That something fishy is happening was clear to everyone somewhere in June 2019. But signs about Kinguin payout delay of payments to merchants were noticeable even at the start of 2019.
For those who don’t know, Kinguin is a sort of marketplace like eBay but for game keys. Just like Gamivo, Eneba, and G2A. I know there is a lot of misinformation and hate regarding this kind of marketplaces but from my years in this business as seller and buyer I can tell most sellers are honest and it is in their best interest that customer is satisfied.
Most hate comes from the opinion that keys sold there are illegally obtained and that developers don’t get cut from sold keys on Kinguin, G2A, etc. That is absolute rubbish. We get those keys from developers either by purchasing on other stores on discount, buying wholesale or in regions where the price is cheaper. We cant generate keys out of nowhere. But I will not go into that topic more. Haters gonna hate.
POPULAR GAME KEY MARKETPLACES
RECENT UPDATE: I have come to a mutual agreement with Kinguin. I will restore my sales, and Kinguin will start repaying what is due. I have seen a lot of progress from Kinguin recently as many merchants started reporting that they are getting payouts.
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Kinguin Payout Delays
When you sell game keys, all marketplace platforms lock your funds for 7–30 days, before you can withdraw your money depending on the marketplace. In this way, they protect themselves in case the seller sells invalid keys and then tries to withdraw money and scam them. Kinguin used to lock seller funds for 30 days before you can process a payout.
Kinguin, as well as G2A, Gamivo, and others charge various fees for selling. That is how they earn money. When you sell key on Kinguin you get money on your balance which is then in the review period for 60 days before you can use it (previously it was 30 days), and fees go to Kinguin. On May 13, 2019. Kinguin “professionally” updated their sellers via Reddit post about the new policy regarding payout review time.
Here is that announcment:Hello everyone!
Thanks for your patience while we resolve this matter. We are announcing our new ‘review period’ policy. These updated terms will enable us to be timely with our payment schedule, so our valued merchants no longer see delays.
A key point in the new terms is that there will be a change in review period time up to 60 days. This will allow us to pay all of our merchants within the promised timeframe.
We understand that this delay and our updated ToS will impact our merchants. In recognition, we will offer the following perks to merchants, starting May 17th:
-Decreasing the commission by 10%* *Software Products not included
-Lowering the Listing Fee by 70%
-Increasing the Listing period from 60 to 365 days
-Lowering the price change fee by 80%
-Lowering Payout Fees by 50%
-Lowering Special Deals Participation fee by 20%
If you have any questions or feedback about the new Terms of Service, please contact us at email@example.com
They really did apply those changes. The changes were somewhat solid compensation for increasing the review period from 30 days to 60 days. Ok, after 60 days you can create payout and get your money. Wrong! What they didn’t mention is that you can create a payout for your earned money by selling on Kinguin, but you will not get that money. Kinguin problems have just started.
Where Did Money Go?
It was clear Kinguin has a cashflow problem. But how platform which always made payments just a couple days after your requested payout now couldn’t pay its sellers? Where did the money go? Did Kinguin illegally spend money which wasn’t theirs?
Some say Kinguin management made some really bad investments. And that was made with sellers’ money. Those are all speculations. But one thing is sure. Money did go somewhere. Even Kinguin CEO Viktor tried to find someone who will invest by post on Facebook. As it currently seems, he didn’t found his angel.
Kinguin also opened the gaming center so that is one option where the money went. Or maybe it went into their ICO (Kinguin Krowns). Kinguin even had to cut off its worldwide known CS:GO Kinguin E-sports team, 50+ employees and their marketing team.
Some sellers when noticed that Kinguin has cashflow issues starting buying available game keys on Kinguin from other merchants. The plan was simple, as you can’t get your own money from them, then you just buy stock from other merchants on wholesale using balance you have. You then resell those keys on G2A, Gamivo, Eneba, etc.
The problem with this is that you will mostly end in some kind of loss. Most marketplaces have the same or similar price so on top of fees it is hard to sell like that with profit. But many sellers still took that route because better to get something then nothing if Kinguin goes bankrupt or disappears with the money.
Why You Can’t Purchase Using Balance?
Kinguin noticed what sellers are doing and quickly disabled option to purchase more than few copies telling that it is temporary (I think in the end they entirely disabled wholesale part) and they are working on upgrading platform. That was, of course, a lie.
