Is G2A Legit? It’s Leveled Up Past Controversy at Least

Written by Daniel Mou
Last updated Mar 20, 2023

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G2A logo
The Quick Answer

G2A operates a legitimate website to purchase game keys for cheap, but it’s still a third-party marketplace at the end of the day. As with all gray market sites, there’s no way to guarantee the legitimacy of its sellers or their game codes. G2A’s updated seller verification processes and customer-centric changes have helped them avoid controversy for several years now, and make us feel more comfortable shopping with them.  But we’d still check other Steam key sites first given their past reputation.

G2A was one of the first online marketplaces for digital games and software keys. Sadly, criminals quickly flooded the website with illegitimate game codes and scams. The lack of a thorough verification process and G2A’s shady strategies damaged its reputation. But despite the controversies over the years, the website is still alive today. So is G2A legit now, or is there something else going on?

What Is G2A?

G2A was founded in 2010 by Bartosz Skwarczek and Dawid Rożek to sell video games at the lowest prices possible. Initially, the founders wanted to run G2A as an official retailer. However, a lack of interest from triple-A publishers forced them to pivot and develop G2A as an gray market for users to buy and sell keys.

These keys were supposed to come from game bundles, unwanted gifts, sales, or even giveaways. However, dishonest sellers began to take advantage of G2A’s lax verification processes to sell ill-gotten game codes. This led to years of controversies and a poor reputation among gamers and game developers.

G2A Main Page

G2A’s Controversial History

G2A has developed a questionable reputation over the past few years. We’ve even acknowledged this in our article offering alternatives to G2A. Their poor reputation has a lot to do with shady practices and disagreements with indie game developers.

One of the earliest controversies was in 2016, when tinyBuild’s CEO, Alex Nichiporchik, accused G2A of allowing fraudulently obtained game codes on their platform. Nichiporchik purchased his games from G2A and linked them to charged-back transactions. Chargebacks can often cost developers more than twice the transaction amount due to additional fees.

G2A got into trouble again in 2019 when an employee tried to bribe journalists in return for favorable coverage of the website. G2A’s head of communication at the time confirmed to Polygon that the rumors were true and that the employee would be reprimanded.

G2A Trending Products

But G2A hasn’t ignored the controversies. In 2019, they announced that they would pay developers ten times the money lost on chargeback fees. The only developer to successfully take up this offer was Wube Software, the Czech-based indie company behind Factorio. They responded to G2A’s offer, settling on a $39,600 payment after confirming 198 fraudulent game codes.

Unknown Worlds, developer of Subnautica and Natural Selection 2, also accused G2A of reselling fraudulent keys, which led to $30,000 in chargeback fees in 2013. Founder Charlie Cleveland announced on Twitter that G2A owed them $300,000 as per their offer. However, G2A responded that they didn’t exist as an open marketplace then. The company took no further action, and no other developers approached G2A regarding their offer.

G2A Winter Sale

Some developers have even come to G2A’s defense. Sergei Klimov, a game industry veteran of over 20 years, says that G2A is not evil. He disagrees with making them a “scapegoat for what is essentially a problem with managing keys.”

Klimov claimed that his game, Gremlins, Inc., had no issues with G2A because his studio doesn’t give out game codes, nor is the game included in bundles. This limits the chances of surplus Steam keys ending up on a gray market like G2A.

Where Do G2A’s Game Keys Come From?

According to G2A, most of their game codes are from wholesale bulk purchases. These come straight from the developer, a publisher, or official distributors. A common strategy is buying game codes from a cheaper region and reselling them on G2A for profit. Valve uses geo-blocking on Steam to stop this, an approach that has raised antitrust concerns within the European Union.

In the past, resellers could also hoard Steam games when they were on sale and sell them later. However, Valve changed its gifting policy in 2017 to stop this. This change dealt a considerable blow to gray markets, but some older Steam gifts are still listed on G2A. There are other sources too such as giveaway game codes, review copies, or even selling Steam accounts with games already on them.

G2A Bestsellers Latest Releases Pre-orders

G2A has no way to verify the legitimacy of a product listed on its marketplace. Blocking illegitimate game codes would require the cooperation of the developer or publisher so that they can verify game codes against a list of fraudulently-obtained ones.

G2A isn’t against this approach and has previously worked with authorized resellers to ban illegal key sales. However, their poor reputation has deterred many developers from working with them.

