G2A, the online games retailer and re-seller, has started 2016 in much the same way they ended 2015, finding themselves accused of unethical business practices. This time their eSports sponsorship program has been accused of a series of late or outstanding payments to their partners.
The online computer games retailer consistently made negative headlines over the course of 2015. Their business model of re-selling keys for games has often drawn criticism for the grey market ethics behind it, and in February of this year Polygon ran a lengthy exposé detailing some of the shady practices behind their success.
As G2A moved into the expanding eSports market, their troubles seemed to follow them. Despite representing some of the biggest brands in League of Legends, such as Team Liquid, Riot Games ruled that these teams could not display the G2A logo on their jerseys due to their practice of selling League of Legends accounts and offering “boosting” services for novice players, both of which violate Riot’s ToS. G2A refused to budge on the issue, despite what one Riot employee described as “many weeks of back and forth conversations.”
G2A’s response to Riot’s ruling was to go on the offensive, trying to rally eSports fans against the notoriously draconian games developer. Blaming Riot for the inability to find a resolution, their press release mostly fell on deaf ears and garnered little sympathy despite their claims of having invested $6 million into eSports since 2014. Their continued petulance in the face of Riot’s stance was detailed in an opinion piece published at Esports Observer.
Hot on the heels of this sizeable blow to their presence in the eSports space came claims from multiple partners that G2A was missing sponsorship payments. Jason Bass, the co-owner of pioneering eSports organisation compLexity, tweeted that G2A had missed almost all of their due payments.
We reached out to several eSports partners of the retailer and most declined to comment on their payment situation. A source from another sponsored team told Breitbart Tech that G2A had often been late with payments, but after some heated discussions the sponsor had improved and had now been paying on time for a period of five months.
No such luck for compLexity, who told us they were still waiting for the money they were owed and remained frustrated as their efforts to receive their outstanding payments went unfulfilled. Their founder and co-owner Jason Lake told us:
In April of last year we signed a deal with G2A that included a minimum payment and incentives based upon organizational streaming hours. Month after month went by with no payments. When we were able to get a response from the company (which was difficult) pathetic excuses were given. We eventually sent them notice of breach and stopped giving them free marketing exposure. After calculating the amount it would cost to pursue legal remedies we decided it wasn’t worth it. After thirteen years in this business, I’ve seen my share of shady sponsors and in my opinion G2A ranks right up there with the worst.