When Gearbox announced it would sell a collector's edition of Bulletstorm: Full Clip through G2A, a controversial key reseller often accused of ignoring fraud, the studio was immediately criticized. In response, the studio made four demands of G2A, changes to the service that would be meaningfully beneficial to the whole industry, or else Gearbox would back out. Gearbox's self-imposed deadline of committing to changes prior to Bulletstorm's launch has passed, prompting Gearbox to begin unravelling the partnership, the studio told me today.
It's unclear how long it will take to fully untangle themselves.
"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." This morning, G2A told me it was "in the process of talking with Gearbox" and would have a more concrete answer after the weekend.
"We do not control G2A's marketplace or where they may obtain keys from parties outside of Gearbox Publishing," added Gibson, "but we can confirm that today we have begun executing on our extraction process."
This shouldn't have happened in the first place, though. Gearbox deserves little pity for failing to research G2A, a company with a long-documented past. Their public declaration is admirable, yes, but it largely comes across as a convenient face-saving measure for a bad PR situation. It always seemed unlikely G2A would agree to Gearbox's terms, and by demanding G2A make their decision in roughly 24 hours, it easily set Gearbox up to safely escape from their deal.
On Twitter, Gearbox co-founder Randy Pitchford said Bulletstorm developer People Can Fly originally got the ball rolling with G2A. It's not surprising, then, to learn both People Can Fly and G2A have roots in Poland. (G2A started in Poland, but is now centered in Hong Kong.)
Pitchford claimed he was unaware of the deal until very recently.
"My mandate to Gibson is that Gearbox pub must be the most dev friendly pub on Earth," he said. "Gibson and I are very happy and ready to kill whatever arrangement there is with those guys [G2A] if they do not play nice."
It's possible G2A will decide to play ball with Gearbox, in hopes of making a long-promised pivot to become more legitimate. Color me skeptical.