December 21st really was the end of the world for digital game distributor GamersGate.com, or at least the beginning of it. The site has long suffered from an unexplainable bug that can discount games far more than is apparently intended, a bug that has been known about for quite some time and has yet to be fixed. This particular bug would only pop up a few times during sales and usually be rectified within an hour or two, usually making it a non-issue.
Until the Bethesda bundle, that is. On December 21st, the bug discounted a bundle containing Dishonored, Skyrim, Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, Morrowind, and several other games, lowering the price under $30 USD. Word of the deal spread like wildfire, and huge numbers of gamers rushed to the site to try and pick up the deal, hitting it with such a large amount of traffic that it basically turned into an accidental DDoS attack; the huge influx of visitors overwhelmed the servers and made the site virtually impossible to load, yet for those willing to brave hours of refreshing, the deal remained available for purchase. In fact, the price wasn't fixed until the next day, leading to the perception that it wasn't a mistake at all. Amazon, who has been rapidly moving into digital games, often offers similar deep discounts, to the point where large discounts on bundles are more or less becoming the norm as far as holiday deals go. At this point, it's virtually impossible to differentiate between a great sale and a pricing mistake.
Then, bad news struck: GamersGate ran out of serials for the games and wouldn't get any more until January. Still, for those who had managed to pick up the bundle, it was nonetheless an amazing deal worth waiting until January for. The site even went out of its way to offer refunds to those who might be disappointed over the unexpected wait, lending legitimacy to the idea that they would honor the sale.
Of course, they didn't. They soon began removing the game from customers' virtual game shelves without asking, sometimes failing to even offer a refund in return. Meanwhile, they've suffered even more pricing errors, with almost daily maybe-deals (including yet another that ended in them yanking away the game afterward). Perhaps most troubling in all of this is the inconsistency; in previous price snafus, gamers were allowed to keep the games they purchased. In a way, by removing the Bethesda bundle from the virtual shelves of those who bought it, they've allowed creeping doubts to slip in gamers' minds whenever they're perusing the site: "Is this actually the sale price, or is it a pricing error? If it's the latter, will the game later be taken away? Would there be a refund in that case?" There are no clear answers to any of those questions anymore, because they've done it both ways at different times. Forcing customers to put on their ESP hats and determine whether sale prices are correct or not is ridiculous when their own employees, people whose jobs revolve around the site functioning properly, can't be bothered to do the same.
This isn't the only reason not to trust GamersGate, either. In the past, it was possible to get a permanent 15% discount on the site when you join IGN Prime. Take note of the past tense in the previous sentence; taking the definition of the word "permanent" and twisting it all around, that permanent discount actually managed to expire, surprising (and angering) many customers. GamersGate is also known to raise the base price of a game before it's discounted in order to raise the discount, making the sale appear more impressive than it is. Perhaps worst of all is the fact that their downloader encrypts installation files, meaning that even their DRM-free games can't be backed up and installed offline, despite the site listing them as "DRM-free." This can be circumvented by killing the downloader in Task Manager after the game downloads and the installation begins (since it doesn't get the chance to re-encrypt the files), but the existence of a workaround doesn't make it any less dishonest.
Taking all of these things into consideration, it's pretty clear that the site isn't to be trusted. Between the lack of a consistent position on whether or not they'll honor games bought during buggy moments, manipulative wording, poor communication, and deceptive pricing strategies, GamersGate has proven itself unworthy of any gamer's time.