March 13, 2012

Face Kicking Follow-up

If the truth will speak for itself, why did you delete your post and comments?
UPDATE AGAIN: Added in more about the TOS used by GATT. Also links to GamerX's response to this follow-up.

UPDATE: Added in some fun with math at the bottom.

To keep things nice and open, I'm going to spin the update I was writing for my original post into a full piece. I honestly did not expect this issue to blow up like it did. I mean, I hoped it would because this kind of behaviour is unacceptable, but I did not expect an entire (now edited) article kicking me in the face, and I certainly did not want to damage any developers unfortunately involved in this. In the interest of making my position entirely clear, I want to comment on a few things.

I want to make it clear that, while Gaming: All The Time may purposely advertise shady key resellers, the bundle itself appears for all intents and purposes to be legitimate. A lot of people have misconstrued my original post, thinking I was accusing GATT of selling illegal keys, when I was only pointing out the shady connections they have on their main site. In my original query to each of the reps for the developers involved, one question I asked was whether they were aware they were included in the bundle. This was only intended to clarify, not to accuse, and I'm happy to say that my query proved that the bundle itself is a legitimate package, and there should be no risk of RU keys or any such nastiness.
  • The rep from Cadenza Interactive (Sol Survivor) did respond to my initial email and stated that they were aware of their involvement in the bundle, and assured me of it's legitimacy.
  • The rep from Clockstone (Avencast, GREED - Black Border) responded to my email as well. He was NOT aware of the bundle before today, but he looked into it and has since confirmed that their publisher Meridian4 were the ones who arranged the deal. He says it is completely legal and they are being compensated properly for it.
  • When asked on Twitter, Microids (Still Life 2) admitted they were not directly involved, but claimed it should be safe.  They are also published by Meridian4. After rechecking the facts, I was mistaken. Microids is the publisher of Still Life 2, but a company called Gameco studios is the developer.
  • There have also been tweets from the Runespell developers and DnS (Booster Trooper, Dead Horde), announcing their collaboration on the bundle.
I personally want to apologize to the devs involved, as I had no intention of indirectly associating their companies with illegitimate RU keys and, honestly, bad PR sucks. Obviously these guys work just as hard as any other indie dev studio, and they definitely deserve your business, whether through GATT or other sources. A lot of the games are really great. I personally recommend Runespell a lot, and I've been holding out for some free time to try Avencast forever.

If you feel comfortable doing business with GATT, this is a great deal of a bundle, and it seems 100% risk free.

I also want to say that I overextended myself in my original, unedited post, and drew connections I only suspected, but in no way could confirm. I certainly did not make any unjust accusations in my opinion, but I did heavily imply that the bundle was a scam. I'd like to point out that I only said it may be a scam, and I did so because of the shady company it advertised. The indie bundle scene is a fairly easy target for phishing scams, and I did not want anyone to be ripped off. My main point is that you should be extremely wary of any site that accepts money and free games in exchange for advertising a site that promotes Steam keys that have been known to cause an account ban. However I'm grown up enough to admit that I was making a lot of unjust claims without enough research, and therefore edited my original piece. I do stand by everything still remaining in my post, however.

Now that the nice business is taken care of, let's move away from bundle talk and dig into the dirt. There's a lot of issues with GATT, and this time I did my research to back it up.

As you probably saw by now, GATT has removed the offending advertising. However, there were several comments by GamerX, the EIC of the site, that I feel deserve a bit of attention.

Quick summary since his article is removed, which luckily was screen captured by myself and others. In the article itself he claimed I was spewing libel and that my "admin" (which is me) was in danger of being sued by their litigation team. He stated that I was simply spreading rumours as revenge, either because I thought $8 was too expensive for the games, or because I was mad about the fact that I had to log in to Steam to enter giveaways, or that I just don't like them. Then he tried to claim that GamerKeys is a legitimate business enterprise, something GamerKeys is also attempting to do in my own comment section, by saying that not all of the keys require a VPN, only some. He then drops the advertisement, blames me for costing him a deal where he gets two "$59" games to give away from GamerKeys. Then he tries to assure the commenters that the ad was contextual, which it clearly was not (it was integrated right into the navbar, and they were giving him "$59" dollar games for it). He then edits the post, thanks the users of the Steam forum for pointing out the problem with the advertiser (huh?), removes most of the red flags in his post yet leaves up the lies and accusations against me. Shortly after, I comment on his page asking him "why so slanderous, bro?" (well, not really, but I wish I thought of that last night) and Mr. GamerX pulls almost the entire article except for the spreading rumours banner. Then he eventually changes the name to the current iteration at the top.

