If you’ve lived in India and are into videogames, you probably have been privy to piracy in all its glory. Perhaps due to the fact that pirated games are sold at a fraction of a cost, when compared to their original counterparts. If its not pirated games, you might have encountered a modified console that allows you to play games from all regions and sometimes even pirated games along with them. And if you’ve not partaken in such acts then you surely must have heard about them from a friend.
This recently has slowed down as regional pricing has been introduced in different markets, making the game prices commensurate with the market they inhabit. Though in some instances games have become more expensive or have reached parity with their international counterpart. Games for the most part are easier to procure at a lesser cost now a days.
What is a ‘grey market’ in gaming terms?
But everyone is a sucker for a ‘good deal’ — that’s where the ‘grey market’ steps in, which a polygon article describes as “an eBay for videogames. Where the merchandise up for sale is not being sold by these companies. Sites like G2A and Kinguin merely facilitate the transaction by moving money back and forth and offering up technical support where they are able.”
These ‘grey markets’ while not piracy per se but have enabled instances of transactions where a game is purchased through means like credit card frauds, hence making their manner of operation questionable to say the least. In an effort to appear less shady, big players in the ‘grey market’ have started ‘initiatives’ in a cash grab situation where they’re selling something that the platform should inherently provide considering it’s a market place.
G2A Shield for example claims to make “all your transactions go as planned” and help people “receive their products always on time”. Vague terms like “go as planned” possibly refer to when videogame developers want to curb use of stolen keys and these storefronts act as conduits for that as credit card fraud start getting detected over the course of time. Another such instance is noted in Kinguin’s buyer protect which claims, “It’s a line in the sand. As our faithful customer we will defend your purchase against fakes, cheats, and trolls.” All the while shooting themselves in the foot and exemplifying the security risks a person takes while transacting on their platforms.
Let’s look at some voices in and around the ‘grey market’, to get a greater sense of what the market entails in the Indian context and then conclude with the curious entry of G2A into India and how it has been and is operating here.
G2A pays no GST.
Madhan used to run steamz.co which was a platform that allowed people to purchase cd-keys at a smaller price tag than on steam and other platforms. He told me that he has been in the business for about 10 years. He used to procure retail cd-keys which were region free at that time and costed a lot less compared to current day prices. But, due to regional pricing most games became region locked and as such he made the switch towards selling in-game items for games like PUBG that he claims to have “procured through the developers at a bulk rate”, in a legitimate manner.
Further, he has moved on from the market largely and now pivoted to the physical sphere, selling gaming chairs. Which he feels will bring him similar profits that are “steady and almost same as game selling”. When asked what he would be doing five years down the line, he told me, “Something related to gaming, always”. When asked to comment on the entry of G2A in India he stated “Good, cheaper games for gamers. Better than piracy. But they should be very strict on verifying sellers. They had a very bad way before, like anyone can sell…that leads to stolen game keys, carded keys and everything. So I guess it’s changing now.”
Arvind Raja Yadav, an Indie game developer and founder of Pyrodactyl, told me “In a vacuum, I don’t have a problem with people reselling keys. However, sites like G2A often cause other smaller stores to go nearly bankrupt”, he further added that people who have bought these stolen keys often “decide to contact the developer with a decidedly impolite email” as the end users thinks that the game developer is at fault, though G2A and kinguin allow this to happen.
Goi Garg owner of savekeys.net told me, “at that time there was no company from India which was selling digital key, except G2A”. When asked who he considered his competition, he said confidently, “My competition is with G2A all others are a far behind”.
he states that he makes a total of thirty to forty thousand rupees per month, and turns over a net profit of twenty to thirty thousand rupees from all his ventures. He then explains, “G2A isn’t paying GST and they’re taking 40% fees from Indian customers, like if you buy Rs. 100 game from G2A you have to pay Rs. 140”, he then provides a pdf of a bill as a supporting evidence, which doesn’t provide any tax break up for services rendered.
G2A Founder,CEO and BitBay,CEO sharing stages and giving talks about cryptocurrency.
What is G2A India?
G2A launched in India in a partnership with Luit technology, which help set up G2A India under the company Trinity digital distribution pvt ltd. All these companies lead to the following people. Rohit Dahda who was the head of G2A India — who has moved on now, seemingly due to unknown reasons,
At first, I approached Piyush and Reetesh as they were still active in the field and still with the company. They weren’t able to explain much and said they weren’t authorised to speak on behalf of the company, despite Reetesh being Company PR. Reetesh then asked me to give him some sample questions when I had asked for an on the record interview with anyone in the company. Perhaps a decision taken based on my previous article on the ‘grey market’ which wasn’t too accommodating of G2A and the likes.
