecessary remake of a game that is only 6 years old (I mean, it is not like they lost a chance of having an exclusive deal with the next CoD or something like that). I don't think Gearbox can recoup much karma when they approached them in the first place.

To me, that just feels like a cheap attempt from Gearbox to get out of a contract that they shouldn't have signed in the first place, and shield in the publicity of this scheme to avoid backlash. I mean, they had as much chance of forcing G2A to change their business practice (in less than 3 months, no less) as Uruguay had of changing Germany's practices during WW 2 by declaring war; but by making it this way, and being extremely public about it, they can claim the breach of contract was because they have the moral high ground and because of G2A's fault.
Considering they brought up the terms immediately after a conference call with Totalbiscuit, which happened immediately after he showed sources of information for his claims, yeah, it seems pretty genuine.

Believe it or not, G2A isn't as notorious as you think. Many people, myself included, haven't heard much at all about the company. I had only ever heard of them a few months ago when an indie developer said to torrent games instead of buying from G2A.

No one in their right mind would sign up for a contract knowing what G2A really is. It just stands to lose too much PR and money. But then, we have paranoids who won't believe literally anything that's said by anyone in the gaming industry.
For the record, I am not claiming they went into the contract with a shady corporation intentionally or knowingly, but that they should have known better and the way they distance themselves sounds like a PR dance they shouldn't have engage in the first time.

Paranoia aside, I just think the way Gearbox handled it was a blatant attempt to save face by distancing themselves from the other source of controversy (something Gearbox is with [http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-11-03-gearbox-duke-nukem-forever-wasnt-reviewed-fairly]). They must have known (or maybe not, more on that ahead) that they had no real leverage to force those changes, but "hey! at least we tried, right?". Maybe it started as earnest, but attaching a meaningless threat and an impossible deadline to it made it look like a cheap attempt to shift the blame ("now the ball is in their course; we did everything right, if they don't do it, and do it now, it is their fault, not ours").

As you said, "no one it their right mind would sign for a contract knowing what G2A really is", but it is the job of their commercial department to know, to check the background and legitimacy of potential partners, and not something they just happily jump into when they are offered a large dollar sign canvas bag (long enough to brag about it on their marketing). They need to know if something is legitimate or the front for some cartel. It is THEIR JOB. A cursory search on google, wikipedia and youtube would have give them enough information that G2A is more than a booming new marketplace. You (as in "the public") would be excused from not knowing much details about them or how they conduct business, but the sales department of a large corporation can't say "they weren't aware" of controversy on one of their top 10 distributors.

I am not saying Gearbox is the worst of the parties involved here (far from it), but I do think they should have known better. To disregard it makes them look naive and uninformed, at best, or just desperate enough to be associated with some shady people to get funding. Given that it was in their marketing material, I am leaning toward the former, but I just don't know which one speaks better about their management.
 

hermes

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The Rogue Wolf said:
And then they thought that crowbarring Duke Nukem into the game was somehow a good idea. Because we needed a reminder of that debacle, right, Gearbox?
Hey, they paid good money for that IP, and by God, they are going to use it.

At this point, I am surprised Duke was not a DLC character for Borderlands and Battleborn...
 

Thurston

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hermes said:
The Rogue Wolf said:
And then they thought that crowbarring Duke Nukem into the game was somehow a good idea. Because we needed a reminder of that debacle, right, Gearbox?
Hey, they paid good money for that IP, and by God, they are going to use it.

At this point, I am surprised Duke was not a DLC character for Borderlands and Battleborn...
Myself and my friend agreed that Duke showing up in the BL series would have been enjoyable.