In the dynamic world of digital commerce, Bartosz Skwarczek (BS) has carved out a formidable niche as the founder and President of the Supervisory Board G2A Capital Group, to which belongs G2A.COM, the global gaming marketplace. With an unwavering commitment to innovation and customer satisfaction, Bartosz Skwarczek (pictured) has propelled his company to the forefront of the industry. In this exclusive exchange with European Business Magazine (EBM), we delve into the mind of a visionary leader, uncovering the strategies that have fueled G2A’s meteoric rise and the challenges that lie ahead in an ever-evolving digital landscape. Brace for a thought-provoking discourse that could reshape the future of online gaming marketplaces.

EBM- G2A.COM has been described as a disruptive force in the e-commerce sector. How would you characterise the impact it has had on the traditional retail structures within the gaming industry?

BS-G2A.COM brought the marketplace model to digital distribution. I think showing that gaming e-commerce doesn’t have to be limited to just gaming platforms and stores, as it was before our business was created in 2010. So, G2A.COM was a regular online store at the very beginning with video games. And we noticed a very important trend, which we can observe still. A trend was the move from box distribution, into the world of digital in 2010, where almost 70% of the market was physical.

In 2014 G2A.COM became a marketplace and today it’s a globally recognised brand. I can say we have offices all over the world, with headquarters in Amsterdam and Hong Kong. We have offerings, or digital items, and can process over 200 different digital payment methods through our marketplace. Since last year, we are also in a process of implementation and are working on enhancing our vision of the company. 

We call the brand ‘Gate 2 Adventure’. So, it reads G2A: Gate to Adventure. So, we open this gate to adventure in digital entertainment, not only to hardcore gamers, as it was before, and that is our main audience. But we also have a new group, growing exponentially since the worldwide lockdowns, and can be described as casual gamers.

EBM- Can you elaborate on the specific aspects of G2A.COM’s business model that differentiate it from traditional retail approaches and contribute to its status as a game-changer in the industry?

BS– Jeff Bezos once said that marketplaces are eating the world. It’s a great saying. And with our business model, there’s a reason behind that because in my opinion, it’s the most user-friendly business model ever created. And when you look at the landscape of global e-commerce, you can see that most of the greatest companies dominating are marketplaces like Amazon, Alibaba, or Rakuten in Japan, eBay, and so forth.

So, the first thing we have is a very diverse and complex offering of digital entertainment. No matter if you’re a hardcore gamer looking for very sophisticated in-game items, or a casual person looking for video-on-demand or a Netflix subscription; or you’re a parent searching for a birthday present for a kid or an e-learning course, you can go to G2A.COM for digital offerings in a variety of categories. At G2A.COM you have the best digital adventures at your fingertips. This is how we like to think about it.

Another thing equally important is that our customers can purchase on a very safe and secure platform. Cyber security is one of our priorities, and there is a reason for that. Our comprehensive approach to security allowed us to keep our anti-fraud rate at the significantly lower level,  than the industry average, which currently sits at 3.6%. We care about customer safety and customer satisfaction. Which is why we have an easy and fast path to purchase, with instant delivery. 

As we note often, we have very attractive prices for our offerings. Our client is the most important aspect of our business, and this approach has allowed us to become the go-to marketplace for over 30 million users. Suppliers and clients all over the world, in almost 200 countries, put their trust in us for digital offerings.

And last but not least, something we are very proud of over the last 14 years, is that e-commerce is in our DNA. It’s the culture of trust, feedback, appetite for growth, excellence, and diversity. So, this is who we are, and we are very proud of it because I believe it’s a very rare culture. Rare in the meaning that many companies only talk about diversity, whereas at G2A, 40% of our staff are women, and over 50% of our top management are women. It’s our belief that women are extremely good business personalities and thus informs our approach.

EBM- In what ways does G2A.COM address the evolving consumer behaviours and preferences within the gaming community, and how does this contribute to its success as a digital platform?

BS–Consumers are always looking towards buying games digitally and most people have moved away from shopping at retailers. In 2010, almost 70% of products in this industry were physical, now it’s only 5%. And since Covid, even more people have become interested in the digital world.