Is G2A Safe? Let’s Find Out

Our Experience Buying From G2A

As a young gamer with a limited budget, I was a part of G2A’s target audience when they first launched their service. However, it’s been several years since I’ve bought anything from them. These days, I either use authorized sellers such as Green Man Gaming or wait for Steam sales.

But to answer the question “is G2A legit,” I decided to revisit G2A to repurchase the first product I ever bought from them: a 60-day World of Warcraft time card.

G2A World of Warcraft Time Card

Searching for and finding a product on G2A is simple. However, it’s important to note that almost all products on the site are region-locked. Overlooking this seems to be a common issue that people have with G2A. Products often list their region in the product name; this time card is no different.

G2A Your Cart

I added the product to my cart and went through the checkout process. Normally, you have to provide an email address to receive your key. However, you can create an account to save you the hassle of entering it every time.

Interestingly, G2A no longer automatically opts you into G2A Plus, their subscription service that gives you a free game every month and additional discounts. G2A has come under fire for automatically opting users into G2A Shield, its previous subscription service. It’s unclear when they made this change, but it’s a welcome improvement to the checkout experience.

G2A Order Details

I chose to pay via PayPal and was surprised that I was only charged $14.60. G2A used to add additional fees depending on your chosen payment method. I’m not sure if they removed these fees or if it’s baked into the total price now, but it’s nice to know that the number you see is the final price you pay.

G2A Order Details

After a few minutes, PayPal processed my order. They charged the correct amount and sent me an email showing the details of my order. I received a link to my key and they gave me one last chance to confirm that I bought the right product.

Clicking the “Show me the key” button here will reveal the code you purchased, but it also acts as an order confirmation. Once your key is revealed, it’ll be much harder to get a refund.

Blizzard World of Warcraft

The code worked, and I received my 60 days of game time for just $14.60. The whole experience was quick and painless, with no attempts to trick me into subscribing to G2A Plus. They didn’t tack on additional fees, and I had several opportunities to confirm that I was buying the right thing.

Overall, the transaction experience on G2A was pleasant and fast, and the process has dramatically improved since I last purchased something from them. As far as I can tell, G2A is a safe and legit site for buying games.

Your Experience May Vary

My personal experience with G2A was positive, but it’s not the same for everyone. A quick browse through Trustpilot reveals several dissatisfied and angry customers. Many complain about scams, receiving used game codes, or getting products for a different region.

Trustpilot G2A Negative Review

However, many recent complaints have more to do with buyer error than issues with G2A itself. In particular, many people have accidentally bought Steam accounts and not a Steam key. This highlights the importance of double-checking anything you purchase on G2A; refunds are difficult, if not impossible, once you’ve claimed your product.

Customers have also had issues with G2A’s hands-off approach to disputes. It seems that G2A expects customers to communicate with sellers when seeking refunds or support. They won’t step in until seven days after the purchase, and even then only if you’ve exhausted all other options. They also request that you file a police report to prove you’re serious about getting a refund from an uncooperative seller.

Trustpilot G2A Positive Review

There are a few positive reviews sprinkled throughout the front page. Some buyers have commented on G2A’s improvements over the years, and others are just happy to save a bit of money on recent triple-A titles. One customer even updated their negative review because a seller provided an additional key after sending the incorrect one.

At the end of the day, buying from G2A seems to be a painless process as long as you double-check what you’re buying and choose reputable sellers. However, there’s always the chance of wasting your time with a bad seller. Whether that potential risk is worth the savings is entirely up to you.

G2A Hogwarts Legacy Steam Account

Is Buying From G2A Ethical?

There’s no way to be sure whether the game codes you buy from G2A are legitimate. You could be buying someone’s unwanted Christmas gift, or it could be an illegitimate copy purchased with a stolen credit card. G2A is trying to clean up its act by tightening its verification processes and removing seller anonymity, but scammers and illegitimate game codes do still exist on the platform.

However, it’s been a few years since G2A’s last controversy. This could mean the changes to their seller verification process are starting to work. However, it’s more likely because the gaming industry has made it more difficult for scammers to get away with illegitimate key sales.

Fraud protection has improved over the years, and Steam’s region locking and gift policy changes make it harder for gray market sellers to sell games at ludicrously low prices.

