Monday, June 27, 2016

A Quick Look At Kinguin, RMT, And Overcharging Players

On Friday I received an email from a public relations person at Kinguin, a competitor of G2A. I guess my piece on Wednesday documenting yet again why G2A is shady put me on Kinguin's radar screen. The representative wanted me to pimp their new program aimed at convincing indie game developers to sell their games on Kinguin. With all the news about how G2A rips off developers, now's the perfect time for Kinguin to entice indie developers, right?

In case anyone forgets, Kinguin is a very shady place as well. Back when hackers purchased thousands of FarCry 4 keys using stolen credit cards, over 4600 of those game keys were sold on Kinguin.

One test I use to figure out a company's ethics is to look up the offers for popular games, or at least games I'm familiar with. I usually start with EVE Online PLEX. Needless to say, Kinguin failed the test.

Instead of just stating that Kinguin is engaged in illicit RMT, let me walk you through why I believe that Kinguin is engaged in the practice. In the graphic above, let me point out three indicators that the offer is totally shady.

First, the price is way too low. While not as cheap as those found on various forums and other "exchange markets" that don't pretend any legitimacy, $11.14 USD indicates that the PLEX was not purchased in bulk during a sale. After looking at the list of authorized PLEX resellers, even taking into account currency fluctuations, I don't see how anyone could sell a PLEX under $16 USD and make money.

The second is the offer of insurance. I know many will say that a site like Kinguin or G2A offering insurance to make sure the sale goes through is a normal business practice. But really, the insurance on the PLEX offered above is 10%. That seems awfully sketchy to me.

Of course, the final item on the list screams RMT. The title of the offer includes the phrase "In-Game Delivery". The transaction as described fits the description of real money trading. The buyer is purchasing an in-game item (PLEX) for real world cash. Clicking on the Activation Details link explains brings the following pop-up.

So what is the "Donate to" delivery method? The Donate Game Time feature takes a PLEX from Player A's account and gifts it as 30 days of game time to Player B. Not as PLEX which a player can then sell for ISK, but as actual game time. The seller has to take a PLEX from his in-game inventory in order to do the transfer. An in-game item in exchange for real money. A EULA-violating RMT transaction confirmed.

So I found a seller engaged in RMT. Now for a little fact I find hilarious. Apart from the RMT offer, buying from Kinguin is more expensive than buying from an authorized PLEX reseller. Here are some examples.

First, purchasing two PLEX from CCP or an authorized reseller normally costs $34.99 USD. Here is a screenshot of the offers available from Kinguin.

That's right, the offers range from $36.98 to $37.91 per 2 PLEX, or $2-$3 USD more than buying from a safe, approved source. And buying in bulk doesn't improve matters.

The approved price for a 6-pack of PLEX from CCP is $104.97. The price on Kinguin? $108.85, or $3.88 more. I found the single PLEX offers were more expensive also.

Truthfully, I don't know why anyone would take a risk going to these shady marketplace sites. Anyone going to Kinguin for EVE-related items is sheer lunacy. Except for the instance of buying game time which involved real money trading, the deals are better going to an authorized PLEX reseller. I guess that may make Kinguin more honest than G2A, but I still recommend buying from CCP approved sources. Why take a chance, especially when buying from Kinguin costs more money?

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