Not only hardcore gamers, but casual ones are looking for offers that are available online. And that’s why we decided to expand and diversify our offer from games to also non-gaming categories like subscriptions, gift cards, software, and e-learning. And it’s also important to work with internet creators and I very much believe that we’re pioneers in the industry, having worked with creators like PewDiePie in 2015. We opened the gate for creators and influencers. And this creator economy is a big business opportunity. As evidenced in 2021, when The New York Times moved its creator economy coverage from the style section to the business section. So that was a milestone in perception, I think.

And, you know, 52% of social personalities identify as a creator. They prefer to be named creator, over 32% who preferred to be named as an influencer. And according to Zoe Scaman, a strategist, the difference between influencer and creator is an influencer has a big audience, stylised content, and brand deals; but the creator is more passionate about the content and has a very loyal community, willing to pay for access. That’s a big difference. 

And another thing is global reach and local approach, which sounds like an oxymoron in one sentence. But our users, both buyers and sellers, come from all over the world. And the easiest solution would be to implement the global strategy to deal with all of them. But we decided to go with the more difficult option: a local touch that allows us to reach our users and take care of them on every level, from marketing to payments.

EBM- Could you share some examples or case studies that illustrate how G2A.COM has effectively challenged and reshaped conventional practices within the gaming e-commerce landscape?

BSI’ll give you an example. If you’re from the United States, life is much easier when it comes to payments. You have PayPal or credit card available to use. But if you’re from Brazil, you need Boleto, or if you have clients in India, you need Paytm and so on. Every country has its favourite payment methods. So, what we did was we implemented over 200 payment methods, and this is one of the ways we reach our clients locally and globally. That of course requires more engagement and work but yields really good results.

EBM- Does G2A.COM navigate regulatory challenges and concerns within the gaming industry, given its disruptive nature, and ensure a balance between innovation and compliance?

BS-From the very first day, we knew that to scale the business globally, we had to be in line with the law. Therefore, for years now, we have been working with the best advisors in the world, on both legal and tax matters, and every point of regulatory.

And fantastic companies like PWC, Deloitte, KPMG, Ernst and Young, Hogan Lovells, Orrick, have worked with us. They are helping us take care of all the regulatory requirements.

As a marketplace, G2A.COM has a responsibility to comply with many regulations from the e-commerce sector as well as making sure the payment process itself is held up to the highest standard. We take many steps to ensure that all the offers you find on the marketplace are as safe as possible. The most critical point is focusing on vetting the sellers themselves, and over the last few years we strengthened our AML — our anti-money laundering process and KYC.

So, know your clients’ procedures and of course, every bank loves it. But at the end of the day, I believe our AML and KYC process is one of the most demanding in the whole e-commerce industry. And our sellers have to go through a very strict business verification process before they can start selling. Even after that they have to present proof of purchase of any item they put up for sale. 

And only once we see that they are legitimate, we allow them to grow and scale the business. We are also actively working with over 200 different payment methods with operators and payment service providers from all over the world. In order to keep those partnerships up, we undergo regular audits by them. Many auditing representatives, like Deloitte or PwC, have confirmed us as trustworthy.

The point is that if you’re not following the rules with payment providers or payment processors, they see your every transaction. You have to remember that. They just cut off your business in a second. So that is also important.

EBM- As a digital platform, G2A.COM operates in a rapidly changing technological landscape. How does the company stay ahead of the curve in terms of technology adoption and adaptation to maintain its position as a disruptor?

BS-Technology is one of the most important success factors of G2A.COM and we put special pressure on constant growth and development. Our technology stack is evolving at a fast pace because the market is rapid and super dynamic. And I’m not just talking about AI, which has been very loud recently, but in general, over the last ten years, you can see this growing technology race between different companies. And I believe we are ahead of the trends in the IT industry. 

And when you compare us to other companies who focused on a DevOps approach, we opted for a platform approach, where we focused on the platform, rather than the developers. What this means is in the past, we noticed modern technologies would burden our development teams and in time, would negatively influence marketplace growth. Our answer was to build our own platform. And with this platform, we wondered if we could reduce the cognitive load on developers and increase the efficiency of tech teams. And today I can see that it was a great decision. 