G2A Business Seller Verification

Indie developers are also starting to change the way they distribute game codes, resulting in fewer illegal key sales on websites like G2A. In 2019, Wube noted that fraudulent purchases stopped after switching from their previous payment provider to Humble Widget,. The developer also admitted that Steam gift versions of Factorio were “most likely legit.”

Earlier in 2017, Wastelands Interactive owner Leszek Lisowski said that he didn’t have a problem with his games being on G2A at a lower price. His argument was that “somebody has bought them somewhere,” so they already received their share of the purchase.

G2A Steam Gift

These shifting mentalities and industry-wide improvements to distribution have made it more difficult for people to profit from fraudulent sales. There’s no doubt that fraud still exists on G2A, but the scale of illegitimate key selling is certainly diminishing.

But does this mean buying from G2A is now ethical compared to several years ago? It’s hard to say. While the likelihood of purchasing a fraudulently-obtained key isn’t zero, it’s probably a lot lower now than five or six years ago.

That said, you’re better off buying from stores like Eneba or Fanatical if you want a guaranteed-legitimate key. These stores have officially partnered with selected publishers and source their keys directly from them.

G2A Best Games of 2022

Is Buying from G2A Worth It?

When you factor in the potential risks and ethical implications of buying from G2A, is it worth the savings? It depends on the product you’re buying and your morals.

In my example, I paid $14.60 for a product that usually costs $29.99. That’s a substantial saving to feed my WoW addiction. I’m not sure how it was this cheap because 60-day time cards rarely, if ever, go on sale since it’s a subscription fee.

Does this raise a red flag? Maybe. But Activision Blizzard losing $15.39 on this sale doesn’t bother me, and it probably doesn’t bother them, either. To me, buying from G2A again would be worth it because of my positive experience and the cost savings. But I wouldn’t say the same for an indie developer, especially for a game I really enjoy.

World of Warcraft Dragonflight Blizzard

A great example of this is Deep Rock Galactic, a cooperative shooter by the six-person team at Ghost Ship Games. I choose to support the developers by buying their optional DLCs and gifting them to my friends through official distributors like Steam.

At full price, the game is $29.99. On G2A, you can currently pick a game code up for $16.94, or even $13.97 if you’re fine with buying a whole Steam account. This might seem worth it because of the price difference, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

G2A Deep Rock Galactic

Let’s take a look at Deep Rock Galactic on IsThereAnyDeal. You’ll see that the game frequently goes on sale for under $10 on both Steam and Humble Bundle, making it cheaper than G2A. In the case of Deep Rock Galactic, I probably wouldn’t use G2A because I can get a game key cheaper elsewhere.

G2A becomes more attractive if you consider their subscription service, G2A Plus. This costs $2.49 monthly (or $24.99 for the year) and gives you up to 10% off all games. If you regularly buy game codes from G2A, then it’s worth it for the savings. You also get a free game every month, although the games aren’t nearly as exciting as they may seem.

G2A Plus Subscription

G2A entices you with images of games like GTA V and No Man’s Sky, implying that you may get big-name titles as your monthly free game. In reality, the free game is usually an older title or indie game worth around $1. Subscribe for the discounts, not the free games.

So whether G2A is worth it depends on what you’re buying and your morals. If your only concern is buying cheap games, then G2A is worth buying from. The prices are reasonable, and you’ll never pay the full price.

G2A Secure Marketplace

That said, you should also check websites like IsThereAnyDeal or Amazon to browse for sales. You may find that you can get the games cheaper elsewhere. If you want to ensure that you support developers, then we suggest waiting for a sale and buying from authorized distributors like Humble Bundle and Steam.

So, Is G2A Legit?

From streamlining the sales process to removing seller anonymity, G2A is trying to clean up its act and curry favor with gamers—and I think it’s doing a decent job. My experience with them was fantastic, and I’ll probably use them again when my WoW subscription runs out.

But is G2A legit now? It really depends on your definition of the word. I think G2A has always been legitimate as far as marketplaces go. However, they did a poor job of deterring bad and illegitimate sellers. But things seem to be improving now.

G2A has avoided controversy for several years now, and industry-wide changes to distribution have made it harder for criminals to abuse sites like G2A for personal gain. There’s always a slight chance that you’ll get scammed, but that’s a risk with all online marketplaces. If you’d like to avoid that risk altogether, there are plenty of authorized Steam key sites to pick from.

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