Obviously most of his attacks and arguments are just bogus. I've never heard of GATT before their bundle plans were revealed, and I didn't realize they were a Steam giveaway group until last night. The only reason I wrote the post was because I was made aware of their advertising and thought "Hey, that's ridiculously sketchy. People should know who they're buying from and who the seller is directly associated with." However, delving deeper into their site leads to problems beyond the paid link to GamerKeys.

A source pointed me toward two links, where staff and associates of GATT were running highly suspect giveaways. First was a group event by GATT administrator NrN (small update: NrN seems to be an alias of GamerX), who is often in charge of handing out the prizes, which was "giving $100 worth of games to someone who can send him $50". A bit weird, no? Check it out for yourself. Unless they remove it, then just look about an inch south on your screen.

Ok, so that's pretty suspect, but people make Steam trades all the time. I mean, most of the time they actually say what games are being given away, and most of the time it's for other games. There's something shady about this post, but obviously I can't prove any sort of connection. This alone isn't quite enough to start serious whistle-blowing.

However, their Valentine's giveaway sure is. Again, reposted below in case someone gets around to covering their tracks.

Who's that handsome logo in the corner?
In this "giveaway", the staff of GATT was handing out smaller indie games as prizes. That's no problem. I've been handing out Indie Royales on Twitter lately, and I'm not sketchy (I hope). However, what is up with that second paragraph? You need to donate to enter? Soliciting donations for contests? There are all sorts of crazy alarm bells there. At the very minimum it violates all kinds of lottery and gambling laws, so shouldn't your expensive litigation team have caught that? Even skewing it as a donation doesn't prevent it from being completely out of line, and even if the donated money goes back towards more giveaways as they claim, that's still not cool.

However, let's go back to the deleted article about yours truly.

According to GamerX, in his own words, all of their "thousands of dollars in games a week" come from publisher granted copies. Worst case scenario, GATT is reselling publisher copies of games through "giveaways", a serious faux pas for any serious gaming news site. The idea of selling any review copy is atrocious, and it's even worse when the game is raffled away in a paid lottery. Best case scenario, they're lying about the sources of their giveaways in an effort to appear more legitimate compared to that Backlog Journey jerk. That's definitely the more likely scenario here, in my opinion. That still means GATT is running extremely shady for profit promos, which in addition to their links to GamerKeys makes the situation worse. Even if the Darkness II lotto is a one time thing they bought out of their own pocket, it's still way, way wrong to sell giveaways. No respectable gaming site should resort to that.

UPDATE: How about we dive a little further. As you may recall, in the deleted comments of GamerX's original article, he called GamerKeys just an advertiser, and GATT in no way supported them or did business with them. Keep this in your brain.

Why is it that GATT was willing to throw in a copy of the Darkness II after every $20 raised? That game is, like, $49.99! If they're in a position where they want donations, but they're willing to throw a $49.99 game out for every twenty bucks they raise, how will they make any money. I mean, "all proceeds go to future giveaways", so how does that work? Madness!

Oh wait, Darkness II RU keys are sold on GamerKeys for $18.99 each. Well now, how about that.

UPDATE AGAIN: In my research, I took another look at the TOS of the Face Kick bundle, and decided to compare it to other indie bundles and see how they matched up. Little did I expect the answer would be "almost perfectly". The Terms of Service on is copied and pasted word for word from the Terms of Service used by the Humble Bundle. The only difference is that the words "Humble Bundle" were replaced by "". This is most evident in the "Disclaimer of Warranties" paragraph, where everything is written in all caps; compare "(THE "HUMBLE BUNDLE PARTIES")" to "(THE " PARTIES")". Seems like their ignore capitalization tick box was checked on the find and replace menu.

I'm not a lawyer, but Googling a solution to the problem led to a page asking and answering this question, with a few other sources to back it up. The conclusion was that you shouldn't do it, and it's technically copyright violation, but it's unlikely you would ever get in trouble for it.

However, I have since discovered that dozens of companies use a very similar agreement, including Groupees and IndieGala, two trustworthy bundle providers. This leads me to believe that Indie Face Kick is in the clear for this one, and were likely simply using a boilerplate or other such method of stating their TOS. Nothing to see here...

GamerX did respond on behalf of GATT to these two unfortunate giveaways. It's probably easiest to just link his Twitter page, where all the responses can be found.

First, he said the $100 of games for $50 was just a desperate need for some extra money for RX, and only having access to Paypal. He did not reveal how he acquired the games. There's a lot of things that don't add up in that explanation, but I'll leave it be for now. (As an aside, I did not realize NrN and GamerX are one and the same. Article updated accordingly above.)