But who really knows, G2A’s brazen attitude towards any external factors like media, regular people on reddit or game developers is well documented. This fact is reiterated when the international team rather than appointing a regional spokesperson, just went ahead and answered the sample questions that I had put forward in the form of a questionnaire . One response was a spiel about G2A pay — which
All of which seemed odd back in May when I had begun the probe, because they were selling on popular e-retail platforms like amazon.in and had partnered with flipkart and snapdeal at certain points. All three having their own proprietary payment gateways, none of which were mentioned in response to the questions about payment platforms or expansion in India. Though now it seems that they have stopped selling on these sites, perhaps making for a cut and run tactic or possibly a strategic pivot — first attract people from popular sites like Amazon and flipkart and then redirect them towards G2A.com all of which is speculative on my part. But at least one thing was certain that they were formally making a push for their payment gateway G2A Pay as they had started to attend expos like the ‘India Ecommerce Expo’ promoting a product that enables payments through diverse currencies like bitcoins.
It should be noted that their operation on Amazon was operational till June 25 at least as the last review establishes. An amazon review on the same page points out an issue with G2A as thus, “The product is not from Microsoft as mentioned in the site, this is a third party, so the code didn’t work. I’ve been waiting for the seller to resolve the issue but no proper response. Please do not purchase from this seller.” This received no response from G2A. Another similar response is found on flipkart, as follows “I have received a used code of Minecraft windows 10. Also I bought Stalker too and the voucher I received was blank. No reply from G2A India still.”
Further, there are these smaller sites that are exploiting the market while it lasts, some we have stated above like savekeys.in which now has products on Amazon.in and Flipkart — which have evidently allowed unvetted accounts to sell digital codes of video games, which their international counterparts don’t allow. Going as far as to provide them with an amazon prime listings, even though Amazon reviews of this site are not that flattering similar to the case of G2A. Another such curious storefront is called , which besides selling on flipkart and Amazon, traces back to one of the key people of G2A India— Piyush Kankane, who had stated in passing that the site would be shutting down soon, this was back in May, yet the site is still operational on flipkartmost recently celebrating a independence day sale around 15 August, some of their listings mimic that of G2A and at times even sell the under the G2A banner on flipkart. It is also to be noted that there are two Luit’s, one is owned by Rohit Dhada and the other by Piyush Kankane. All of which make you question even the basics such as — how the subsidiaries and organisations related to G2A function in India.
Rohit Dahda: the man, the myth, the CEO extraordinaire.
Who is Rohit Dahda?
While reporting on G2A, it is noted Rohit Dahda was also the Indian head of BitBay a polish bitcoin exchange web platform, that was about to launch its operations in India which didn’t go beyond a demo site and some interviews. Both the companies are based out of Poland and the global heads of both the companies are aligned as G2A uses BitBay’s services internationally to enable people to pay using bitcoin on G2A and further they share stage on cryptocurrency related boards. So, from that perspective Dahda’s appointment as head of both the companies India makes some sense.
Further, Dahda’s name would come up during the research and investigation phase but – vanished when anyone approached him for an interview. This was revealed when I talked to a reporter Sidhartha Shukla who had “interviewed” him for money control. Sidhartha revealed that he had to interview him through a questionnaire similar to my case with G2A. Dahda now runs a company called ‘RD services’ which seems like a consultancy firm, but it is uncertain as the man is hard to get a hold of.
I also physically looked up the addresses of the companies in his name, most of which seemed like shell companies which were being operated from Luit’s office in ‘DLF Jasola Tower A’, which I physically verified. Though I was stopped short of taking a picture of the list of companies at the lobby, because of “security reasons” by the guard. Further I decided to visit the address of Trinity in Delhi’s Shakarpur, which lead me to a residential address. But it ended up being a dead end.
After all this only more questions are raised about the companies than we began with. For starters — What exactly is G2A India? Why are they setting up here? What happened to BitBay India especially considering the recent ban on bitcoin and alt coins in India? And possibly the most intriguing bit, who exactly is Rohit Dahda and how has he ended up as the Indian head of these organisations and left them in such short span of time?
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