Very soon Kinguin also disabled option for purchasing via available balance telling another lie that it was temporary, they are making updates, etc. So sellers now cant spend their money which they have on Kinguin nor they can get it as a payout. Basically it is held hostage by Kinguin.
UPDATE: Kinguin sent emails to several merchants in March 2020. telling them that for 2 weeks they will enable balance purchases. But you can only spend 100 EUR per day.
Kinguin Merchant Tiers
Because of this many merchants stopped selling on Kinguin. Kinguin now only has few sellers. Kinguin needs Merchants/Sellers and Buyers/End Customers and at the moment, they lost almost all of their Merchant/Sellers base. To solve that issue Kinguin started to send emails to sellers who left offering them benefits if they start selling again in the form of Kinguin Merchant Tiers.
Basically they say if you start selling again, they will pay what they owe you quicker. So they are basically offering you your own money as an incentive if you start selling again. What a nerve. Of course many have accepted that.
Number Of Merchants On Kinguin
There was so small number of sellers on Kinguin that they had to add their own API seller called Game Changer. So they added seller which is their account to start selling to cover most game listings as they were empty. Of course, Game Changer doesn’t pay fees so it can offer better prices.
It pulls stock from Codes Wholesale using API so that is the reason you will see Game Changer as a seller on almost all listings. They have also faked rating for that account so that it seems more trustworthy and set him as a recommended seller. Be noted that G2PLAY.NET is also a Kinguin account (it is their website).
You will also see sellers like Global Games and maybe a few others who with Game Changer have offers on most listings. Global Games is a very big merchant so I guess Kinguin made deal with them.
Support will just ignore and rarely answer questions about payouts. And if they answer it will be something like “rest assured you will get your payment…” There is also the so-called “account manager” Hristian Y. (maybe there are more of them) who you can contact on Skype which should take care of merchants.
But he will also mostly just ignore you, tell you that he doesn’t know or isn’t aware of anything you ask him and can’t help or he will look into things but will never actually do anything. Really great account manager to have indeed.
Can Kinguin Get Back On Its Feet?
Kinguin traffic heavily decreased. According to SimilarWeb, it went down from 3,9 million monthly visitors in August 2019. to 2,5 million in January 2020.
To me personally, Kinguin owes more than 70k EUR. I am waiting for my payouts from September 2019. There is even no point in creating payouts when you know you will not receive them. But there are many merchants in the same situation.
It is clear Kinguin payout delay and cash flow issues represent big issues. Kinguin only issues payouts to merchants which returned using Kinguin Merchant Tiers.
Kinguin support ignores messages, “account manager” ignores messages, money is held hostage with no clear correspondence or signs if we will receive it. There is no sign of professionalism nor care for merchants. Kinguin being not transparent and not giving any official statement makes the case more fragile on their end.
In fact, they are the ones who call the old money ‘debt’ offering nonsense partnership to merchants where they need to “work” (continue to sell) in order to get their money (if even then).
Unfortunately, it seems accepting their “offer” is only way to get what they owe you (and according to deal it can take years). Kinguin receives fees when merchants sell. But when it is Kinguin turn to pay, there is no sign of them.
When you sell the game key on Kinguin, money is stored on your account balance. And that is your money. Look at it as a bank account. You receive or deposit money and that money is on your bank account. When a certain period passes, you can withdraw that money. So when you create payout you receive that money in a matter of few days.
But now when you create payout you don’t receive money. Imagine going to the bank to withdraw your own money from your own account and the bank refuses or tells you they can’t pay. But you can create payout and wait for the possibility to maybe receive it somewhen in the future.
Kinguin is doing exactly that. The fact is they don’t have money to pay. But how can’t they pay when that is your money stored on your “bank account?” Did money disappear? It is a fact that Kinguin spent money which wasn’t theirs. And now they don’t have it.
Imagine real bank spending their client’s money. That is illegal. But Kinguin did that. Can they answer legally for that? Can you sue them? I am not an expert and I am sure it doesn’t matter if you are registered in Hong Kong, you can always legally be prosecuted.
We all would like that Kinguin recovers as that is probably the only way we will see our money. What will happen next is yet to be seen. I will keep updating this post with the news.