Second, he said that the illegal donation lotto was a suggestion of a member and they ultimately did not go through with it. However, this does not address the probable connection to (i.e. the $20 Darkness II copies) and the fact remains that he and his website endorsed this practice by hosting and soliciting this offer in one of their news posts. Even if you canned it, you still promoted it.

If anyone who's dealt with GATT before, good or bad, or anyone from GATT would care to comment, please do so through here, Twitter or email. I certainly don't claim to know the full picture, I'm just calling it as I see it.

Conclusion? The Face Kick bundle is cool. I'd definitely buy it. But never from a company pulling stunts like GATT. Please, indie developers, try to avoid dealing with shady companies like this one.


  1. ugh, that's a lot of shady business going on there. anyway, that's not why I commented. I thought I'd throw my two cents in and recommend Sol Survivor. It's an awesome tower defense game with quite a few very interesting multiplayer variants. You should all give it a try (by buying directly from the devs? that would be nice).

    I also played a bit of Greed and didn't like it that much. But your mileage may vary, it's at least worth checking out.

    And keep up the good work, Colin.

  2. Thanks! I'm trying to keep up with it all. This is absolutely crazy.

    Honestly, the worst part of this mess is that I haven't had time to start my Aged Gamer post. :(

  3. Thanks for your work on this, don't let their threats scare you.

    Voicing concerns and opinions and questions is not libel.

    This sounds to me like a gaming group that decided to do something but doesn't have a clue about a number of issues involved, including a full understanding of business ethics or for that matter, potential liabilities.

    If they represent a game key they offer as clean and it gets someone's Steam account banned, do they understand their potential liability?

    Maybe honest people, but they seem inexperienced at the least.

    1. I don't think you understood correctly. GATT and GamerKeys are not the same entity. Also I have yet to see any proof presented as to a banned account. That is still speculation.

  4. Wow, I didn't think it could be worse than what I saw yesterday. I gave him the benefit of the doubt when I wrote about them, specifically wrt the advert which he first off claimed was contextual.. but the whole thing just looks so dodgy.

    Good work picking through the mess and warning people! :)

    It's a shame for the developers who will inevitably get linked with this. As to the games.. I've only tried Sol Survivor, and I loved that game. I would have liked to look at the others.. but I think I'll stick to the other bundles and Steam sales.

  5. Good write up man. Hugely appreciate your candor in this situation, as well as your willingness to admit where you might have been wrong, and leaving up the relevant evidence to prove such, even if it may not be in your favor.

    Now, I was one of the original 8 commentors on the unedited gamingallthetime post where the libel accusations were flying around before it all got taken down, and simply witnessing that Gamerx's attitude towards the community he is "working on since forever" to accommodate with this bundle was enough to make me sick.

    The idea that people this egotistical can get themselves into a scenario where developers will support them to advertise and potentially sell their products makes me seethe.

    Keep exposing the truth in matters such as this man. I found your post on SG, had never been here before, and now you have another regular reader. Thank you.

  6. To be honest I appreciate your investigation. It seems you are really passionate about the game industry and don't want to see it hurt. I would like to propose one more investigation. Please, please please, please please please, investigate the horde of illegitimate cd key sites which sell illegally generated keys, stolen keys, and sell the same key over and over (to multiple customers). Also could you include shops which also just flat out steal money. I like how you were able to find so much information. Great article's. I am going to be reading your blog all the time.
    I hope you can agree with me when I say Indie devs need to be supported in order for great games to be made.

    Also on a side bit. Thanks for all the traffic you sen't my way. I really appreciate it! My Alexa rank jumped a bit!

    **On a serious note anyone who thinks I was involved directly with any dev in the bundle pack and will look down on them don't. GamerKeys.Net had nothing to do with this pack.

  7. "I did not realize NrN and GamerX are one and the same." Now it makes sense to me! The other day as this was going on, NrN was doing a giveaway in the steam group chat and was all fussy and stated he was in such a bad mood and yadda yadda, banning people who only asked the rules for the giveaway or what type of giveaway it was. Great article and thanks for doing the research. I guess we will have to wait to see how they handle this bundle on the release date.

  8. I was in their Steam chat room on the day Mass Effect 3 was released and they (the admins, NrN and another) were waiting to get a hold of their keys.

    They gave one Mass Effect 3 key away and said that the winner would need to use the language changer as it was a Russian key.

    1. Thanks for posting you anecdote. I've heard quite a few similar tales of Mass Effect 3 GATT giveaways, but unfortunately I, nor anyone else so far, can back it up beyond word of mouth.

      Still, it wouldn't surprise me in the least. Looking deep into their recorded giveaway history is pretty eye opening.



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