Over time we saw that it was a great decision. And currently more and more companies started talking about this approach. Another technology [we] implemented is part of our tech strategy, which is our own search data platform. That is a platform that allows us to change the data management structure from centralised to dispersed. And it is called data mesh architecture. The result of that was the change in data awareness with our DFT. So, since the ownership of the data was moved, it increased both the quality of data and the usage of data. Basically, we believe that ownership of something is good, but being responsible for something is good. We like the responsibility because then you [can] take care of the quality much more. All that points, I can say, towards me confidently claiming that we are a data driven organisation and I believe that this is just [the] very beginning of amazing technological journey that we will be observing over the next few years.

EBM-G2A.COM has collaborated with key players in the gaming industry. How do these collaborations contribute to the platform’s ability to drive innovation and maintain its disruptive influence in the e-commerce sector?

BS-We believe in partnerships, and when it comes to collaborations with publishers and developers, we are actively cooperating with several big game publishers, like Microsoft, to name one of the most prominent. And apart from that, we are constantly working on our relationship with smaller and indie developers because we are involved in both worlds. 

You have a titan on one side, and you have the smaller and indie developers who are trying to become a titan. And right now, we are in partnership with over 300 small developers, small and medium developers within the program we call G2A Direct. So that is a program that allows developers and gaming developers to offer their game keys directly on our marketplace with good conditions.

We allow them to gather royalties from other sellers [who are] selling their game. And that is very unique. I mean, nobody else in the world is doing that for developers and game developers. 

We are also involved in the release of two indie games in the last couple of years. One of them was Rustler. So, we coordinated the release of the game with the developer, and we prepared special offers. And the second one that is very interesting was Rosemary’s Faith. It was first released in Poland as a game for blind people, based on hearing and narrative. So previously radio players were created, in which a narrator talks about what is happening on the screen. And our game was different. No one said anything in the game. The player was alone in a dark room and had to draw conclusions and make decisions based on sounds like, for example, the creaking of doors or wind. So, we try to reflect as faithfully as possible what happens to people in life because there are a lot of people who live in very difficult circumstances and environments. 

We are also moving on another front, moving out into the world of offline sports — offline, not online — opening our gate to adventure in the digital world to an audience and showing them digital alternatives for their favourite pastimes. So, a recent example [was] we became the primary partner of the Drift Masters European Championship competition, which is actually an amazing thing.

There is this crazy adrenaline. We have [had] a solid partnership for several years, and this year there will be a few events in Ireland, but the finals will be in Warsaw. And last year there was a record breaking 55,000 live audience in the national stadium, during the finals in Poland. And that made it the biggest non-gaming event we have partnered, which is also amazing, considering the adrenaline and the emotion. 

But it’s also a family event because you see parents and kids together. And lastly, the events are on the multinational scale because there are six races around Europe, followed by the championship in Poland.

EBM-Can you give us an insight for the next 18 months for G2A.COM and what it is looking to achieve?

BS-We are planning to expand our brand and communication efforts [by] looking for new partners in non-gaming events and partnering with themes of real life sports, not only in esports, but in regular sports. We have recently announced this partnership that I mentioned with the Drift Masters for the 2024 championship and the next year.

And gamers are very important to us; we develop and expand our core gaming offer to make sure they can find everything they need on our marketplace, like diversified offerings, including the whole variety of digital items, the latest premieres, the classic legends, all the different kinds of items. 

What I mentioned not only includes games, but also subscriptions, gift cards, software, e-learning. And we will be expanding our non-gaming offer in order to open this gate to adventure in even more areas of digital entertainment. But right now, we already have a lot of TV, music, food subscriptions, even fashion clothing choices. And in the future, who knows? There are audiobooks, eBooks, and so much more to explore, and this is definitely something we’ll look at. And last but not least, our platform: G2A.COM. Our website is the main touchpoint for our clients, buyers, and sellers on both sides. Therefore, our major focus is always on increasing the quality of our service for them. So, to give you a hint, on our roadmap, we have over 150 features ready to be implemented on our website, so stay tuned. We are coming strong. I can say it’s good.